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INDEX . . .285 


IN making this translation, I have been deeply impressed 
with the truth of Friedrich Schlegel s saying, that the 
modern literature, though in several languages, is only one. 
Though this work, so far as I know, is now translated for 
the first time, it does not now begin to enter into English 
thought. Traces of the movement at least, of which it is 
the most characteristic product, may be found in our 
philosophy, our theology, and our literature. Seeing, then, 
that this book claims more than a merely philosophical 
interest, it may well be thought that I should have done 
something more to give it an English accent. Intuition, 
used broadly for immediate knowledge, and the All, the 
"Whole, the Word- Spirit for aspects of the world we feel 
and seem to know, can hardly be acknowledged as natural 
to our native tongue. But, though unfamiliar, I hope that, 
in their connections, they are not incomprehensible. My 
excuse for imposing upon the reader the necessity of a 
second translation in thought, must be found in Schleier- 
macher s own opinion. There are two ways, he considered, 
of making a good translation : either the author must be 
left alone as far as possible and the reader be made to 
approach, or the reader be left and the author be manipu 
lated. In the former case, the work is translated as we 
believe the author would have done it, had he learned the 
language of the translation ; in the latter, as he would have 
written, had it been his native tongue. In philosophical 

viii PREFACE. 

works, he thought the former method alone practicable. 
If the wisdom and science of the author are not to be trans 
formed and subjected to the wildest caprice, the language 
of the translation must be bent to the language of the 
original. As we have not yet any example of a breach of 
this rule that encourages imitation, I have not been bold 
enough to make the attempt. Still I would fain believe 
that, except the first half of the Second Speech, the book is 
not beyond measure difficult. That section is acknowledged, 
even by the most patient Germans, to be obscure, and I 
would direct the reader s attention to the summary in the 
Appendix of its first form, which is very much simpler. 
Further, I might suggest that in the first reading the 
Explanations be omitted, and that it be borne in mind that 
they are not meant to elucidate the text, but rather to 
expand or modify it into harmony with later positions. 
For a more careful study of the book, I have sought to 
make the Index helpful. 

My thanks are due to Professor Calderwood for encourage 
ment in the work, and to my friend, Mr. G. W. Alexander, 
M.A., for revising the proofs and for many suggestions in 
the translation. 

ALNWICK, 1893. 


As the " Speeches on Religion " were first published in 1799 
this translation is in one sense exceedingly belated. In 
Germany itself, however, it has been more commented upon 
during the last twenty years than ever before. In 1868 
Schenkel s Sketch of Schleiermacher sLife and Character was 
published. In 1870 Dilthey s Life of Schleiermacher fol 
lowed, at least the first volume of it, which is all that has yet 
seen the light. In 1874 E/itschl published a treatise on 
" Schleiermacher s Speeches on Religion and their influence 
on the Evangelical Church of Germany." This was followed 
by two very elaborate articles on the " Speeches " by 
Lipsius in the " Jahrbiicher fur protestantische Theologie," 
wherein he drew attention to the very material changes in 
the various editions. In 1879 Piinjer made this apparent 
by a critical edition, which gave the first edition in the 
text, and the changes in foot-notes. Since then treatises 
have appeared on the idea of religion in the different 
editions by Braasch, on Schleiermacher s conception of 
Individuality by Frohne, on his relation to Christianity by 
Otto Ritschl, and on the quintessence of his theology, a 
severely hostile criticism, by Locke. 

Why this book should attain the classic position of being 
a subject foi* other books may well need to be explained 
to the English reader. Under various titles it may be 
found mentioned in certain learned treatises, but it would 
be difficult to learn from any English book the place it 


occupies either in theology or philosophy. The reason is 
not far to seek. The most earnest and thorough students 
of this period have either had a wholly philosophical or a 
wholly literary interest. For the former Hegel spoke the last 
word, and for the latter Goethe. This book, being the out 
come of the literary, philosophical and religious movements 
of the time, has very naturally fallen between. Even to such 
a profound student of the time as Professor Adamson, 
Schleiermacher is simply a philosopher who stopped short at 
Spinoza, in parti-coloured combination with the theologian 
who ended in mysticism. 

Yet it may be questioned whether, after Kant s Critique 
and Goethe s Wilhelm Meister, any book of the period has 
had such a great and lasting effect, and it is certainly no 
question that it foreshadows the problems chiefly discussed 
among us to-day as is done by no other book of that time. 
We have still with us the unity of the church, the relation 
of church and state, inspiration, the non-christian religions, 
the essential nature of religion, the place of religion in life. 

Yet the interest and value of this book must now be 
chiefly historical . It marks the transition from the " Illu 
mination ; to the new time. Its very faults have a certain 
importance, for they are a true reflection of that age of 
ferment. As we try to recall those dim opponents, those 
cultured despisers of religion, we see, in the closing years of 
the century, a class of men engaged in high hope upon " an 
intellectual Tower of Babel/ which was to be the object 
both of their patriotism and their religion. It was a great 
and not very lucid time, and the thoughts of it roll across 
the pages of this book as a mixture of mist and broad sun 

Many estimates, not only of Schleiermacher himself, 
but of this book may be found in German writers. 
Zeller, the historian of Greek philosophy, says of him, that 
he was the greatest theologian of the Protestant Church 
since the Reformation. He was a churchman whose grand 


ideas of the union of the Protestant confessions, of a more 
liberal constitution of the Church, of the rights of science 
and of religious individuality will force their way despite all 
resistance. He was a preacher of mark, a gifted and 
effective religious teacher, forming 1 the heart by the under 
standing and the understanding by the heart. He was a 
philosopher who without a perfected system sowed most 
fruitful seeds, and he led in a new era in the knowledge of 
Greek philosophy. He lent his aid in the work of the politi 
cal regeneration of Prussia and Germany. In personal 
intercourse he exerted a wide and useful influence on count 
less minds, awakening in many a new intellectual life/ 

Ueberweg, who quotes the above, says Schleiermacher s 
system is far inferior in formal perfection to Hegel s or 
Herbart s, but it is free from many of their limitations, and 
in its still largely unfinished form is more capable than any 
other post-Kantian philosophy of such a development as 
might remedy the defects of other systems. 

Neander, who ascribed to the " Speeches " more than to 
any other influence his conversion from Judaism to 
Christianity, and who passed through Schleiermacher to a 
more definite Christian standpoint, said, in announcing 
Schleiermacher s death, " We have now lost a man from 
whom will be dated henceforth a new era in the history of 
theology. Lipsius in his articles says, " However much 
or however little may ultimately remain of Schleiermacher s 
peculiar world of thought, his way of regarding the theory 
of perception is as epoch-making in the religious sphere as 
Kant s Critique of Keason in the sphere of philosophy ." 

Treitschke, the historian of Germany in the Nineteenth 
Century, who ascribes to Schleiermacher a place second to 
none in awaking the patriotism of his native land for the 
great struggle with Napoleon, says, " He became the 
renovator of our theology, the greatest of all our theologians 
since the Reformation, and even yet no German theologian 
arrives at inward liberty who has not settled accounts with 


position that it was a preacher s duty to support the moral 
law by appealing to the ordinary faith, of the people. 
Before his son s birth he seems to have returned to the 
orthodox faith. At all events, he dealt with his son s 
aberrations in the most uncompromising, denunciatory way. 
All his life he was burdened with debt, incurred chiefly in 
book buying. He had wide interests and read extensively, 
and his advice to his son is full of practical wisdom and 
insight, yet he leaves the impression of being dogmatic and 
even domineering, obstinate, and unstable. Consequently, 
it was only after time had mellowed him that he entered 
into kindlier and closer relations with his son. Schleier- 
macher s mother, again, leaves in her letters the most 
beautiful impressions of piety, wisdom, and goodness. She, 
however, died when her son, born in 1 768, was only fourteen. 

A year before her death, Friedrich had been placed in 
the school of the Moravian Brethren in Upper Lusatia. 
The Moravians were at that time doing for Germany what 
the Methodists were doing for England. Amid barren 
Deism and argumentative orthodoxy they maintained a dis 
tinctively religious spirit. Traces of their influence are 
everywhere apparent in this book, and in the notes he 
openly acknowledges his admiration for their institutions. 
tc Verily," he says in a letter, concerning their love feasts, 
" there is not throughout Christendom in our day a form 
of public worship that expresses more worthily or awakens 
more thoroughly the spirit of true Christian piety." And 
after all his wanderings, he felt he had become a " Moravian 
again of a higher order." 

Yet his sojourn among them was not without much out 
ward and inward conflict. His early letters are strongly 
marked by the peculiar phraseology of the Brethren. He 
strove hard for the supernatural experiences known as 
intercourse with Jesus. After a time, he believed he had 
found peace, and resolved to remain always among the 
Brethren, though it were only to work at a trade. Yet the 


Halle professor who was charged with botanizing in a green 
jacket, was not quite extinguished. We hear from other 
quarters of pleasant days spent in the woods, and he asks 
his sister to hint to his father that his purse has caught 
consumption from fruit. 

In his seventeenth year he was transferred, along with his 
bosom friend, Albertini, to the seminary at Barby, which 
was at that time the University of the Brethren. " The 
increase of liberty," he says, " seemed to loosen the fetters 
of the mind " ; and again he calls this period " the first 
blossoming time of the mind/ A number of brilliant 
spirits formed themselves into a " club/ They read the 
" Jena Literaturzeitung/ an able periodical that looked at 
life from the standpoint of Kant ; and from a " friendly 
one-eyed man" in Zerbst, they obtained such books as 
Wieland s poems and Goethe s " Werther." This was 
enough to let them know that there was a large world of 
thought outside. The attempts of their teachers to hedge 
in this mental activity, only increased their suspicion that 
their doubts could not be answered by better means ; and 
even when prevailing opinions were controverted, there was 
always a feeling that the other side had not been heard. 
The Illumination had been working in Germany for about 
twenty years, and was now everywhere prevalent, and all 
the zeal of the Moravian teachers could not stop the chinks 
whereby the flood was entering. Their suspicion and their 
attempts at discipline only hastened the catastrophe; and 
soon by manifold departure the poor club was scattered to 
the winds. Among the first, Schleiermacher felt that he 
also must be gone, if all his doubts were not to harden into 
absolute unbelief. 

In 1787, after overcoming much bitter opposition from 
his father, he entered Halle as a student. Halle was then 
at the height of its fame, and was almost entirely dominated 
by the spirit of the Illumination. This was the ground of 
his choice, for he believed that if ever he was to reach a 


fuller faith, it must be by hearing everything that could be 
said against it. During his two years stay in Halle, he 
came entirely under the influence of the prevailing ideas. 
" I have always believed," he says in a letter to his father, 
"that examination and investigation and the patient 
interrogation of all witnesses and of all parties, is the only 
means for attaining sufficient certainty, and above all for 
setting a fast boundary between that on which a man must 
take a side and that which, without injury to his peace and 
happiness, may be left undecided : " a pretty accurate 
summary of the Illumination ideal. 

In Halle none of the theological professors impressed 
him greatly. Semler, indeed, who has been called the 
father of the critical study of the Scriptures, was not 
without an influence on his views of Scripture exegesis, 
but Semler was now old and much troubled by disputes. 
Eberhard, however, a professor of philosophy, may be con 
sidered a decisive influence in his life, for he led him to 
the careful study of Kant s Critique. If truth be told, 
Schleiermacher was a very bad attender at lectures and 
never perhaps entered much into the spirit of the University. 
But in the garret in his uncle s house, where he sat till two 
in the morning, he studied, not pursuing subjects but seeking 
truth for f life and death. Even before leaving Halle, he 
wrote a treatise on the idea of the Highest Good, wherein 
he tries to settle matters with Kant. But the frightful 
conflict he had just come through still depressed his spirits, 
and he had the worst opinion of the coarseness of his fellow- 
students. His circumstances also were of the worst, which 
rendered social intercourse somewhat trying for a proud 
spirit. Yet he could never be without a friend, and he 
found one in a fellow-student from Barby, a Swede, named 
Gustav von Brinkmann. This youth, to whom he after 
wards dedicated this book, was a marvellous result of 
Moravian training, sporting with Amaryllis in preference 
to burning the midnight oil. But Schleiermacher was 


persuaded that more than any man he lived laborious days, 
and corrected and copied his love-letters for him and 
admired his endless poetical compositions. With all his 
faults, Brinkmann, by his larger knowledge of the world, 
was at this period a useful friend. 

After two years study his father s willingness and ability 
to support him were both exhausted. Vain efforts were 
made to obtain a situation as family tutor, and nothing was 
left but to go once more to uncle Stubenrauch, who had 
left Halle and was now settled as pastor at Drossen near 
Frankfort on the Oder. Hopes were entertained of pos 
sible acquaintances that might prove useful, and at all 
events he could have house-room while he was preparing 
for his theological examination. 

Of this uncle, the brother of his mother, he says, " would 
that I had so availed myself of his friendship as to be able 
to say in lieu of all praise, see what I have become and to 
him I owe it." In this uncle he encountered the very best 
type of the theological spirit of the Illumination, an up 
right, earnest man, effective in his pastoral work, and 
deeply interested in all questions of human progress. In 
his house for a whole year Schleiermacher studied and 
thought, reading such books as came his way, and 
having dim thoughts of authorship. Already his own 
world of thought was taking shape, he had revised Kant 
and come to some definite conclusions about him, and 
chiefly stimulated by the loves and poesies of friend Brink 
mann he had thoughts that he did not think of revealing to 
his uncle in spite of their free and affectionate intercourse. 

With anything but liking for the business, he finally 
went to Berlin to pass his examination in theology. His 
father, who had married again, raised the needful money 
and not before time, for the candidate s clothes, much 
less than being fitted to make the right impression on 
the authorities in Berlin, were hardly decent enough for 
Drossen. To some extent the iron had at this time 


entered his soul. He was poor and not very well, and his 
slight deformity had been made a ground for refusing him 
a situation. 

But the examinations were successfully passed, and then 
it became his duty to make himself agreeable to persons 
with ecclesiastical patronage, relatives and acquaintances 
of his uncle, highly respectable f moderates for the most 
part. Aunt Stubenrauch s urgent advice notwithstanding, 
this part of the undertaking was exceedingly badly done. 
" "We observe gratefully/ says his biographer, " how in 
this matter one generation after another in Germany 
improves by practice." 

Finally, however, a situation was obtained for him. He 
became tutor in the family of Count Dohna of Schlobitten. 
A new phase of life now opened for the student, which he 
believed lasted as long as was good for him and no longer. 
Good like a Dohna/ was a proverb in East Prussia. At 
Schlobitten he found a simple and sincere piety along with 
genuine refinement. For the first time he felt the influence 
of cultured female society, an experience which he marks 
as an epoch. " With a knowledge of the female heart I 
won a knowledge of true manly worth." To Friedrike, the 
second daughter of the family, who died young, he spe 
cially ascribes this service. " She has taken it with her 
into eternity and it will not I hope be the least that her 
beautiful existence has accomplished." The love of art 
also was awakened in him, another dangerous possession for 
the enlightened understanding. 5 Above all he saw in the 
family life of which the wise and capable mother was the 
head, a beautiful fellowship ennobled by freedom, which 
shone all the more in contrast to the memory of his own 
youth. Wedike, a neighbouring pastor, an earnest, thought 
ful, patriotic man, was of great help to him, but above all 
in long solitary walks he came to understand himself. At 
that time the eyes of all the civilized world were turned 
towards the revolution in France. Schleiermacher pondered 


deeply on the matter, giving his whole sympathy to the 
popular side. Even when in 1793 Louis XVI. was executed, 
though he regretted the cruelty, he could find no additional 
horror in the fact that the head that had been severed, was 
anointed. It was dangerous ground in the house of a 
Prussian nobleman, more especially as he defended his 
conviction, not merely with passionate earnestness, but 
with argument and eloquence which put the irate Count to 
rout. Yet the crisis came on education, not politics. The 
Count had his own ideas on education, and especially on 
the position of family tutors. The tutor had different 
views, which were sustained by a very strong sense of self- 
respect and of duty to his pupils. A great reserve of 
somewhat sarcastic utterance also occasionally cropped 
through his respect for his superiors. Finally the 
irascible Count lost all self-control and spoke words which 
he dimly desired to withdraw, but which the tutor assured 
him would only make their relations more unpleasant if 
he did. Wherefore, amid many tokens of good-will from 
every side, and not least from the Count himself, Schleier- 
macher departed with his heart almost breaking, but only 
able to say, when he was paid double, that his employer 
did himself much wrong. 

In Schlobitten he parted with the Illumination, and 
began his own development. None of his doctrines were 
yet clear, but traces of them all, dim foreshadowings in 
feeling rather than in thought, can be traced in his letters, 
his sermons and in a fragment on the Value of Life, 
which he wrote at this time and had some thoughts of 
publishing. On the question of church and state especially 
he had come to the conclusion that nothing can guarantee 
complete tolerance but the entire separation of the two. 
This shows how far he had departed from the Illumination 
ideal which considered the church simply an institution for 
the moral education of the people. His uncle feared evil 
results and thought the clergy would starve, but the 

a 2 


nephew Lad more faith in the power of the religious 
sentiment. This position was doubtless first suggested to 
him by the Moravian system, but it received confirmation 
from the course of events in France, and was fixed by the 
evils the ecclesiastical states caused to Germany in the 
early days of Napoleon, when the princes of Germany 
crowded "like flies on the bleeding wounds of their 

After a few months in Drossen, he went to Berlin, where 
the friendly influence of his relative Sack obtained for 
him a position in an educational institution. Utter lack of 
discipline, which his short sight prevented him from deal 
ing with, made his days unhappy, and in six months he 
went to be curate to a relative at Landsberg on the 
Warthe. While at Schlobitten, he had discovered his 
vocation as a preacher, and had already begun his method 
of careful mental preparation without writing, from which 
he never afterwards departed. As a preacher he at once 
took his place. His sermons of this period are marked by 
great moral earnestness, which at times recalls Kant rather 
than Jesus Christ. At the same time it is apparent that 
he has been making a deeper study of Christianity and re 
flecting on his relation to its Founder. Two years passed 
here peacefully and happily, in spite of small conflicts with 
the authorities about educational matters to which he had 
zealously devoted himself. Books were difficult to obtain, 
but he thought the more, and was more diligent in corre 
spondence with friends, especially with his sister Charlotte, 
who was still among the Moravians, and his father, who 
now began to understand him. This change much consoled 
him after his father s death, which happened about the close 
of these years. Finally, he entered on his career as an 
author, by translating, along with his patron Sack, Blair s 
Sermons, the models of the respectable moderates of 
that time. 

When his relative Schumann died, the congregation 


asked of the authorities in Berlin that Schleiermacher 
should be appointed, but he was considered too young, and 
the place was given to his uncle Stubenrauch, much to the 
old man s sorrow. As compensation, Schleiermacher was 
appointed preacher at the Charite Institute in Berlin. In 
September, 1796, he entered upon his work. 

Berlin had hitherto been the chosen home of the Illumin 
ation, and the leading preachers were all of the highly 
respectable, cautious type of Rationalist, known, in Scotland 
at least, as the moderate/ 

The Illumination, or as it might better be translated, the 
c Enlightenment, was not a purely theological movement. 
Kant defines it as " man s emergence from self-caused 
pupilage," and he gives its watch-word as sapere aude, have 
courage to use your own understandings. It is peculiarly 
the movement of the Eighteenth Century. In England it 
culminated in the Freethinkers, and in the form of Deism 
was in direct antagonism to the prevailing Christian faith. 
In France the same movement under Voltaire was not 
only more hostile to Christianity, but less earnest. Kousseau 
carried the same teaching into social and political questions 
and the " Gospel of Jean- Jacques " was the creed of the 
Revolution. Its essential feature was a demand for a 
reason for everything from the standpoint of the individual. 
The consequence was individualism in politics, sen 
sationalism in philosophy, and utilitarianism in morals. 

In^Germany, the movement never assumed the same 
spirit of opposition to the church, and as a political develop 
ment was hardly possible, it took an almost exclusively &* 
theological aspect. Its creed consisted of a personal God full 
of wisdom and goodness ; immortality ; and the necessity 
of religious ideas for moral motives. In its directly 
theological aspect, the movement became Rationalism, 
the belief in Scripture as containing a revelation already 
implicit in man s mind, which in practice came to mean the 
discovery of its own abstractions in the written word. 



In so far as this Enlightenment was the end of man s 
nonage, it was inevitable and right. The authority of the 
church had been extended to every department of life. In 
all research, men wrought with the sword of Damocles 
over their heads. Now the rights of research were es 
tablished, and the church was directed to its own sphere : 
and only in complete ignorance of history can it be main 
tained that this did not happen to the eminent profit of 

But this good was more than counterbalanced by its 
easy-going optimism, its shallowness, its frivolity and 
self-satisfaction. Understanding was the final test, and 
argument the only proof. Religion was reduced to a few 
commonplaces; God was a scientific abstraction ; aspiration 
succumbed to utter paltriness ; and the deeper needs of man 
were fast becoming incomprehensible. 

From one point of view Kant is the coping-stone of this 
^ movement, from another he is the foundation of the new 
time. He sought to found again the old Illumination 
theology, in the same abstract way. His book, " Religion 
within the Limits of mere Reason," makes religion simply 
a handmaid of morality. If men were what they should 
be, the mere moral law ought to carry its own authority, 
but, to remedy the defect, the idea of a Lawgiver and an 
all-seeing Eye is useful. Yet it is never to be forgotten 
that all this is only a reflection of morality. Chiefly by 
allegorizing, he weaves the dogmas of Christianity into his 
system, everything finally being reduced to ethics and 

Yet Kant, of all men, introduced a more earnest spirit into 
the time. His true fore-runner was Butler, with his maxim, 
"" if conscience had might as it had right, it would absolutely 
govern the world/ "There is nothing absolutely good 
in the world," Kant said, at the beginning of his " Critique 
of Practical Reason/* "a good will alone excepted." An 
action was not moral according to its consequences, but 


according to the law from which it sprang. This law is not 
an abstraction from experience of personal and social 
requirement, but is uttered by reason the universal element 
in man. Finally, while all consciousness is purely phe 
nomenal, man by the freedom of his will is rooted in the 
real world, and takes his place as a thing in itself. Whether 
the critical philosophy will ultimately be found to have 
circumnavigated the world of thought, or to be simply a 
larger and more barren and dangerous excursion into 
polar seas, may still be doubtful, but the greater moral 
earnestness that Kant made possible for his time is now a 
matter of history. 

For ten years Schleiermacher had been constantly renew 
ing his study of Kant. He found his style of exposition 
barbarous and he was annoyed by his misunderstandings 
not only of others, but of himself. Still he kept continually 
gnawing at him. Already he had rejected his proof of 
the World and Freedom and God, and had departed 
consideraj)ly from his theory of perception, but he had 
firmly settled with himself that the blessedness of life is 
within and that the end of life is not happiness but the 
fulfilment of the law of reason. By this study of Kant, 
Schleiermacher, though he did not come out quite unspotted 
from intercourse with the Romanticists, at least rescued his 
soul from deadly peril and, in the midst of the overweening 
individualism of his contemporaries, held firm ground in 
universal truth and law. 

% In Plato Schleiermacher found the substance of Kant s 
teaching. Of late years also he had made a more earnest 
I study of Aristotle. Spinoza was only known to him through - 
Jacobi s work, but he was already a devoted admirer and 
pupil, and among his papers of this time is found a very 
careful study of this great writer, wherein he corrects 
Jacobi s views on some important points. 

In severe studies of this nature his life had hitherto been 
spent. Such literature as he had read was mostly of an 


which with such men as Friedrich Schlegel did not mean 
much else than a rejection of the command Let a man 
deny himself. They were all enthusiasts for the modern 
literature, the principle of which they considered not beauty 
but interest. Politically, Germany was at its lowest degrada 
tion, and the only unity in the empire was the new litera 
ture. Art, therefore, was religion and patriotism in one. 
We sought," says Steffens, " to rear an intellectual Tower 
of Babel, that all men might behold." The great end was 
to have an artistic appreciation of everything. Under 
standing was nothing, imagination was everything. 
Schleiermacher himself, though he complains that the 
want of the artistic sense was his worst limitation, would 
sell the understanding of the world for a singularly small 
equivalent in imagination. This desire to sympathetically 
think again all human experience, led to such ardent and 
careful historical research as is altogether without parallel. 

The impress of the School is more marked in the first 
edition than in the later form of this work, but, as he himself 
observed, it was so deep that no changes could remove it. 
The literary companions were the cultured despisers to 
whom he addressed himself. Their artistic sense most 
nearly resembled his religious sense. He sought to make 
them regard the Universe as the great work of art. For 
their idea of individuality he laid a philosophical and 
religious basis. Their historical research gave him warrant 
for claiming a high value for positive religions. Perhaps 
their contempt for established institutions coloured his idea 
of the church. Their exaltation of feeling, joined to 
Moravianism, led to his view of religion. Finally, their 
models determined the style of this book, described as 
literary chiaroscuro. 

But Schleiermacher s previous philosophical discipline 
and earnest thinking out of his own position raised him 
far above the ordinary standpoint of the Eomantic School. 
Schelling said, on reading the " Speeches/ " whosoever 


would produce anything of the kind must have made the 
profoundest philosophical studies, or he must have written 
it under blind divine inspiration."^ >JLc, 

Dilthey, with careful toil, has not only indicated every 
rivulet that trickled into the stream of Schleiermacher s 
thought, but has circumnavigated every lake from which it 
might have come. By his help we can trace the growth 
of the system which underlies this work. Schleiermacher 
was conscious of his system, and was pained that no one 
was able to discover it ; and, to instructed eyes at least, it 
is closely interwoven both with argument and with appeal. 
Subsequently, it was elaborated, filled in, and more 
scientifically expressed,, but the main outlines were never 
changed. ^jji 

Kant is his starting-point, and he interprets him sorne- 

what after the manner of Fichte. Kant asked himself this 

question : What is this skein of self-consciousness, just 
what we are conscious of and no more, and what are its 

laws ? His answer was to conceive it very much as a 
spider s web. The elements out of which it is composed 
float in promiscuously, and are called the manifold of sense. 
They are spun into a net, according to a definite scheme. 

Lines converge at definite angles : this is time and space. 

These concentric lines are bound together by cross-threads 
at definite intervals : they are categories of judgment. 

Finally, all the lines converge to one point : it is the 
i synthetic unity of apperception, the conscious I. Of this 

skein alone you are conscious. By thought you cannot get 
outside of it, but by the claims of morality, as it were by 
shaking the net, you learn that there is a spider underneath 
that spins the web, and stout beams outside, known as the 

world and God, to which it is attached. The claims of the 
moral law demand free-will that must be noumenal not 
phenomenal, and goodness and happiness must ultimately 
be one, therefore there must be a God. 

M /Schleiermacher rejected this proof. He did not accept 


free-will except as the outcome of the nature apart from 
external compulsion, and he held that the Good does not 
involve happiness. But for him also thought is activity, 
the mind is creative, and not merely receptive. From 
Kant s practical philosophy he accepted with unwavering 
conviction the view that the moral law is the utterance of 
reason, and that the highest good is to live in harmony with 

To Fichte reason is nothing but the universal element 
in life. It is in deadly struggle with all that is individual. 
The ideal of reason was one for all men, to be established 
in opposition to all accidents of life and diversities of 
character. Practically, this was apt to mean that everyone 
was wrong who was different from Johann Gottlieb Fichte. 
Theoretically, it came more and more to mean that the 
individual reason was simply the universal reason self- 

For many years it did not occur to Schleiermacher to 
question the position that reason is the identical element 
in all men. The study of Plato and Leibnitz seems to have 
suggested to him that reason itself might be the source of 
individuality. Leibnitz s monads he regarded as an importa 
tion from Fairyland, yet they served to make him see that 
the individual might be such a copy of the Universe as to 
be not merely a part of it, but an exhibition of it. 

He had long and earnestly been studying Spinoza, and 
acknowledged a large debt to him. Yet the Spinozism of 

Schleiermacher is more in form than substance. In his con 
ception of the Universe Spinoza s distinction between nature 
naturans and natura naturata re-appears, natura naturans 
being the World-Spirit. We also find his doctrine of the 
immanence of the Infinite in the finite, and his distinction 
between things in their observed relations, and things as 

seen sub specie seternitatis. But to Spinoza the individual 
was merely a delusion of the imagination, a section 
arbitrarily cut out of the Universe, while the motive of all 


Schleiermacher s speculation was to find reality for the 
individual as a whole" within a whole. 

The Universe, in accordance with the new philosophy, 
was conceived as infinitely active. In this part of Schleier- 
macher s doctrine there are distinct traces of Schelling. 
This activity divides itself, but division is not separation, 
but parallelism and interaction. This division that is not 
separation, is found throughout the Universe. God indeed 
is the union of knowledge and being, yet even He is only 
known in His works. Spirit and body are not one, yet 
they are nothing separate. The spiritual and sensuous in 
life again are co-ordinate in morals, and the super 
natural and the natural in religion. The threads are, as it 
were, spun for a moment apart, then woven into an 
inseparable cord. There are thus no hard drawn lines in 
the Universe, but it weaves all its activities together. 

The fact that the individual is thus a part of one vast 
whole, however, does not make it less a whole in itself. 
Kather it must, before it could in such circumstances main 
tain an existence, have a principle fashioning its individu 
ality, uniting what comes to it from the Universe and * 
again re-acting upon the Universe. Thus the Universe 
and the individual are equally real. Without the reality of 
the Universe, the individual were nothing, for all its life 
consists in being acted upon by the Universe and acting 
upon the Universe again. By what means the Universe acts 
upon us, whether by special noumena or directly, we cannot 
tell, but all our experience goes back to the point where our 
own activity and the activity of Universe are in contact and 

mutual understanding. By going back in thought, we 
reach a mystic point beyond which we cannot go, but which 

is the source of all our knowledge. That is the touch of : 
our spirits with the Universe whereby, like the touch of 
lips that love, there are large mutual understandings. 

* This is the source and the type of all experience. Per 
ception therefore rests not on reasoned knowledge but on 


worldly-wise calculating type of education. Even art, 
which should be inspired by religion, and is fitted in turn 
to adorn it, satisfies men with a narrower object than the 
Universe. By reflection we best awake to this larger 
sense. We find that our souls are an epitome of all 
mankind. Whatsoever any man has thought or felt comes 

I to us as our thought and feeling. Nay, all that can be 
thought is only possible to be thought because in some 

< sense it is ourselves already. As Plato expressed it, all 
knowledge is only recollection. Ourselves and all that we 
know only exhibit one Universe. 

This waking of the sense for the Universe is the larger 
life. Before we were conscious only of paint, now, how 
ever dimly, we perceive the picture. How it shall define 
itself in idea is not yet apparent and is a question of science, 
and how it shall affect our actions is a question of ethics ; 
but already there is a life of feeling. Fear unmixed it 
cannot be, but it may be fear feebly changing to love, and 
everything from fear to the perfect love which makes us 
feel we are one with the Universe without a doubting or a 
jarring note. 

Religion therefore is sense and taste for the Infinite, 
and is neither metaphysics nor morals, but as essentially a 
part of human nature as either knowledge or action. 
Because this has been obscured or forgotten, religion has 

fallen into evil repute. Simply by setting religion by itself, 
Schleiermacher hopes to fulfil the task he has set himself of 

awaking a new regard for religion. This purpose is much 
more distinctly the aim of the first than of the second 

" As a rule," Schleiermacher himself said, one age only 
knows how to meet the errors of its predecessor by com 
mitting another error.-" He somewhat exemplifies his own 
judgment, if not by actual perpetration, at least by an 
omission that made others perpetrate it./He^didjaoLsJiow 
how knowledge and conscience are implicit in feeling, as 


they must be if it is immediately given by tlie Universe. 
He is even at times found speaking as if one feeling might 
correspond to two ideas, and one sense for the Universe 
be represented by different conceptions of God. He does 
not show the ground of his own contention in later life 
that religion must rest on truth and freedom. Yet it 
must not be forgotten that he held no act of the mind 
single and distinct. An activity of the mind is marled 
only by the element that is most prominent in it, and 
surely the prominent element in religion is feeling. 

In Europe both science and morals had been nurtured by 
Christianity, but science had already emancipated itself 
from authority and morals was seeking an authority of its 
own. It was necessary, therefore, to say that there was a 
religious element in man not affected by either, and that 
indifference to religion was indifference to the pro- 
foundest element in man evident in some way among all 

But this artistic conception of religion is not merely a 
simile to explain the nature of religion, it appears also in 
his conception of the church. Eeligion cannot be conveyed 
by instruction. All a master can do is to exhibit his own 
religion, just as an artist exhibits his own art to awake the 
sense for art in his pupils. The vaster the variety of 
religious emotion the better, because the Infinite is best 
shown by the multitude and variety of its productions, 
and each individual is the more likely to find what will so 
harmonize with himself as to awake his own sense. There 
should, therefore, be only one church that one may learn 
more from those most different from him, and the visible 
societies should be as fluid as possible, schools where the 
pupil seeks the master, according to affinity, and departs to 
another according to need. 

The visible church does not consist of religious persons 
but of persons seeking religion, though how people could 
seek . religion without, in some degree, having the sense 



awakened for it, lie does not explain. The members of the 
true church, therefore, the masters in a divine art, shall be 
the priests, not indeed to exercise official authority, but by 
native superiority to have large respect and influence. 

The supreme foe of religion is death. Wheresoever there 
is activity there is hope. The state has been an evil in 
fluence in religion, because it has misled the church in its 
own work, and subjected it to an authority to which no art 
can submit without disaster. The state did not create the 
evils. Evils were inevitable in this as in ail human affairs, but 
the state has fixed the evils and made them permanent. He 
takes the most pessimistic view of the state church, and hopes 
for little good till, by a revolution, it is overturned, or till 
some other institution is allowed to grow up alongside of it. 

In all this the pupil of the Moravians is manifest. He 
calls attention to assemblies where no one man is priest 
by office, but any man speaks who has the inspiration, 
apparently assemblies of Moravians. But there is also a 
reason in his theory for making the visible society what 
Strauss has called " a merely infusorial life." Keligion 
seeks only one system, the Universe. Wherefore, custom 
and formality must be its chief foes. Hence, he never 
altered his description of the visible church in the text, 
though in the notes he acknowledges that the church con 
tains more religious people than he had thought and 
should, in so far as it is the communion of the pious, be an 

The last Speech has probably had more influence of 
various kinds than any part of the book. The polemic 
against the abstract jejune spirit of the Illumination 
applied to religion the same principle that had already been 
accepted by the younger generation in literature. Eeligion, 
being infinite, must have a principle of individualization. 
Here Schleiermacher s doctrine of individuality found appli 
cation. Each religion is not distinguished by the quantity 
of religious \ matter, but by the special form in which the 


matter is organized. The same religions matter appears in 
all religions, but the fundamental intuition, selected, not 
by any superiority but by some need or some insight of 
the people and the age that believe it, and the mode in 
which the rest is grouped around it, distinguish a positive 
religion. What this would mean in respect of Judaism 
he seeks to show. Though inadequate, there is deep and 
fruitful historical insight. The relation of Judaism to 
Christianity he never fully acknowledged, and ev r en in later 
life he preached almost exclusively from the New Testament. 
In his conception of Christianity his Moravian education 
appears. In Moravianism the doctrine of the total deprfevity 
of man and reconciliation by grace overshadowed all else. 
Hence, the fundamental view of Christianity is " the 
universal resistance of all things finite to the unity of the 
Whole and the way the Deity treats this resistance," and 
the prevailing Christian note is sadness, and its attitude 
ceaseless polemic against the difference between actuality 
and the religious idea. 

The relation of this central intuition of Christianity to its 
historical beginning and subsequent historical development 
is in the first edition very slight. The historical Christ 
seems at times only to be the discoverer and originator. 

But we shall better understand the changes in the 
second edition when we know Schleiermacher s lift up till 
its appearance in 1806. 

The " Speeches " were at first little known to the theo 
logical world. The adherents of the old rationalistic school 
were repelled by the pantheistic^ expressions in the book, 
which were more prominent in the first edition than in its 
later form. Sack, to whom Schleiermacher felt it his duty 
to acknowledge his authorship, marvelled why he should still 
wish to be a preacher of Christianity. Schlei eTmacher 
replied, " I hold the position of a preacher the noblest that 
a truly religious, virtuous and earnest soul can fill, and I 
shall never, with my will, exchange it with any other." 

b 2 


The elder Kantians, such as Schiller, thought the book pre 
tentious and barren, and troubled it no more. But in the 
Romantic circle, now gathered at Jena, it created a great 
enthusiasm. " Novalis and Schlegel/ Caroline Schlegel 
wrote Schleiermacher, " have made religion the order of the 
day/ Novalis wrote many poems under the immediate 
inspiration of the " Speeches." Already the interest of the 
older school in antiquity was passing, and the new school 
were deep in the Middle Ages. The new religion of 
intuition and feeling accorded with this vein, and soon the 
Christianity of the Middle Ages was the chief object of 
glorification. Already Schleiermacher was in opposition, 
telling Novalis that the papacy was the corruption, not the 
perfection of Catholicism, but the artistic admiration for 
Catholicism continued till many members of the Komantic 
School found their way into the Church of Rome. 

The offence of this book to the church party was 
increased by the " Confidential Letters on Lucinde " which 
followed it. Already Schleiermacher and Schlegel had 
drifted far apart: Schlegel had wonderful gifts of adap 
tation. He had even maintained for a time a friendship with 
Fichte, a man whose nature was nothing but ethical, ethical 
in the narrowest sense. But already Schleiermacher had had 
such proofs of Schlegel s unreliableness as even his self- 
sacrificing devoted friendship which gives him the high 
distinction of being the only person in the circle in whose 
letters Dilthey has found no duplicity, was unable to pass. 
Schlegel had caused Dorothea, the daughter of Mendelssohn, 
to separate from her husband, the banker Veit. Schleier 
macher sought to avert the separation, but when it was 
done he urged Schlegel to marry her. Schlegel showed 
himself utterly base and selfish in the whole matter, but 
Schleiermacher strove through it all to believe in him. 
Schlegel was always in want of money, always at least 
after he had drained his friends, and in his desire for funds 
he wrote a novel " Lucinde." Imagination utterly failed 


him, and to fill his book he set forth his relation with 
Dorothea, in a way which Dorothea herself considered a 
desecration of the temple of love, and Schleiermacher, in 
remonstrating with him, described as a public exhibition/ 
But necessities were urgent, and Schlegel published his 
book. At once a storm of adverse criticism arose. Dorothea 
straightway turned round and besought Schleiermacher to 
do something to defend her husband. He very unwillingly 
consented. The criticism had been more prudery than 
purity, and Schleiermacher hated all unreality; he also found 
in the book his own theory that the union of soul and body 
is necessary for a complete human life, but his " Letters/ 
" though a good commentary, bore traces of being on a bad 

Once more Schleiermacher stood largely alone. He 
occupied his mind in writing his " Monologues/ which 
developes his moral philosophy as the " Speeches " deve 
loped his religious philosophy. He also wrote upon the 
Jewish question, opposing the desire to convert the Jews to 
a nominal Christianity, and urging that all civil privileges 
should be accorded them in order that they might not 
be led to endanger Christianity by embracing it through 
indifference. But neither of those writings, so far as they 
were known to be his, tended to re-establish him ecclesias 

Yet it was another matter that drove him from Berlin. 
The current ideas of marriage were partly the result of the 
corrupt society of the Berlin that had grown up around the 
court of Frederick the Great, and partly of the spirit of a 
time when all institutions were in the crucible. Even 
Fichte is found recommending Dorothea Veit, after she 
had separated from her husband, to his wife s care. Schleier 
macher did not escape the spirit of the time. With a sub- 
tilty that frequently prevented him from seeing practical 
consequences, but which kept all his aberrations from 
being matters of caprice, he wrought his views into his 


system. He then held that where there was no true union, 
but where marriage was an emphatic hindrance to the 
development of the soul, separation was a duty. 

Here we find the weakness of all his early philosophiz 
ing. He was excessively short-sighted, the sensuous side 
of him was weak, he was of student s habits, and had a 
student s way of looking at life. To him an idea was a 
sufficient motive, and the ideal a sufficient standard ; and 
he was utterly ignorant of how much was needed to restrain 

Even with himself, however, this theorizing came to a 
practical result. Eleonore Griinow, the wife of a pastor in 
Berlin, had made an unhappy marriage. Griinow was not 
only somewhat of a boor towards his wife, but Dilthey says 
an immoral man. Schleiermacher began by giving sym 
pathy and good advice. Finally he advised divorce, and 
when no other prospect was open for Eleonore, he offered 

To leave her absolutely free, he accepted Sack s urgent 
offer to leave Berlin for a pastorate at Stolpe, away in the 
far north-east on the Baltic Sea. Eleonore finally resolved 
to continue to bear her burden, and though Schleiermacher 
passed through a very bitter struggle, long after, when he 
met Eleonore in an assembly, he went up to her and said, 
" God has been good both to you and me, Eleonore/ 

In much affliction of body as well as mind, almost 
entirely without the stimulus of literary companionship, 
with the utmost difficulty in obtaining the materials for 
study, he wrote in Stolpe his " Outlines of all Existing 
Theories of Morals." Plato alone he spared. The moderns 
seemed to him all to aim at one uniformity of ideal, without 
any acknowledgment of individuality. 

He also wrote on church reform, largely in the spirit of 
the Fourth Speech of this book. He would have union, 
not uniformity, freedom of belief and action. The 
diminished external dignity of churchmen he considered 


good. He wished to see matters so arranged that no one 
should be tempted to enter the ministry as an easy way of 
getting a livelihood, as was the case especially with persons 
of a lower social rank. He could wish another career to 
be open for all who do not love the calling, but as that is 
not possible, he would exclude " blockheads, idlers, and 
performers ! " Above all, every man shall speak the truth 
as he sees it, without fear of rank or prejudice. 

Finally he was occupied with the translation of Plato. 
It had been begun in partnership with Schlegel, but j 
Schlegel did practically nothing, breaking faith with Q 
Schleiermacher and the publisher in the most offensive 
manner. Schleiermacher set himself to the task alone, and 
his friend Reirner, the Berlin publisher, accepted the 
responsibilities, and for the first time paid him a reasonable 
price for his work. 

During all this time his chief interest had been in his 
preaching and his instruction of the young, and he had 
published a small volume of sermons. When a professor- 
ship at Halle was offered to him, therefore, it was an 
additional inducement that he was also to be University 
preacher. A. Reformed preacher was an innovation, and 
the University service was long postponed on various pre 
texts. Gradually however matters were arranged, and he 
began to approve himself as a teacher and to be recognized 
as a power in the pulpit. At this stage, in 1806, when 
political disasters were falling upon his country, he issued 
the second edition of this book. O^. v^ 

The nature and value of the many changes introduced ijft 

into the text have long been under discussion. Piinjer 
seems to consider them chiefly a marring of the original 
work. Lipsius thinks many valuable things in the first 
edition are dropped, especially the use of intuition in re 
ligion, feeling alone having largely taken its place, yet he 
grants many improvements. 

The discussion has largely turned on the author s 


f Pantheism )} or (t Spinozism," and his relation to histori 
cal Christianity. The most various views are defended. 
Schleiermacher began as a Pantheist, and ended in the same 

t way. Ritschl finds characteristic inconsistency. On the one 
hand Schleiermacher regards the Universe simply as a work 
of art, religion being the artistic sense applied to the Universe, 
which necessarily involves Pantheism ; on the other his 
doctrine of individuality gives a value to the individual as a 
whole within a whole, that is entirely Christian and opposed 
to Pantheism. Lipsius gives a very full and elaborate 

f comparison of the various editions. The first edition had 
elements in it that made it the outer court by which 
Schleiermacher himself and with him all modern theology 

entered into the Holy of Holies of Christianity. It was 
clearer, the psychological process was more justly con 
ceived, it was less troubled by artificial theory, but on the 
other hand the relation of religion to dogma and discipline 
is less justly conceived, the hesitation to ascribe person- 

ality to God is more marked. The later editions are only 
% Pantheistic in a very general way. Above all the author 
has found his place not only in Christianity but in 
Protestantism. Christianity is not now a transitory form, 
but has a fundamental relation to a state of things that can 
only end with time. Finally, Christ is not merely the 
originator of the Christian intuition of the world, and men 
are not merely Christians when they have His view, but 
He is the centre of all mediation and to have the Christian 
view is to be in a position to recognize His place when 

* He is shown us. Again the changes are explained simply 
I by difference of audience. The artistic paraphernalia are 

simply a device for awaking in men whose whole interest was 
in art, the sense for religion. This will certainly explain 
some changes. The time had quite passed, and new mis 
apprehensions had to be guarded against. 

Braasch defends Schleiermacher s own view of the 
changes. The later presentations are explained by the 


thoroughly successful attempt to formulate better the same 
.original conception of fundamental problems. The author s 
own view is^iven in the dedication to Brinkmann. The 
book; lie says, bears the impress of the period which gave 
it birth. But so utterly had the time changed that its 
use for the new race of readers and thinkers was to be 
doubted. Yet he might not now withhold it, having once 
given it to the public. The colour of the time in which it 
was written he neither could nor would remove. Where 
fore, he_has only altered details that might cause mis 
understandings, and chiefly concerning the relation of 
religion and philosophy. (t But what I would willingly 
have quite removed, had it been possible, is the mark, all 
too strongly impressed on the whole book, of the untrained 
beginner, who does not know the limits of the language he 
has to deal with and who cannot succeed in presenting an 

* object as clearly as he sees it." The essential meaning and 
purpose of the book, however, he believes to be unchanged, 
and even in the preface to the third edition he says that 
already, i.e. when this book was first written, his "way of 
thinking had reached the form in which, with the exception 
of what in every man years ripen and clarify, it has since 

Though every man is entitled to a hearing on his own 

l mental progress, he is not necessarily the best judge. Yet 

the main outlines of Schleiermacher s thought seem to have 

remained unchanged^ and if we allow the ripening and 

clarifying process to involve a considerable change of spiritual 

attitude we may accept his estimate. But he grew perhaps 
more than any man with the growing age, and the most 
superficial reader cannot fail to detect the difference. 

Three points of difference between the Halle theological 
professor of 1806 and the member of the Wednesday Club 
of 1799 make themselves apparent. 

First, he has drifted out of the Bomaiitic circle, and the 
effusiveness of the first edition, especially the gush about 


art has grown strange to him. Several references to 
himself are erased or toned down, notably his confession, 
that he wished to do homage to the goddess of art, and that 
the lack of the artistic sense is his most marked limitation. 
For the same cause he moderates some figures of speech 

and softens many statements. But the newer lava is much 
cooler than the old, and the mixture is a conglomerate of 
somewhat confused nature. This specially applies to the 
first part of the Second Speech. There is a slight difference 

of theory. Religion is feeling which gives reality to know- 
ledge and substance to morals. Religion in the old form 

was intuition and feeling, without much reference either 
to knowing or acting. Yet the excessive difficulty in the 
present exposition is not in any great difficulty of the new 
% theory, but in the fact thai/the Halle prof essor calmly said I 
will expound the relations of science, religion and ethics, 
whereas the Romanticist said passionately I must tear these 
metaphysical and ethical rags off religion that men may 
see it undisguised. 

This leads to the second difference. The Schleiermacher 
of 1806 was no longer in deadly struggle with the " Illumi 
nation," but had quite other misconceptions to guard 
against. To the Illumination God was not only outside of 
the world but outside of man. He was a person who 
rewarded and punished. Dogmas were abstractions, 
reached by understanding and useful for persuading to 
moral action. Away with your dogmas altogether, and 
away with your goodness produced by desire of Heaven and 

fear of Hell, was his message. Just what the Illumination 
gave no place to, was for Schleiermacher the surest part of 
religion, " that in Him we live and move, and have our 

being." Except through the world without and the world 
within there is no knowledge of God. In opposition to the 

Deistic view of God, he refuses to commit himself to any 
statement about God s existence as a person. 
1 Yet_even here it is evident that it is hesitation and not 


any definite Pantheistic creed that hinders him from 
ascribing personality to God. He is conscious of the value 
of his doctrine of individuality and he knows that it dis 
tinguishes his system from Spinoza. Place for it in the 
tlniverse there must be and God must be greater, not less. 
In a letter to Sack he defends anthropomorphistic expres 
sions in religion as necessary for any utterance of it, which 
means that our human ways of speech, such as to speak of 
God as a person like ourselves, are so utterly inadequate as 
to be no representation of reality, but still something on 
the way to truth. ut in rejecting religion as abstract 
doctrine meant to influence morals, he scarcely stopped to 
asl^jwhether there was any right religious thinking, or 
religious acting. 

In 1806 he stood opposed to an entirely different state 
I of matters. Religion among his ancient friends was now 

purely an aesthetic feeling, dogma was denounced religious 

discipline little regarded. The question of the relation of 
o religion to knowledge and morals was urgent. Schleier- 

macher solved the difficulty by saying that one part of the 
mind can take the other for its object. 

Thus the mind can make its feelings the object of its 
thought, and doctrines arise. Religious ideas are reflections 

on religious feeling. This is the conception he works out 

in the Glaubenslehre (the Doctrine of Faith). Doctrines 
are generalizations of feelings, but not therefore merely 
subjective, for the feelings are the result of the operation of 
Ee Universe, of personal experience, not merely of personal 

1 excitability. Lipsius thinks if he had retained his first 
conception of intuition he would have reached the truth. 

I Doctrines are abstractions from our intuitions as well as 
generalizations from our feelings. 

In the same way the will may make the feelings an object to 
work upon. Action is never to be from religion, but should 
always be with religion. This has been uniformly criticized 
as defective, but it rather seems to contain a profound truth. 


Is not much damage done because zeal issues in act before 
it has taken counsel with conscience, and spiritual disciplines 
are determined upon not as the ascetic which a man s own 
conscience has decreed for him, but as the result of imme 
diate feeling or of a fashion in the religious communion V 

This change of position necessarily involves somewhat 
more boldness in speaking of God and not merely of the 
Universe. A positive religion is determined not by a 
fundamental intuition of the Universe, but by a fundamen 
tal relation to God. Eeligion is somewhat strictly limited 
to feeling, and traces of the theory that religion is the feeling 
of absolute dependence, are manifest. That the theory is 
rendered more consistent is doubtful, but the change was 
made in the interests of a great truth, that religion has not 
merely an aesthetic but an ethical side. It has the merit 
at least of stating a problem and suggesting its solution. 
But the meaning of this theory will better appear in 
considering the Explanations. 

The third difference in the author which finds its way into 
the second edition, is his deeper historical consciousness. 
He has carried out a remorseless war against foreign 
words. In his earlier days he made an unusually free use of 
such words, but now, if any respectable native equivalent 
can be discovered, they receive their quittance. He begins 
with the title of the First Speech. " Apology " is supplanted 
by the German equivalent here translated " Defence." 
Even common words like philosophers and prophets are 
changed to seers and wise men. Universe, the favourite 
term of the first edition, is frequently replaced by Whole 
and All, words of sadly alien aspect in the English transla 
tion. These changes are by no means uniformly felicitous, 
but they mark one of the greatest movements of modern 
times. The artistic Tower of Babel Germany had been 
dissolved by the " confusion of tongues/ and now, as the 
shadow of the French invasion was gathering over her, her 
sons were waking to an earnest and practical love for their 
native land. 


Schleiermacher himself was conscious of the value of 
this patriotism for religion. He speaks of it on p. 255, 
note 2. For Schleiermacher J s theology as w^U a,s for his 
life this movement was of value. It was his high merit to 
have maintained the social nature of religion and the 
knowledge of divine things in life and not apart from it, 
but now he was to perceive the larger, more practical 
bearing of his own doctrine. If each man is a whole 
within a nationality that is a whole within humanity, a 
morality that begins with the general elements of reason in 
man, begins with duty to his country and to all men. 
Similarly a man not only has his own religion, he not only 
participates in the universal elements of all religion, but he 
is rooted in the form of religion in which his life has 

tX\x Va - v ^i^^-*.- - * - * ^* ^f t \ji T ^ 

grown. Historical facts he found to be realities of the 
spiritual life. In those years he had also struggled with 
himself and tested his theory in self-conquest, and found 
that however lofty the conception of the individual, indi 
vidual perfection is not an adequate moral aim. 

This change is most apparent in the striking addition 
called the ^Epilogue. Here in contrast to Friedrich 
Schlegel and his followers, he takes up a definite position 
not only as a Christian, but as a Protestant, and he has no 
more interest in new forms of religion either without or 
within Christianity. 

In the first edition he sets Christianity apart from all other 
religions. He says he does not care how heathen religions 
may be estimated. Judaism he describes for the value it 
once had, but reckons it dead. Christianity he sets forth 
unquestionably, according to his own demand, from his own 
experience. There is a strength and power in his descrip 
tion that bespeak personal devotion and reverence. 

Christianity is the religion of religions, a higher 
power of religion. All religions do something to mediate 
between the finite and the Infinite. But Christianity is 
conscious of this as its highest aim. And what Christianity 
is to other religions Christ is to other men. His expecta- 


tion of a new religion of humanity is not an anticipation 
that Christianity will be replaced, because he fears that its 
purpose can only end with time, but the hope of some new 
organization of the religious matter that may wake the 
religious sense in persons far distant from Christianity. It 
is parallel with the conception which he subsequently re 
jected also, that idol worshippers will need to be prepared 
for Christianity by Polytheism. 

Shortly after this second edition, he published his 
" Christmas Festival " (Weihnachtsfeier), a dialogue 
among representatives of various types of thought, who 
discuss the non-supernatural views of the occasion of the 

Hitherto Schleiermacher had been almost wholly a man 
of ideas. In 1807 the defeat at Jena brought disaster upon 
Prussia and upon Halle in particular. In the years of 
humiliation that followed he became a man of action. 
Even an opponent said, " In those years there was no 
better patriot." He rejoiced at the war because there 
could be no worse evil than base submission, but he did 
not deceive himself about the results. Napoleon, he 
believed, hated Protestantism as he hated all independent 
thought, and victory was scarcely to be hoped for except 
by a coalition among the Protestant states of the North, 
and then only after much purification by sorrow. The 
end would demand every effort and self-sacrifice, and it 
was worthy of it. "The lives of us all are rooted in German 
freedom and German sentiment, and they are at stake/ 

His own circumstances were of the worst. Any little 
possession he ever had, had been pillaged by the French 
soldiers. Napoleon, using as a pretext the conduct of 
the students, closed the University. For economy, 
Schleiermacher and his youngest sister who lived with 
him, joined Steffens in house -keeping, and even then he 
was indebted to a French officer for wood for his winter s 
fire. But as long as " potatoes and salt " would hold out he 


was determined not to move, although a tempting offer 
was made to him from Breslau. As opportunities arose he 
preached and did not shun to deal with the present sad 
state of things. Meantime in the corner of Steffens s study- 
he was as busy as ever with his pen. He is found review 
ing Fichte, the other great patriot of the time, with almost 
fierce hostility. History had become real to Schleiermacher ; 
Christianity he believed was the living power most needed 
at that time 5 and the cause of Protestantism and the cause 
of Germany he regarded as one ; and Fichte, he thought, had 
made light of all three. At this time also he issued his 
first effort at exegesis, an inquiry into the authenticity of 
the First Epistle of Timothy. The divineness of Christianity 
must stand by itself, and not depend on a different divine- 
ness of the Scriptures. Each book in the Bible must be 
"examined by itself and its authenticity must be established 
on the same canons that would be applied to any other 

At the close of 1807 he left Halle for Berlin. Halle had 
been transferred to Westphalia, and as he would not pray 
for the king and queen he could not preach. After long 
delay and much poverty a new sphere opened for him in 
Berlin. A new University was founded in the capital to 
replace Halle, and Schleiermacher had much to do with the 
construction of it. Once more he came into violent collision 
with Fichte, who wished to make the University a sort of 
philosophical cloister under the stern discipline of the state. 
Schleiermacher maintained that science to be prosperous 
must be independent of the state, even when it receives the 
state s support. By individual spirit and effort it must 
prosper, by men who really taught and who were not merely 
paid for having the right to forget the existence of the 
printing press. 

By the Peace of Tilsit Napoleon had divided a large part 
of the territory of Prussia among the neighbouring states, 
and he continued by many oppressive devices his policy of 


annihilation. The government was incapable of any right 
decision ; but a band of true patriots arose, who without 
any express union wrought together for the restoration of 
their country. Schleiermacher was a recognized member, 
and was despatched on several dangerous commissions. 

In 1808,, he was settled as preacher in the Dreifaltigkeits 
Church in Berlin, and he was not slow to use his oppor 
tunities for teaching national duties. Once he was 
summoned before the French commander Davoust, but he 
was so self-possessed that it came to nothing. During a 
short time of peace afforded by the war with Austria, he 
married the widow of his friend Willich ; a marriage which 
was none the less happy because it was begun with nothing 
in store and with the utmost uncertainty as to the future. 

The last link that bound him to the Romantic period was 
now broken. Friedrich Schlegel and his wife had already 
entered the Catholic Church ; and henceforward, while 
Schleiermacher was fighting for Prussia and for Protestant 
ism as one cause, Schlegel was in Austria, sinking ever 
deeper into Ultramontanism. 

The patriots under Stem s leadership desired reforms in 
the state. Schleiermacher seized the occasion to demand 
reforms in the church. He found the cause of the indiffer 
ence to public worship, of the failure of the religious 
sentiment to influence morals, of the want of an active 
relationship between preachers and their congregation, 
and of the utter lack of church discipline, in the subordina 
tion of the church to the state, in the idea that it was a 
mere state institute. 

During the last great struggle with Napoleon, after the 
disaster in Russia, Schleiermacher lent his aid in the 
formation of the militia. Every morning he lectured as 
usual, having determined to be the last to quit his post. 
He preached with prophetic voice, showing the spiritual 
purpose and the spiritual claims of such a time. Where 
blame seemed to him to be due he spoke out, and for a 


newspaper article was severely censured by the government. 
Finally he was among the first to enrol himself in a 
battalion of the Landwehr, and spent some hours every 
day in being drilled. 

After Napoleon s strength had been broken at Leipzig, 
Schleiermacher was even more gravely suspected by the 
government. For many years he had been subject to cramp 
in the stomach, and in the troubles of the time it increased 
upon him, but with tongue and pen he laboured to obtain 
the constitution that had been promised in the time of 

For the freedom of the church especially he felt called 
upon to fight. Instead of granting a constitution, the 
government appointed a commission to draw up a liturgy 
and to re-establish the ancient Lutheran rigidity. Schleier 
macher was already in bitter opposition to the spirit of the 
time which he felt there was no one to oppose, and now he 
came forward boldly as the critic of the commission. He 
desired a constitution based on congregational representa 
tion. To their presbyteries and synods he would give all 
matters of order and discipline. The teacher must be free 
to speak the truth and he must not be bound by any 
formula, but where he departs from the spirit and truth of 
Christianity so as to alienate from him the congregation, 
he is to be dealt with by the church authorities. 

The king, not content with the commission, issued a 
liturgy, largely composed by himself, which was enforced 
in military churches, and was being extended to others. It 
was directly contrary to the spirit of the Reformed Church, 
and the manner of introduction was opposed to the spirit of 
Protestantism. Schleiermacher, therefore, in spite of the 
difficulty of opposing the king, felt called upon to speak. 
The new liturgy was not only rigid, it gave the sermon and 
congregational singing a very inferior place. Protestant 
worship, Schleiermacher maintained, is based on truth and 
freedom, and to that end teaching must have a prominent 


place, and the congregation must have a large liberty to 
use the means best suited for its own edification. 

He is also found defending the rights of critical study 
of the Scriptures. " Purest simplest faith and sharpest 
testing are one and the same, for no one that would believe 
what is divine, should wish to believe deceptions old or 
new, his own or other peoples ." 

A certain outward unity of the Lutheran and Eeformed 
Churches had been brought to pass chiefly by the authority 
of the king. Schleiermacher felt that a movement of this 
kind should have been the outcome of the Christian 
sentiment of the community ; but he also felt it his duty to 
forward it by whatever means it might have been accom 
plished. This union, however, was followed by the most 
arbitrary attempts at uniformity. The king, a well-meaning 
but rather weak man, was convinced by his court ecclesiastics 
that from Constantine and Charlemagne he inherited the 
right and duty to be head of the church, and that this 
transference of ecclesiastical power to the Prince of the 
land was the true outcome of the Keformation. Schleier 
macher with trenchant argument and pungent sarcastic 
wit, replied. While he spared such honest enthusiasts as 
Harms, he chastised the time-servers with scorpions. If 
all the Reformation did was to transfer the Pope s power 
to the Prince of the land, he thought there was need of 
another reformation. The agenda was right for a 
community that had been reared in the Catholic Church, 
but Luther himself would have been the first to resist its 
imposition in a merely traditional spirit on the church of 
the Nineteenth Century. 

For many years the struggle continued. Schleiermacher 
was regarded as a political agitator, who sought to introduce 
republicanism into the church as a beginning for introducing 
into the state. 

Meantime a movement similar to the High Church move 
ment which followed in England some ten years later was 


passing over Germany. Schleiermacher gradually felt that 

the spirit of the time was not with him. The people still 
were on his side, but he was not fitted to be a popular leader 
and years and illness were telling upon him. While smaller 
men had been dealt with by the authorities, he had been too 
terrible an opponent to touch, and now many concessions 

were made to him. Finally he accepted a much simpler 
form of the agenda, on the understanding that he was to use 

it as he liked. Thus the strife ended, and with it the 
hope of a church that might by its own free vitality have 
produced a new religious life in Germany. 

In the midst of these struggles he produced his last 
great work, his " Christian Doctrine of Faith " (Christliche 
Glaubenslehre) , and, immediately after its publication, the 
third edition of the Speeches " appeared. The J;ext was 
little changed except in details of expression, but the 
Explanations at the end of each Speech were added. They 
represent the third and last stage of Schleiermacher s 

These Explanations are not to be regarded as expositions 
of the text. They are an attempt to harmonize his earlier 
utterances with his later, to guard against misconceptions, 
to give more precise expression to the old ideas, usually in 
the new dress of the Glaubenslehre, and finally to point out 
to his time the lessons of his former teaching. 

Strauss criticizes them very unfavourably. He considers 
them a superintendence of the youthful Schleiermacher by 
the old, which gives an unpleasant impression and " is the 
same petty smallness of soul with which the theologians of 
the Catholic Church compelled the Antinicene Fathers into 
agreement with Athanasian orthodoxy." Had he said this 
of the changes in the second edition there might have been 
some force in it. In how far it applies to the Explanations 
the reader has the means of judging. There is certainly a 
very great difference of tone, and no man can harmonize 
his youth with his old age without some sub til ty, but to 

c 2 


most minds the contrast will not give an unpleasant 
impression, but be a very interesting study in the growth 
of a very striking mind. 

These notes are not all alike of the same value, but they 
touch on most points in Schleiermacher s later thinking as 
set forth in his tc Doctrine of Faith " and an earlier work 
prepared in anticipation of the arrangement of the theolo 
gical faculty in Berlin University, "A Short Presentation 
of Theological Study" (Kurze Darstellung des theologischen 
Studiums). In this latter writing he accepts the funda 
mental fact of Christianity as entirely original, yet coming 
to him through the consciousness existing in the Christian 
or rather the Protestant communion. Theology therefore 
is a positive science of the existing Christian consciousness 
of God, linked to the practical task of guiding the church. 
There are three chief divisions, philosophical, to find 
the place of Christianity in general religion, leading to 
apologetics historical and practical. Most characteristic 
for his way of thinking is the insertion, not only of Dog 
matics but of Exegesis among historical sciences. 

In the Introduction to the " Doctrine of Faith " he 
discusses many matters already treated in this book, as can 
be seen from the frequent references in the Explanations. 

Without the " Speeches " indeed it is hardly possible to 
understand the whole bearing of his later views, especially 
his doctrine that piety is the consciousness that we are 
absolutely dependent, or what he considers the same thing, 

I in relation to God. It is simply the old feeling and 
intuition of the Universe with the idea of God more definite, 

and with a more definite moral purpose. Hegel s criticism 
that it would make Schleiermacher s dog more pious than 
himself may be a fair criticism of the terminology, but it 

has no truth in respect of the matter of the theory. It is 
simply the consciousness of the roots of our nature. 

We live in the region of antithesis, but God is the 
% unity of knowing and being. Wherefore, though we are 


, we cannot have a consciousness 
that can stand outside of Him and regard Him, but cne of 
immediate contact only, and therefore of absolute depen- 
dence. This is not separate from our other experience but 
is simply one side, the consciousness of freedom being the 
other. Piety embodies itself in communities or churches, 
and it may be distinguished by the stage or by the kind. 
The first stage is Idolatry based on a confused sense of the 
world, on admiration and terror ; next there is Polytheism, 
involving clear sense perception and sense of law in 
difference. The feeling of absolute dependence, however, 
is only perfect in Mc^oth^ism, jvhich involves a deeper_self- 
consciousness that finds everything in itself and therefore 
everything in harmony with itself, and thus sees the world 
as system. There have been three Monotheistic religions. 
Judaism, however, by its constant limitation of God to 
Israel has afiinities with Idolatry, and Mahommedanism, by 
its sensuous and passionate character, shows Polytheistic 
elements. Christianity, therefore, is the highest stage of 
. piety. 

In kind, Christianity is distinguished as more teleolo- 
gical, that is, its pious emotions bear more on the moral than 
on the natural state of man, the Kingdom of Heaven being 
its chief end. Judaism gives more prominence to personal 
feeling and Mahommedanism is the aesthetic type of piety, 
its feeling of absolute dependence bearing on the passive 
side of life. 

Further, Christianity is distinguished by its relation to 
the redemption accomplished by Jesus of Nazareth. His 
appearance in history is as a divine revelation not abso 
lutely supernatural or above reason. Every beginning is in 
one sense supernatural, yet for the production of every man 
there must have been an indwelling power of development 
in the species, and though Christ, to be a universal divine 
revelation, must be entirely set apart from other men, yet 
human nature must have had the power to take up into it 


the divine as it was in Christ]. The actual implanting could 
only be by a divine, an eternal act, but the temporal issue 
of the act in a special person must be founded in the 
original constitution of hunjian nature. And without more 
than human reason He could not be a Redeemer for all, and 
yet in a sense all that WJjs in Christ must be in man, 

before we could have any r^eed to be reconciled. There is 
no way of sharing in Christian fellowship except by faith 
in Jesus as the Redeemer. Dogmatic theology is the science 
of the connection of the teaching valid in a Christian society 

I at a given time. The firs-.t duty of the theologian is to 
discover a rule to distinguish the false from the true. In 
Christianity there are four natural heresies, which either 
make Christ too near or too far from human nature, so that 
either it cannot be redeemecl ; or it does not need redemption. 
There are two Christologicul, the Ebionite and the Docetic, 
and two anthropological, th e Pelagian and the Manicheean. 
Further the theologian must either be Protestant or 
Catholic. In so far as the Reformation was not merely 
purification of abuses, Protestantism makes the relation of 
the individual to the church dependent upon his relation 
to Christ, Catholicism on the contrary makes the relation 
of the individual to Christ dependent on his relation to the 

Like many other men i>i Germany at that time he lec 
tured on a wide range of subjects. As a philosopher he 
enjoyed a reputation not second to his colleague Hegel, 
with whom, as an apostle of ideas and a Tory of the deepest 
dye in all things social ami political, he was frequently in 
collision. He lectured o n politics, aesthetics, education, 
philology and all departments of theology. Many of the 
notes for these lectures have been published and help to fill 
in the outlines of his scheme of thought. 

In his own home, where in addition to his wife s 
two children by her foriner marriage, there were three 
daughters and a son of his own, he enjoyed the most 


perfect happiness. He had many friends and much social 
intercourse, which on account of very early rising did not 
hinder him from overtaking an astounding amount of work. 
Holidays were usually spent in travelling. He was a 
great pedestrian, and even when most broken down by ill- 
health and overwork, several days walking in all weathers 
restored him. At times he made longer journeys and was 
once at least in this country. 

I In 1829 his only son Nathaniel died. He made the 
funeral speech himself, but he felt that at his age such a 

$ wound heals no more/ He had long been acknowledged 

* as the greatest preacher of his time. In the main his 
audience consisted of educated people, particularly of 
students, but he had hearers of all classes. A journal had 
described him as a great man, and a sublime preacher. 
* We Germans, he said, ascribe greatness to so few that 
to say it of a man of my stamp can only be absurd, and 
sublimity in preaching is against my principles. The 
sublimer the Gospel the simpler must the preaching of it 

be. His style was conversational, in the highest degree 
natural, forcible and adapted to all. But after his son s 
death there was larger depth of sympathy, he spoke more 
persistently of God s love in Christ, and he was frequently 
moved even to tears. 

Almost to the end he was able to carry on all his work. 
The will which had enabled him to work in so much sick 
ness, now resisted nature too far and he was seized with 
inflammation of the lungs. On his death-bed he said " I am 
in a state between consciousness and unconsciousness, but I 
have the divinest moments. I must think the profoundest 
speculative thoughts, and they are quite one with the 
tenderest religious feelings. Once he cried " Lord I suffer 
much." Soon after the pain passed, then as if meditating he 
said, " Lord, I have never clung to the dead letter, and we 
have the propitiatory death of Jesus Christ, His body and 
His blood. I have ever believed and believe still that the 



Lord Jesus gave the Supper in water and wine." Then 
raising himself, he said, " Are you also at one with me in 
this faith that the Lord Jesus blessed also the water in the 
wine ? " On the assent of the by-standers he continued, 
" Then let us take the Supper, you the wine and me the 
water. Let no one be troubled about the form." After 
the words of the institution he said, " On these words of 
the Scripture I rest, they are the foundation of my faith/ 
Then turning to his wife he said, " In this love and commu 
nion we are and remain one." A few moments more and 
he had departed. It was the 12th of February, 1834. 
t To enter on the various criticisms of this book is impos- 
I sible. Its jx>wer was not in satisfying but in stimulating 

the mind. The historical results, however, have been 
estimated in comparatively short space by Neander and 
Ritschl, men of pre-eminent qualifications. 

"Whosoever," says Neander, " participated in the re 
ligious movements at the beginning of the Nineteenth Cen 
tury, will recognize how a pantheistic enthusiasm can be for 
many a thoughtful and profound spirit a starting-point for 

faith in the Gospel. Specially important, as a stepping- 
stone to the theological and religious development, was the 
appearance of the " Speeches on Keligion" by the late 

1 Schleiermacher. This book was the occasion of a great 
revolution and mighty stirring of spirits. Men of the 
older generation, adherents of the ancient Christian super- 
naturalism or earnest Rationalists whose living faith in a 
God above the world and a life beyond was a relic of 
it, rejected the pantheistic elements in the book with anger 
and detestation. But those who were then among the rising 
generation, know with what might this book that testified 
in youthful enthusiasm of the neglected religious elements 
in human nature, wrought upon the heart. In opposition 
tp_ji one-sided intellectualism, it was of the greatest im 
portance that the might of religious feeling, the seat of 
religion in the heart, should be pointed out. It was a 



weighty impulse to science that men were directed from 
the~aFbitrary^ abstfaS^jiggregata- callad ihe_..Beligioa -of 

Reason to the historicalsignificance, ia the flesh and blood 
of life, of religion, and of Christianity as part of religion. 
TEsliccorded with the newly awakened interest and sense 
for historical research." 

E/itschl is not free from using Schleiermacher as a pulpit 
from which to preach to his age, and is more concerned to 
show defects. He regards this book as the religious 
programme of Romanticism. It represents a movement 
that would necessarily have had a large influence without 
it, yet the soil would not have been so fruitful either of bad 

or good had not Schleiermacher tilled it. On page 144, 
note 4, Schleiermacher disowns Pietism, nevertheless it 

^ was intimately connected with him. Both had their root 

in Moravianism. Pietism, influenced by Methodism, made 
a keen sense of sin a condition of assurance of Grace, while 
Schleiermacher followed the earlier Moravian type of a 
child-like disposition towards God. Yet this penitence was 
largely the refinement of the aesthetic sense so conspicuous 
in the " Speeches." The Pietists differ also from him in 
attaching the state of feeling to the Lutheran doctrine of 
Justification, and yet their position is derived from Schleier- 
macher s view of Christianity as reconciling men who by 
nature cannot receive anything that is of the Spirit of 
God, and they hold with him the prevailing mood of 
Christianity to be sadness. Their type of preaching too, 
is Schleiermacher s mastership in the religious art. Where 
fore they only influenced persons of a higher rank, and the 
communion of the " awakened," in the consciousness of 
having proved their artistic sense in religion, regarded 
themselves as the aristocracy of the church. They lacked 
Schleiermacher s large view of what makes a characteristic 
personality, gave a smaller place than he did to religious 
communion, and treated all their members as only on the 

threshold of the Christian life. Above all they had nothing 



of his belief that all things lead to God, but having no 
gospel for the six working days, had no message for the 
great mass of the toilers. 

Hierarchical Orthodoxy was justified by Schleiermacher s 
principle that " in their circle the perfect in religion have 

to rule." The modern Hierarchists are in their own 
opinion Lutherans, but in truth they are modified Schleier- 
macherites. Their illusion of infallibility and dislike to 
painful discussion does not rest on a knowledge of 
Keformation theology, but on the aesthetic sense, the 
musical temperament. 

" Strauss in religious science never had a positive, a 
fruitful, or even an original thought, but he has ever urged 
the thought of another beyond the proper measure." 
His materialism is only the winter covering of what when 

the sun was high was his Romantic culture. The high 
value assigned to individuality by Schleiermacher was 
omitted by Strauss. Nor has it been rightly estimated by 
any of his followers. Their movement has not followed 
the conditions of personal responsibility and moral freedom, 
and has been contrary to moral progress and characteristic 
development of the individual. 

In practical matters Schleiermacher s influence has 
been towards creating a hybrid unworkable relation of 
the church to the state. 

In scientific theology his examination of the general 
idea of religion in relation to its kinds and grades, marks 

an era. His conception of each individual religion as an 
organic whole is of great value, but he has encouraged the 

neglect of the study of the cult. Nor are his conceptions 
of Judaism or Christianity adequate. Many of his most 
valuable suggestions have been neglected by his successors, 
and the lack of systematic and exhaustive treatment which 
was necessary for his aim in this book, has had an evil 
influence on the method of his successors. 




IT may be an unexpected and even a marvellous under 
taking, that any one should still venture to demand 
from the very class that have raised themselves above 
the vulgar, and are saturated with the wisdom of the 
centuries, attention for a subject so entirely neglected by 
them. And I confess that I am aware of nothing that 
promises any easy success, whether it be in winning for my 
efforts your approval, or in the more difficult and more 
desirable task of instilling into you my thought and in 
spiring you for my subject. From of old faith has not 
been every man s affair. At all times but few have discerned 
religion itself, while millions, in various ways, have been 
satisfied to juggle with its trappings. Now especially the 
life of cultivated people is far from anything that might 
have even a resemblance to religion. Just as little, I know, 
do you worship the Deity in sacred retirement, as you visit 
the forsaken temples. In your ornamented dwellings, the 
only sacred things to be met with are the sage maxims of 
our wise men, and the splendid compositions of our poets. 
Suavity and sociability, art and science have so fully taken 
possession of your minds, that no room remains for the 
eternal and holy Being that lies beyond the world. I 


know how well you have succeeded in making your earthly 
life so rich and varied, that you no longer stand in need of 
an eternity. Having made a universe for yourselves, you 
are above the need of thinking of the Universe that made 
you. You are agreed, I know, that nothing new, nothing 
convincing can any more be said on this matter, which on 
every side by sages and seers, and I might add by scoffers 
and priests, has been abundantly discussed. To priests, 
least of all, are you inclined to listen. They have long 
been outcasts for you, and are declared unworthy of your 
trust, because they like best to lodge in the battered ruins 
of their sanctuary and cannot, even there, live without 
disfiguring and destroying it still more. All this I know, 
and yet, divinely swayed by an irresistible necessity within 
me, I feel myself compelled to speak, and cannot take back 
my invitation that you and none else should listen to me. 

Might I ask one question ? On every subject, however 
small and unimportant, you would most willingly be taught 
by those who have devoted to it their lives and their 
powers. In your desire for knowledge you do not avoid 
the cottages of the peasant or the workshops of the humble 
artizans. How then does it come about that, in matters of 
religion alone, you hold every thing the more dubious when 
it comes from those who are experts, not only according to 
their own profession, but by recognition from the state, and 
from the people ? Or can you perhaps, strangely enough, 
show that they are not more experienced, but maintain 
and cry up anything rather than religion ? Scarcely, my 
good sirs ! Not setting much store on a judgment so 
baseless I confess, as is right, that I also am a member of 
this order. I venture, though I run the risk, if you do not 
give me an attentive hearing, of being reckoned among 
the great crowd from which you admit so few exceptions. 

This is at least a voluntary confession, for my speech would 
not readily have betrayed me. Still less have I any expec 
tations of danger from the praise which my brethren will 


bestow on this undertaking, for my present aim lies almost 
entirely outside ihgir sphere, and can have but small re 
semblance to what they would most willingly see and hearS- 
With the cry of distress, in which most of them join, 
over the downfall of religion I have no sympathy, for I 
know no age that has given religion a better reception 
than the present. I have nothing to do wit i the conserva 
tive and barbarian lamentation whereby they seek to rear 
again the fallen walls and gothic pillars of their Jewish Zion. 

Why then, as I am fully conscious that in all I have 
to say to you I entirely belie my profession, should I not 
acknowledge it like any other accident ? Its prepossessions 
shall in no way hinder us. Neither in asking nor in answer 
ing shall the limits it holds sacred be valid between us. 
As__a^Lan I speak to you of the sacred secrets of mankind 
accordingjo my views .of what was in me as with youthful 
enthusiasm I sought the unknown, oT: what since then I 
have thought and experienced, of the innermost springs of 
my being which shall for ever remain for me the highest, 
however I be moved by the changes of time and mankind. 
I dp not speak from any reasoned resolve, nor from hope, 
nor from fear. Nor_ia_it_dpne from any caprice or accident. 
Rather it is the pure necessity of my nature ; it is a divine 
call ; it is that which determines my position in the world 
and makes me what I am. Wherefore, even if it were neither 
fitting nor prudent to speak of religion, there is something 
which compels me and represses with its heavenly power 
all those small considerations. 

You know how the Deity, by an immutable law, has 
compelled Himself to divide His. great work even to 
infinity. Each definite thing- can only be made up by 
melting together two opposite activities. Each of His 
eternal thoughts can only be actualized in two hostile yet 
twin forms, one of which cannot exist except by means of 
the other. The whole corporeal world, insight into which 
is the highest aim of your researches, appears to the best 

B 2 


instructed and most contemplative among you, simply a 
never-ending play of opposing forces. Each life is merely 
the uninterrupted manifestation of a perpetually renewed 
gain and loss, as each thing has its determinate existence 
by uniting and holding fast in a special way the opposing 
forces of Nature. Wherefore the spirit also, in so far as 
it manifests itself in a finite life, must be subject to the 
same law. The human soul, as is shown both by its pass 
ing actions and its inward characteristics, has its existence 
chiefly in two opposing impulses. Following the one im 
pulse, it strives to establish itself as an individual. For 
increase, no less than sustenance, it draws what surrounds 
it to itself, weaving it into its life, and absorbing it into its 
own being. The other impulse, again, is the dread fear to 
stand alone over against the Whole, the longing to sur 
render oneself and be absorbed in a greater, to be taken 
hold of and determined. All you feel and do that bears on 
your separate existence, all you are accustomed to call 
enjoyment or possession works for the first object. The 
other is wrought for when you are not directed towards 
the individual life, but seek and retain for yourselves what 
is the same in all and for all the same existence, that in 
which, therefore, you acknowledge in your thinking and 
acting, law and order, necessity and connection, right and 
fitness. Just as no material thing can exist by only one 
of the forces of corporeal nature, every soul shares in the 
two original tendencies of spiritual nature. At the ex 
tremes one impulse may preponderate almost to the ex 
clusion of the other, but the perfection of the living world 
consists in this, that between these opposite ends all com 
binations are actually present in humanity. 

And not only so, but a common band of consciousness 
embraces them all, so that though the man cannot be other 
than he is, he knows every other person as clearly as himself, 
and comprehends perfectly every single manifestation of 
humanity. Persons, however, at the extremes of this great i 


series, are furthest removed from such a knowledge of the 
whole. The endeavour to appropriate, too little influenced 
by the opposite endeavour, takes the form of insatiable 
sensuality that is mindful only of its individual life, and en 
deavours only in an earthly way to incorporate into it more 
and more material and to keep itself active and strong. 
Swinging eternally between desire and enjoyment, such 
persons never get beyond consciousness of the individual, 
and being ever busy with mere self-regarding concerns, they 
are neither able to feel nor know the common, the whole 
being and nature of humanity. To persons, on the other hand, 
too forcibly seized by the opposite impulse, who, from defec 
tive power of grasp, are incapable of acquiring any charac 
teristic, definite culture, the true life of the world must just as 
much remain hidden. It is not granted them to penetrate 
with plastic mind and to fashion something of their own, 
but their activity dissipates itself in a futile game with 
empty notions. They never make a living study of any 
thing, but devote their whole zeal to abstract precepts that 
degrade everything to means, and leave nothing to be an 
end. They consume themselves in mistaken hate against 
everything that comes before them with prosperous force. 
How are these extremes to be brought together, and the 
long series be made into a closed ring, the symbol of 
eternity and completeness V 

Persons in whom both tendencies are toned down to an un 
attractive equilibrium are not rare, but, in truth, they stand 
lower than either. For this frequent phenomenon which so 
many value highly, we are not indebted to a living union of 
both impulses, but both are distorted and smoothed away to 
a dull mediocrity in which no excess appears, because all 
fresh life is wanting. This is the position to which a false 
discretion seeks to bring the younger generation. But were 
the extremes avoided in no other way, all men would have 
departed from the right life and from cpjrtemplation of 
the truth, the higher spirit would have vanished from the 


world, and the will of the .Deity been entirely frustrated. 
Elements so separated or so reduced to equilibrium would 
disclose little even to men of deep insight, and, for a 
common eye that has no power of insight to give life to 
the scattered bones, a world so peopled would be only a 
mock mirror that neither reflects their own forms nor 
allows them to see behind it. 

Wherefore the Deity at all times sends some here and there, 
who in a fruitful manner are imbued with both impulses, 
either as a direct gift from above, or as the result of a severe 
and complete self-training. They are equipped with wonder 
ful gifts, their way is made even by an almighty indwelling 
word. They are interpreters of the Deity and His works, 
i.nd reconcilers of things that otherwise would be eternally 
divided. I mean, in particular, those who unite those 
opposing activities, by imprinting in their lives a character 
istic form upon just that common nature of spirit, the 
shadow of which only appears to most in empty notions, as 
an image upon mist. They seek order and connection, 
right and fitness, and they find just because they do not lose 
themselves. Their impulse is not sighed out in inaudible 
wishes, but works in them as creative power. For this 
power they create and acquire, and not for that degraded 
animal sensuality. They do not devour destructively, but, 
creatively recasting, they breathe into life and life s tools 
a higher spirit, ordering and fashioning a world that bears 
the impress of their mind. Earthly things they wisely 
control, showing themselves lawgivers and inventors, 
heroes and compellers of nature, or, in narrower circles, 
as good fairies they create and diffuse in quiet a nobler 
happiness. By their very existence they prove themselves 
ambassadors of God, and mediators between limited man 
and infinite humanity. To them the captive under the 
power of empty notions may look, to perceive in their 
works the right object of his own incomprehensible 
requirements, and in their persons the material hitherto 


despised, with which, he ought to deal. They interpret 
fJoTjiim the misunderstood voice of God, and reconcile 
him to the earth and to his place thereon. Far more 
the earthly and sensual require such mediators from 
whom to learn how much of the highest nature of 
humanity is wanting to their own works and ways. They 
stand in need of such a person to oppose to their base 
animal enjoyment another enjoyment, the object of which 
is not this thing or that, but the One in All, and All in One, 
an object that knows no other bounds but the world, that 
the spirit has learned to comprehend. He is needed to 
show to their anxious, restless self-love, another self-love 
whereby man in this earthly life and along with it loves 
the highest and the eternal, and to their restless passionate 
greed a quiet and sure possession. 

Acknowledge, then, with me, what a priceless gift the 
appearance of such a person must be when the higher feel 
ing has risen to inspiration, and can no longer be kept 
silent, when every pulse-beat of his spiritual life takes 
communicable form in word or figure, so that, despite of his 
indifference to the presence of others, he almost unwillingly 
becomes for others the master of some divine art. This is 
the true priest of the highest, for he brings it nearer those 
who are only accustomed to lay hold of the finite and the 
trivial. The heavenly and eternal he exhibits as an object of 
enjoyment and agreement, as the sole exhaustless source of 
the things towards which their whole endeavour is directed. 
In this way he strives to awaken the slumbering germ of 
a better humanity, tq__kindle love for higher things, to 
change the common life into a nobler, to reconcile the 
children of earth with the Heaven that hears them, and 
to counterbalance the deep attachment of the age to the 
baser side. This is the higher priesthood that announces 
the innej* meaning* of all spiritual secrets^ and speaks from 
the kingdom of God. It is the source of all visions and 
prophecies, of all the sacred works of art and inspired 


speeches that are scattered abroad, on the chance of finding 
some receptive heart where they may bring forth fruit. 

Might it sometime arrive that this office of mediator 
cease, and a fairer destiny await the priesthood of humanity ! 
Might the time come, which an ancient prophecy describes, 
when no one should need to be taught of man, for they 
should all be taught of God ! If everywhere the sacred fire 
burned, fervid prayers would not be needed to call it down 
from heaven, but only the placid quiet of holy virgins 
to maintain it. Nor would it burst forth in oft-dreaded 
flames, but would strive only to communicate equally to all 
its hidden glow. In quiet, then, each one would illumine 
himself and others. The communication of holy thoughts and 
feelings would be an easy interchange, the different beams 
of this light being now combined and again broken up, now 
scattered, and again here and there concentrated on single 
objects, A whispered word would then be understood, 
where now the clearest expression cannot escape miscon 
ception. Men could crowd together into the Holy of Holies 
who now busy themselves with the rudiments in the outer 
courts. How much pleasanter it is to exchange with 
friends and sympathizers completed views, than to go into 
the wide wilderness with outlines barely sketched ! But 
how far from one another now are those persons between 
whom such intercourse might take place ! They are 
scattered with as wise an economy among mankind, as the 
hidden points from which the elastic primordial matter 
expands on every side are in space. The outer boundaries 
of their sphere of operations just touch so that there is no 
void, yet one never meets the other. A wise economy 
indeed ! for all their longing for intercourse and friend 
liness is thus wholly directed towards those who stand most 
in need, and they labour the more persistently to provide 
for themselves the comrades they lack. 

To this very power I now submit, and of this very nature 
is my call. Permit me to speak of myself. You know that 


what is spoken at the instigation of piety cannot be pride, 
for piety is always full of humility. Piety was the mother s 
womb, in whose sacred darkness my young life was 
nourished and was prepared for a world still sealed for it. 
In it my spirit breathed ere it had yet found its own place 
in knowledge and experience. It helped me as I began to 
sift the faith of my fathers and to cleanse thought and 
feeling from the rubbish of antiquity. When the God and 
the immortality of my childhood vanished from my doubt 
ing eyes it remained to me. 2 "Without design of mine it 
guided me into active life. It showed me how, with my 
endowments and defects, I should keep myself holy in an 
undivided existence, and through it alone I have learnt 
friendship and love. In respect of other human excellences, 
before your judgment-seat, ye wise and understanding of 
the people, I know it is small proof of possession to be able 
to speak of their value. They can be known from descrip 
tion, from observation of others, or, as all virtues are 
known, from the ancient and general traditions of their 
nature. But religion is of such a sort and is so rare, that 
whoever utters anything of it, must necessarily have had it, 
for nowhere could he have heard it. Of all that I praise, 
all that I feel to be the true work of religion, you would find 
little even in the sacred books. To_the man who has not 
himself experienced it, it would only be an annoyance and a 

Finally, if I am thus impelled to speak of religion and to 
deliver my testimony, to whom should I turn if not to the 
sons of Germany ? Where else is an audience for my 
speech ? It is not blind predilection for my native soil or 
for my fellows in government and language, that makes me 
speak thus, but the deep conviction that you alone are 
capable, as well as worthy, of having awakened in you the 
sense for holy and divine things. Those proud Islanders 
whom many unduly honour, know no watchword but gain 
and enjoyment. Their zeal for knowledge is only a sham 


fight, their worldly wisdom a false jewel, skilfully and 
deceptively composed, and their sacred freedom itself too 
often and too easily serves self-interest. They are never 
in earnest with anything that goes beyond palpable utility. 3 
All knowledge they have robbed of life and use only as 
dead wood to make masts and helms for their life s voyage 
in pursuit of gain. Similarly they know nothing of religion, 
save that all preach devotion to ancient usages and defend its 
institutions, regarding them as a protection wisely cherished 
by the constitution against the natural enemy of the state. 

For other reasons I turn from the French. On them, 
one who honours religion can hardly endure to look, for 
in every act and almost in every word, they tread its 
holiest ordinances under foot. The barbarous indifference 
of the millions of the people, and the witty frivolity with 
which individual brilliant spirits behold the sublimest fact 
of history that is not only taking place before their eyes, 
but has them all in its grasp, and determines every move 
ment of their lives, witnesses clearly enough how little they 
are capable of a holy awe or a true adoration. What does 
religion more abhor than the unbridled arrogance with 
which the rulers of the people bid defiance to the eternal 
]aws of the world ? What does it inculcate more strongly 
than that discreet and lowly moderation of which aught, 
even the slightest feeling, does not seem to be suggested 
to them ? What is more sacred to it than that lofty 
Nemesis, of whose most terrible dealings in the intoxication 
of infatuation they have no understanding ? Where varied 
punishments that formerly only needed to light on single 
families to fill whole peoples with awe before the heavenly 
Being and to dedicate to eternal Fate the works of the poets for 
centuries, are a thousandfold renewed in vain, how ludicrously 
would a single lonely voice resound unheard and unnoticed. 

Only in my native land is that happy clime which 
refuses no fruit entirely. There you find, though it be 
only scattered, all that adorns humanity. Somewhere, 


in individuals at least, all that grows attains its most 
beautiful form. Neither wise moderation, nor quiet con 
templation is wanting ; there, therefore, religion must find 
a refuge from the coarse barbarism and the cold worldly 
mind of the age. 

Or will you direct me to those whom you look down upon 
.as rude and uncultured, as if the sense for sacred things 
had passed like an old-fashioned garment to the lower 
portion of the people, as if it became them alone to 
be impressed with belief and awe of the unseen ? You are 
well disposed towards these, our brethren. You would 
have -them addressed also, on other higher subjects, on 
morals, justice and freedom, that for single moments, at 
least, their highest endeavours should be turned towards 
better things, and an impression of the worth of man be 
awakened in them. Let them be addressed at the same 
time on religion ; arouse occasionally their whole na.ture ; 
let the holiest impulse, asleep or hidden though it be, be 
brought to life ; enchant them with single flashes, charmed 
from the depths of their hearts ; open out of their narrow 
lives a glimpse into infinity ; raise even for a moment their 
low sensuality to the high consciousness of human will and 
of human existence, and much cannot fail to be won. But, 
pray you, do you turn to this class when you wish to unfold 
the inmost connection and the highest ground of human 
powers and actions, when idea and feeling, law and fact 
are to be traced to their common source, when you would 
exhibit the actual as eternal and necessarily based in the 
na^e of humanity ? l!s it not as much as can be looked 
for if your wise men are understood by the best among you ? 
Now that is just my present endeavour in regard to religion. 
1 do not seek to arouse single feelings possibly belonging to 
it, nor to justify and defend single conceptions, but I would 
conduct you into the profoundest depths whence every feel 
ing uud conception receives its form. I would show you from 
what human tendeiicyjeligiou proceeds and how it belongs 


to what is for you highest and dearest. To the roof of the 
temple I would lead you that you might survey the whole 
sanctuary and discover its inmost secrets. 

Do you seriously expect me to believe that those who 
daily distress themselves most toilsomely about earthly 
things have pre-eminent fitness for becoming intimate with 
heavenly things, those who brood anxiously over the next 
moment and are fast bound to the nearest objects can 
extend their vision widest over the world, and that those, 
who, in the monotonous round of a dull industry have not 
yet found themselves will discover most clearly the living 
Deity ! Surely you will not maintain that -to your 
shame ? You alone, therefore, I can invite, you who are 
called to leave the common standpoint of mankind, who do 
not shun the toilsome way into the depths of man s spirit to 
find his inmost emotions and"seeT the living worth and con- 
nection of his outward works. 

Since this, became clear to me, I have long found myself 
in the hesitating mood of one who has lost a precious jewel, 
and does not dare to examine the last spot where it could 
be hidden. There was a time when you held it a mark of 
special courage to cast off partially the restraints of inherited 
dogma. You still were ready to discuss particular subjects, 
though it were only to efface one of those notions. Such a 
figure as religion moving gracefully, adorned in eloquence, 
still pleased you, if only that you wished to maintain in the 
gentler sex a certain feeling for sacred things. But that 
time is long past. Piety is now no more to be spoken of, and 
even the Graces, with most unwomanly hardness, destroy 
the tenderest blossoms of the human heart, and I can link the 
interest I require from you to nothing but your contempt. 
I will ask you, therefore, just to be well informed and 
thorough-going in this contempt. 

Let us then, I pray you, examine whence exactly religion 
has its rise. Is it from some clear intuition, or from some 
vague thought ? Is it from the different kinds and sects 


of religion found in history, or from some general idea which 
you have perhaps conceived arbitrarily ? Some doubtless 
will profess the latter view. But here as in other things the 
ready judgment may be without ground, the matter being 
superficially considered and no trouble being taken to gain 
an accurate knowledge. Your general idea turns on fear of 
an eternal being, or, broadly, respect for his influence on the 
occurrences of this life called by you providence, on expec 
tation of a future life after this one, called by you immor 
tality. These two conceptions which you have rejected, 
are, you consider, in one way or another, the hinges of all 
religion. But say, my dear sirs, how you have found this ; 
for there are two points of view from which everything 
taking place in man or proceeding from him may be 
regarded. Considered from the centre outwards, that 
is according to its inner quality, it is an expression of 
human nature, based in one of its necessary modes of acting 
or impulses or whatever else" you like to call it, for I will 
not now quarrel with your technical language. On the 
contrary, regarded from the outside, according to the defi 
nite attitude and form it assumes in particular cases, it is 
a product of time and history. From what side have you 
considered religion that great spiritual phenomenon, that 
you have reached the idea that everything called by this 
name has a common content ? You can hardly affirm that 
it is by regarding it from within. If so, my good sirs, you 
would have to admit that these thoughts are at least in 
some way based in human nature. And should you say 
that as now found they have sprung only from misinterpre 
tations or false references of a necessary human aim, it 
would become you to seek in it the true. and eternal, and to 
unite your efforts to ours to free human nature from the 
injustice which it always suffers when aught in it is mis 
understood or misdirected. 

By all that is sacred, and according to that avowal, some 
thing must be sacred to you, I adjure you, do not neglect 


this business, that mankind, whom with us you honour, 
do not most justly scorn you for forsaking them in a grave 
matter. If you find from what you hear that the business is 
as good as done, even if it ends otherwise than you expect, 
I venture to reckon on your thanks and approval. 

But you will probably say that your idea of the content 
of religion is from the other view of this spiritual phe 
nomenon. You start with the outside, with the opinions, 
dogmas and usages, in which every religion is presented. 
They always return to providence and immortality. For 
these externals you have sought an inward and original 
source in vain. Wherefore religion generally can be nothing 
but an empty pretence which, like a murky and oppressive 
atmosphere, has enshrouded part of the truth. Doubtless 
this is your genuine opinion. But if you really consider 
these two points the sum of religion in all the forms in 
which it has appeared in history, permit me to ask whether 
you have rightly observed all these phenomena and have 
rightly comprehended their common content ? If your idea 
has had its rise in this way you must justify it by instances. 
If anyone says it is wrong and beside the mark, and if he 
point out something else in religion not hollow, but having 
a kernel of excellent quality and extraction, you must first 
hear and judge before you venture further to despise. Do 
not grudge, therefore, to listen to what I shall say to those 
who, from first to last, have more accurately and laboriously 
adhered to observation of particulars. 

You are doubtless acquainted with the histories of human 
follies, and have reviewed the various structures of religious 
doctrine from the senseless fables of wanton peoples to the 
most refined Deism, from the rude superstition of human 
sacrifice to the ill-put together fragments of metaphysics 
and ethics now called purified Christianity, and you have 
found them all without rhyme or reason. I am far from 
wishing to contradict you. Eat her, if you really mean 
that the most cultured religious system is no better than 


the rudest, if you only perceive that the divine, cannot 
lie in a series that ends on both sides in something ordinary 
and despicable, I will gladly spare you the trouble of esti 
mating further all that lies between. Possibly they may all 
appear to you transitions and stages towards the final form. 
Out of the hand of its age each comes better polished and 
carved, till at length art has grown equal to that perfect 
plaything with which our century has presented history. 
But this consummation of doctrines and systems is often 
anything rather than consummation of religion. Nay, not 
Tnlrequently, the progress of the one has not the smallest 
connection with the other. I cannot speak* of it without 
indignation. All who have a regard for what issues from 
within the mind, and who are in earnest that every side of 
man be trained and exhibited, must bewail how the high and 
glorious is often turned from its destination and robbed of 
its freedom in order to be held in despicable bondage by 
the scholastic spirit of a barbarian and cold time. What 
are all these systems, considered in themselves, but the 
handiwork of the calculating understanding, wherein only by 
mutual limitation each part holds its place ? What else 
can they be, these systems of theology, these theories of the 
origin and the end of the world, these analyses of the nature 
of an incomprehensible Being, wherein everything runs to 
cold argufying, and the highest can be treated in the tone 
of a common controversy ? And this is certainly let me 
appeal to your own feeling not the character of religion. 

If you have only given attention to these dogmas and 
opinions, therefore, you do not yet know religion itself, and 
what you despise is not it. Why have you not penetrated 
deeper to find the kernel of this shell ? I am astonished at 
your voluntary ignorance, ye easy-going inquirers, and at the 
all too quiet satisfaction with which you linger by the first 
thing presented to you. Why do you not regard-the religious 
life itself, and first those pious exaltations of the mind in 
which all other known activities are set aside or almost sup- 


pressed, and the whole soul is dissolved in the immediate 
feeling of the Infinite and Eternal ? In such moments the 
disposition you pretend to despise reveals itself in pri 
mordial and visible form. He only who has studied and truly 
known man in these emotions can rediscover religion in those 
outward manifestations. He will assuredly perceive some 
thing more in them than you. Bound up in them all some 
thing of that spiritual matter lies, without which they could 
not have arisen. But in the hands of those who do not under 
stand how to unbind it, let them break it up and examine 
it as they may, nothing but the cold dead mass remains. 

This recommendation to seek rather in those scattered 
and seemingly undeveloped .elements your object that 
you have net yet found in the developed and the com 
plete to which you have hitherto been directed, cannot 
surprise you who have more or less busied yourselves with 
philosophy, and are acquainted with its fortunes. With 
philosophy, indeed, it should be quite otherwise. From its 
nature it must strive to fashion itself into the closest con 
nection. That special kind of knowledge is only verified 
and its communication assured by its completeness, and yet 
even here you must commence with the scattered and in 
complete. Eecollect how very few of those who, in a way 
of their own, have penetrated into the secrets of nature 
and spirit, viewing and exhibiting their mutual relation and 
inner harmony in a light of their own, have put forth at 
once a system of their knowledge. In a finer, if more fragile 
form, they have communicated their discoveries. 

On the contrary, if you regard the systems in all schools, 
how often are they mere habitations and nurseries of the dead 
letter. With few exceptions, the plastic spirit of high con 
templation is too fleeting and too free for those rigid forms 
whereby those who would willingly grasp and retain what is 
strange, believe they are best helped. Suppose that any one 
held the architects of those great edifices of philosophy, with 
out distinction, for true philosophers ! Suppose he would 


learn from them the spirit of their research ! Would you not 
advise him thus, " See to it, friend, that you have not lighted 
upon those who merely follow, and collect, and rest satisfied 
with what another has furnished : with them you will never 
find the spirit of that art : to the discoverers you must 
go, on whom it surely rests/ To you who seek religion I 
must give the same advice. It is all the more necessary, 
as religion is as far removed, by its whole nature, from all 
that is systematic as philosophy is naturally disposed to it. 

Consider only with whom those ingenious erections 
originate, the mutability of which you scorn, the bad pro 
portions of which offend you, and the incongruity of which, 
with your contemptuous tendency, almost strikes you as 
absurd. Have they come from the heroes of religion? 
Name one among those who have brought down any 
kind of new revelation to us, who has thought it worth 
his while to occupy himself with such a labour of 
Sisyphus, beginning with Him who first conceived the idea 
of the kingdom of God, from which, if from anything in 
the sphere of religion, a system might have been produced 
to the new mystics or enthusiasts, as you are accustomed to 
call them, in whom, perhaps, an original beam of the inner 
light still shines. You will not blame me if I do not reckon 
among them the theologians of the letter, who believe the 
salvation of the world and the light of wisdom are to be 
found in a new vesture of formulas, or a new arrangement 
of ingenious proofs. In isolation only the mighty thunder 
of their speech, announcing that the Deity is revealing 
Himself through them, is accustomed to be heard when the 
celestial feelings are unburdened, when the sacred fires 
must burst forth from the overcharged spirit. Idea and 
word are simply the necessary and inseparable outcome of 
the heart, only to bo understood by* it and along with it. 
.Doctrine is only united to doctrine occasionally to remove 
misunderstanding or expose unreality. 

From many such combinations those systems were gradu- 


ally compacted. Wherefore, you must not rest satisfied with 
the repeated oft-broken echo of that original sound. You 
must transport yourselves into the interior of a pious soul and 
seek to understand its inspiration. In the very act, you 
must understand the production of light and heat in a soul 
surrendered to the Universe. 4 . Otherwise you learn nothing 
of religion, and it goes with you as with one who should too 
late bring fuel to the fire which the steel has struck from 
the flint, who finds only a cold, insignificant speck of coarse 
^ metal with which he can kindle nothing any more. 

I ask, therefore, that you turn from everything usually 
reckoned religion, and fix your regard on the inward emo 
tions and dispositions, as all utterances and acts of inspired 
men direct. Despite your acquirements, your culture and 
your prejudices, I hope for good success. At all events, till 
you have looked from this standpoint without discover 
ing anything real, or having any change of opinion, or 
enlarging your contemptuous conception, the product of 
superficial observation, and are still able to hold in ridicule 
this reaching of the heart towards the Eternal, I will *not 
confess that I have lost. Then, however, I will finally 
believe that your contempt for religion is in accordance with 
your nature, and I shall have no more to say. 

Yet you need not fear that I shall- betake myself in the 
end to that common device of representing how necessary 
religion is for maintaining justice and order in the world. 
Nor shall I remind you of an all-seeing eye, nor of the un 
speakable short-sightedness of human management, nor of 
the narrow bounds of human power to render help. Nor 
shall I say how religion is a faithful friend and useful stay 
of morality, how, by its sacred feelings and glorious pros 
pects, it makes the struggle with self and the perfecting of 
goodness much easier for weak man. Those who profess 
to be the best friends and most zealous defenders do indeed 
epeak in this way. Which of the two is more degraded in 
being thus thought of together, I shall not decide, whether 


justice and morality which are represented as needing 
support, or religion which is to support them, or even 
whether it be not you to whom such things are said. 

Though otherwise this wise counsel might be given you, how 
could I dare to suppose that you play with your consciences 
a sort of fast and loose game, and could be impelled by 
something you have hitherto had no cause to respect and 
love to something else that without it you already honour, 
and to which you have already devoted yourselves ? Or 
suppose that these Speeches were merely to suggest what 
you should do for the sake of the people ! How could you, 
who are called to educate others and make them like your 
selves, begin by deceiving them, offering them as holy 
and vitally necessary what is in the highest degree in 
different to yourselves, and which, in your opinion, they 
can again reject as soon as they have attained your level ? 
I, at least, cannot invite you to a course of action in which 
I perceive the most ruinous hypocrisy towards the world 
and towards yourselves. To recommend religion by such 
means would only increase the contempt to which it is at 
present exposed. Granted that our civil organizations are 
still burdened with a very high degree of imperfection and 
have shown but small power to prevent or abolish injustice, 
it would still be a culpable abandonment of a weighty 
matter, a faint-hearted unbelief in the approach of better 
things, if religion that in itself is not otherwise desirable 
must be called in. 

Answer me this one question. Could there be a legal 
constitution resting on piety ? 5 Would not the whole idea 
that you hold so sacred vanish as soon as you took such a 
point of departure ? Deal with the matter directly, there 
fore, if it seems to be in. such an evil plight. Improve the 
laws, recast the whole constitution, give the state an iron 
hand, give it a hundred eyes if it has not got them already. 
At least do not allow those it has to sleep veiled in delusion. 
If you leave a business like this to an intermediary, you 

c 2 


have never managed it. Do not declare to the disgrace of 
mankind that your loftiest creation is but a parasitic plant 
that can only nourish itself from strange sap. 

Speaking from your standpoint, law must not even 
require morality to assure for it the most unlimited juris 
diction in its own territory. It must stand quite alone. 
Statesmen must make it universal. Now quite apart from the 
question whether what only exists in so far as it proceeds 
from the heart can be thus arbitrarily combined, if this 
general jurisdiction is only possible when religion is com 
bined with law, none but persons skilled to infuse the spirit 
of religion into the human soul should be statesmen. And 
in what dark barbarousness of evil times would that land us ! 

Just as little can morality be in need of religion. A 
weak, tempted heart must take refuge in the thought of 
a future world. But it is folljr_t<^ make a distinction 
between this world and the next. Religious persons at 
least know only one. If the desire for happiness is foreign 
to morality, later happiness can be no more valid than 
earlier ; if it should be quite independent of praise, dread 
of the Eternal cannot be more valid than dread of a wise . 
man. If morality loses in splendour and stability by every 
addition, how much more must it lose from something that 
can never hide its foreign extraction. 

All this, however, you have heard of sufficiently from those 
who defend the independence and might of the moral law. 
Yet let me add, that to wish to transport religion into another 
sphere that it may serve and labour is to manifest towards it 
also great contempt. It is not so ambitious of conquest as to 
seek to reign in a foreign kingdom. The power that is its 
due, being earned afresh at every moment, satisfies it. 
Everything is sacred to it, and above all everything holding 
with it the same rank in human nature. 6 .But it must 
render a special service ; it must have an aim ; it must 
show itself useful ! What degradation ! And its defenders 
should be eager for it ! 


At the last remove, morality and justice also must conduce 
to some further advantage. It were better that such utili 
tarians should be submerged in this eternal whirlpool of 
universal utility, in which everything good is allowed to go 
down, of which no man that would be anything for himself 
understands a single sensible word, than that they should 
venture to come forward as defenders of religion, for of all 
men they are least skilled to conduct its case. High 
renown it were for the heavenly to conduct so wretchedly 
the earthly concerns of man ! Great honour for the free 
and unconcerned to make the conscience of man a little 
sharper and more alert ! For such a purpose religion does 
not descend from heaven. What is loved and honoured 
only on account of some extraneous advantage may be 
needful, but it is not in itself necessary, and a sensible 
person simply values it according to the end for which it is 
desired. By this standard, religion would be valueless 
enough. I, at least, would offer little, for I must confess 
that I do not believe much in the unjust dealings it would 
hinder, nor the moral dealings it would produce. If that 
is all it could do to gain respect, I would have no more to 
do with its case. To recommend it merely as an accessory 
is too unimportant. An imaginary praise that vanishes on 
closer contemplation, cannot avail anything going about 
with higher pretensions. I maintain that in all better 
souls piety springs necessarily by itself ; that a province of 
its own in the mind belongs to it, in which it has un 
limited sway; that it is worthy to animate most profoundly 
the noblest and best and to be fully accepted and known 
by them. That is my contention, and it now behoves you 
to decide whether it is worth your while to hear me, before 
you still further strengthen yourselves in your contempt. 


(1) Page 3. Though I had been several years in the ministry 
when this was written, I stood very much alone among my professional 
brethren, and my acquaintance with them was small. What is here 
rather hinted at than uttered was more a distant presentiment 
than clear knowledge. Longer experience, however, and friendly 
relations have only confirmed the judgment, that any deeper insight 
into the nature of religion generally, or any genuinely historical, real 
way of regarding the present state of religion is much too rare among 
the members of our clerical order. We should have fewer complaints 
of the increase of the sectarian spirit and of factious religious 
associations, if so many of the clergy were not without understand 
ing of religious wants and emotions. Their -stand-point generally is 
too low. From the same cause we have the miserable views so often 
expressed respecting the means necessary for remedying this so-called 
decay of religion. It is an opinion that will probably find little 
favour, which yet, for the right understanding of this passage 
I cannot hide, that a deeper speculative discipline would best 
remove this evil. Most of the clergy, however, and most of those who 
train them, do not acknowledge this necessity, because they foolishly 
suppose it would render them more unpractical. 

(2) Page 9. The first conception both of God and immortality, 
which at a time when the soul lives entirely in images is always 
highly sensuous, does not, by any means, always vanish. With 
most it is gradually purified and elevated. The analogy with the 
human in the conception of the Highest Being and the analogy with 
the earthly still remains the shell of the hidden kernel. But those 
who are early absorbed in a pure contemplative endeavour take 
another way. There is nothing in God, they say to themselves, 
opposed, divided or isolated. Wherefore nothing human can be said 

Him. Nothing earthly is to be transferred from the earthly 
world that gave it birth in our souls. Both conceptions, therefore, 
^D" in their first forms are found untenable, they become incapable of 

living reproduction and disappear. But this does not involve any 
positive unbelief, not even any positive doubt. The childish form 


vanishes with the known sensuous co-efficient, but the unknown 
greatness remains in the soul, and its reality is apparent in the 
endeavour to connect it with another co-efficient and so to bring it to 
a higher actual consciousness. In this endeavour faith is implicit, 
even when no fully satisfactory solution is reached. The unknown 
greatness, even though it do not appear in any definite result, is 
yet^present in all operations of the spirit. The author was, therefore, 
far removed from suggesting that there ever was a time when, he 
was an unbeliever or an atheist. Such a misunderstanding could only 
arise in those who have never felt the speculative impulse to an- 
nibilate anthropomorphism in the conception of the Highest Being, 
an impulse most clearly expressed in the writings of the profoundest 
Christian teachers. 

(3) Page 10. It is to be remembered that the severe judgment of 
the English people was given at a time when it seemed necessary to 
protest strongly against the prevailing Anglomania. Moreover, the 
popular interest in missions and the spread of the Bible was not then 
as apparent as it is now. Yet I would not on that account retract 
much from my earlier judgment. For one thing the English are 
well accustomed to organized private companies, whereby they unite 
their individual resources for important undertakings. The results 
obtained in this way are so great that persons, caring for nothing 
but the progress of culture and the gain to be made of it, are not ex 
cluded from sharing in enterprises that have taken their rise with a 
far smaller number of truly pious people, and yet the principle is 
not weakened. Nor is it to be denied that those undertakings are 
regarded by a great number more from a political and mercantile point 
of view. The pure interest of Christian piety does not dominate as 
appears in this, that the religious needs at home have been attended 
to much later and with much less brilliant result. These are merely 
indications whereby I would express my belief that a closer acquaint 
ance with the state of religion in England would rather confirm 
than disprove the above opinion. The same would apply to what 
was said about the scientific spirit. As France and England were 
almost the only countries in which we were interested, and which had 
much influence in Germany, it seemed superfluous to glance elsewhere. 
.At present it might not be wrong to say a word on the capacity in 
the Greek Church for such researches. Despite the fine veil cast 
over it by the fascinating panegyrics of a Stourdza, all depth is lost 
in the mechanism of antiquated usages and liturgical forms. In all 
that is most important for a mind aroused to reflection, it still stands 
far behind the Catholic Church. 

(4) Page 18. A pious spirit, which is here unquestionably the sub- 


ject of discourse, is elsewhere always defined as a soul surrendered to 
God. But here the Universe is put for God and the pantheism of 
the author is undeniable ! This is the interpolation, not interpreta 
tion of superficial and suspicious readers who do not consider that 
the subject here is the production of light and warmth in such a 
spirit, the springing of such pious emotions as pass immediately 
into religious ideas and views (light) and into a temperament 
of surrender to God (warmth). It was therefore desirable to call 
attention to the way in which such emotions take their rise. 
They arise when a man surrenders himself to the Universe, and are 
only habitual in a spirit" in which such surrender is habitual. Not 
only in general, but on each occasion we are conscious of God and of 
His divine power and godhead by the word of creation, and not by 
any one thing taken by itself, but by it only in so far as it is 
embraced in the unity and completeness in which alone God is 
immediately revealed. The further development of this subject 
can be seen in my " Glaubenslehre," 8, 2, and 36, 1, 2. 

(5) Page 19. That the state would not be a constitution if it 
rested on piety, does not mean that the state so long as it labours 
under imperfection can do without piety, the thing that best supplies 
all deficiency and imperfection. This would only mean, however, 
that it is politically necessary for the citizens to be pious in pro 
portion as they are not equally and adequately pervaded by the 
legal principles of the state. Huma.nly speaking this perfection is 
not to be looked for, but were it once effected the state, in respect of 
its own particular sphere of operation, could dispense with the piety 
of its members. This appears from the fact that- in states where 
constitutionalism has not quite triumphed over arbitrariness, the 
relation of piety between the governor and the governed is most 
prominent and religious institutions have most sway. This ceases 
when the constitution is strengthened, unless indeed an institution 
have some special historical basis. When afterwards (page 20) it is 
said that statesmen must be able to produce universally in men the 
sense of law, it will doubtless appear absurd to those who think of 
the servants of the state. But the word statesman is here taken in 
the sense of the ancient TroXiriKos, and it means less that he accom 
plishes something definite in the state, a thing entirely accidental, 
than that he first of all lives in the idea of the state. The dark times 
referred to are the theocratic times. I make this reference because 
Novalis, my very dear friend in other respects, wished once more to 
glorify the theocracy. It is still, however, my strong conviction that 
it is one of the most essential tendencies of Christianity to separate 
completely church and state, and I can just as little agree with that 


glorification of the theocracy as with the opposite view that the 
church should ever more and more be absorbed in the state. 

(6) Page 20. I am not using the privileges of the rhetorical method 
to say to the despisers of religion at the very beginning that piety 
surpasses morality and law. Also I was not concerned in this place 
to say which is first, for, in my opinion, piety and scientific specula 
tion share with each other, and the more closely they are conjoined 
the more both advance. The distinction however will be found in 
my " Glaubenslehre," but here I had to defend the equal rank of 
morality, law and piety in human nature. In so far as the two 
former do not involve an immediate relation of man to the 
Highest Being, they are inferior to the third, but all alike regulate 
as essentially what is eminent and characteristic in human nature. 
They are functions of human nature not to be subordinated to one 
another, and in so far are equal. Man can just as little be thought 
of without capacity for morality or endeavour after government as 
without capacity for religion. 



You know how the aged Simonides, by long and repeated 
hesitation, put to silence the person who troubled him with 
the question, What are the gods ? Our question, What is 
religion ? is similar and equally extensive, and I would fain 
begin with a like hesitation. Naturally I would not mean 
by ultimate silence, as he did, to leave you in perplexity. 
But you might attempt something for yourselves; you 
might give steady and continuous attention to the point 
about which we are inquiring ; you might entirely exclude 
other thoughts. Do not even conjurors of common spirits 
demand abstinence from earthly things and solemn stillness, 
as a preparation, and undistracted, close attention to the 
place where the apparition is to show itself? How much more 
should I claim ? It is a rare spirit that I am to call forth, 
which can, only when long regarded with fixed attention, 
be recognized as the object of your desire. You must have 
that unbiassed sobriety of judgment that seizes clearly and 
accurately every outline. Without being misled by old 
memories or hindered by preconceptions, you must 
endeavour to understand the object presented simply by 
itself. Even then it may not win your love, and otherwise 
I cannot hope for any unanimity about the meaning of 
religion or any recognition of its worth. 

I could wish to exhibit religion in some well known 
form, reminding you, by feature, carriage and deportment, 
of what here and there at least you have seen in life. 
Religion, however, as I wish to show it, which is to say, in 


its own original, characteristic form, is not accustomed to 
appear openly, but is only seen in secret by those who love 
it. Not that this applies to religion alone. Nothing 
that is essentially characteristic and peculiar can be quite 
the same as that which openly exhibits and represents it. 
Speech, for example, is not the pure work of science nor morals 
of intention. Among ourselves at the present time this is 
specially recognized. It belongs to the opposition of the new 
time to the old that no longer is one person one thing, but 
everyone is all things. Just as among civilized peoples, by 
extensive intercourse their characteristic ways of thought no 
longer appear unalloyed, so in the human mind there is such 
a complete sociableness founded, that no special faculty or 
capacity, however much it may be separated for observation, 
can ever, in separation, produce its work. Speaking 
broadly, one is, in operation, influenced and permeated by 
the ready love and support of the others. The predominat 
ing power is all you can distinguish. Wherefore every 
activity of the spirit is only to be understood, in so far as a 
man can study it in himself. Seeing you maintain that in 
this way you do not know religion, it is incumbent upon 
me to warn you against the. errors that naturally issue from 
the present state of things. We shall, therefore, begin by 
reviewing the main points in your own position to see 
whether they are right, or whether we may from them 
reach the right. . ^ 

Religion is for you at one time a way of thinking, a faith, 
a peculiar way of contemplating the world, and of combin 
ing what meets us in the world : at another, it is a way of 
acting, a peculiar desire and love, a special kind of con 
duct and character. Without this^distinction of a theoreti- 

v i ~: 

cal and practical you could hardly think at all, and though 
both sides belong to religion, you are usually accustomed 
to give heed chiefly to only one at a time. Wherefore, we 
shall look closely at religion from both sides. 

We commence with religion as a kind of activity. 


Activity is twofold, having to do with life and with art. You 
w ould ascribe with the poet earnestness to life and cheer 
fulness to art ; or, in some other way, you would contrast 
them. Separate them you certainly will. For life, djity is 
the watchword. The moral law shall order it, and virtue 
shall show itself the ruling power in it, that the individual 
may be in harmony with the universal order of the world, 
and may nowhere encroach in a manner to disturb and 
confuse. This life, you consider, may appear without any 
discernible trace of art. Rather is it to be attained by 
rigid rules that have nothing to do with the free and 
variable precepts of art. Nay, you look upon it almost as a 
rule that art should be somewhat in the background, and 
non-essential for those who are strictest in the ordering of 
life. On the other hand, imagination shall inspire the 
artist, and genius shall completely sway him. Now im 
agination and genius are for you quite different from virtue 
and morality, being capable of existing in the largest 
measure along with a much more meagre moral endowment. 
Nay you are inclined, because the prudent power often 
comes into danger by reason of the fiery power, to relax for 
the artist somewhat of the strict demands of life. 

How now does it stand with piety, in so far as you regard 
it as a peculiar kind of activity ? Has it to do with right 
living ? Is it something good and praiseworthy, yet different 
from morality, for you will not hold them to be identical ? But 
in that case morality does not exhaust the sphere which it 
should govern. Another power works alongside of it, and 
has both right and might to continue working. Or will 
you perhaps betake yourselves to the position that piety is 
a virtue, and religion a duty or section of duties ? Is religion 
incorporated into morality and subordinated to it, as a part 
to the whole ? Is it, as some suppose, special duties towards 
God, and therefore a part of all morality which is the per 
formance of all duties ? But, if I have rightly appreciated 
or accurately reproduced what you say, you do not think so. 


Yourather seem to say that the pious person lias something en 
tirely peculiar, both in his doing and leaving undone, and that 
morality can be quite moral without therefore being pious. 

And how are religion and art related ? They can hardly 
be quite alien, because, from of old, what is greatest in art 
has had a religious character. When, therefore, you speak 
of an artist as pious, do you still grant him that relaxation 
of the strict demands of virtue ? Rather he is then sub 
jected, like every other person. But then to make the cases 
parallel, you must secure that those who devote themselves 
to life do not remain quite without art. Perhaps this 
combination gives its peculiar form to religion. With your 
view, there seems no other possible issue. 

Religion then, as a kind of activity, is a mixture of 
elements that oppose and neutralize each other. Pray is 
not this rather the utterance of your dislike than your 
conviction ? Such an accidental shaking together, leaving 
both elements unaltered, does not, even though the most 
accurate equality be attained, make something specific. 
But suppose it is otherwise, suppose piety is something 
which truly fuses both,. then it cannot be formed simply by 
bringing the two together, but must be an original unity. 
Take care, however, I warn you, that you do not make such 
an admission. Were it the case, morality and genius apart 
would be only fragments of the ruins of religion, or its 
corpse when it is dead. Keligion were then higher than 
both, the true divine life itself. But, in return for this 
warning, if you accept it, and discover no other solution, 
be so good as tell me how your opinion about religion is to 
be distinguished from nothing? Till then nothing remains 
for me but to assume that you have not yet, by exami 
nation, satisfied yourselves about this side of religion. 
Perhaps we shall have better fortune with the other side 
what is known as the way of thinking, or faith. 

You will, I believe, grant that your knowledge, however 
many-sided it may appear, falls, as a whole, into two con- 


trasted sciences. How you shall subdivide and. name 
belongs to the controversies of your schools, with which at 
present I am not concerned. Do not, therefore, be too 
critical about my terminology, even though it come from 
various quarters. Let us call the one division physics or 
A metaphysics, applying both names indifferently, or indicating 
/ sections of the same thing. Let the other be ethics or the 
doctrine of duties or practical philosophy. At least we are 
agreed about the distinction meant. The former describes 
the nature of things, or if that seems too much, how man 
conceives and must conceive of things and of the world as 
the sum of things. The latter science, on the contrary, 
teaches what man should be for the world, and what he 
should do in it. Now, in so far as religion is a way of 
thinking of something and a knowledge about something, 
v has it not the same object as these sciences? What does 
faith know about except the relation of man to God and to 
the world God s purpose in making him, and the world s 
power to help or hinder him ? Again it distinguishes in its 
own fashion a good action from a bad. Is then religion 
identical with natural science and ethics ? You would not 
agree, you would never grant that our faith is as surely 
founded, or stands on the same level of certainty as your 
scientific knowledge ! Your accusation against it is just that 
it does not know how to distinguish between the demonstrable 
and the probable. Similarly, you do not forget to remark 
diligently that very marvellous injunctions both to do and 
leave undone have issued from religion. You may be quite 
right ; only do not forget that it has been the same with that 
which you call science. In both spheres you believe you 
have made improvements and are better than your fathers. 
What then, are we to say that religion is ? As before, 
that it is a mixture mingled theoretical and practical 
knowledge ? But this is even less permissible, particularly 
if, as appears, each of these two branches of knowledge 
has its own characteristic mode of procedure. Such 


a mixture of elements that would either counteract or 
separate, could only be made most arbitrarily. The 
utmost gain to be looked for would be to furnish us 
with another method for putting known results into shape 
for beginners, and for stimulating them to a further study. 
But if that be so, why do you strive against religion ? You 
might, so long as beginners are to be found, leave it in 
peace and security. If we presumed to subject you, you 
might smile at our folly, but, knowing for certain that you 
have left it far behind, and that it is only prepared for us 
by you wiser people, you would be wrong in losing a serious 
word on the matter. But it is not so, I think. Unless I 
am quite mistaken, you have long been labouring to pro 
vide the mass of the people with just such an epitome of 
your knowledge. The name is of no consequence, whether 
it be f( religion " or " enlightenment " or aught else. But 
there is something different which must first be expelled, 
or, at least, excluded. This something it is that you call 
belief, and it is the object of your hostility, and not an 
article you would desire to extend. 

Wherefore, my friends, belief must be something different 
from a mixture of opinions about God and the world, and of 
precepts for one life or for two. Piety cannot be an instinct 
craving for a mess of metaphysical and ethical crumbs. If it 
were, you would scarcely oppose it. It would not occur to 
you to speak of religion as different from your knowledge, 
however much it might be distant. The strife of the cultured 
and learned with the pious would simply be the strife of 
depth and thoroughness with superficiality ; it would be the 
strife of the master with pupils who are to emancipate them 
selves in due time. 

Were you, after all, to take this view, I should like 
to plague you with all sorts of Socratic questions, till I 
compelled many of you to give a direct answer to the 
question, whether it is at all possible to be wise and pious 
at the same time. I should also wish to submit whether in 


other well-known matters you do not acknowledge the 
principle that things similar are to be placed together and 
particulars to be subordinated to generals ? Is it that you 
may joke with the world about a serious subject, that in 
religion only the principle is not applied ? But let us 
suppose you are serious. How does it come, then, that in 
religious faith, what, in science, you separate into two 
spheres, is united and so indissolubly bound together that 
one cannot be thought of without the other? The pious 
man does not believe that the right course of action can be 
determined, except in so far as, at the same time, there is 
knowledge of the relations of man to God ; and again right 
action, he holds, is necessary for right knowledge. Suppose 
the binding principle lies in the theoretic side. Why then 
is a practical philosophy set over against a theoretic, and 
not rather regarded as a section ? Or suppose the prin 
ciple is in the practical side, the same would apply to 
a theoretic philosophy. Or both may be united, only in a 
yet higher, an original knowledge. That this highest, 
long-lost unity of knowledge should be religion you cannot 
believe, for you have found it most, and have opposed it 
most, in those who are furthest from science. I will not 
hold you to any such conclusion, for I would not take up a 
position that I cannot maintain? This, however, you may 
well grant, that, concerning this side of religion, you must 
take time to consider what is its proper significance. 

Let us be honest with one another. As we recently 
agreed, you have no liking for religion. But, in carrying 
on an honourable war which is not quite without strain, you 
would not wish to fight against such a shadow as that with 
which we have so far been battling. It must be something 
special that could fashion itself so peculiarly in the human 
heart, something thinkable, the real nature of which can so 
be presented as to be spoken of and argued about, and 
I consider it very wrong that out of things so disparate as 
modes of knowing and modes of acting, you patch together 


an untenable something, and call it religion, and then are 
so needlessly ceremonious with it. But you would deny 
that you have not gone to work with straightforwardness. 
Seeing I have rejected systems, commentaries and apo 
logies, you would demand that I unfold all the original 
sources of religion from the beautiful fictions of the Greeks 
to the sacred scriptures of the Christians. Should I not 
find everywhere the nature of the Gods, and the will of 
the Gods ? Is not that man everywhere accounted holy / 
and blessed who knows the former, and does the latter ? 

But that is just what I have already said. Keligion 
never appears quite pure. Its outward form is ever deter 
mined by something else. Our task first is^tp^jexhibit its 
true nature, and not to assume off-hand, as you seem to do, 
that the outward form and the true nature are the same. 
Does the material world present you with any element in its 
original purity as a spontaneous product of nature ? Must 
you, therefore, as you have done in the intellectual world, 
take very gross things for simple ? It is the one ceaseless 
aim of all analysis to present something really simple. So 
also it is in spiritual things. You can only obtain what is 
original by producing it, as it were, by a second, an artificial 
creation in yourselves, and even then it is but for the 
moment of its production. Pray come to an understanding 
on the point, for you shall be ceaselessly reminded of it. 

But let us go on to the sources and original writings 
of religion. To attach them to your sciences of resist 
ance and of action, of nature and of spirit is an un 
avoidable necessity, because they are the sources of your 
terminology. Furthermore the best preparation for 
awaking consciousness for your own higher subject is to 
study what has already been more or less scientifically 
thought. The deepest and highest in a work is not always 
either first or last. Did you but know how to read between 
the lines ! All sacred writings are like these modest books 
which were formerly in use in our modest Fatherland. Under 



a paltry heading they treated weighty matters, and, offering 
but few explanations, aimed at the most profound inquiry. 
Similarly, the sacred writings include metaphysical and 
moral conceptions. Except where they are more directly 
poetic, this seems the beginning and the end. But of you 
it is expected that, seeing through the appearance, you will 
recognize the real intent. It is as when nature gives 
precious metals alloyed with baser substances, and our skill 
knows how to discover them and restore them to their 
refulgent splendour. The sacred writings were not for 
perfect believers alone, but rather for children in belief, for 
novices, for those who are standing at the entrance and 
would be invited in, and how could they go to work except 
as I am now doing with you ? They had to accept what 
was granted. In it they had to find the means for stimu 
lating the new sense they would awake, by giving a severe 
concentration and lofty temper to the mind. Can you not 
recognize, even in the way these moral and metaphysical 
conceptions are treated, in the creative, poetic impulse, 
though it necessarily works in a poor and thankless speech, 
an endeavour to break through from a lower region to a 
higher ? As you can easily see, a communication of this 
sort could be nothing other than poetical or rhetorical. 
Akin to the rhetorical is the dialectic, and what method 
has from of old been more brilliantly or more successfully 
employed in revealing the higher nature, nofc only of 
knowledge, but of the deeper feelings ? But if the vehicle 
alone satisfies, this end will not be reached. Wherefore, 
as it has become so common to seek metaphysics and 
ethics chiefly, in the sacred writings, and to appraise them 
accordingly, it seems time to approach the matter from the 
other end, and to begin with the clear cut distinction 
between our faith and your ethics and metaphysics, 
between our piety and what you call morality. This is 
what I would attain by this digression. I wished to throw 
some light on the conception that is dominant among you. 
That being done, I now return. 


jr In order to make quite clear to you what is the original 
and characteristic possession of religion, it resigns, at once, 
all claims on anything that belongs either to science or 
morality. Whether it has been borrowed or bestowed it is 
now returned. What then does your science of being, your 
natural science, all your theoretical philosophy, in so far 
as it has to do with the actual world, have for its aim ? 
To know things, I suppose, as they really are ; to show the 
peculiar relations by which each is what it is ; to determine 
for each its place in the Whole, and to distinguish it rightly 
from all else ; to present the whole real world in its 
mutually conditioned necessity ; and to exhibit the oneness 
of all phenomena with their eternal laws. This is truly 
beautiful and excellent, and I am not disposed to de 
preciate. Rather, if this description of mine, so slightly 
sketched, does not suffice, I will grant the highest and most 
exhaustive you are able to give. 

And yet, however high you go ; though you pass from the 
laws to the Universal Lawgiver, in whom is the unity of all 
things though you allege that nature cannot be compre 
hended without God, I would still maintain that religion has 
nothing to do with this knowledge, and that, quite apart from 
it, its nature can be known. Quantity of knowledge is not 
quantity of piety. Piety can gloriously display itself, both 
with originality and individuality, in those to whom this 
kind of knowledge is not original. They may only know it 
as everybody does, as isolated results known in connection 
with other things. The pious man must, in a sense, be a 
wise man, but he will readily admit, even though you some 
what proudly look down upon him, that, in so far as he is 
pious, he does not held his knowledge in the same way as you. 

Let me interpret in clear words what most pious persons 
only guess at and never know how to express. Were 
you to set God as the apex of your science as the 
foundation of all knowing as well as of all knowledge, 
they would accord praise and honour, but it would not be 
their waj of having and knowing God. From their way, 

D 2 


as they would readily grant, and as is easy enough to see, 
knowledge and science do not proceed. 

It is true that religion is essentially contemplative. You 
- would never call anyone pious who went about in impervious 
stupidity, whose sense is not open for the life of the world. 
But this contemplation is not turned, as your knowledge of 
nature is, to the existence of a finite thing, combined with 
and opposed to another finite thing. It has not even, like 
your knowledge of God if for once I might use an old 
expression to do with the nature of the first cause, in 
itself and in its relation to every other cause and operation. 
The contemplation of the pious is the immediate conscious 
ness of the universal existence of all finite things, in and 
through the Infinite, and of all temporal things in and 
through the Eternal. Keligion is to seek this and find it 
in all that lives and moves, in all growth and change, in all 
doing and suffering, IfT is to have life and to know life in 
immediate feeling, only as such an existence in the Infinite 
, and Eternal. Where this is found religion is satisfied, 
where it hides itself there is for her unrest and anguish, 
extremity and death. Wherefore it is a life in the infinite 
nature of the Whole, in the One and in the All, in God, 
having and possessing all things in God, and God in all. 
Yet religion is not knowledge and science, either of the 
world or of God. Without being knowledge, it recognizes 
knowledge and science. In itself it is an affection, a 
revelation of the Infinite in the finite, God being seen in 
it and it in God. 

Similarly, what is the object of your ethics, of your 
science of action ? Does it not seek to distinguish precisely 
each part of human doing and producing, and at the same 
time to combine them into a whole, according to actual 
relations ? But the pious man confesses that, as pious, he! 
knows nothing about it. He does, indeed, contemplate^ 
human action, but it is not the kind of contemplation from! 
which an ethical system takes its rise. Only one thing hei 


seeks out and detects, action from God, God s activity 
among men. If your ethics are right, and his piety as 
well, he will not, it is true, acknowledge any action as 
excellent which is not embraced in your system. But to 
know and to construct this system is your business, ye 
learned, not his. If you will not believe, regard the case 
of women. You ascribe to them religion, not only as an 
adornment, but you demand of them the finest feeling for 
distinguishing the things that excel : do you equally expect 
them to know your ethics as a science ? 

It is the same, let me say at once, with action itself. 
The artist fashions what is given him to fashion, by virtue 
of his special talent. These talents are so different that 
the one he possesses another lacks ; unless someone, 
against heaven s will, would possess all. But when anyone 
is praised to you as pious, you are not accustomed to ask 
which of these gifts dwell in him by virtue of his piety. 
The citizen taking the word in the sense of the ancients, 
not in its present meagre significance regulates, leads, and 
influences in virtue of his morality. But this is something 
different from piety. Piety has also a passive side, While\ 
morality always shows itself as manipulating, as self- 1 
controlling, piety appears as a surrender, a submission to / 
be moved by the Whole that stands over againsfc man. 
Morality depends, therefore, entirely on the consciousness 
of freedom, within the sphere of which all that it produces 
falls. Piety, on the contrary, is not at all bound to this 
side of life. In the opposite sphere of necessity, where 
there is no properly individual action, it is quite as active^/ 
Wherefore the two are different. Piety does, indeed, linger 
with satisfaction on every action that is from God, and 
every activity that reveals the Infinite in the finite, and yet 
it is not itself this activity. Only by keeping quite outside 
the range both of science and of practice can it maintain 
its proper sphere and character. Only when piety takes 
its place alongside of science and practice, as a necessary, 


an indispensable third, as their natural counterpart, not less 
in worth and splendour than either, will the common field 
be altogether occupied and human nature on this side 

But pray understand me fairly. I do not mean that one 
could exist without the other, that, for example, a man 
jL might have religion and be pious, and at the same time be 
immoral. That is impossible. But, in my opinion, it is 
just as impossible to be moral or scientific without being 
religious. But have I not said that religion can be had 
without science? Wherefore, I have myself begun the 
separation. But remember, I only said piety is not the 
measure of science. Just as one cannot be truly scientific 
without being pious, the pious man may not know at all, 
but he cannot know falsely. His proper nature is not of 
that subordinate kind, which, according to the old adage 
that like is only known to like, knows nothing except 
semblance of reality. 

His nature is reality which knows reality, and where it 
encounters nothing it does not suppose it sees something. 
And what a precious jewel of science, in my view, is igno 
rance for those who are captive to semblance. If you have 
not learned it from my Speeches or discovered it for your 
selves, go and learn it from your Socrates. Grant me con 
sistency at least. With ignorance your knowledge will ever 
be mixed, but the true and proper opposite of knowledge 
is presumption of knowledge. By piety this presumption 
is most certainly removed, for with it piety cannot exist. 

Such a separation of knowledge and piety, and of action 
and piety, do not accuse me of making. You are only 
ascribing to me, without my deserving it, your own view 
and the very confusion, as common as it is unavoidable, 
which it has been my chief endeavour to show you in the 
mirror of my Speech. Just because you do not acknow 
ledge religion as the third, knowledge and action are 
so much apart that you can discover no unity, but believe 


that right knowing can be had without right acting, 
and vice versa. I hold that is it only in contemplation 
that there is division. There, where it is necessary, you 
despise it, and instead transfer it to life, as if in life itself 
objects could be found independent one of the other. Con 
sequently you have no living insight into any of these 
activities. Each is for you a part, a fragment. Because 
you do not deal with life in a living way, your conception 
bears the stamp of perishabieness, and is altogether meagre. 
True science is complete vision ; true practice is culture 
and art self-produced ; true religion is sense and taste for 
the Infinite. To wish to have true science or true practice 
wjih^utjreligion, or to imagine it is possessed, is obstinate, 
arrogant delusion, and culpable error. It issues from the 
unholy sense that would rather have a show of possession 
by cowardly purloining than have secure possession by 
demanding and waiting. What can man accomplish that is 
worth speaking of, either in life or in art, that does not 
arise in his own self from the influence of this sense for the 
Infinite ? Without it, how can anyone wish to comprehend 
the world scientifically, or if, in some distinct talent, the 
knowledge is thrust upon him, how should he wish to 
exercise it ? What is all science, if not the existence of things 
in you, in your reason ? what is all art and culture if not 
your existence in the things to which you give measure, 
form and order ? And how can both come to life in you 
except in so far as there lives immediately in you the eternal 
unity of Reason and Nature, the universal existence of all 
finite things in the Infinite ? 2 

Wherefore, you will find every truly learned man devout 
and pious. Where you see science without religion, be sure f" 
it is transferred, learned up from another. It is sickly, if 
indeed it is not that empty appearance which serves neces 
sity and is no knowledge at all. And what else do you take 
this deduction and weaving together of ideas to be, which 
neither live nor correspond to any living thing ? Or in ethics, 


what else is this wretched uniformity that thinks it can 
grasp the highest human life in a single dead formula? 
The former arises because there is no fundamental feeling 

/ of that living nature which everywhere presents variety and 
individuality, and the latter because the sense fails to give 
infinity to the finite by determining its nature and boun 
daries only from the Infinite. Hence the dominion, of the 
mere notion ; hence the mechanical erections of your systems 
instead of an organic structure ; hence the vain juggling 
with analytical formulas, in which, whether categorical or 
hypothetical, life will not be fettered. Science is not your 
calling, if you despise religion and fear to surrender your 
self to reverence and aspiration for the j^rimordial. Either 
science must become as low as your life, or it must be 
separated and stand alone, a division that precludes success. 

, If man is not one with the Eternal in the unity of intuition 
and feeling which is immediate, he remains., in the unity of 
consciousness which is derived, for ever apart. // 

What, then, shall become of the highest utterance of the 
speculation of our days, complete rounded idealism, if it do 
not again sink itself in this unity, if the humility of religion 
do not suggest to its pride another realism than that which 
it so boldly and with such perfect right, subordinates to 
itself ? It annihilates the Universe, while it seems to aim at 
constructing it. It would degrade it to a mere allegory, to 
a mere phantom of the one-sided limitation of its own empty 
consciousness. Offer with me reverently a tribute to the 
manes of the holy, rejected Spinoza. The high World- 
Spirit pervaded him ; the Infinite was his beginning and 
his end ; the Universe was his only and his everlasting love. 
In holy innocence and in deep humility he beheld himself 
mirrored in the eternal world, and perceived how he also 
was its most worthy mirror. He was full of religion, full 
of the Holy Spirit. Wherefore, he stands there alone and 
unequalled ; master in his art, yet without disciples and 
without citizenship, sublime above the profane tribe. 


Why should I need to show that the same applies to 
art? Because, from the same causes, you have here also 
a thousand phantoms, delusions, and mistakes. In place 
of all else I would point to another example which should 
be as well known to you all. I would point in silence for 
pain that is new and deep has no words. It is that superb 
youth, who has too early fallen asleep, with whom every 
thing his spirit touched became art. His whole contem 
plation of the world was forthwith a great poem. Though 
he had scarce more than struck the first chords, you must 
associate him with the most opulent poets, with those 
select spirits who are as profound as they are clear and 
vivacious. See in him the power of the enthusiasm and 
the caution of a pious spirit, and acknowledge that when 
the philosophers shall become religious and seek God like 
Spinoza, and the artists be pious and love Christ like 
Novalis, the great resurrection shall be celebrated for both 
worlds. 3 

But, in order that you may understand what I mean by 
this unity and difference of jreligion, science and art, we 
shall endeavour to descend into the inmost sanctuary of 
life. There, perhaps, we may find ourselves agreed. There 
alone you discover the original relation of intuition and 
feeling from which alone this identity and difference is to 
be understood. But I must direct you to your own selves. 
You must apprehend a living movement. You must know 
how to listen to yourselves before your own consciousness. 
At least you must be able to reconstruct from your con 
sciousness your own state. What you are to notice is the 
rise_of your consciousness and not to reflect upon some 
thing already there. Your thought can only embrace what 
is sundered. Wherefore as^ soon as you have made any 
given definite activity of your soul an object of communi 
cation or of contemplation, you have already begun to 
separate. It is impossible, therefore, to adduce any definite 
example, for, as soon as anything is an example, what I 


wish to indicate is already past. Only the faintest trace 
of the original unity could then be shown. Such as it is, 
however, I will not despise it, as a preliminary. 

Consider how you delineate an object. Is there not both 
a stimulation and a determination by the object, at one 
and the same time, which for one particular moment forms 
your existence ? The more definite your image, the more, 
in this way, you become the object, and the more you lose 
yourselves. But just because you can trace the growing 
preponderance of one side over the other, both must have 
been one and equal in the first, the original moment that 
has escaped you. Or sunk in yourselves, you find all that 
you formerly regarded as a disconnected manifold com 
pacted now indivisibly into the one peculiar content of 
your being. Yet when you give heed, can you not see 
as it disappears, the image of an object, from whose 
influence, from whose magical contact this definite con 
sciousness has proceeded ? The more your own state 
sways you the paler and more unrecognizable your image 
becomes. The greater your emotion, the more you are 
absorbed in it, the more your whole nature is concerned to 
retain for the memory an imperishable trace of what is 
necessarily fleeting, to carry over to what you may engage in, 
its colour and impress, and so unite two moments into a dura 
tion, the less you observe the object that caused it. But just 
because it grows pale and vanishes, it must before have been 
nearer and clearer. Originally it must have been one and 
the same with your feeling. But, as was said, these are mere 
traces. Unless you will go back on the first beginning of 
this consciousness, you can scarcely understand them. 

And suppose you cannot? Then say, weighing it 
quite generally and originally, what is every act of your 
life in. itself and without distinction from other acts. 
What is it merely as act, as movement? Is it not the 
coming into being of something for itself, and at the same 
time in the Whole ? It is an endeavour to return into 


the Whole, ancl to exist for oneself at the same time. 
These are the links from which the whole chain is made. 
Your whole life is such an existence for self in the Whole. 
How now are you in the Whole ? By your senses. And 
how" are you for yourselves? By the unity of your self- 
cousciousness, which is given chiefly in the possibility of 
comparing the varying degrees of sensation. How both 
can only rise together, if both together fashion every act of 
life, is easy to see. You become sensa and the Whole 
becomes object. Sense and object mingle and unite, then 
each returns to its place, and the object rent from sense 
is a perception, and you rent from the object are for your 
selves, a feeling. It is this earlier moment I mean, which 
you always experience yet never experience. The phe 
nomenon of your life is just the result of its constant 
departure and return. It is scarcely in time at all, so 
swiftly it passes; it can scarcely be described, so little 
does it properly exist. Would that I could hold it fast and 
refer to it your commonest as well as your highest activities. 
Did I venture to compare it, seeing I cannot describe 
it, I would say it is fleeting and transparent as the vapour 
which the dew breathes on blossom and fruit, it is bashful 
and tender as a maiden s kiss, it is holy and fruitful 
as a bridal embrace. Nor is it merely like, it is all this. 
It is the first contact of the universal life with an indivi 
dual. It fills no time and fashions nothing palpable. It 
is the holy wedlock of the Universe with the incarnated 
Reason for a creative, productive embrace. It is immediate, 
raised above all error and misunderstanding. You lie 
directly on the bosom of the infinite world. In that 
moment, you are its soul. Through one part of your 
nature you feel, as your own, all its powers and its endless 
life. In that moment it is your body, you pervade, as 
your own, its muscles and members and your thinking 
and forecasting set its inmost nerves in motion. In this 
way every living, original movement in your life is first 


received. Among the rest it is the source of every 
religious emotion. But it is not, as I said, even a moment. 
The incoming of existence to us, by this immediate union, 
at once stops as soon as it reaches consciousness. Either 
the intuition displays itself more vividly and clearly, like 
the figure of the vanishing mistress to the eyes of her 
lover ; or feeling issues from your heart and overspreads 
your whole being, as the blush of shame ana love over the 
face of the maiden. At length your consciousness is 
finally determined as one or other, as intuition or feeling. 
Then, even though you have not quite surrendered to this 
division and lost consciousness of your life as a unity, 
there remains nothing but the knowledge that they were 
originally one, that they issued simultaneously from the 
fundamental relation of your nature. Wherefore, it is in 
this sense true what an ancient sage has taught you, that 
all knowledge is recollection. It is recollection of what 
is outside of all time, and is therefore justly to be placed 
at the head of all temporal things. 

And, as it is with intuition and feeling on the one hand, so 
it is with knowledge which includes both and with activity 
on the other. Through the constant play and mutual influ 
ence of these opposites, your life expands and has its place in 
time. Both knowledge and activity are a desire to be iden 
tified with the Universe through an object. If the power of 
the objects preponderates, if, as intuition or feeling, it enters 
and seeks to draw you into the circle of their existence, it 
is always a knowledge. If the preponderating power is on 
your side, so that you give the impress and reflect your 
selves in the objects, it is activity in the narrower sense, 
external working. Yet it is only as you are stimulated 
and determined that you can communicate yourselves to 
things. In founding or establishing anything in the world 
you are only giving back what that original act of fellow 
ship has wrought in you, and similarly everything the 
world fashions in you must be by the same act. One must 


mutually stimulate the other. Only in an interchange of 
knowing and activity can your life consist. A peaceful 
existence, wherein one side did not stimulate the other, 
would not be your life. It would be that from which it first 
developed, and into which it will again disappear. 

There then you have the three things about which my 
Speech has so far turned, perception, feeling and activity, 
and you now understand what I mean when I say they are 
not identical and yet are inseparable. Take what belongs 
to each class and consider it by itself. You will find that 
those moments in which you exercise power over things and 
impress yourselves upon them, form what yon call your 
practical, or, in the narrower sense, your moral life ; again 
the contemplative moments, be they few or many, in which 
things produce themselves in you as intuition, you will 
doubtless call your scientific life. Now can either series 
alone form a human life ? Would it not be death ? If 
each activity were not stimulated and renewed by the other, 
would it not be self-consumed ? Yet they are not identical. 
If you would understand your life and speak comprehensi 
bly of it, they must be distinguished. As it stands with 
these two in respect of one another, it must stand with the 
third in respect of both. How then are you to name this 
third, which is the series of feeling ? What life will it 
form ? The religious as I think, and as you will not be able 
to deny, when you have considered it more closely. 

The chief point in my Speech is now uttered. This is the 
peculiar sphere which I would assign to religion the 
whole of it, and nothing more. Unless you grant it, you 
must either prefer the old confusion to clear analysis, or 
produce something else, I know not what, new and 
quite wonderful. Youryeeling is piety,(m_sp^far as it ex- 
presses,jn the manner described^ the being_and life com 
mon to you and to the All. Your feeling is piety in so far 
as it is the result of the operation of God in you by means 
oirthe operation of the world upon you, This series is not 


made up either of perceptions or of objects of perception, 
either of works or operations or of different spheres of 
operation, but purely of sensations and the influence of all 
that lives and moves around, which accompanies them 
and conditions them. These feelings are exclusively the 
elements of religion, and none are excluded. There is no 
sensation that is not piousy^xcept it indicate some diseased 
and impaired state of the life, the influence of which will 
not be confined to religion. Wherefore, it foil ows that ideas 
and principles are all foreign to religion. This truth 
we here come upon for the second time. If ideas and prin 
ciples are to be anything, they must belong to knowledge 
which is a different department of life from religion. / 

Now that we have some ground beneath us, we are in a 
better position to inquire about the source of this con 
fusion. May there not be some reason for this constant 
connection of principles and ideas with religion ? In the 
same way is there not a cause for the connection of 
action with religion ? Without such an inquiry it would 
be vain to proceed farther. The misunderstanding would 
be confirmed, for you would change what I say into ideas 
and begin seeking for principles in them. Whether you 
will follow my exposition, who can tell? What now is to 
hinder that each of the functions of life just indicated 
should not be an object for the others? Or does it not 
rather manifestly belong to their inner unity and equality 
that they should in this manner strive to pass over into one 
another ? So at least it seems to me. Thus, as a feeling 
person, you can become an object to yourself and you can con 
template your own feeling. Nay, you can, as a feeling person, 
become an object for yourself to operate upon and more and 
more to impress your deepest nature upon. Would you now 
call the general description of the nature of your feelings 
that is the product of this contemplation a principle, and 
the description of each feeling, an idea, you are cer 
tainly free to do so. And if you call them religious 
principles and ideas, you are not in error. But do not 


forget that this is scientific treatment of religion, know 
ledge about it, and not religion itself. 

Nor can the description be equal to the thing described. 
The feeling may dwell in many sound and strong, as for 
example in almost all women, without ever having been 
specially a matter of contemplation. Nor may you say 
religion is lacking, but only knowledge about religion. 
Furthermore, do not forget what we have already estab 
lished, that this contemplation presupposes the original 
activity. It depends entirely upon it. If the ideas and 
principles are not from reflection on a man s own feeling, 
they must be learned by rote and utterly void. Make sure 
of this, that no man is pious, however perfectly he under 
stands these principles and conceptions, however much he 
believes he possesses them in clearest consciousness, who 
cannot show that they have originated in himself and, being 
the outcome of his own feeling, are peculiar to himself. 
Do not present him to me as pious, for he is not. His soul 
is barren in religious matters, and his ideas are merely 
supposititious children which he has adopted, in the secret 
feeling of his own weakness. As for those who parade 
religion and make a boast of it, I always characterize them 
as unholy and removed from all divine life. One has concep 
tions of the ordering of the world and formulas to express 
them, the other has prescriptions whereby to order himself 
and inner experiences to authenticate them. The one weaves 
his formulas into a system of faith, and the other spins out of 
his prescriptions a scheme of salvation. It being observed 
that neither has any proper standing ground without feeling, 
strife ensues as to how many conceptions and declarations, 
how many precepts and exercises, how many emotions and 
sensations must be accepted in order to conglomerate a 
sound religion that shall be neither specially cold nor enthu 
siastic, dry nor shallow. fools, and slow of heart ! They 
do not know that all this is mere analysis of the religious 
sense, which they must have made for themselves, if it is 
to have any meaning. 


But if they are not conscious of having anything to 
analyze, whence have they those ideas and rules ? They 
have memory and imitation, but that they have religion do 
not believe. They have no ideas of their own from which 
formulas might be known, so they must learn them by rote, 
and the feelings which they would have accompanying 
them are copies, and like all copies, are apt to become cari 
catures. And out of this dead, corrupt, second-hand stuff, 
a religion is to be concocted ! The members and juices of 
an organized body can be dissected ; but take these elements 
now and mix them and treat them in every possible way ; 
and will you be able to make heart s blood of them? 
Once dead, can it ever again move in a living body ? 
Such restoration of the products of living nature out of its 
component parts, once divided, passes all human skill, and, 
just as little, would you succeed with religion, however 
completely the various kindred elements be given from 
without. From within, in their original, characteristic 
form, the emotions of piety must issue. They must be in 
dubitably your own feelings, and not mere stale descriptions 
of the feelings of others, which could at best issue in a 
wretched imitation. 

Now the religious ideas which form those systems can and 
ought to be nothing else than such a description, for religion 
cannot and will not originate in the pure impulse to know. 
What we feel and are conscious of in religious emotions is 
not the nature of things, but their operation upon us. What 
you may know or believe about the nature of things is far 
beneath the sphere of religion. The Universe is ceaselessly 
active and at every moment is revealing itself to us. Every 
form it has produced, everything to which, from the fulness 
of its life, it has given a separate existence, every occurrence 
scattered from its fertile bosom is an operation of the 
Universe upon us. Now religion is to take up into our 
lives and to submit to be swayed by them, each of these 
influences and their consequent emotions, not by themselves 


but as a part of the Whole, not as limited and in opposition 
to other things, but as an exhibition of the Infinite in our life. 5 
Anything beyond this, any effort to penetrate into the nature 
and substance of things is no longer religion, but seeks to be 
a science of some sort. 

On the other hand, to take what are meant as descriptions 
of our feelings for a science of the object, in some way the 
revealed product of religion, or to regard it as science and 
religion at the same time, necessarily leads to mysticism 
and vain mythology. For example, it was religion when, 
the Ancients, abolishing the limitations of time and space, 
regarded every special form of life throughout the whole 
world as the work and as the kingdom of a being who in 
this sphere was omnipresent and omnipotent, because one 
peculiar way in which the Universe operates was present as 
a definite feeling, and they described it after this fashion. 
It was religion when they assigned a peculiar name and 
built a temple to the god to whom they ascribed any help 
ful occurrence whereby in an obvious, if accidental, way, 
the laws of the world were revealed, because they had com 
prehended something as a deed of the Universe, and after 
their own fashion set forth its connection and peculiar 
character. It was religion when they rose above the rude 
iron age, full of flaws and inequalities, and sought again the 
golden age on Olympus in the joyous life of the gods, 
because beyond all change and all apparent evil that results 
only from the strife of finite forms, they felt the ever-stir 
ring, living and serene activity of the World and the World- 
Spirit. But when they drew up marvellous and complex 
genealogies of the gods, or when a later faith produced a 
long series of emanations and procreations, it was not reli 
gion. Even though these things may have their source in 
a religious presentation of the relation of the human and 
the divine, of the imperfect and the perfect, they were, in 
themselves, vain mythology, and, in respect of science, 
ruinous mysticism. The sum total of religion is to feel II 


that, in its highest unity, all that moves us in feeling is one ; 
to feel that aught single and particular is only possible by 
means of this unity ; to feel, that is to say, that our being 
and living is a being and living in and through God. ^JBut 
it is not necessary that the Deity should be presented as 
also one distinct object. To many this view is necessary, 
and to all it is welcome, yet it is always hazardous and 
fruitful in difficulties. It is not easy to avoid the appear 
ance of making Him susceptible of suffering like other 
objects. It is only one way of characterizing God, and, 
from the difficulties of it, common speech will probably 
never rid itself. But to treat this objective conception of 
God just as if it were a perception, as if apart from His 
operation upon us through the world the existence of God 
before the world, and outside of the world, though for the 
world, were either by or in religion exhibited as science is, 
so far as religion is concerned, vain mythology. 6 What is 
only a help for presentation is treated as a reality. It is 
a misunderstanding very easily made, but it is quite outside 
the peculiar territory of religion. 

From all this you will at once perceive how the question, 
whether religion is a system or not, is to be treated. It 
admits of an entire negative, and also of a direct affirmative, 
in a way that perhaps you scarce expected. Religion is 
certainly a system, if you mean that it is formed according 
to an inward and necessary connection. That the religious 
sense of one person is moved in one way, and that of another 
in another is not pure accident, as if the emotions formed 
no whole, as if any emotions might be caused in the same 
individual by the same object. Whatever occurs any 
where, whether among many or few as a peculiar and 
distinct kind of feeling is in itself complete, and by its 
nature necessary. What you find as religious emotions 
among Turks or Indians, cannot equally appear among 
Christians. The essential oneness of religiousness spreads 
itself out in a great variety of provinces, and again, in each 


province it contracts itself , and the narrower and smaller 
the province there is necessarily more excluded as incom 
patible and more included as characteristic. Christianity, 
for example, is a whole in itself, but so is any of the divisions 
that may at any time have appeared in it, down to Pro 
testantism and Catholicism in modern times. Finally, the 
piety of each individual, whereby he is rooted in the greater 
unity, is a whole by itself. It is a rounded whole, based on 
his peculiarity, on what you call his character, of which it 
forms one side. Religion thus fashions itself with endless 
variety, down even to the single personality. 

Each form again is a whole and capable of an endless 
number of characteristic manifestations. You would not 
have individuals issue from the Whole in a finite way, each 
being at a definite distance from the other, so that one 
might be determined, construed and numbered from the 
others, and its characteristics be accurately determined in a 
conception ? Were I to compare religion in this respect 
with anything it would be with music, which indeed is other 
wise closely connected with it. Music is one great whole ; 
it is a special, a self-contained revelation of the world. Yet 
the music of each people is a whole by itself, which again is 
divided into different characteristic forms, till we come to 
the genius and style of the individual. Each actual instance 
of this inner revelation in the individual contains all these 
unities. Yet while nothing is possible for a musician, 
except in and through the unity of the music of his people, 
and the unity of music generally, he presents it in the charm 
of sound with all the pleasure and joyousness of boundless 
caprice, according as his life stirs in him, and the world 
influences him. In the same way, despite the necessary 
elements in its structure, religion is, in its individual mani 
festations whereby it displays itself immediately in life, 
from nothing farther removed than from all semblance of 
compulsion or limitation. In life, the necessary element is 
taken up, taken up into freedom. Each emotion appears as 


the free self-determination of this very disposition, and 
mirrors one passing moment of the world. 

It would be impious to demand here something held in 
constraint, something limited and determined from without. 
If anything of this kind lies in your conception of system 
then you must set it quite aside. A system of perceptions 
and feelings you may yourselves see to be somewhat mar 
vellous. Suppose now you feel something. Is there not at 
the same time an accompanying feeling or thought make 
your own choice that you would have to feel in accordance 
with this feeling, and not otherwise were but this or that 
object, which does not now move you, to be present? But 
for this immediate association your feeling woultl be at an 
end, and a cold calculating and refining would take its place. 
Wherefore it is plainly an error to assert that it belongs 
to religion, to be conscious of the connection ol iN separate 
manifestations, not only to have it within, and to develope 
it from within, but to see it described and to comp -ehend it 
from without, and it is presumption to consider that, with 
out it, piety is poverty-stricken. The truly pious are not 
disturbed in the simplicity of their way, for they give 
little heed to all the so-called religious systems that have 
been erected in consequence of this view. 

Poor enough they are too, far inferior to the theories 
about music, defective though they be. Among those syste- 
matizers there is less than anywhere, a devout watching 
and listening to discover in their own hearts what they are 
to describe. They would rather reckon with symbols, and 
complete a designation which is about as accidental as the 
designation of the stars. It is purely arbitrary and never 
sufficient, for something new that should be included, is 
always being discovered, and a system, anything permanent 
and secure, anything corresponding to nature, and not the 
result of caprice and tradition, is not to be found in it. 
The designation, let the forms of religion be ever so inward 
and self-dependent, must be from without. Thousands 


might be moved religiously in the same way, and yet each, 
led, not so much by disposition, as by external circum 
stances, might designate his feeling by different symbols. 7 
Furthermore, those systematizers are less anxious to 
present the details of religion than to subordinate them 
one to the other, and to deduce them from a higher. 
Nothing is of less importance to religion, for it knows 
nothing of deducing and connecting. There is no single 
fact in it that can be called original and chief. Its facts 
are one and all immediate. Without dependence on any 
other, each exists for itself. True, a special type of religion 
is constituted by one definite kind and manner of feeling, 
but it is mere perversion to call it a principle, and to treat 
it as if the rest could be deduced from it. This distinct 
form of a religion is found, in the same way, in every 
single element of religion. Each expression of feeling 
bears on it immediately this peculiar impress. It cannot 
show itself without it, nor be comprehended without it. 
Everything is to be found immediately, and not proved 
from something else. Generals, which include particulars, 
combination and connection belong to another sphere, if 
they rest on reality, or they are merely a work of phantasy 
and caprice. Every man may have his own regulation and 
Jlis own rubrics. What is essential can neither gain nor 
lose thereby. Consequently, the man who truly knows the 
nature of his religion, will give a very subordinate place to 
all apparent connection of details, and will not sacrifice the 
smallest for the sake of it. 

By taking the opposite course, the marvellous thought 
has arisen of a universality of one religion, of one single 
form which is true, and in respect of which all others 
are false. Were it not that misunderstanding must be 
guarded against, I would say that it is only by such 
deducing and connecting that such a comparison as true 
and false, which is not peculiarly appropriate to religion, 
has ever been reached. It only applies where we have to 


do with ideas. Elsewhere the negative laws of your logic 
are not in place. All is immediately true in religion, for 
except immediately how could anything arise ? But that 
only is immediate which has not yet passed through the 
stage of idea, but has grown up purely in the feeling. 
AH that is religious is good, for it is only religious 
as it expresses a common higher life. But the whole 
circumference of religion is infinite, and is not to be com 
prehended under one form, but only under the sum total 
of all forms. 8 It is infinite, not merely because any single 
religious organization has a limited horizon, and, not 
being able to embrace all, cannot believe that there is 
nothing beyond ; but more particularly, because everyone 
is a person by himself, and is only to be moved in his own 
way, so that for everyone the elements of religion have 
most characteristic differences. Religion is infinite, not only 
because something new is ever being produced in time, 
by the endless relations both active and passive between 
different minds and the same limited matter; not only 
because the capacity for religion is never perfected, but is 
ever being developed anew, is ever being more beautifully 
reproduced, is ever entering deeper into the nature of man; 
but religion is infinite on all sides. As the knowledge of 
its eternal truth and infallibility accompanies knowledge, 
the consciousness of this infinity accompanies religion. It is 
the very feeling of religion, and must therefore accompany 
everyone that really has religion. He must be conscious 
that his religion is only part of the whole ; that about the 
same circumstances there may be views and sentiments 
quite different from his, yet just as pious ; and that there 
may be perceptions and feelings belonging to other modifica 
tions of religion, for which the sense may entirely fail him. 
r You see how immediately this beautiful modesty, this 
friendly, attractive forbearance springs from the nature 
of religion. How unjustly, therefore, do you reproach 
religion with loving persecution, with being malignant, 


with overturniDg society, and making blood flow like 
water. Blame those who corrupt religion, who flood it 
with an army of formulas and definitions, and seek to 
cast it into the fetters of a so-called system. What is it in 
religion about which men have quarrelled and made parties 
and kindled wars ? About definitions, the practical some 
times, the theoretical always, both of which belong else 
where. Philosophy, indeed, seeks to bring those who 
would know to a common knowledge. Yet even philo 
sophy leaves room for variety, and the more readily the 
better it understands itself. But religion does not, even 
once, desire to bring those who believe and feel to one 
belief and one feeling. Its endeavour is to open in those 
who are not yet capable of religious emotions, the sense for 
thlT unity of the original source of life. But just because} 
each seer is a new priest, a new mediator, a new organ, he( 
flees with repugnance the bald uniformity which wouldj 
again destroy this divine abundance. 

This miserable love of system^J rejects what is strange, 
often without any patient examination of its claims, because, 
were it to receive its place, the closed ranks would be de 
stroyed, and the beautiful coherence disturbed. There is 
the seat of the art and love of strife. War must be carried 
on, and persecution, for by thus relating detail to finite 
detail, one may destroy the other, while, in its immediate 
relation to the Infinite, all stand together in their original 
genuine connection, all is one and all is true. These syste- 
matizers, therefore, have caused it all. Modern Eome, god 
less but consequent, hurls anathemas and ejects heretici - 
Ancient Rome, truly pious, and, in a high style religious, 
was hospitable to every god. The adherents of the dead 
letter which religion casts out, have filled the world with 
clamour and turmoil. 

Seers of the Infinite have ever been quiet souls. They 
abide alone with themselves and the Infinite, or if they do 
look around them, grudge to no one who understands the 


mighty word his own peculiar way. By means of this wide 
vision, this feeling of the Infinite, they are able to look 
beyond their own sphere. There is in religion such a 
capacity for unlimited manysidedness in judgment and in 
contemplation as is nowhere else to be found. I will not 
except even morality and philosophy, not-at least so much 
of them as remains after religion is taken away. Let me 
appeal to your own experience. Does not every other object 
whereto man s thinkipg and striving are directed, draw 
around him a narrow circle, inside ofrwhich all that is highest 
for him is enclosed, and outside of which all appears common 
and unworthy ? The man who only thinks methodically, 
and acts from principle and design, and will accomplish this 
or that in the world, unavoidably circumscribes himself, and 
makes everything that does not forward him an object of 
antipathy. Only when the free impulse of seeing, and of 
living is directed towards the Infinite and goes into the 
Infinite, is the mind set in unbounded liberty. Religion 
alone rescues it from the heavy fetters of opinion and desire. 
For it, all that is is necessary, all that can be is an indis 
pensable image of the Infinite. In this respect, it is all 
worthy of preservation and contemplation, however much, 
in other respects, and in itself, it is to be rejected. To a 
pious mind religion makes everything holy, even unholiness 
and commonness, whether he comprehends it or does not 
comprehend it, whether it is embraced in his system of 
thought, or lies outside, whether it agrees with his peculiar 
mode of acting or disagrees. Eeligion is the natural and 
|l sworn foe of all narrowmindedness, and of all onesidedness. 
These charges, therefore, do not touch religion. They 
rest upon the confusion between religion and that know 
ledge which belongs to theology. It is a knowledge, 
whatever be its value, and is to be always distinguished 
from religion. Just as inapplicable are the charges you 
have made in respect of action. Something of this I have 
already touched upon, but let us take a general glance at 


it in order to set it entirely aside, and to show you exactly 
what I mean. Two things must be carefully distinguished. 
In the first place, you charge religion with causing not 
infrequently in the social, civil, and moral life, improper, 
horrible, and even unnatural dealings. I will not demand 
proof that these actions have proceeded from pious men. 
I will grant it provisionally. But in the very utterance of 
your accusation, you separate religion and morality. Do 
you mean then that religion is immorality, or a branch of 
it ? Scarcely, for your war against it would then be of 
quite another sort, and you would have to make success in 
vanquishing religion a test of morality. With the excep 
tion of a few who have shown themselves almost mad in 
their mistaken zeal, you have not yet taken up this posi 
tion. Or do you only mean that piety is different from 
morality, indifferent in respect of it, and capable therefore 
of accidentally becoming immoral ? Piety and morality can 
be considered apart, and so far they are different. As 
I have already admitted and asserted, the one is based on 
feeling, the other on action. But how, from this opposi 
tion do you come to make religion responsible for action ? 
Would it not be more correct to say that such men were 
not moral enough, and had they been, they might have 
been quite as pious without harm? If you are seeking 
progress as doubtless you are where two faculties that 
should be equal have become unequal, it is not advisable 
to call back the one in advance. It would be better to 
urge forward the laggard. 

Lest you should think I am merely quibbling, consider i 
that religion by itself does not urge men to activity at all. y 
If you could imagine it implanted in man quite alone, it 
would produce neither these nor any other deeds. The 
man, according to what we have said, would not act, he 
would only feel. Wherefore, as you rightly complain, there 
have been many most religious men in whom the proper im 
pulses to action have been wanting, and morality been too 


much in the background, who have retired from the world 
and have betaken themselves in solitude to idle contem 
plation. Religion, when isolated and morbid, is capable of 
such effects, but not of cruel and horrible deeds. In this 
way, your accusation can be turned into praise. 

However different the actions you blame may be, they 
have this in common, that they all seem to issue immediately 
from one single impulse. Whether you call this special 
feeling religious or not, I am far from disagreeing with you 
when you so constantly blame it. Rather I praise you the 
more thorough and impartial you are. Blame also, I pray 
you, not only where the action appears bad, but still more 
where it has a good appearance. When action follows a 
single impulse, it falls into an undue dependence and is far 
too much under the influence of the external objects that 
work upon this one emotion. Feeling, whatever it be about, 
if it is not dormant, is naturally violent. It is a com 
motion, a force to which action should not be subject and 
from which it should not proceed. Quiet and discretion, 
the whole impress of our nature should give action birth 
and character, and this is as much required in common life as 
in politics and art. But this divergence could only come 
because the agent did not make his piety sufficiently evident. 
Wherefore, it would rather appear that, if he had been 
more pious he would have acted more morally. The 
whole religious life consists of two elements, that man 
surrender himself to the Universe and allow himself to be 
influenced by the side of it that is turned towards him is one 
part, and that he transplant this contact which is one definite 
feeling, within, and take it up into the inner unity of his 
life and being, is the other. The religious life is nothing 
else than the constant renewal of this proceeding. When, 
therefore, anyone is stirred, in a definite way, by the 
World, is it his piety that straightway sets him to such 
working and acting as bear the traces of commotion and 
disturb the pure connection of the moral life ? Impossible. 


On the contrary, his piety invites him to enjoy what he has 
won, to absorb it, to combine it, to strip it of what is 
temporal and individual, that it may no more dwell in him 
as commotion but be quiet, pure and eternal. From this 
inner unity, action springs of its own accord, as a natural 
branch of life. As we agreed, activity is a reaction of 
feeling, but the sum of activity should only be a reaction of 
the sum of feeling, and single actions should depend on 
something quite different from momentary feeling. Only 
when each action is in its own connection and in its proper 
place, and not when, dependently and slavishly, it cor 
responds to one emotion, does it exhibit, in a free and 
characteristic way, the whole inner unity of the spirit. 

Consequently your charge does not touch religion. And, 
if you are speaking of a morbid state of it, you are speak 
ing of what is quite general and is not in any way original 
to religion nor specially seated in it, and from which 
consequently nothing is to be concluded against religion 
in particular. Religion is of course finite, and therefore 
subject to imperfections, but it must be apparent to you 
that, in a healthy state, man cannot be represented as 
acting from religion or being driven to action by religion 
but piety and morality form each a series by itself and are 
two different functions of one and the same life. Bu 
while man does nothing from religion, he should do every 
thing with religion. Uninterruptedly, like a sacred music 
the religious feelings should accompany his active life. 

That by this representation of religion I am neither I 
deceiving you nor myself, you can easily see, if you observe I 
that each jeeling in proportion as it bears the character of 
piety, is disposed to withdraw itself into the heart and 
not break forth into deeds. Would not a pious person who 
was right deeply moved find himself in great perplexity, or 
even quite fail to understand you, if you asked him by 
what particular action he proposed to give expression and 
vent to his feeling ? They are bad spirits and not good that 


take possession of man, and drive him. The legions of 
I angels with which the Father provided His Son, exercised 
I no power over Him. They had no call to help Him in 
1 any doing or forbearing, but they poured serenity and 
calm into a soul exhausted with doing and thinking. For 
a little, in that moment when His whole power was roused 
for action, these friendly spirits were lost to His view, but 
again they hovered round Him in joyous throng and 
served Him. But why do I direct you to instances and 
speak in images ? Because by starting from the separa 
tion which you make between religion and morality, and 
I. folio wing it closely, we have come back to their essential 
unity in real life. This separation means corruption in the 
one and weakness in the other ; and if one is not what it 
should be, neither can be perfect. 

There are, however, other actions you often speak of. 
The distinct purpose of them is to produce religion. 
Being of no importance for morality, they are not moral, and 
being of no importance for sense, they are not immoral, but 
they are nevertheless disastrous, because they accustom man 
to attach himself to what is void and to value what is worth 
less. Let them be ever so inane and meaningless, they, far 
too often, take the place of moral action or hide its absence. 
I know what you mean. Spare me the long catalogue 
of outward disciplines, spiritual exercises, privations, mortifi 
cations and the rest. All these things you accuse religion 
of producing, and yet you cannot overlook the fact that the 
greatest heroes of religion, the founders and reformers of 
the church, have regarded them with great indifference. 
There is a difference, I admit, but I believe that, in this 
regard also, the subject I defend will justify itself. 

First of all, let us understand what we are dealing 
with. It is with action as an exercise of feeling, not with 
any symbolical or significant action meant to represent 
feeling. We have already seen how those dogmas and 
opinions that would join themselves more closely to 


religion than is fitting, are only designations and de 
scriptions of feeling. In short, they are a knowledge 
about feeling, and in no way an immediate knowledge 
about the operations of the Universe, that gave rise to the 
feeling. We saw also,, how it necessarily resulted in evil, 
when they were put in place of the feeling, of the proper 
and original perception. Similarly this conducting and 
exercising of feeling which often turns out so vain and 
meaningless, is an acting at second-hand. Just as that 
knowledge made feeling an object to be contemplated and 
understood, this acting makes it an object to be operated 
upon and cultivated . What value this kind of activity may 
have, and whether it may not be as unreal as that kind of 
knowing, I shall not here decide. In what sense man can 
act upon himself and particularly upon his feeling is 
difficult to determine, and needs to be well weighed. Can 
it be the result of a personal resolve, or does it not rather 
appear to be the business of the Whole, and therefore a 
given product of life ? But as I said, this does not belong 
here, and I would rather discuss it with the friends of 
religion than with you. So much, however, is certain, and 
I grant it fully, that few errors are so disastrous as the 
substitution of these disciplinary exercises of feeling for 
the original feeling itself. Only, it is plainly an error into 
which religious men could notlalTT 

If you would recall that something quite similar is to be 
found in morality, you would perhaps at once agree with me. 
Men, as they say, lay down for themselves just such acting 
upon their own acting, just such exercisings of morals, to 
the end of self-improvement. It happens that these are 
sometimes put in place of direct moral action, of goodness 
and righteousness themselves, but you would not admit that 
it is through moral men. Men do all kinds of things, 
accepting them from one and transmitting them to another, 
though they have no meaning or value for themselves. 

These actions are always, however, to be understood as 


being done to rouse, sustain and direct religious feeling. 
Where the activity is self-produced and really has this 
meaning, it manifestly rests on the man s own feeling. A 
special state of feeling of which the man is conscious, is pre 
supposed, a knowledge of his own life with its weak 
nesses and inequalities. It presupposes an interest, a higher 
self-love directed to himself, as a morally feeling person, 
as an essential part of the spiritual world. When this love 
ceases, the action also must cease. By supplanting feeling, 
it abolishes itself, and such an error could only arise among 
those who are in their hearts hostile to piety. 

For them such exercisings of feeling have a special worth, 
as if they also had some of the hidden virtue, seeing they can 
outwardly imitate what, in others, has a deep significance. 
Consciously or unconsciously, they deceive themselves and 
others with the appearance of a higher life which they do not 
really have. Either it is base hypocrisy or wretched super 
stition, and I willingly expose it to your condemnation. No 
exercise of this kind is of any value, and we shall reject not 
only what, regarded by it self, is manifestly void, unnatural and 
perverted, but all that in this way arises, however specious. 
Severe mortifications, dull renunciation of the beautiful, 
empty phrases and usages and charities shall all be reckoned 
at the same value. Every superstition shall be alike unholy. 

But we must never confuse it with the well-meant 
endeavours of pious souls. The difference is easy to 
discern. Each religious person fashions his own asceticism 
according to his need, and looks for no rule outside of 
himself, while the superstitious person and the hypocrite 
adhere strictly to the accepted and traditional, and are 
zealous for it, as for something universal and holy. This 
zeal is natural, for if they were expected to think out for 
themselves, their own outward discipline and exercise, 
their own training of the feelings, having regard to their 
own personal state, they would be in an evil case, and their 
inward poverty could be no longer hidden. 


The most general, almost preliminary truths have long 
delayed us. They should have been understood of them 
selves, but neither you, nor many who would at least wish 
to be counted among you, understood the relation of 
religion to the other branches of life. Wherefore, it was 
necessary to drain off at once the sources of the commonest 
misconceptions, that they might not afterwards retard us. 
having been done to the utmost of my ability, we 
have now, I hope, firm ground beneath us. W e have 
attached ourselves to that moment, which is never directly 
observed, but in which all the different phenomena of life 
fashion themselves together, as in the buds of some plants 
blossom and fruit are both enclosed. When, therefore, we 
have asked where now among all it produces is religion 
chiefly to be sought, we have found only one right and 
consistent answer. Chiefly where the living contact of 
man with the world fashions itself as feeling. These feelings 
are the beautiful and sweet scented flowers of religion, 
which, after the hidden activity opens, soon fall, but which 
the divine growth ever anew produces from the fulness of 
life. A climate of paradise is thus created in which no 
penuriousness disturbs the development, and no rude 
surrounding injures the tender lights and fine texture of its 
flowers. To this I would now conduct you, your vision 
having been purified and prepared. 

First of all, then, follow me to outward nature, which is 
to many the first and only temple of the Godhead. In 
virtue of its peculiar way of stirring the heart, it is held 
to be the inmost sanctuary of religion. At present, how 
ever, this outward nature, although it should be more, is 
little else than the outer court, for the view with which 
you next oppose me is utterly to be repudiated. The 
fear of the powers which rule in nature, which spare 
nothing, which threaten the life and works of man, is 
said to give the first feeling of the Infinite, or even to 
be the sole basis of religion. Surely in that case you 


must admit that if piety came with fear it must go with 

Let us then consider the matter. Manifestly the great 
aim of all industry spent in cultivating the earth is to destroy 
the dominion of the powers of nature over man, and to bring 
all fear of them to an end. Already a marvellous amount 
has been done. The lightnings of Zeus terrify no more since 
Hephaistus has prepared for us a shield against them ; and 
Hestia protects what she has won from Poseidon, even against 
the angriest blows of his trident ; the sons of Ares unite with 
those of ^Esculapius to ward off the deadly arrows of Apollo. 
Man is ever learning to resist and to destroy one of these 
gods by means of the others, and is preparing soon, as con 
queror and lord, to be but a smiling spectator at this play. 
Were fear then the ground of reverence for the powers of 
nature, by thus mutually destroying one another, they 
would gradually appear ordinary and common ; for what 
man has controlled or attempted to control, he can measure, 
and what is measurable cannot stand in awful opposition to 
him as the Infinite. The objects of religion would thus be 
ever more and more unfaithful to it. But, are they? 
Would not these gods, conducting themselves towards one 
another as brethren and kinsfolk, and caring for man as the 
youngest son of the same Father, be just as zealously wor 
shipped ? If you are still capable of being filled with rever 
ence for the great powers of nature, does it depend on your 
security or insecurity ? When you stand under your light 
ning conductors, have you, perhaps, a laugh ready wherewith 
to mock the thunder ? Is not nature protecting and sustain 
ing quite as much an object of adoration ? Or, consider it 
in this way. Does the great and infinite alone threaten 
man s existence and oppose his working? Does he not 
also suffer from much that is small and paltry, which, 
because it cannot be definitely comprehended or fashioned 
into something great, you call accident and the accidental ? 
Has this ever been made an object of religion and been 


worshipped ? If you have such a small conception of the 
Fate of the Ancients, you must have understood little of 
their poetic piety. Under this dread Fate the sustaining 
powers were as much embraced as the destructive. Very 
different from that slavish fear, to banish which was a credit 
and a virtue, was the holy reverence for Fate, the rejection, 
of which, in the best and most cultured times of Antiquity, 
was accounted, among better disposed persons, absolute 
recklessness; 11 Such a sacred reverence I will readily ac 
knowledge as the first element of religion, but the fear you 
mean is not only not religion itself, it is not even prepara 
tory or introductory. If it should be praised, it must be 
for urging men, by the desire to be rid of it, into earthly 
fellowship in the state. But piety first begins when it is 
put aside, for the aim of all religion is to love the World- 
Spirit 12 and joyfully to regard his working, and fear is not 
in love. 

But that joy in Nature, which so many extol, is just as 
little truly religious. I almost hate to speak of their 
doings when they dart off into the great, glorious world to 
get for themselves little impressions : how they inspect the 
delicate markings and tints of flowers, or gaze at the magic 
play of colours in the glowing evening sky, and how they 
admire the songs of the birds on a beautiful country-side. 
They are quite full of admiration and transport, and will 
have it that no instrument could conjure forth these sounds 
and no brush attain this gloss and marking. But suppose 
we take their course and subtilize after their fashion ! 
What is it that they do admire ? Rear the plant in a dark 
cellar, and, if you are successful, you can rob it of all these 
beauties, without in the least degree altering its nature. 
Suppose the vapour above us somewhat differently disposed ; 
instead of that splendour, you would have before your eyes 
one unpleasant grayness, and yet what you are contemplating 
would be essentially the same. Once more, try to imagine 
how the midday sun, the glare of which you cannot endure, 


already appears to the inhabitants of the East the glimmer 
ing twilight. Is it not manifest, then, when they have not 
the same sensation, that they have gone after a mere void 
appearance ? But they do not believe in it merely as an 
appearance ; it is for them really true. They are in per 
plexity between appearance and reality, and what is so 
doubtful cannot be a religious stimulus, and can call forth no 
genuine feeling. Were they children who, without further 
thinking and willing, without comparison and reflection, 
received the light and splendour, their hearts being opened 
for the world by the soul of the world, so that they are 
stirred to pious feeling by every object ; or were they sages 
in whose clear intuition all strife between appearance and 
reality is resolved, and who, therefore, undisturbed by these 
refinements, can again be stirred like children, their joy 
would be a real and pure feeling, a living impulse, a gladly 
communicative contact between them and the world. If 
you understand this better way, then you can say that this 
also is a necessary and indispensable element of religion. 
But do not present me that empty affected thing that sits 
so loose and is but a wretched mask for their cold, hard 
refinement, as an emotion of piety. In opposing religion, 
do not ascribe to it what does not belong to it. Do not 
scoff, as if man entered most easily into this sanctuary by 
being debased to fear of the irrational, and by vain trifling 
with transitory show, as if piety were easiest, and most 
becoming to timid, weak, sensitive souls. 

The next thing to meet us in corporeal nature is its 
material boundlessness, the enormous masses which are 
scattered over illimitable space and which circulate in 
measureless orbits. Many hold that the exhaustion of the 
imagination, when we try to expand our diminished pictures 
of them to their natural size, is the feeling of the greatness 
and majesty of the Universe. This arithmetical amazement 
which, just on account of their ignorance, is easiest to 
awake in infants and ignoramuses, you are quite right in 


finding somewhat childish and worthless. But would those 
who are accustomed to take this view grant us that, when 
these great orbits had not yet been calculated, when half 
of those worlds were not discovered, nay, when it was not 
yet known that these shining points were worlds, piety, 
lacking one essential element, was necessarily poorer ? 
Just as little can they deny that, in so far as it can be 
conceived and without that it means nothing for us 
the infinity of mass and number is only finite and the 
mind can comprehend every infinity of this kind into short 
formulae, and reckon with them, as daily happens. But 
they would certainly not grant that anything of their 
reverence for the greatness and majesty of the. Universe is 
lost through advancing education and skill. As soon, how 
ever, as we are in a position to compare these units, which 
are our measure of size and motion, with those great world 
units, this spell of number and mass must disappear. As 
long as this feeling rests on difference of mass, it is merely 
a feeling of personal incapacity, which is doubtless a 
religious feeling, but is not that glorious reverence, as ex 
alting as it is humbling, which is the feeling of our relation 
to the Whole. Neither a world operation too great for an 
organization, nor anything beyond it from smallness, can 
constitute this feeling, but it must be just as strong when 
the operation is equal and conformable to our powers. 

What moves us so wondrously is not the contrast between 
small and great, but the essence of greatness, the external 
law in virtue of which size and number in general first arose. 
Life alone can work on us in a characteristic way, and not 
what is captive to weight and in so far dead. The religious 
sense corresponds not to the masses in the outer world, but 
to their eternal laws. Rise to the height of seeing how 
these laws equally embrace all things, the greatest and the 
smallest, the world systems and the mote which floats in 
the air, and then say whether you are not conscious of the 
divine unity and the eternal immutability of the world. 

T 2 


By the most constant repetition/ some elements in these 
laws cannot escape even common perception. There is 
the order in which all movements return in the heavens 
and on the earth, the recognized coming and going of all 
organized forces, the perpetual trustworthiness of the rules 
of mechanics, and the eternal uniformity in the striving of 
plastic Nature. But, if it is allowable to make a com 
parison, this regularity gives a less great and lively 
religious feeling than the sense of law in all difference. 
Nor should this appear strange to you. 

Suppose you are looking at a fragment of a great work 
of art. In the separate parts of this fragment you perceive 
beautiful outlines and situations, complete and fully to be 
understood without anything besides. Would not the 
fragment then rather appear a work by itself than a part 
of a greater work, and would you not judge that, if the 
whole was wrought throughout in this style, it must lack 
breadth and boldness and all that suggests a great spirit ? 
If a loftier unity is to be suspected, along with the general 
tendency to order and harmony, there must be here and 
there situations not fully explicable. Now the world is a 
work of which you only see a part. Were this part per 
fectly ordered and complete in itself, we could be conscious 
of the greatness of the whole only in a limited way. 

You see that the irregularity of the world, so often 
employed against religion, has really a greater value for 
religion than the order which is first presented to us in our 
study of the world and which is visible in a smaller part. 
The perturbations in the course of the stars point to a 
higher unity and a bolder combination than those we have 
already discovered in the regularity of their orbits. The 
anomalies, the idle sports of plastic Nature, compel us to 
see that she handles her most definite forms with free, nay 
capricious arbitrariness, with a phantasy the laws of which 
only a higher standpoint can show. 

Wherefore, in the religion of the Ancients, only inferior 


divinities and ministering virgins had the oversight of all 
that recurred uniformly and had an already discovered 
order, but the exceptions which were not understood, the 
revolutions for which there was no law, were the work cf 
the father of the gods. We also have strange, dread, 
mysterious emotions, when the imagination reminds us that 
there is more in nature than we know. They are easy to 
distinguish from the quiet and settled consciousness that 
everything is involved in the most distant combinations 
of the Whole, that every individual thing is determined by 
the yet unexplored general life. This consciousness is pro 
duced by what we understand in Nature, but I mean those 
dim presentiments which are the same in all, even though, 
as is right, only the educated seek to elucidate them and 
change them into a more lively activity of perception. In 
others, being comprehended in ignorance and misunder 
standing, they grow to a delusion which we call pure 
superstition, under which, however, there manifestly lies 
a pious shudder of which we shall not be ashamed. 

Furthermore, consider how you are impressed by the 
universal opposition of life and death. The sustained, 
conquering power, whereby every living thing nourishes 
itself, forcefully awakes the dead and enters it on a new 
course by drawing it into its own life. On every side we 
find provision prepared for all living, not lying dead, but 
itself alive and everywhere being reproduced. With all 
this multitude of forms of life, and the enormous mass of 
material which each uses in turn, there is enough for all. 
Thus each completes his course and succumbs to an inward 
fate and not to outward want. What a feeling of endless 
fulness and superabundant riches ! How are we impressed 
by a universal paternal care and a childlike confidence that 
without anxiety plays away sweet life in a full and abun 
dant world ! Consider the lilies of the field, they sow not, 
neither do they reap, yet your Heavenly Father f eedeth 
them, wherefore be not anxious. This happy view, this 


serene, easy mind was for one of the greatest heroes of 
religion, the fair profit of a very limited and meagre com 
munion with nature. How much more should we win who 
have been permitted by a richer age to go deeper ! 

Already we know something more of the universally dis 
tributed forces, the eternal laws, whereby individual things, 
that is things which have their souls in themselves apart, 
in a more definite boundary, in what we call bodies, are 
fashioned and destroyed. See how attraction and repulsion, 
everywhere and always active, determine everything ; and 
how all difference and opposition are again resolved into 
a higher unity. Only in appearance, can anything finite 
boast itself of a separate existence. See how all likeness is 
concealed by being distributed in a thousand different 
shapes. Nothing simple is to be found, but all is skilfully 
connected and interwoven . We would see and exhort all who 
share in the culture of the age to observe, how, in this sense, 
the Spirit of the World reveals itself as visibly, as completely, 
in small as in great, and we would not stop with such a con 
sciousness of it as might be had anywhere and from any 
thing. Even without all the knowledge which has made 
our century glorious, the World- Spirit showed itself to the 
most ancient sages. Not only did they have, by intuition, 
the first pure speaking image of the world, but there was 
kindled in their hearts a love for nature and a joy in her, 
that is for us still lovely and pleasing. Had this but 
penetrated to the people, who knows what strong and lofty 
way religion might have taken from the beginning ? At 
present it has penetrated to all who would be considered 
cultured. Through the gradual operation of the fellowship 
between knowledge and feeling, they have arrived at the 
immediate feeling that there is nothing even in their own 
nature that is not a work of this Spirit, an exhibition and 
application of these laws. In virtue of this feeling, all that 
touches their life becomes truly a world, a unity permeated 
by the Divinity that fashions it. It is natural, therefore, 


that there should be in them all, that lore and joy, that 
deep reverence for nature which made sacred the art and 
life of Antiquity, which was the source of that wisdom, which 
we have returned to and are at length beginning to commend 
and glorify by fruits long delayed. Such a feeling of being 
one with nature, of being quite rooted in it, so that in all 
the changing phenomena of life, even in the change be 
tween life and death itself, we might await all that should 
befall us with approbation and peace, as merely the working 
out of those eternal laws, would indeed be the germ of all 
the religious feelings furnished by this side of existence. 

But is it so easy to find original in nature the love andV\ 
resistance, the unity and peculiarity, whereby it is a WholeJ[, 
for us ? Just because our sense tends in quite another direc 
tion, is there so little truly religious enjoyment of nature. The 
sense of the Whole must be first found, chiefly within our 
own minds, and from thence transferred to corporeal nature. 
Wherefore the spirit is for us not only the seat of religion 
but its nearest world. 13 The Universe portrays itself in the 
inner life, and then the corporeal is comprehensible from 
the spiritual. If the mind is to produce and sustain reli 
gion it must operate upon us as a world and as in a world. 

Let me reveal a secret to you that lies almost hidden in 
one of the oldest sources of poetry and religion. As long 
as the first man was alone with himself and nature, the Deity 
ruled over him and addressed him in various ways, but he did 
not understand and answered nothing. His paradise was 
beautiful, the stars shone down on him from a beautiful 
heaven, but there awoke in him no sense for the world. 
Even from within, this sense was not developed. Still his 
mind was stirred with longing for a world, and he collected 
the animal creation before him, if perhaps out of them a 
world might be formed. Then the Deity recognized that 
the world would be nothing, as long as man was alone. 
He created a helpmate for him. At length the deep-toned 
harmonies awoke in him, and the world fashioned itself 


before his eyes. In flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, 
he discovered humanity. In this first love he had a foretaste 
of all love s forms and tendencies in humanity he found 
the world. From this moment he was capable of seeing and 
hearing the voice of the Deity, and even the most insolent 
transgression of His laws did not any more shut him out 
from intercourse with the Eternal Being. 14 

The history of us all is related in this sacred legend. 
All is present in vain for those who set themselves alone. 
In order to receive the life of the World- Spirit, and have 
religion, man must first, in love, and through love, have 
found humanity. Wherefore, humanity and religion are 
closely and indissolubly united. A longing for love, ever 
satisfied and ever again renewed, forthwith becomes reli 
gion. Each man embraces most warmly the person in 
whom the world mirrors itself for him most clearly and 
purely ; he loves most tenderly the person whom he believes 
combines all he lacks of a complete manhood. Similarly 
the pious feelings are most holy that express for him 
existence in the whole of humanity, whether as blessed 
ness in attaining or of need in coming short. 

Wherefore, to find the most glorious elements of religion, 
let us enter upon the territory where you are in your pecu 
liar, your most loved home. Here your inner life had its 
birth, here you see the goal of all your striving and doing 
before your eyes, and here you feel the growth of your 
powers whereby you are evermore conducted towards it. 
Humanity itself is for you the true universe, and the rest is 
only added in so far as it is related to it or forms its 
surroundings. Even for me, this point of view suffices. 
Yet it has often pained me that, with all your interest in 
humanity, and with all your zeal for it, you are always in 
difficulties with it, and divided from it, and pure love cannot 
become right prominent in you. Each of you in his own way 
harasses himself to improve it, and to educate it, and what 
will not come to an issue you finally cast aside in dejection. 


I make bold to say, that this also comes from your lack of 
religion. You wish to work on humanity, and you select 
men, individuals for contemplation. They displease you 
vastly. Among the thousand possible causes, unques 
tionably that which is finest in itself, and which belongs to 
the best of you, is that you are, in your own way, far too 
ethical. You take men singly, and you have an ideal of the 
individual to which no one corresponds. If you would begin 
with religion, you would have far more success. If you would 
only attempt to exchange the objects of your working and 
the objects of your contemplation ! Work on individuals, 
but rise in contemplation, on the wings of religion, to end 
less, undivided humanity. Seek this humanity in each 
individual; regard the nature of every person as one 
revelation of it, and of all that now oppresses you no trace 
would remain. I at least boast myself of a moral dis 
position, I know how to value human excellence, and 
commonness could almost overwhelm me with the un 
pleasant feeling of contempt, were it not that religion gives 
me a great and glorious view of all. 

Just consider what a consummate artist the Genius of 
humanity is. It can make nothing that has not a nature 
of its own. As soon as it assays its brush, or sharpens its 
pencil, there appear living and significant features. It 
imagines and fashions countless forms. Millions wear the 
costume of the time, and are faithful pictures of its neces 
sities and its tastes. In others there are memories of the 
past, or presentiments of a distant future. Some are most 
lofty and striking types of the fairest and divinest, others 
resemble grotesques produced in the most original and 
fleeting mood of a master. The common view, based on a 
misunderstanding of the sacred words that there are vessels 
of honour and vessels of dishonour, is not pious. Only by 
comparing details could such an opposition appear to you. 
You must not contemplate anything alone, you must rather 
rejoice in everything in its own place. All that we can be 


conscious of at once, all, as it were, that stands on one 
sheet, presents one movement of the complete working of 
the Whole, and belongs, as it were, to one great historical 
picture. Would you make light of the chief groups that 
give life and affluence to the Whole? Should not each 
heavenly form be glorified in having a thousand others 
that regard it and are related to it, bowing before it ? 
Indeed, there is more in this presentation than a mere 
simile. Eternal humanity is unweariedly active, seeking to 
step forth from its inward, mysterious existence into the 
light, and to present itself in the most varied way, in the 
fleeting manifestation of the endless life. That is the 
harmony of the Universe, the wondrous and unparalleled 
unity of that eternal work of art. 

Being occupied in the outer court of morality, and there 
only with elements, caring for details and satisfied with 
them, and despising high religion, you slander its magnifi 
cence by your demands for a lamentable dismemberment. 
This is sufficient to indicate your need, may you now recog 
nize it and satisfy it ! Make search among all the circum 
stances in which the heavenly order portrays itself, and 
perhaps some favourite passage of history may be a divine 
sign to you, whereby you may more easily recognize how 
real the insignificant is, and how important for the Whole. 
Then what you regard with coldness or contempt may draw 
you with love. Or, allow yourselves to be pleased with an 
old, rejected conception ; seek out among the holy men, in 
whom humanity is pre-eminently revealed, someone to be 
a mediator between your limited way of thinking, and the 
eternal laws of the world. And when you have found one 
who, in a way you understand, by imparting himself, 
strengthens the weak, and gives life to the dead, traverse 
humanity, and let all that has hitherto seemed useless and 
wretched be illuminated by the reflection of this new light. 

What would the uniform repetition of even a highest ideal 
be ? Mankind, time and circumstances excepted, would be 


identical. They would be the same formula with a different 
co-efficient. What would it be in comparison with the end 
less variety which humanity does manifest ? Take any 
element of humanity, and you will find it in almost every 
possible condition. You will not find it quite by itself, nor 
quite combined with all other elements, but you will find all 
possible mixtures between, in every odd and unusual com 
bination. And if you could think of unions you do not see, 
this gap would be a negative revelation of the Universe, an 
indication that, in the present temperature of the world, this 
mixture is not possible, in the requisite degree. Your 
imagination thus gives you a glimpse beyond the present 
boundaries of humanity, and whether it be only a ray from 
a vanished past, or an involuntary and unconscious prophecy 
of the future, it is a real higher inspiration. And just as 
this, that seems to come short of the requisite infinite 
variety is not really too little, so what, from your stand 
point appears superfluous, is not really too much. 

This oft-bewailed superfluity of the commonest forms of 
humanity, ever returning unchanged in a thousand copies, 
does not disturb the pious mind. The Eternal Mind com 
mands that the forms in which individuality is most difficult 
to discern, should stand closest together, and even the finite 
mind can see the reason why. And each has something of 
its own, and no two are identical. In every life there is some 
moment, like the coruscation of baser metals, when, by the 
approach of something higher, or by some electric shock, it 
surpasses itself and stands on the highest pinnacle of its possi 
bilities. For this moment it was created, in this moment it 
fulfilled its purpose, and, after this moment its exhausted 
vitality again subsides. To call forth this moment in ordi 
nary souls and to contemplate them during it is a pleasure 
to be envied, and to those who have not known it, the whole 
existence of them must appear superfluous and despicable. 

Yet the existence of such an ordinary soul has a double 
meaning in respect of the Whole. If I arrest in thought 


the course of that unresting machinery whereby all that is 
human is woven together and made interdependent, I see 
that each individual in his inner nature is a necessary com 
plement of a complete intuition of humanity. One shows 
me how any fragment, if only the plastic impulse of the 
Whole still quickens it, can calmly progress, fashioning it 
self in graceful, regular forms ; another how, from want of 
a vivifying and combining warmth, the hardness of the 
earthly material cannot be overcome ; while, in a third, I 
see how, in an atmosphere too violently agitated, the spirit 
within is disturbed in its working, so that nothing comes 
clearly and recognizably to light. One appears as the 
rude and animal portion of mankind, stirred only by the 
first ungainly motions of humanity; another is the pure 
dematerialized spirit that, having been separated from all 
that is base and unworthy, hovers with noiseless foot over 
the earth. But everything between also has a purpose. 
It shows how, in the minute detached phenomena of indi- 
vi^ual lives, the different elements of human nature all 
appear at every stage and in every manner. It is not 
enough that among this countless multitude there are 
always a few at least who are the distinguished represen 
tatives of humanity, who strike different melodious chords 
that require no further accompaniment, and no subsequent 
explication, but who, in the one note, charm and satisfy 
by their harmony the whole soul. But even the noblest only 
presents mankind in one way and in one of its movements, 
and in some sense everyone is a peculiar exhibition of 
humanity and does the same thing, and were a single 
figure to fail in the great picture, it would be impossible 
to comprehend it completely and perfectly. If now 
every one is so essentially connected with that which is 
the inner kernel of our own life, how can we avoid feeling 
this connection, and embracing all, without distinction of 
disposition or mental capacity, with heartfelt liking and 
affection ? That is one meaning that every individual has 
in respect of the Whole. 


Do I, on the other hand, observe the eternal wheels of 
humanity in motion, this vast interaction, nothing moved by 
itself, nothing moving only itself, I am greatly quieted 
about the other side of your complaint, that reason and soul, 
sensuality and morality, understanding and blind force 
appear in such separate masses. Why do you see things 
singly that are not single and do not work by themselves? 
The reason of one and the disposition of another have as 
strong a mutual influence as if they were in one and the 
same subject. The morality that belongs to this sensuality 
is set apart from it, and do you suppose its dominion is, on 
that account, limited ? Would the sensuality be better ruled 
if the morality, without being specially concentrated any 
where, were divided out in small, scarce noticeable portions 
to each individual ? The blind power which is allotted to 
the great mass, is not, in its operation on the Whole, aban 
doned to a rude peradventure, but the understanding, con 
centrated at other points, leads it, without being aware of 
the fact, and it follows, in invisible bands, quite as uncon 
sciously. The outlines of personality which appear to you 
so definite, from my standpoint, dissolve. The magic circle 
of prevailing opinions and infectious feelings surrounds all 
and plays around all like an atmosphere filled with dis 
solving and magnetic forces. By the most vital diffusion 
it smelts all things, even the most distant, into a single 
activity, the issue of which is to impel those who are really 
in possession of light and truth to activity, so that some 
are deeply influenced, and others have at least a superficial 
illumination, brilliant and deceptive. 

In this connection of everything with the sphere to which 
it belongs and in which it has significance all is good and 
divine, and a fulness of joy and peace is the feeling of those 
who allow all things to work upon them in this great con 
nection. But they will also feel how contemplation isolates 
single things in single moments. The common impulse of 
men, who know nothing of this dependence, is to seize 
and retain this and that, to hedge in their Ego and to 


surf ound it with manifold outworks. They seek to conduct 
their own existence according to their own self-will and not 
be disturbed by the eternal current of the world. And 
when we who have an entirely opposite impulse perceive 
how fate necessarily sweeps all this away and how they 
wound and torture themselves in a thousand ways, what is 
more natural than the most heartfelt compassion with all 
the bitter suffering that must arise from this unequal strife, 
and with all the stripes which awful Nemesis deals out on 
every side ? 

^ From these wanderings through the whole territory of 

humanity, pious feeling returns, quickened and educated, 

into its own Ego; and there finds all the influences that had 

. \ 

streamed upon it from the most distant regions. If, on 

returning with the consecration of intercourse with the 
world still fresh upon us, we give heed how it is with us in 
this feeling, we become conscious that our Ego vanishes, 
not only into smallness and insignificance, but into one- 
sidedness, insufficiency and nothingness. What lies nearer 
to mortal man than unaffected humility ? And when gradu 
ally our feeling becomes quick and alert to what there is in 
the path of humanity that sustains and forwards, and what, 
on the contrary, must sooner or later be conquered and 
destroyed, if it is not recast and transformed, and when 
from this law we regard all doings in the world, what is 
more natural than deep contrition for all in us that is hostile 
to human nature, the submissive desire to conciliate the 
Deity, and the most earnest longing to put ourselves and all 
that belongs to us in safety in that sacred region where 
alone there is security against death and destruction ? 
Advancing further, we perceive how the Whole only 
becomes clear to us, how we only reach intuition of it and 
unity with it in fellowship with others, by the influence 
of those who have long been freed from dependence on 
their own fleeting being, and from the endeavour to expand 
and isolate it. How, then, can we avoid a feeling of special 


affinity to those whose actions have defended our existence, 
and happily guided it through threatening dangers? 
Though by us they become conscious of their life in the 
Whole, we honour them as those who, before us, have 
reached this union. 

Not by examples which are rare, but by passing through 
these and similar feelings you discover in yourselves the 
outlines of the fairest and the basest, the noblest and the 
most despicable. You not only find at times all the 
manifold degrees of human powers within you, but when 
self-love is quite submerged in sympathy, all the count 
less mixture of human tendencies that you have ever 
seen in the characters of others appears simply arrested 
impulses of your own life. There are moments when, de 
spite all distinction of sex, culture, or environment, you 
think, feel, and act as if you were really this or that person. 
In your own order, you have actually passed through all 
those different forms. You are a compendium of humanity. 
In a certain sense your single nature embraces all human 
nature. Your Ego, being multiplied and more clearly out 
lined, is in all its smallest and swiftest changes immortalized 
in the manifestations of human nature. As soon as this is 
seen, you can love yourselves with a pure and blameless 
love. Humility, that never forsakes you, has its counter 
part in the feeling that the whole of humanity lives and 
works in you. Even contrition is sweetened to joyful self- 
sufficiency. This is the completion of religion on this side. 
It works its way back to the heart, and there finds the 
Infinite. The man in whom this is accomplished, is no 
more in need of a mediator for any sort of intuition of 
humanity. Eather he is himself a mediator for many. 

"But there is not merely the swinging of feeling between 
the world and the individual, in the present moment. 
Except aa something going on, we cannot comprehend 
what affects us, and we cannot comprehend ourselves, 
except as thus progressively affected. Wherefore, as feeling 


persons, we are ever driven back into the past. The spirit 
furnishes the chief nourishment for our piety, and history 
immediately and especially is for religion the richest source. 
History is not of value for religion, because it hastens or 
controls in any way the progress of humanity in its develop 
ment, but because it is the greatest and most general revela 
tion of the deepest and holiest. In this sense, however, 
religion begins and ends- with history. Prophecy and 
history are for religion the same and indistinguishable, and 
all true history has at first had a religious purpose, and has 
taken its departure from religious ideas. 

What is finest and tenderest in history, moreover, 
cannot be communicated scientifically, but can only be 
comprehended in the feeling of a religious disposition. 
The religious mind recognizes the transmigration of 
spirits and souls, which to others is but graceful fiction, 
as, in more than one sense, a wonderful arrangement 
of the Universe for comparing the different periods of 
humanity according to a sure standard. After a long 
period, during which nature could produce nothing similar, 
some distinguished individual almost entirely the same 
returns. But only the seers recognize him, and it is they 
who should judge by his works the signs of different times. 
A movement of humanity returns exactly like something 
of which some distant foretime has left you an image, and 
you are to recognize from the various causes which have 
now produced it, the course of development and the 
formula of its law. The genius of some human endow 
ment awakes as from slumber. Here and there rising and 
falling, it has already finished its course. Now it appears 
in a new life in another place and under different circum 
stances. Its quicker increase, its deeper working, its fairer 
stronger form, indicate how much the climate of humanity 
has improved, and how much fitter the soil has grown to 
nourish nobler plants. Peoples and generations of mortals 
appear as all alike necessary for the completeness of history, 


though, like individuals, of different worth. Some are 
estimable and spirited, and work strongly without ceasing, 
permeating space and defying time. Others are common 
and insignificant, fitted only to show some peculiar shade 
of some single form of life. For one moment only they 
are really living and noticeable. One thought they 
exhibit, one conception they produce, and then they hasten 
towards destruction that the power that produced them may 
be given to something else. As vegetable nature, from 
the destruction of whole species, and from the ruins of 
whole generations of plants, produces and nourishes a new 
race, so spiritual nature rears from the ruins of a glorious 
and beautiful world of men, a new world that draws its 
first vital strength from elements decomposed and won- 
drously transformed. Being deeply impressed with this 
sense of a universal connection, your glance perhaps passes 
so often directly from least to greatest and greatest to 
least, going backwards and forwards, till through dizziness 
it can neither distinguish great nor small, cause nor 
effect, preservation nor destruction. This state continues, 
and then that well-known figure of an eternal fate appears. 
Its features bear the impress of this state, being a 
marvellous mixture of obstinate self-will and deep wisdom, 
of rude unfeeling force and heartfelt love, of which first one 
seizes you and then another, now inviting you to impotent 
defiance and now to childlike submission. 

Penetrate further and compare this partial striving of the 
individual, the fruit of opposing views, with the quiet uniform 
course of the Whole. You will see how the high World- 
Spirit smilingly marches past all that furiously opposes him. 
You will see how dread Nemesis, never wearied, follows his 
steps, meting out punishment to the haughty who resist 
the gods. Even the stoutest and choicest who have with 
steadfastness, worthy perhaps of praise and wonder, refused 
to bow before the gentle breath of the great Spirit, it mows 
down with iron hand. Would you comprehend the proper 



character of all changes and of all human progress, a 
feeling resting on history must show you more surely than 
aught else, that living gods rule who hate nothing so much 
as death, and that nothing is to be persecuted and 
destroyed like this first and last foe of the spirit. The 
rude, the barbarian, the formless are to be absorbed and 
recast. Nothing is to be a dead mass that moves only by 
impact and resists only by unconscious collision ; all is 
to be individual, connected, complex, exalted life. Blind 
instinct, unthinking custom, dull obedience, everything 
lazy and passive, all those sad symptoms of the death 
slumber of freedom and humanity are to be abolished. To 
this the work of the minutes and the centuries is directed, 
it is the great ever advancing work of redemptive love. 

Some prominent emotions of religion connected with na 
ture and humanity, I have now sketched in vague outline. 
I have brought you to the limits of your horizon. Here is 
the end and summit of religion for all to whom humanity 
is the whole world. But consider that in your feeling 
there is something that despises these bounds, something 
in virtue of which you cannot stay where you are. Beyond 
this point only infinity is to be looked into. I will not 
speak of the presentiments which define themselves and 
become thoughts which might by subtilty be established, 
that humanity, being capable of motion and cultivation, 
being not only differently manifested in the individual, 
but here and there really being different, cannot possibly 
be the highest, the sole manifestation of the unity of spirit 
and matter. As the individual is only one form of 
humanity, so humanity may be only one form of this 
unity. Beside it many other similar forms may exist, 
bounding it and standing over against it. But in our own 
feeling we all find something similar. The dependence 
of our earth, arid therefore of the highest unity it has pro 
duced, upon other worlds, has been impressed upon us 
both by nature and by education. Hence this ever active 


but seldom understood presentiment of some other 
marriage of spirit and matter, visible and finite, but above 
humanity, higher and closer and productive of more 
beautiful forms. But any sketch that could be drawn 
would be too definite. Any echo of the feeling could only 
be fleeting and vague. Hence it is exposed to misconcep 
tion and is so often taken for folly and superstition. 

This is sufficient reference to a thing so immeasurably 
far from you. More would be incomprehensible. Had you 
only the religion that you could have! Were you but 
conscious of what you already have ! Were you to con 
sider the few religious opinions and feelings that I have so 
slightly sketched, you would be very far from finding them 
all strange to you. Something of the same kind you must 
have had in your thoughts before. But I do not know 
whether to lack religion quite, or not to understand it, is 
the greater misfortune. In the latter case also it fails of its 
purpose, and you impose upon yourselves in addition. 

Two things I would specially blame in you. Some things 
you select and stamp as exclusively religious, other things 
you withdraw from religion as exclusively moral. Both you 
apparently do on the same ground. Religion with you is 
the retribution which alights on all who resist the Spirit 
of the Whole, it is the hatred everywhere active against 
haughtiness and audacity, the steady advance of all human 
things to one goal. You are conscious of the feeling that 
points to this unfailing progress. After it has been purified 
from all abuses, you would willingly see it sustained and ex 
tended. But you will then have it that this is exclusively 
religion, and you would exclude other feelings that take 
their rise from the same operation of the mind in exactly 
the same way. 

How have you come to this torn off fragment ? I will tell 
you. You do not regard it as religion but as an echo of 
moral action, and you simply wish to foist the name upon 
it, in order to give religion the last blow. What we have 

G 2 


agreed to acknowledge as religion does not arise exclu 
sively in the moral sphere, not at least in the narrow 
sense in which you understand the word. Feeling knows 
nothing of such a limited predilection. If I direct you 
specially to the sphere of the spirit and to history, it does 
not follow that the moral world is religion s Universe. In 
your narrow sense of it the moral world would produce 
very few religious emotions. The pious man can detect 
the operation of the World-Spirit in all that belongs to 
human activity, in play and earnest, in smallest things and 
in greatest. Everywhere he perceives enough to move 
him by the presence of this Spirit and without this in 
fluence nothing is his own. Therein he finds a divine 
Nemesis that those who, being predominantly ethical or 
rather legal, would, by selecting from religion only the 
elements suited to this purpose, make of it an insignificant 
appendage to morals, do yet, purify religion as they may, 
irrecoverably corrupt their moral doctrine itself and sow 
in it the seed of new errors. When anyone succumbs in 
moral action, it sounds well to say it is the will of the 
Eternal, and that what does not succeed through us, will 
sometime, by others, come to pass. But if this high assur 
ance belonged to moral action, moral action would be depen 
dent on the degree of receptivity for this assurance in each 
person at any moment. Morality cannot include immedi 
ately aught of feeling without at once having its original 
power and purity disturbed. 

With all those feelings, love, humility, joy, and the 
others that I pictured as the undulation of the mind 
between the two points of which the world is one, and your 
Ego the other, you deal in another way. The ancients knew 
what was right. They called them all piety. For them 
those feelings were an essential part of religion, the noblest 
part. You also recognize them, but you try to persuade 
yourselves that they are an essential section of your moral 
action. You would justify these sentiments on moral 


principles, and assign them their place in your moral 
system. But in vain, for, if you remain true to your 
selves, they will there neither be desired nor endured. If 
action proceed directly from the emotions of love or affec 
tion, it will be insecure and thoughtless. Moral action 
should not proceed from such a momentary influence of an 
outward" object. Wherefore your doctrine of morals, when 
it is strict and pure, acknowledges no reverence except for 
its own law. Everything done from pity or gratitude it 
condemns as impure, almost as selfish. It makes light of, 
almost despises, humility. If you talk of contrition it speaks 
of lost time being needlessly increased. Your own feeling 
must assure you that the immediate object of all these sen 
timents is not action. They are spontaneous functions of 
your deepest and highest life, coming by themselves and 
ending by themselves. 15 Why do you make such an ado, 
and begging for grace for them, where they have no right 
to be ? Be content to consider them religion, and then you 
will not need to demand anything for them except their 
own sure rights, and you will not deceive yourselves with 
the baseless claims which you are disposed to make in 
their name. Eeturn them to religion : the treasure belongs 
to it alone. As the possessor of it, religion is for morality 
and all else that is an object of human doing, not the hand 
maid, but an indispensable friend and sufficient advocate 
with humanity. This is the rank of religion, as the sum 
of all higher feelings. 

That it^alone removes man from one-sidedness and narrow 
ness I have already indicated. Now I am in a position to 
be more definite. In all activity and working, be it moral 
or artistic, man must strive for mastery. But when man 
becomes quite absorbed, all mastery limits and chills, and 
makes one-sided and hard. The mind is directed chiefly to 
one point, and this one point cannot satisfy it. Can man, 
by advancing from one narrow work to another, really use 
his whole power ? Will not the larger part be unused, and 


turn, in consequence, against himself and devour him? 
How many of you go to ruin because you are too great for 
yourselves ? A superfluity of power and impulse that 
never issues in any work, because there is no work adequate, 
drives you aimlessly about, and is your destruction. 

To resist this evil would you have those who are too great 
for one object of human endeavour, unite them all art, 
science, life, and any others you may know of ? This would 
simply be your old desire to have humanity complete every 
where, your ever recurring love of uniformity. But is it 
possible? Those objects, as soon as they are attended to 
separately, all alike strive to rouse and dominate the mind. 
Each tendency is directed to a work that should be com 
pleted, it has an ideal to be copied, a totality to be em 
braced. This rivalry of several objects of endeavour can 
only end by one expelling the others. Nay, even within 
this one sphere, the more eminent a mastery a man would 
attain, the more he must restrict himself. But if this pre 
eminence entirely occupy him, and if he lives only to attain 
it, how shall he duly participate in the world, and how shall 
his life become a whole? Hence most virtuosos are one 
sided and defective, or at least, outside of their own sphere, 
they sink into an inferior kind of life. 

The only remedy is for each man, while he is definitely 
active in some one department, to allow himself, without 
definite activity, to be affected by the Infinite. In every 
species of religious feeling he will then become conscious of 
all that lies beyond the department which he directly culti 
vates. The Infinite is near to everyone, for whatever be the 
object you have chosen for your deliberate technical working, 
it does not demand much thought to advance from it to find 
the Universe. In it you discover the rest as precept, or in 
spiration or revelation. The only way of acquiring what 
lies outside the direction of the mind we have selected, is 
to enjoy and comprehend it thus as a whole, not by will as 
art, but by instinct for the Universe as religion. 


Even in the religious form these objects again fall into 
rivalry. This result of human imperfection causes religion 
to appear dismembered. Keligion takes the form of some 
peculiar receptivity and taste for art, philosophy or morality, 
and is consequently often mistaken. Oftener, I say, it 
appears thus than freed from all participation in one-sided- 
ness, than completed, all-embracing. Yet this complete 
form of religion remains the highest, and it is only by it, 
that, with satisfactory result, man sets alongside of the finite 
that he specially concentrates on, an Infinite ; alongside of 
the contracting endeavour for something definite and com 
plete, expansive soaring in the Whole and the Inexhaustible. 
In this way he restores the balance and harmony of his 
nature, which would be lost for ever, if, without at the 
same time having religion, he abandon himself to one object, 
were it the most beautiful, most splendid. A man s special 
calling is the melody of his life, and it remains a simple, 
meagre series of notes unless religion, with its endlessly 
rich variety, accompany it with all notes, and raise the 
simple song to a full-voiced, glorious harmony. 

If then this, that I trust I have indicated clearly enough 
for you all, is really the nature of religion, I have already an 
swered the questions, Whence do those dogmas and doctrines 
come that many consider the essence of religion ? Where do 
they properly belong ? And how do they stand related to 
what is essential in religion ? They are all the result of that 
contemplation of feeling, of that reflection and comparison, 
of which we have already spoken. The conceptions that 
underlie these propositions are, like your conceptions from 
experience, nothing but general expressions for definite 
feelings. They are not necessary for religion itself, scarcely 
even for communicating religion, but reflection requires 
and creates them. Miracle, inspiration, revelation, super 
natural intimations, much piety can be had without the need 
of any one of these conceptions. But when feeling is made 
the subject of reflection and comparison they are absolutely 


unavoidable. In this sense all these conceptions do cer 
tainly belong to the sphere of religion, and indeed belong 
without condition or the smallest limit to their application. 

The strife about what event is properly a miracle, and 
wherein its character properly consists, how much revelation 
there may be and how far and for what reasons man may pro 
perly believe in it, and the manifest endeavour to deny and 
set aside as much as can be done with decency and .con 
sideration, in the foolish notion that philosophy and reason 
are served thereby, is one of the childish operations of the 
metaphysicians and moralists in religion. They confuse 
all points of view and bring religion into discredit, as if it 
trespassed on the universal validity of scientific and physical 
conclusions. Pray do not be misled, to the detriment of 
religion, by their sophistical disputations, nor even by 
their hypocritical mystery about what they would only too 
willingly publish. Religion, however loudly it may demand 
back all those well abused conceptions, leaves your physics 
untouched, and please God, also your psychology. 

What is a miracle ? What we call miracle is everywhere 
else called sign, indication. Our name, which means a 
wonder, refers purely to the mental condition of the ob 
server. It is only in so far appropriate that a sign, espe 
cially when it is nothing besides, must be fitted to call 
attention to itself and to the power in it that gives it signifi 
cance. Every finite thing, however, is a sign of the Infinite, 
and so these various expressions declare the immediate rela 
tion of a phenomenon to the Infinite and the Whole. But 
does that involve that every event should not have quite as 
immediate a relation to the finite and to nature ? Miracle 
is simply the religious name for event. Every event, even 
the most natural and usual, becomes a miracle, as soon as 
the religious view of it can be the dominant. To me all is 
miracle. In your sense the inexplicable and strange alone is 
miracle, in mine it is no miracle. The more religious you 
are, the more miracle would you see everywhere. All dis- 


puting about single events, as to whether or not they are to 
be called miraculous, gives me a painful impression of the 
poverty and wretchedness of the religious sense of the 
combatants. One party show it by protesting everywhere 
against miracle, whereby they manifest their wish not to 
see anything of immediate relationship to the Infinite and 
to the Deity. The other party display the same poverty 
by laying stress on this and that. A phenomenon for them 
must be marvellous before they will regard it as a miracle, 
whereby they simply announce that they are bad observers. 16 

What is revelation ? Every original and new communica 
tion of the Universe to man is a revelation, as, for example, 
every such moment of conscious insight as I have just 
referred to. Every intuition and every original feeling 
proceeds from revelation. As revelation lies beyond con 
sciousness, demonstration is not possible, yet we are not 
merely to assume it generally, but each one knows best 
himself what is repeated and learned elsewhere, and what 
is original and new. If nothing original has yet been 
generated in you, when it does come it will be a revelation 
for you also, and I counsel you to weigh it well. 

What is inspiration ? It is simply the general expression 
for the feeling of true morality and freedom. But do not 
mistake me. It is not that marvellous and much-praised 
morality and freedom that accompany and embellish actions 
with deliberations. It is that action which springs from 
the heart of man, despite of, or at least, regardless of, 
all external occasion. In the same measure in which this 
action is freed from all earthly entanglement, it is felt as 
divine and referred to God. 

What is prophecy ? Every religious anticipation of the 
other half of a religious event, one half being given, is 
prophecy. It was very religious of the ancient Hebrews to 
measure the divineness of a prophet, neither by the difficulty 
of predicting, nor by the greatness of the subject, but, 
quite simply, by the issue, for we cannot know from one 


thing how complete the feeling is in everything, till we see 
whether the religious aspect of this one special circumstance 
has been rightly comprehended. 

What is operation of grace ? 17 Nothing else manifestly 
than the common expression for revelation and inspira 
tion, for interchange between the entrance of the world 
into man, through intuition and feeling, and the out 
going of man into the world, through action and culture. 
It includes both, in their originality and in their divine 
character, so that the whole life of the pious simply forms a 
series of operations of divine grace. 

You seethat all these ideas, in so far as religion requires, 
or can adopt ideas, are the first and the most essential. 
They indicate in the most characteristic manner a man s 
consciousness of his religion, because they indicate just 
what necessarily and universally must be in it. The man 
who does not see miracles of his own from the standpoint 
from which he contemplates the world, the man in whose 
heart no revelation of his own arises, when his soul longs 
to draw in the beauty of the world, and to be permeated by 
its spirit ; the man who does not, in supreme moments, feel, 
with the most lively assurance, that a divine spirit urges 
him, and that he speaks and acts from holy inspiration, has 
no religion. The religious man must, at least, be con 
scious of his feelings as the immediate product of the 
Universe ; for less would mean nothing. He must recog 
nize something individual in them, something that cannot 
be imitated, something that guarantees the purity of their 
origin from his own heart. To be assured of this possession 
is the true belief. 

Belief, on the contrary, usually so called, which is to 
accept what another has said or done, or to wish to think 
and feel as another has thought and felt, is a hard and base 
service. So far is it from being the highest in religion, as 
is asserted, that it must be rejected by all who would force 
their way into the sanctuary of religion. To wish to have and 


hold a faith that is an echo, proves that a man is incapable 
of religion ; to demand it of others, shows that there is no 
understanding of religion. You wish always to stand on 
your own feet and go your own way, and this worthy intent 
should not scare you from religion. Keligion is no slavery, 
no captivity, least of all, for your reason. You must belong 
to yourselves. Indeed, this is an indispensable condition 
of having any part in religion. 

Every man, a few choice souls excepted, does, to be sure, 
require a guide to lead and stimulate, to wake his religious 
sense from its first slumber, and to give it its first direction. 
But this you accord to all powers and functions of the human 
soul, and why not to this one ? For your satisfaction, be it 
said, that here, if anywhere, this tutelage is only a passing 
state. Hereafter, shall each man see with his own eyes, 
and shall produce some contribution to the treasures of 
religion ; otherwise, he deserves no place in its kingdom, 
and receives none. You are right in despising the wretched 
echoes who derive their religion entirely from another, or 
depend on a dead writing, swearing by it and proving out 
of it. 

Every sacred writing is in itself a glorious production, 
a speaking monument from the heroic time of religion, but, 
through servile reverence, it would become merely a mau 
soleum, a monument that a great spirit once was there, but 
is now no more. Did this spirit still live and work, he 
would look with love, and with a feeling of equality upon 
his work which yet could only be a weaker impress of him 
self. Not every person has religion who believes in a sacred 
writing, but only the man who has a lively and immediate 
understanding of it, and who, therefore, so far as he him 
self is concerned, could most easily do without it. 

Your very contempt for the poverty stricken and power 
less venerators of religion, in whom, from lack of nourish 
ment, religion died before ever it came to the birth, con 
vinces me that you have a talent for religion. The same 


thing appears from your regard for the persons of all true 
heroes of religion. That you should treat them* with 
shallow scoffing or not acknowledge what is great or 
powerful in them, I would hardly ascribe to you. This 
regard for the persons confirms me in the thought that 
your contempt for the thing rests merely on a misunder 
standing, and has for its object only the miserable figure 
which religion takes in the great incapable mass, and the 
abuses which presumptuous leaders carry on. 

I have tried, as best I could, therefore, to show you 
what religion really is. Have you found anything therein 
unworthy of you, nay, of the highest human culture ? 
Must you not rather long all the more for that universal 
union with the world which is only possible through feeling, 
the more you are separated and isolated by definite culture 
and individuality? Have you not often felt this holy 
longing, as something unknown ? Become conscious of the 
call of your deepest nature and follow it, I conjure you. 
Banish the false shame of a century which should not 
determine you but should be made and determined by you. 
Return to what lies so near to you, yes, even to you, the 
violent separation from which cannot fail to destroy the 
most beautiful part of your nature. 

It appears to me, however, that many among you do not 
believe that I can here mean to end my present business. 
How can I have spoken thoroughly of the nature of 
religion, seeing I have not treated at all of immortality, and 
of God only a little in passing ? Is it not incumbent upon 
me, most of all, to speak of these two things and to repre- 
vsent to you how unhappy you would be without belief in 
them? For are not these two things, for most pious 
people, the very poles and first articles of religion ? 

But I am not of your opinion. First of all, I do not 
believe I have said nothing about immortality and so little 
about God. Both, I believe, are in all and in everything 
that. I have adduced as an element of religion. Had I not 


presupposed God and immortality I could not have said 
what I have said, for, only what is divine and immortal has 
room in which to speak of religion. 

In the second place, just as little do I consider that I 
have the right to hold the conceptions and doctrines of 
God^and of immortality, as they are usually understood, to 
be the principal things in religion. Only what in either 
is feeling and immediate consciousness, can belong to 
religion. God and immortality, however, as they are 
found in such doctrines, are ideas. How many among 
you possibly most of you are firmly convinced of one 
or other or both of those doctrines, without being on that 
account pious or having religion. As ideas they can have 
no greater value in religion than ideas generally. 

But that you may not think I am afraid to speak a 
straightforward word on this subject, because it would be 
dangerous to speak, till some definition of God and existence 
that has stood its trial, has been brought to light and has 
been accepted in the German Empire as good and valid ; 
or lest you should, on the other hand, perhaps, believe that 
I am playing on you a pious fraud and wish, in order to be 
all things to all men, with seeming indifference to make 
light of what must be of far greater importance to me than 
I will confess lest you should think these things, I shall 
gladly be questioned and will endeavour to make clear to 
you that, according to my best conviction, it really is, as I 
have just now maintained. 

Remember in the first place that any feeling is not an | 
emotion of piety because in it a single object as such T 
affects us, but only in so far as in it and along with it, it 
affects us as revelation of God. It is, therefore, not an 
individual or finite thing, but God, in whom alone the 
particular thing is one and all, that enters our life. Nor 
do we stand over against the World and in it at the 
same time by any one faculty, but by our whole being. 
The divine in us, therefore, is immediately affected and 



called forth by the feeling: 1 ^ Seeing then that I have pre 
sented nothing but just this immediate and original 
existence of God in us through feeling, how can anyone say 
that I have depicted a religion without God ? Is not God 
the highest, the only unity ? Is it not God alone before 
whom and in whom ail particular things disappear ? And 
if you see the world as a Whole, a Universe, can you do it 
otherwise than in God ? If not, how could you dis 
tinguish the highest existence, the original and eternal 
Being from a temporal and derived individual? Other 
wise than by the emotions produced in us by the world 
we do not claim to have God in our feeling, and conse 
quently I have not said more of Him. 

If you will not admit that this is to have God, and to 
be conscious of Him, I can neither teach nor direct you 
farther. How much you may know I do not judge, for it 
does not at present concern me, but in respect of feeling and 
sentiment, you would be for me godless. Science, it is true, 
is extolled as giving an immediate knowledge .about God, 
that is the source of all other knowledge ; only we are not 
now speaking of science, but of religion. This way of 
knowing about God which most praise and which I also 
am to laud, is neither the idea of God as the undivided 
unity and source of all, that is placed by you at the head of 
all knowledge ; nor is it the feeling of God in the heart, of 
which we boast ourselves. It lags far behind the demands 
of science, and is for piety something quite subordinate. 
It is an idea compounded from characteristics, from what 
are called attributes of God. These attributes correspond 
to the different ways in which the unity of the individual 
and the Whole, expresses itself in feeling. Hence I can 
only say of this idea, what I have said of ideas generally, 
in reference to religion, that there can be much piety with 
out it, and that it is first formed when piety is made an 
object of contemplation. 

Yet this idea of God, as it is usually conceived, is dif- 


ferent from the other ideas before- adduced, for though it 
seeks to be the highest and to stand above all, God, being 
thought of as too like us, as a thinking and willing Person, 
is drawn down into, the region of opposition. It therefore 
appears natural that the more like man God is conceived, 
the more easily another mode of presentation is set over 
against it. Hence, we have an idea of the Highest Being, 
not as personally thinking and willing, but exalted above 
all personality, as the universal, productive, connecting 
necessity of all thought and existence. 

Nothing seems to me less fitting than for the adherents 
of the former view to charge with godlessness those who, 
in dread of this anthropomorphism, take refuge in the other, 
or for the adherents of this latter view to make the human- 
ness of the idea of God a ground for charging the adherents 
of the former with idolatry, or for declaring their piety void. 

It^matters not what conceptions a man adheres to, he can \ 
still be pious. His piety, the divino in his feeling, may be | 
better~than his conception, and his desire to place the 
essence of piety in conception, only makes him misunder 
stand himself. Consider how narrow is the presentation of 
God in the one conception, and how dead and rigid in the 
other. Neither corresponds to its object, and thus cannot be 
aproof of piety, except in so far as it rests on something in the 
mind, of which it has come far short. Kightly understood, 
both ri present, at least, one element of feeling/But, without 
feeling, neither is of any value. Many believe in and 
accept a God presented in conception, and yet are nothing 
less than pious, 19 and in no case is this conception the germ 
from which their piety could ever spring, for it has no life 
in itself. Neither conception is any sign of a perfect or of 
an imperfect religion, but perfection and imperfection 
depend upon the degree of cultivation of the religious 
sense. As_ I knowjrf nothing more that could bring us to 
an understanding 011 this subject of conceptions, let us now 
go on to consider the development of the religious sense. 


As long as man s whole relation to the world has not 
arrived at clearness, this feelmg^ is but a_ vague instinct, 
the world can appear to him nothing but a confused unity. 
Nothing of its complexity is definitely distinguishable. It 
is to him a chaos, uniform in its confusion, without division, 
order, or law. Apart from what most immediately concerns 
the subsistence of man, he distinguishes nothing as indi 
vidual except by arbitrarily cutting it off in time and space. 
Here you will find but few traces of any conceptions, and 
you will scarcely discern to which side they incline. You 
will not set much value on the difference, whether a blind 
fate, only to be indicated by magic rites, exhibits the 
character of the Whole, or a being, alive indeed, but with 
out definite characteristics, an idol, a fetich, one, or, if 
many, only distinguishable by the arbitrarily appointed 
limits of their sphere. 

As we advance, the feeling becomes more conscious. 
Circumstances display themselves in their complexity and 
definiteness. The multiplicity of the heterogeneous ele 
ments and powers, by whose constant and determined 
strife, phenomena are determined, becomes more prominent 
in man s consciousness of the world. In the same degree 
the result of the contemplation of this feeling changes. 
The opposite forms of the idea stand more distinctly apart. 
Blind fate changes into a higher necessity, in which, though 
unattainable and unsearchable, reason and connection rest. 
Similarly, the idea of a personal God becomes higher, but 
at the same time divides and multiplies, each power and 
element becomes animate, and gods arise in endless number. 
They are now distinguishable by means of the different 
objects of their activity, and different inclinations and dis 
positions. A stronger, fairer life of the Universe in feeling 
you must acknowledge is here exhibited. It is most 
beautiful when this new won complexity and this innate 
highest unity are most intimately bound together in feeling, 
as for example, among the Greeks, whom you so justly 


revere. Both forms then unite in reflection, one being of 
more value for though t, the other for art, one showing more 
of the complexity, the other of the unity. But this stage, 
even without such a union is more perfect than the former, 
especially if the idea of the Highest Being is placed rather 
in the eternal unattainable necessity, than in single 

Let us now mount higher where opposing elements are v 
again united, wjiere_existence, by exhibiting itself as totality, I / 
as_ unity in variety, as system, first deserves its name. Js T 
not the man who perceives existence both as one and as all, 
wlio stands over against the Whole, and yet is one witn it 
in feeling, to bo accounted happier in his religion, let his 
feeling mirror itself in idea as it may ? There as elsewhere 
then, the manner in which the Deity is present to man in feel 
ing, is decisive of the worth of his religion, not the manner, 
always inadequate, in which it is copied in idea. Suppose 
there is someone arrived at this stage, who rejects the 
idea of a personal God. I will not decide on the justice of 
the names you are accustomed to apply to him, whether 
Pantheist or Spinozist. This rejection of the idea of a 
personal Deity does not decide against the presence of 
the Deity in his feeling. The ground of such a rejection 
might be a humble consciousness of the limitation of per 
sonal existence, and particularly of personality joined to 
consciousness. He might stand as high above a worship 
per of the twelve gods whom you would rightly name after 
Lucretius, as a pious person at that stage would be above 
an idolater. 

But we have here the old confusion, the unmistakable 
sign of defective culture. Those who are at the same 
stage, only not at the same point, are most strongly 
repudiated. The proper standard of ^religiousness, that) 
which announces the stage to which a man has attained, isf 
his sense for the Deity. But to which idea he will attachj 
himself depends purely on what he requires it for 



whether his imagination chiefly inclines towards existence 
and nature or consciousness and thought. 

You will not, I trust, consider it blasphemy or incon 
gruity that such a matter should depend on the direction of 
the imagination. By imagination I do not mean anything 
subordinate or confused, but the highest and most original 
faculty in man. All else in the human mind is simply 
reflection upon it, and is therefore dependent on it. 

WAA-^*^^ Imagination in this sense is the free generation of thoughts, 
whereby you come to a conception of the world ; such a 

fln^/^pTl*-* conception you cannot receive from without, nor compound 
from inferences. From this conception you are then im- 

/ pressed with the feeling of omnipotence. The subsequent 

f*vv^t>HjUML& translation into thought depends on whether one is willing 
^> in the consciousness of his own weakness to be lost in the 
mysterious obscurity, or whether, first of all, seeking 
defmiteness of thought, he cannot think of anything 
except under the one form given to us, that of conscious 
ness or self-consciousness. Recoil from the obscurity of 
indefinite thought is the one tendency of the imagination, 
recoil from the appearance of contradiction in transferring 
the forms of the finite to the Infinite is the other. 

Now cannot the same inwardness of religion be combined 
with both? Would not a closer consideration show that 
the two ways of conceiving are not very wide apart ? But 
the pantheistic idea is not to be thought of as death, and 
no effort is to be spared to surpass in thought the limits of 
the personal idea. 

So much I have thought it necessary to say, not so much 
in explanation of my own position, as to_ prevent you from 
thinking that all are despisers of religion who will not 
accept the personality of the Highest Being as it is usually 
set forth. And I am quite convinced that what has been 
said will not make the idea of the personality of Grod more 
uncertain for anyone who truly has it ; nor will anyone 
more easily rid himself of the almost absolute necessity to 


acquire it, for knowing whence this necessity comes. Among 
truly religious men there have never been zealots, enthu 
siasts, or fanatics for this idea. Even when timidity and 
hesitation about it is called atheism, truly pious persons 
will leave it alone with great tranquillity. Not to have the 
Deity immediately present in one s feeling has always 
seemed to them more irreligious. They would most un 
willingly believe that anyone could in point of fact be quite 
without religion. They believe that only those who are 
quite without feeling, and whose nature has become brutish, 
can have no consciousness of the God that is in us and in the 
world, and of the divine life and operation whereby all things 
consist. But whosoever insists, it matters not how many 
excellent men ho excludes, that the highest piety consists 
in confessing that the Highest Beiug thinks as a person and 
wills outside the world, cannot be far travelled in the region 
of piety. Nay, the profoundest words of the most zealous 
defenders of his own faith must still be strange to him. 

The number who would have something from this God, 
that is alien to piety, is only too great. He is to give an 
outward guarantee of their blessedness and incite them to 
morality. They want to have it before their eyes. They 
would not have God working on man by freedom, but in 
the only way in which one free being can work on another, 
by necessity, by making himself known either by pain or 
by pleasure. But this cannot incite us to morality. Every 
external incitement is alien to morality, whether it be 
hope or fear. To follow it where it concerns morality is 
unfree, therefore unmoral. But the Highest Being, par 
ticularly when he is thought of as free, cannot wish to ^ 
make freedom itself not free, and morality not moral;^ 

This now brings me to the second point, to immortality. 
I cannot conceal that in the usual manner of treating this 
^subject there js_ still more that seems to me inconsistent 
with the_nature of piety. I believe I have just shown you 
in what way each one bears in himself an unchangeable and 

H 2 


eternal nature. If our feeling nowhere attaches itself to 
the individual, but if its content is our relation to God 
wherein all that is individual and fleeting disappears, there 
can be nothing fleeting in it, but all must be eternal. _In 
the religious life then we may well say we have already 
offered up and disposed of all that is mortal, and that we 
actually are enjoying immortality. But the immortality that 
most men imagine and their longing for it, seem to me 
irreligious, nay quite opposed to the spirit of piety. Dis 
like to the very aim of religion is the ground of their wish to 
be immortal. Recall how religion earnestly strives to expand 
the sharply cut outlines of personality. Gradually they are 
to be lost in the Infinite that we, becoming conscious of the 
Universe, may as much as possible be one with it. But men 
struggle against this aim. They are anxious about their 
personality, and do not wish to overstep the accustomed 
limit or to be anything else but a manifestation of it. The 
one opportunity that death gives them of transcending it, 
they are very far from wishing to embrace. On the contrary, 
they are concerned as to how they are to carry it with them 
beyond this life, and their utmost endeavour is for longer 
sight and better limbs. But God speaks to them as it stands 
written, " Whosoever loses his life for my sake, the same 
shall keep it, and whosoever keeps it, the same shall lose 
it." The life that they would keep is one that cannot be 
kept. If their concern is with the eternity of their single 
person, why are they not as anxious about what it has been 
as about what it is to be ? "What does forwards avail when 
they cannot go backwards ? They desire an immortality 
that is no immortality. They are not even capable of com 
prehending it, for who can endure the effort to conceive an 
endless temporal existence ? Thereby they lose the immor 
tality they could always have, and their mortal life in 
addition, by thoughts that distress and torture them in vain. 
Would they but attempt to surrender their lives from love 
to God ! Would they but strive to annihilate their person- 


ality and to live in the One and in the All ! WhosoejreiLhas j 
learned to be more than himself, knows that he loses little / 
when he loses himself. Only the man who denying himself * 
sinks himself in as much of the whole Universe as he can 
attain, and in whose soul a greater and holier longing has 
arisen,.has a right to the hopes that death gives. With him 
alone it is really possible to hold further converse about the 
endlessness to which, through death, we infallibly soarv 

This then is my view of these subjects. The usual con 
ception of God as one single being outside of the world 
and behind the world is not the beginning and the end of 
religion. It is only one manner of expressing God, seldom 
entirely pure and always inadequate. Such an idea may be 
formed from mixed motives, from the need for such a being 
to console and help, and such a God may be believed in 
without piety, at least in my sense, and I think in the true 
and right sense. If, however, this idea is formed, not 
arbitrarily, but somehow by the necessity of a man s way 
of thinking, if he needs it for the security of his piety, the 
imperfections of his idea will not cumber him nor contami 
nate his piety. Yet the^true nature of religion is neither this 
idea nor any other, but immediate consciousness of the Deity 
as He is found in ourselves and in the world. Similarly 
the goal and the character of the religious life is not the 
immortality desired and believed in by many or what their 
craving to be too wise about it would suggest pretended 
to be believed in by many. It is not the immortality that 
is outside of time, behind it, or rather after it, and which still 
is in time. It is the immortality which we can now have 
in this temporal life ; it is the problem in the solution of 
which we are for ever to be engaged. In the midst of 
fmitude to be one with the Infinite and in every moment 
to be eternal is the immortality of religion. 



(1) Page 32. The rhetorical character of this book and the im 
possibility of continuing the subject, had my opinion really been 
that religion is this restored unity of knowledge, would have allowed 
me to say so by a very slight suggestion of irony. My meaning 
would then have been that I would not now press this truth upon 
my opponents, but that elsewhere and in another form I would 
carry it to a victorious issue. Wherefore it seems necessary to guard 
myself against this interpretation, especially as so many theologians 
seem to maintain at present that religion, and not religion generally, 
but the Christian religion, is the highest knowledge. Not only in 
dignity but in form is it identified with metaphysical speculations. 
It is the most successful and pre-eminent, and all speculations that 
do not reach the same results, as for example, if they cannot deduce 
the Trinity, have failed. The assertion of others that the more im 
perfect, especially the Polytheistic religions have no kinship with 
Christianity is similar. I reject both, and in respect of the latter I 
have sought, in the further progress of this book, and in the Intro 
duction to my * Glaubenslehre," to show how all forms of religion, 
even the most imperfect, are the same in kind. In respect of the 
former position, if a philosopher as such will attempt to prove a 
Trinity in the Highest Being, he does it at his risk, and I would 
maintain that this is not a Christian Trinity because, being a 
speculative idea, it has its origin in another part of the soul. 
Were religion really the highest knowledge, the scientific method 
alone would be suitable for its extension, and religion could be 
acquired by study, a thing not hitherto asserted. Philosophy would 
be the first round in the ladder, the religion of the Christian laity 
would as Triarts be an imperfect way of having the highest know 
ledge, and theology as yvauns would be the perfect way and stand 
at the top, and no one of the three stages would be consistent with 
the other two. This I cannot at all accept ; therefore J^cannot bold 
religion the highest knowledge, or indeed knowledge at all. Where 
fore, what the Christian layman has in less perfection than the 


theologian and which manifestly is a knowledge is not religion itself, 
but something appended to it. 

c.(2) Page 39. ^In rhetorical exposition generally, strict definitions 
are dispensed with, and descriptions are substituted. This whole 
speech is simply an extended description, mixed with criticism of 
other conceptions, which in my opinion are false. The chief points 
being scattered are of necessity repeated in different places, under 
different expressions. This change of expression presents different 
si des of the matter, and I find it useful even in more scientific treatment 
for avoiding the scrupulosity of too rigid a terminology. In this kind 
of writing it seemed specially appropriate. Wherefore three different 
expressions follow in rapid succession. It is said here of religion 
that through it, the universal existence of all finite things in the 
Infinite lives immediately in us. On page 39 it stands religion is 
sense and taste for the Infinite. Sense may be capacity of perception 
or capacity of sensibility. There it is the latter. In the former 
editions, sensibility and taste stood not quite correctly for sense and 
taste for the Infinite. What I am conscious of or feel, must be 
imagined, and that is what"! call the life of the object in me. But 
the Infinite, meaning not something unconditioned, but the infinity 
of existence generally, we cannot be conscious of immediately and 
through itself. It can only be through a finite object, by means of 
which? our tendency to postulate and seek a world, leads us from detail 
and part to the All and the Whole. Hence sense for the Infinite 
and the immediate life of the finite in us as it is in the Infinite, are 
one and the same. If then, in the first expression, taste be now 
added to sense, and in the latter expression, the universal existence 
of all finite things in the Infinite be made explicit, both become 
essentially identical. Taste includes liking as well as mere faculty, 
and it is by this liking, this desire to find not merely the finite thing, 
but to be conscious through it of the Infinite, that the pious person 
finds that the existence of the finite in the Infinite is universal. 
There is a similar passage on page 36. The connection shows that 
the expression contemplation is to be taken in the widest sense, not 
as speculation proper, but as all movement of the spirit withdrawn 
from outward activity. What, however, has struck most 

readers is that the Infinite Existence does not appear ~to be the 
Highest Being as cause of the World but the World itself. I do not 
think that God can be placed in such a relation as cause, and I leave 
you to say whether the World can be conceived as a true All and 
Whole without God. Therefore I remained satisfied with that ex 
pression, that I might not decide on the various ways of conceiving 


God and the World as together or as outside of one another, which 
did not fall to be considered here, and could only have limited the 
horizon in a hurtful manner. 

(3) Page 41. This passage on the departed Novalis was first 
inserted in the second edition. Many I believe will wonder at this 
juxtaposition, not seeing that he is like Spinoza, or that he holds the 
same conspicuous position in art as Spinoza in science. Without 
destroying the balance of the Speech, I could only suggest my reason. 
There is now another reason why I should say no more. During these 
fifteen years the attention to Spinoza, awakened by Jacobi s writings 
and continued by many later influences, which was then somewhat 
marked, has relaxed. Novalis also has again become unknown to 
many. At that time, however, these examples seemed significant 
and important. Many coquetted in insipid poetry with religion, 
believing they were akin to the profound Novalis, just as there were 
advocates enough of the All in the One taken for followers of 
Spinoza who were equally distant from their original. Novalis was 
cried down as an enthusiastic mystic by the prosaic, and Spinoza as 
godless by the literalists. It was incumbent upon me to protest 
against this view of Spinoza, seeing I would review the whole sphere 
of piety. Something essential would have been wanting in the ex 
position of my views if I had not in some way said that the mind and 
heart of this great man seemed deeply influenced by piety, even 
though it were not Christian piety. The result might have been 
different, had not the Christianity of that time been so distorted and 
obscured by dry formulas and vain subtilties that the divine form 
could not be expected to win the regard of a stranger. This I said 
in the first edition, somewhat youthfully indeed, yet so that I 
have found nothing now needing to be altered, for there was no 
reason to believe that I ascribed the Holy Spirit to Spinoza in the 
special Christian sense of the word. As interpolation instead of 
interpretation was not then so common or so honourable as at 
present, I believed that a part of my work was well done. How was 
I to expect that, because I ascribed piety to Spinoza, I would myself 
be taken for a Spinozist ? Yet I had never defended his system, and 
anything philosophic that was in my book was manifestly inconsis 
tent with the characteristics of his views and had quite a different 
basis than the unity of substance. Even Jacobi has in his criticism 
by no means hit upon what is most characteristic. When I recovered 
my astonishment, in revising the second edition, this parallel occurred 
to me. As it was known that Novalis in some points had a tendency 
to Catholicism, I felt sure that, in praising his art, I should have his 


religious aberrations ascribed me as Spinozism had been because I 
praised Spinoza s piety. Whether my expectation has deceived me 
I do not yet very well know. 

(4) Page 46. Even among the few who admit that religion 
originally is feeling stirred in the highest direction, there will be 
many to whom it will appear that I assert too much when I say that 
all healthy feelings are pious, or at least that, in order not to be 
diseased, they should be pious. Even were this granted of all social 
feelings, it must be shown how piety is to be found in all those feelings 
that unite men for a higher or even a more sensuous enjoyment of life. 
Yet I can retract nothing from the universality of the statement and 
in no way admit that it was a rhetorical hyperbole. To take one 
example, Protestantism can only completely and consistently defend 
the domestic and paternal relations of the clergy against the 
melancholy folly of the peculiar holiness of the celibate life, by 
showing that wedded love and all foregoing natural attraction of 
the sexes are not, in the nature of the case, absolutely inconsistent 
with a pious state. This only happens when the feeling is diseased, 
when there is a tendency in it to the rage of Bacchus or the folly of 
Narcissus. In accordance with this analogy I believe that the same 
could be shown of each department of feeling not inconsistent with 
morality. But, if it be inferred from this passage that, as all true 
human feelings belong to the religious sphere, all ideas and principles 
of every sort are foreign to it, the connection seems to show my 
meaning. Religion itself is to be rigidly distinguished from what 
merely belongs to it. Yet, even those feelings which are usually 
separated from the religious sphere, require ideas for their commu 
nication and representation, and principles to exhibit their due 
measure. But these principles and ideas do not- belong to the 
feelings themselves, and it is similar with the dogmatic and ascetic 
in respect of religion, as is shown more fully further on. 

(5) Page 49. For understanding my whole view I could desire 
nothing better than that my readers should compare these Speeches 
with my " Christliche Glaubenslehre. In form they are very 
different and their points of departure lie far apart, yet in matter 
they are quite parallel. But to provide the Speeches for this 
purpose with a complete commentary was impossible, and I must 
content myself with single references to such passages as seem to 
me capable of appearing contrary or at least of lacking agreement. 
Thus every one perhaps might not find the description here given 
of an action of things upon us underlying all religious emotions, in 
agreement with the declaration which goes through the whole 


" Glaubenslehre," that the essence of the religious emotions consists 
in the feeling of an absolute dependence. The matter stands thus. 
Even there it is admitted that we cannot really have this feeling 
except it is occasioned by the action of single things. But if the 
single things are in their action only single, the sole result is 
definiteness of the sensuous self-consciousness. In the " Glaubens 
lehre," likewise this is postulated as the substratum of religious 
emotion. Yet, let the single thing be great or small, our single life 
reacts against it, and there can be no feeling of dependence except 
fortuitously in so far as the reaction is not equal to the action. If, 
however, the single thing does not work upon us as a single thing, 
but as part of the Whole, it will be, in acting upon us, an opening 
for the Whole. This result will depend entirely on the mood and 
attitude of the mind. But then our reaction will appear to us 
determined by the same cause and in the same way as the action, 
and being over against the Universe, our state must be the feeling of 
entire dependence. And this also shows that however we exhibit the 
World and God they cannot be divided. We do not feel ourselves 
dependent on the Whole in so far as it is an aggregate of mutually 
conditioned parts of which we ourselves are one, but only in so far 
as underneath this coherence there is a unity conditioning all things 
and conditioning our relations to the other parts of the Whole. 
Only on this condition can the single thing be, as it is here put, an 
exhibition of the Infinite, being so comprehended that its opposition 
to all else entirely vanishes. 

(6) Page 50. By mythology I understand in general a purely ideal 
subject enunciated in historical form. Exactly in accordance with 
the analogy of Polytheistic Mythology, it seems to me that we have 
a Monotheistic and a Christian. For this a dialogue of divine 
persons, such as is found in Klopstock s poems and elsewhere, is not 
necessary. It is found in more rigid didactic form when something 
is represented as happening in the Divine Being, as divine resolves 
made in respect of something that has happened in the world, or 
again to modify former resolves, not to speak of the special divine 
resolves that give reality to the idea that prayer is heard. The 
representations of many divine attributes also have this historical 
form and are therefore mythological. The divine pity for example, 
as the idea is mostly understood, is only v something when the divine 
will that lightens the evil is separated from the will that ordained 
it. Are both regarded as one, then one cannot limit the other, but 
the divine will that decrees the evil, decrees it only in a definite 
measure, and the idea of pity is out of place. Similarly, in the idea 


of the veracity of God, promise and fulfilment are separated, and 
both together exhibit a historical transaction. But when the activity 
that promises, is regarded as the same that accomplishes the fulfil 
ment, the conception of divine veracity is something only in so far 
as many divine activities are linked or not to one expression of them. 
In this distinction also a history is told, but if the activity that 
brings to pass and its expression, are regarded in general as one, 
there is hardly place for a special idea of the divine veracity. The 
same may be shown in other things. By applying this name to 
them I in nowise blame these representations. Eather I acknow 
ledge them as indispensable, for otherwise the subject could not be 
spoken of in such a way that any distinction could be drawn between 
the more correct and less correct. Even in more scientific presenta 
tions of religion, the use of such mythology has no danger, for there 
it i^s always incumbent to think away the historical and the time 
form generally. In the sphere of religious poetry and oratory also 
it is indispensable. There we have "only to do with the like-minded, 
and for them the chief worth of those presentations is that by them 
they communicate and realize their own religious moods. They 
naturally at once adjust the defective expression. But I blame it 
as vain mythology when this, that is only a help in need, is regarded 
as exact knowledge, and treated as the essence of religion. 

(7) Page 53. If here the system of marks or attributes which in 
its completest form composes the theological outline is represented 
rather as being determined by outward circumstances than as coming 
forth of itself from the religious capacity, the oft-repeated assertion, 
so contemptuous of all historical sense, that the religious movements 
which in Christianity have determined a great body of the most 
important ideas, were merely accidental and the fruit of entirely 
alien interests, is not to be made. I only wished to recall what is 
also expounded in my " Kurze Darstellung " and in the Introduction 
to the " Glaubenslehre," that th% formation of the idea depends here, 
as elsewhere, on the dominating language, the degree, manner, and 
quality of its scientific development embracing of course the manner 
and quality of the philosophizing. But in respect of" religion in and 
for itself, these are only external circumstances. Apart from the 
universal, divine connection of all things, we can say, for example, 
that if Christianity had had a great and preponderating Eastern 
extension, the Hellenic and Western being, on the contrary, kept 
back, without being essentially different, it might have been con 
tained in another type of doctrines. 

(8) Page 54. This passage also might occasion various miscon- 



ceptions. First, in respect of the opposition between true and false 
religion, I refer to my " Glaubenslehre," 7 and 8 (2nd edit). It 
is there treated fully, and I would simply add that, in religion, error 
only exists by truth and not merely so, but it can be said that every 
man s religion is his highest truth. Error therein would not only be 
error, it would be hypocrisy. In religion then everything is imme 
diately true, as nothing is expressed at any moment of it, except the 
state of mind of the religious person. Similarly, all types of religious 
association are good, for the best in the existence of each man must 
be stored up in them. But how little this prejudices the superiority 
of one type of faith to another is in part plainly stated and in part 
easy to infer. One may be the utterance of a superior state of mind, 
or there may be in the religious communion a higher spiritual power 
and love. Furthermore, the rejection here of the thought of the 
universality of any one religion and the assertion that only in the 
sum of all religions is the whole extent of this bias of the mind 
comprehended, in no way expresses a doubt that Christianity will be 
able to extend itself over the whole human race, though perhaps 
among many races, this greatest of all religions may suffer im 
portant changes. Just as little did this passage express a wish that 
other religions should always continue alongside of Christianity. 
The influence of Judaism and Hellenic Heathenism on Christianity 
was through a long period visible in hostile, raging commotions. 
Thus both still appear in Christianity, and therefore in the his 
tory of Christianity have a place. The same thing would happen if 
Christianity should annex the territory of all existing great religions. 
Consequently the religious sphere would not be enclosed in 
narrower borders, but all religions would in a historical way be 
visible in Christianity. From the connection again it is clear that I 
only deny that a religion is universally true in the sense that every 
thing that exists or has existed outside of it, is not to be called 
religion at all. Similarly, what foJQows is to be understood, about 
every truly pious person willingly acknowledging that to other types 
of religion much belongs for which the sense fails him. Even if 
Christianity had supplanted all other religions, he would not have 
a sense for all that would thereby be historically mirrored in 
Christianity, for just as little then as now would the Christianity of 
all Christian people be quite the same. And if no one has an 
adequate sense for all that is Christian, there can be none with the 
sense for all there is in other religions that may be the germ of some 
future Christian peculiarity. 

(9) Page 55. There are still Christian divines who reject the whole 


purpose of Christian dogmatics, and there was a far greater number 
when this passage was first written. They believe that Christianity 
woulcl have been a healthier development and would have shown a 
freer, fairer form if no one had ever thought of presenting the 
Christian conceptions in a finished connection. Hence they labour 
to prune it, to abolish it, as much as possible, and to have it acknow 
ledged as merely a collection of monographs, as an accidental 
aggregate of single theses of very unequal value. Their good in 
tentions I do not question, but even then, I was far removed from 
agreeing with them. It would be a grave misunderstanding to 
believe that this invective against the mania for system makes light 
of the endeavour to present the Christian faith in the closest possible 
connection. The mania for system is merely a morbid degeneration 
of this praiseworthy and wholesome endeavour. That systematic 
treatment of religious conceptions is the best which,~on the one 
side, does not take the conception and the idea for original and con 
stitutive, and on the other, that the living mobility of the letter be 
secured, that it may not die and the spirit be drawn to death with it. 
Within the great conformity characteristic difference is not only to 
be endured, it is to be assigned its place. If this were to be taken 
for the chief aim in my presentation of the Christian faith, I would 
fain believe that I am in perfect agreement with myself. 

(10) Page 55. I feel that this passage gives a two-fold, grave 
offence. First I prefer Heathen Eome, on account of its boundless 
mixture of religions, to Christian Rome which, in comparison, I call 
godless, and that I condemn the expulsion of heretics, while I myself 
declare certain views to be heretical, and even seek to systematize 
heresy. I begin with the latter as the deeper and more important. 
It does not appear to me possible that there can be a sound dogmatic 
procedure without a formula of the character of what is Christian, 
by the application of which it would be possible, from any point of 
the line of cleavage, to cut off the ordinates, and so to describe the 
extent of Christian conceptions by approximation. It naturally 
follows that what lies outside of this extent, and would yet be con 
sidered Christian, is what has long been called in the Christian 
Church heretical. In my dogmatics I could not avoid offering such 
a formula, and I can only wish to attain my object as fully as 
possible. But this definition of the subject has nothing to do with 
the treatment of persons. That many, while contending for the 
defence of their own opinion, may use a heretical expression without 
meaning anything heretical, is apparent, and I have declared myself 
fully on it in the " Glaubenslehre," 22, 3 and note, and 25, note. 


On many sides the wish has been expressed in the Evangelical 
Church to renew church discipline in a judicious manner that a 
Christian congregation may be in a position to withdraw a measure 
of fellowship from persons disproving by their lives their Christian 
disposition. This makes it specially necessary to obviate the con 
fusion between this proceeding and the right to pronounce the bann 
on all we may choose to consider heretics. If heretics are not also 
without a Christian disposition, the Evangelical Church will rather 
acknowledge that its sole duty towards them is to maintain fellow 
ship with them that, by mutual understanding, they may the sooner 
be led into the right way. If individuals or small societies employ a 
contrary method and, regardless of disposition, exclude from their 
fellowship all who do not agree with them in the same letter of 
doctrine, they do not act in an Evangelical spirit, but assume an 
authority our church grants to none. And now passing to the 
second point, my preference of Heathen to Christian Rome, and my 
statement that through tolerance the former was full of gods, and 
that through persecution of heretics, the latter was godless. First, 
the character of the expressions used shows that this passage bears 
specially the rhetorical cast of the book. What, however, is to be 
taken literally is that the dogmatizing love of system which scorns 
to assign its place to difference, but rather excludes all difference, 
plainly suppresses, as much as it can, the living knowledge of God, 
and changes doctrine into a dead letter. A rule so rigid that it 
condemns everything of another shade, crushes out productiveness. 
As this alone contains living knowledge of Grod, the system itself 
must become dead. This is the history of the Roman Catholic 
system in contrast to the Protestant. From this point of view the 
rise of the Evangelical Church was simply to rescue its own pro 
ductiveness from fellowship with such a rule. My praise of the 
receptivity of ancient Rome for strange worships is also to be taken 
seriously. It involved an acknowledgment of the narrowness and 
one-sidedness of each individualized Polytheism, and the desire to 
free the religious need from the limits of political forms. Now these 
two things were not only praiseworthy in themselves, but were much 
more favourable to the spread of Christianity than heresy hunting, 
however well meant, could ever be for its establishment and pre 

(11) Page 65. In the " Glaubenslehre," also 8, note 1, I have de 
clared myself against the opinion that idolatry, embracing, according 
to the somewhat perspective usage of the Holy Scriptures, all kinds 
of Polytheism, has arisen from fear. There, however, I wished to 


show that, in essence, the lower and the higher stages of religion 
were alike, which could not be if the former arose from fear and 
the latter did not. There I am dealing with the conception that 
piety generally has had its source in fear. Despite the somewhat 
variable use of Seto-iScupWa, the proof here given in general would 
apply to the particular instance, for it could not be said of the Greek 
and Roman Polytheists that their faith in the gods would have been 
extinct if, in the courageous use of life, they had shaken off all fear. 
Similarly, what is said there may here be applied generally, for if fear 
is not in some way a perversion of love, it can only regard its object as 
malevolent. Where then higher beings are not worshipped or rather 
entreated as bad, the motive cannot be fear entirely separated from 
love. Hence it remains true that in all religions from the beginning 
love is operative, and all growth towards perfection is simply a pro 
gressive purification of love. 

(12) Page 65. It should hardly be necessary to justify the use of 
the expression World- Spirit where I wish to indicate. the_^bjec^ of 
pious adoration in a way that would include all different forms and 
stages of religion. In particular, I do not believe it can be said with 
justice that, by this choice of expression, I have sacrificed the interests 
of the most perfect form of religion to the inferior. On the con 
trary, I believe, not only that it is a perfectly Christian name for 
the Highest Being, but that the expression could only have arisen on 
Monotheistic soil, and is as free from Jewish Particularism as from 
the incompleteness of the Mohammedan Monotheism which I have 
attempted to specify in the " G-laubenslehre," 8, 4. No one will 
confuse it with World-Soul. It neither expresses reciprocal action 
between the World and the Highest Being, nor any kind of indepen 
dence of the World from Him. I believe therefore that Christian 
authors are justified in using the term, even though it has not 
directly proceeded from the special standpoint of Christianity. 

(13) Page 71. In my " Glaubenslehre," the Introduction of which 
contains the outlines of what I take to be the philosophy of religion, 
and therefore has many points of contact with this book, my chief 
division was into what I have called the sesthetic and the teleological 
form. Here another ground of classification seems to be assumed. 
The peculiar world of religion seems to be the mind, regarded as an 
individual thing having one or more things standing over against it 
the mind in our sphere and at our stage of culture. In the same 
way on the other side, as there indicated, the world of religion may 
be external nature. Two things there rigidly distinguished seem 
here to be both ascribed to the religion of the mind, for whether the 


active state be referred to the passive, or the passive to the active, 
all religious emotions are states of mind. Hence the distinction that 
is here regarded as the higher, is there quite overlooked. By a 
natural religion, however, I do not mean that religious emotions 
can come to man through contemplation of the external world. 
This contemplation is exalted by speculative natural science, which, 
however, always remains science, and only gives rise to religious 
emotions in proportion as the soul is conscious of itself in the con 
templation, and therefore again by the mental state. In the same 
way they arise from the immediate relation of nature to our life and 
existence, only in proportion to its effect upon our mood at any 
moment, and therefore, again from the mental state. The classifica 
tion given in the " Glaubenslehre " therefore remains. The religious 
emotions, whether from nature or the historical life, have all this 
two-fold form. If the influence of the contemplation of nature is re 
ferred to the soul and its activities and its laws, it has a teleological 
or ethical character ; if it is referred to nature, it has an aesthetic 

(14) Page 72. This is only to be taken as an application of the 
narrative, not as the author s own opinion. I believe it can be shown 
that the narrative necessarily implies that neither can man come to 
a consciousness of God, nor can he form general ideas, until he has 
gained a consciousness of the species, of his subordination as an in 
dividual in it and his difference from it. And, it appears as clearly, 
that neither the consciousness of the Highest Being, nor the en 
deavour to order the world for itself can be quite lost to the soul till 
the consciousness of the species has quite vanished. 

I will here also explain two passages not specially marked in the 
text. On page 79 humility, formerly given as a natural form of 
religious emotion, is spoken of as if it were opposed to an exalted 
feeling of personal existence, and contrition, similarly depicted as 
natural and essential to piety, as if it must be changed to joyful self- 
sufficiency. IsTow, I do not consider that a contradiction, for I think 
that all pious emotions both exalt and debase. Even in Christianity 
that spreads itself only by awaking the emotions that debase, 
penitence is quenched in the consciousness of the divine forgiveness. 
The words " satisfy thyself with my mercy, 5 express just that very 
joyful self-sufficiency here meant. The opposite feeling to humility, 
the feeling that in each one the whole of humanity lives and works 
is just the consciousness to which the Christian of all men should 
rise. He should feel that all believers form a living organic whole , 
wherein not only is each member, as Paul puts it, indispensable to 


all the others. Bat each one presupposes the characteristic activity 
of all the others. Further, when it is said that a man who 

has thus combined both forms of emotion needs no mediator any 
more, bat can himself be a mediator for many, this statement is only 
to be taken in the limited meaning indicated by earlier expositions, 
namely, each man has not in himself the right key for understand 
ing all men. To almost everyone much is so alien that he can only 
acknowledge it when he finds it in a form more akin to himself or 
linked to something else that has a special value for him. In this 
sense, therefore, those who unite the most alien elements with those 
most acknowledged, mediate an understanding. Chiefly in that feel 
ing which is in contrast to humility, the self-conscioasness advances 
to such transparency and accuracy that the most distant ceases to 
appear strange and ceases to repel. But this feeling will be purest 
when all human limits are seen in Him from whom all limitation 
was banished. Hence there is here no derogation from the higher 
mediatorship of the Redeemer. 

(15) Page 85. Without wishing to retract anything from the 
leading position in this Speech, which is that all higher feelings 
belong to religion, or to deny that single actions should not proceed 
directly from stimulus of single feelings, I would say that this passage 
is specially applicable only to the ethics of that time, to Kant and 
Fichte, and particularly Kant. So long as ethics adhered to the im 
perative method so rigidly followed in those systems, feelings could y A-c-&*rf /, 
find no place in morals, for there could not be a command, thou shalt 

have this or that feeling. Such a system should logically say of 
them all only what has been said of friendship, that man must have 
no time to begin it or to cherish it. But ethics should not be re 
stricted to the narrow imperative form. It should assign to these 
feelings their place in the human soul. It should also acknowledge 
their ethical worth, not as something that can or ought to be made 
for some purpose and for which guidance is given in morals, but as a 
free, natural function of -the higher life in close connection with the 
higher maxims and modes of acting. Ethics would then so far 
embrace religion, just as a presentation of religion would embrace 
ethics, yet both would not be on that account one and the same. 

(16) Page 89. The expression here employed that miracle is only 
the religious name for event, and that all that happens is miracle 
might easily be suspected of being a practical denial of the miraculous, 
for if everything is a miracle then nothing is. This stands in close 
connection with the explanations given in the " Glaubenslehre, 14 
note, 34, 2, 3 and 47. If the reference of an event to the Divine 



omnipotence and the contemplation of it in its natural connection 
do not exclude one another but may be parallel, which view is first 
taken depends upon the direction of the attention. Where the bear 
ing of an event on our aims most interests us, and the examination 
of the connection goes too much into details, the divine provision 
will be least observed and the course of nature best. But which of 
the two views will most satisfy us depends on the one side, on how 
certain we are that we have grasped the full meaning of the event, so 
that we can say with some assurance that this is willed of God, and 
on the other how deeply we can penetrate into the natural connec 
tion. All this is mere subjective difference. Hence it is plainly true 
that all the events that most awake religious attention, and in which 
at the same time the natural connection is most hidden, are most 
regarded as miracle. Yet it is equally true that in themselves and 
in respect of the divine causality all events alike are miracle. As in 
the expositions of the " Glaubenslehre," though absolute miracle is 
rejected, the religious interest in the miraculous is acknowledged and 
guarded, so here I merely seek to exhibit miracle in its purity and to 
remove all foreign ingredients which are more akin to stupid amaze 
ment than to the joyful anticipation of a higher meaning. 

(17) Page 90. It is difficult to treat an idea like the effects of grace, 
which is scarcely at all current except in a peculiarly Christian form, 
in such a general way as to embrace everything analogous to be 
found in other religious forms. To it belongs all that distinguishes 
a human being as a special favourite of the gods. Revelation is 
more receptivity, inspiration more productivity. Now both are 
combined in the idea of grace, and pious persons are always 
characterized by both. In what follows, however, the expression 
entrance of the world into man is substituted for revelation, and the 
original outgoing of man into the world for inspiration. The latter 
will admit of little doubt, for every inspiration must go forth and 
accomplish something in the world, and everything original must be 
at least occasioned from without, and for the most part is regarded 
as inspiration. The former also is in agreement with the preceding 
explanation of revelation, and because here it was necessary to make 
it general it could not otherwise be conceived. Yet it may easily be 
charged to it that, for the sake of the less perfect forms of religion, 
it puts the Christian in the background. But it is not to be over 
looked that the idea of the Deity does not enter our consciousness ex 
cept along with the idea of the World, and that this entrance is looked 
upon religiously, not speculatively, is shown sufficiently further on. 

(18) Page 94. By what is said in my " Glaubenslehre, 3 3-5, I 


trust that what is here said, and especially the statement that all 
pious emotions exhibit through feeling the immediate presence of God 
in us, may be set in a clearer light. It is hardly necessary to remind 
you that the existence of God generally can only be active, and as 
there can be no passive existence of God, the divine activity npon 
anyirbJecT} is the divine existence in respect of that object. It may, 
however, require to be explained why I represent the unity of our 
being in contrast to the multiplicity of function, as the divine in 
us. And you may ask why I say of this unity that it appears in the 
emotions of piety, seeing it can be shown from other manifestations 
also that self-consciousness is but a single function. In respect of 
the former the divine in us must be that in which the capacity to be 
conscious olGod has its seat. Even were the criticisms just, it 
might still be the divine that is awakened in us in the pious emotions, 
and that is here the main point. For the rest, the unity of oar being 
cannot, certainly, appear by itself, for it is absolutely inward. Most 
immediately it appears in the self-consciousness, in so far as single 
references are in the background. On the other hand, when 
references to single things are most prominent, the self-conscious 
ness then most appears as a single function. 

(19) Page 95. This exposition also, it is hoped, will be made 
clearer and at the same time be completed by what is said in the 
" Glaubenslehre," especially in 8, note 2. As everyone can compare 
them, it is not necessary for me to enter on a defence of myself 
against the supposition I would not willingly call it accusation 
which men whom I greatly honour, and some of whom have already 
gone hence, have drawn from this Speech. For myself I am supposed 
to prefer the impersonal form of thinking of the Highest Being, 
and this has been called now my atheism and again my Spinozism. 
I, however, thought that it is truly Christian to seek for piety every 
where, and to acknowledge it under every form. I find, at least, 
that Christ enjoined this upon his disciples, and that Paul obeyed 
not only among the Jews and the Proselytes, but among the 
Heathen at Athens. When I had said in all simplicity, that it is 
still not indifferent whether one does not acquire or quite rejects a 
definite form of representing the Highest Being, and thereby obstructs 
generally the growth of his piety, I did not think it necessary to 
protest further against all consequences. I did not remember how 
often a person going straightforward seems to be going to the left 
to a person going to the right. But none who reflect on the little 
that is said about pantheism will suspect me of any materialistic 
pantheism. And if any one look at it rightly, he will find that, on 

I 2 


the one side, every one must recognize it as an almost absolute 
necessity for the highest stage of piety to acquire the conception of a 
personal God, and on the other he will recognize the essential im 
perfection in the conception of a personality of the Highest Being, 
nay, how hazardous it is, if it is not most carefully kept pure. The 
conception is necessary whenever one would interpret to himself or 
to others immediate religious emotions, or whenever the heart has 
immediate intercourse with the Highest Being. Yet the profoundest 
of the church fathers have ever sought to purify the idea. Were the 
definite expressions they have used to clear away what is human 
and limited in the form of personality put together, it would be as 
easy to say that they denied personality to God as that they ascribed 
it to Him. As it is so difficult to think of a personality as truly 
infinite and incapable of suffering, a great distinction should be 
drawn between a personal God and a living God. The latter idea 
alone distinguishes from materialistic pantheism and atheistic blind 
necessity. Within that limit any further wavering in respect of 
personality must be left to the representative imagination and the 
dialectic conscience, and where the pious sense exists, they will guard 
each other. Does the former fashion a too human personality, the 
latter restrains by exhibiting the doubtful consequences ; does the 
latter limit the representation too much by negative formulas, the 
former knows how to suit it to its need. I was specially concerned 
to show that, if one form of the conception does not in itself exclude 
all piety, the other as little necessarily includes it. How many men 
are there in whose lives piety has little weight and influence, for 
whom this conception of personality is indispensable as a general 
supplement to their chain of causality which on both sides is broken 
off ; and how many, on the other hand, show the deepest piety who, in 
what they say of the Highest Being, have never rightly developed the 
idea of personality ! 

(20) Page 99. This passage is different from the former edition. 
Partly the statement that morality generally cannot be manipulated, 
though right in the connection, seemed to require closer definition 
if there was not to be misunderstanding ; partly the whole view 
seemed to me only rightly completed by the addition that freedom 
and morality would be endangered by the prospect of divine recom 
pense. In the strife on this point, especially as it is carried on 
between the Kantians and the Eudaimonists, the great difference 
between presenting divine recompense as an inducement and using 
it theoretically to explain the order of the world has very often been 
overlooked. The former is an immoral and therefore specially an 


unchristian procedure, and is never employed by true heralds of 
Christianity and has no place in the Scriptures ; the other is natural 
and necessary, for it alone shows how the divine law extends over 
the whole nature of man, and so far from causing a rift in human 
nature, it most fully guards its unity. But this explanation will be 
very different in proportion as love of truth and desire of knowledge 
are free from all foreign ingredients. It is hardly to be denied that 
the demands of self-love will most claim arbitrariness for the divine 
recompense, and as arbitrariness can only have its seat in personality, 
it will be accompanied by the narrowest conceptions of the divine 

(21) Page 101. This passage has met very much the same fate as 
the passage which treated of the personality of God. It was also 
directed against narrow and impure conceptions and it has raised 
the same misunderstandings. I am supposed to disparage the hope 
of immortality in the usual sense of the word, representing it as a 
weakness and contending against it. But this was not the place to 
declare myself in respect of the truth of the matter, or to offer the 
view of it which I, as a Christian, hold. This will be found in the 
second part of my " Grlaubenslehre, 5 and both passages should 
supplement each other. There I had only to answer the question 
whether this hope was so essential to a pious direction of the mind 
that the two stood or fell together. What could I do but answer in the 
negative, seeing it is now usually accepted that the people of the old 
Covenant did not, in earlier times, have this hope, and seeing also 
that it is easy to show that, in the state of pious emotion, the soul is 
rather absorbed in the present moment than directed towards the 
future P Only it appears hard that this Speech should deduce not 
doubtfully the hope so widely diffused among the noblest men of a 
restoration of the individual life not again to be interrupted, from 
the lowest stage of self-love, seeing it might as well have been 
ascribed to the interest of love in the beloved objects. All the 
forms under which the hope of immortality can present itself 
as the highest self-consciousness of the spirit being before me, 
just in contrast to the opponents of the faith it seemed to me 
natural and necessary to utter the warning that any particular way 
of conceiving immortality and especially that which has unmistak 
able traces of a lower interest hidden behind it, is not to be confused 
with the reality. I thus sought to prepare for grasping the question, 
not as it is entirely limited to personality or to a self-consciousness 
chained to single affinities, but as it is natural in one in whom 
personal interest is purified by subordination to a self-consciousness 


that is ennobled by the consciousness of the human race and of human 
nature. On the other side, in order to avoid endless and wide- 
spreading explanations, it was necessary to make the opponents of 
religion observe that there could be no religious discussion of this 
matter except among those who have already cultivated in them 
selves the higher life, given by true piety, which is worthy to 
conquer death. If T am somewhat severe on the self-deception of 
a mean way of thinking and feeling, which is proud that it can 
comprehend immortality and that it is guided by the accompanying 
hope and fear, I can only say in self-defence that there is nothing of 
mere rhetoric in it, but that it has always been with me a very strong 
feeling. I desire no more than that each man, if he would test his 
piety, should see, not merely, as Plato says, that souls appear before 
the judges of the Underworld stripped of all alien ornament con 
ferred by the external relations of life, but, laying aside these claims 
to endless existence and considering himself just as he is, that he 
then decide whether these claims are anything more than the titles of 
lands, never possessed and never to be possessed, wherewith the great 
ones of the earth often think they must adorn themselves. If, thus 
stripped, he still find that that eternal life is with him to which the 
end of this Speech points, he will readily understand what I am aim 
ing at in my presentation of the Christian faith. Furthermore, the 
parallel between the two ideas of God and immortality in respect of 
the different ways of conception here indicated, is not to be over 
looked. The most anthropomorphic view of God usually presupposes 
a morally corrupt consciousness, and the same holds of such a con 
ception of immortality as pictures the Elysian fields as just a more 
beautiful and wider earth. As there is a great difference between 
inability to think of God as in this way personal and the inability to 
think of a living God at all, so there is between one who does not 
hold such a sensuous conception of immortality and one who does 
not hope for any immortality. As we call everyone pious who 
believes in a living God, so without excluding any kind or manner we 
would hold the same of those who believe in an eternal life of the 



As I myself have willingly confessed, the endeavour to 
make proselytes from unbelievers is deep rooted in the 
character of religion. Yet that is not what now urges 
me to speak to you of the cultivation of man for this 
noble capacity. For this cultivation we believers know of 
.only one means the free expression and communication 
of religion. When religion moves in a man with all its 
native force, when it carries every faculty of his spirit 
imperiously along in the stream of its impulse, we expect 
it to penetrate into the hearts of all who live and 
breathe within its influence. Every corresponding element 
being stirred by this life-giving power, they should attain 
a consciousness of their existence, and the attentive ear 
should be gladdened by an answering note of kindred 
sound. Where the pious person fails to awake a life 
like his by the natural expression of his own life, he will 
despise nobly every strange charm, every exercise of force, 
in the calm conviction that the time has not yet come 
for anything congenial to appear. 

The unsuccessful issue is not new to any of us. How 
often have I struck up the music of my religion, seeking 
to move tha bystanders ! Beginning with single soft 
notes, I have soon been swept on by youthful impetuosity 
to the fullest harmony of the religious feelings. But 
nothing stirred, nothing answered in the hearers. I have 
entrusted these words to a larger and more versatile 


circle, yet from how many, despite of those advantages, 
will they return in sadness without having been under 
stood, yea, without having awaked the vaguest suspicion 
of their purpose ! And how often, for all who proclaim 
religion, and for me along with them, will this fate which 
has been appointed us from the beginning, be renewed ! 
Yet this shall never distress us. The difficulty we know 
may not otherwise be met, and we shall never be moved 
from our quiet equanimity to attempt in any other fashion 
to force our way of thinking either upon this or the 
future generation. 

Everyone of us misses in himself not a little that 
belongs to a complete humanity, and many lack much. 
What wonder, then, if the number in whom religion 
refuses to develope should be great ! Necessarily it must 
be great, else how could we come to see it in if I 
might so say its incarnate, historical existence, or dis 
cern the bounds it sets on all sides to the other capacities 
of man, or how by them again it is in manifold ways 
bounded. Or how should we know how far man can 
anywhere succeed without it, and where it sustains him 
and forwards him ; or guess that, without his knowledge, 
it is busy in him. 

But especially in these times of universal confusion and 
upheaval, it is natural that its slumbering spark should 
not glow up in many, however lovingly or patiently we 
tend it, and that, even in persons in whom under happier 
circumstances it would have broken through all obstacles, 
it is not brought to life. In all human things nothing 
remains unshaken. Every man must continually face the 
possibility of having to abandon the very belief that 
determines his place in the world and binds him to the 
earthly order of things. And he may find no other, but 
may sink in the general whirlpool.] One class shun no 
concentration of their own powers and shout also towards 
every side for help, that they may hold fast what they take 


to be the poles of the world and of society, of art and of 
science, which by an indescribable destiny, as it were of 
their own accord, suddenly leap from their sockets and 
allow all that has so long revolved around them to fall ; 
the other class, with, a like restless zeal, are busy clearing 
away the ruins -of fallen centuries, seeking to be the first to 
settle on the fruitful ground that is being formed beneath 
from the quickly cooling lava of the dread volcano. 

Even without leaving his place, every man is so mightily 
affected by the vehement shaking of all things that, in the 
universal giddiness, he must be glad to fix his eye steadily 
enough on any one object, to be able to keep to it and con 
vince himself gradually that something still stands. In 
such a state of things it would be foolish to expect that 
many could be fit to cultivate and retain religious feelings 
which prosper best in quiet. In the midst of this ferment, 
indeed, the aspect of the moral world is more majestic and 
noble than ever, and at moments there are hints of more 
significant traits than ever before in the centuries. Yet 
who can rescue himself from the universal turmoil ? Who 
can escape the power of narrower interests ? Who has 
calm enough to stand still and steadfastness enough for 
undisturbed contemplation ? 

But suppose the happiest times and suppose the best 
will not only to arouse by communication the capacity for 
religion where it does exist, but, by every possible way, 
to ingraft and to impart it. Where, then, is there such a 
way ? All that the activity and art of one man can do for 
another is to communicate conceptions to be the basis of 
thoughts, and so far to associate them with his own ideas 
that they may be remembered at fitting times. But no 
one can arrive at the point of making others think what 
thoughts he will. There is a contrariety that cannot be 
eliminated from words, and much less can you get beyond 
this means and freely produce what inner activity you 
will. In short, on the mechanism of the spirit everyone 


can, in some measure, work, but into its organization, into 
the sacred workshop of the Universe, no one can enter at 
pleasure. No one can change or disarrange, take from 
or add to. At the most he may, by means of this mechanism, 
retard the development of the spirit. Part of the growth 
may thus be violently mutilated, but nothing can be 
moulded. From this sanctuary of his organization which 
force cannot enter, all that pertains to the true life of man, 
all that should be an ever alert, operative impulse in him, 

And such is religion. In the spirit it inhabits it is un- 

I interruptedly active and strong, making everything an 
object for itself and turning every thought and action into 
a theme for its heavenly phantasy. Like everything 
else, then, that should be ever present, ever active in the 
human soul, it lies far beyond the domain of teaching and 
imparting. Instruction in religion, meaning that piety 
itself is teachable, is absurd and unmeaning. Our opinions 
and doctrines we can indeed communicate, if we have 
words and our hearers have the comprehending, imagining 
power of the understanding. But we know very well that 
those things are only the shadows of our religious emotions, 
and if our pupils do not share our emotions, even though 
they do understand the thought, they have no possession 
that can truly repay their toil. This retreat into oneself, 
there to perceive oneself, cannot be taught. Even the 
most inspired person who can see, it matters not before 
what object he finds himself, the original light of the 
Universe, cannot by the word of instruction transfer this 
power and dexterity to another. 

There is, indeed, an imitative talent which in some 
perhaps we can so far arouse as to make it easy for them, 
when sacred feelings are represented in powerful tones, to 
produce in themselves somewhat similar emotions. But 
does that touch their deepest nature ? Is it, in the true 
sense of the word, religion ? If you would compare the 


sense for the Universe with the sense for art, you must not 
compare the possessors of a passive religiousness if you 
care so to name it with those who, without producing 
works of art themselves, are responsive to everything that 
has to do with viewing them. The works of art of religion 
are always and everywhere exposed. The whole world is a 
gallery of religious scenes, and every man finds himself in 
the midst of them. Wherefore, you must liken them to 
persons who cannot be made to feel till commentaries and 
imaginings on works of art are brought as medicinal 
charms for the deadened sense, and who even then only 
lisp, in an ill-understood terminology, some inappropriate 
words that are not their own. So much and no more you 
can accomplish by mere teaching. This is the goal of all 
conscious educating and exercising in such things. Show 
me one man to whom you have imparted power of judg 
ment, the spirit of observation, feeling for art or morality, 
then will I pledge myself to teach religion also. 

Of course there is in religion a mastership and a 
discipleship. But this attachment is no blind imitation. 
It is not the master that makes disciples, but he is their 
master because of their choice. 1 And if, by the utterance 
of our own religion, religion is awakened in others, we 
cannot retain it in our power or attach it to ourselves. 
As soon as it lives, their religion also is free and goes its 
own way. On blazing up in the soul, the sacred spark 
spreads to a free and living flame, fed by its own atmo 
sphere. More or less it illumines for the soul the whole 
circuit of the world, so that, following his own impulse, he 
may settle far away from the place where first the new life 
was lit. Compelled simply by the feeling of weakness and 
finitude, by an original, inward determination to settle in 
some definite quarter, without being ungrateful to his first 
guide, he makes choice of that climate which suits him 
best. There he seeks for himself a centre, and moving self- 
limited in his new course, of his own choice and spontaneous 


liking, he calls himself the disciple of him who first settled 
in this dear spot and showed its splendour. 2 

I do not, therefore, aim at training either you or others 
to religion. ISTor would I teach you by resolve or rule to 
train yourselves. I would not leave the sphere of religion 
as by doing so I would but a little longer I would 
tarry with you within. The Universe itself trains its own 
observers and admirers, and how that comes to pass we 
shall now see, as far as it can be seen. 

You know how each element of humanity discloses 
itself by the place it maintains against the others. By 
this universal strife everything in every man attains a 
determinate form and size. Now this strife is only sus 
tained by the fellowship of the single elements, by the 
movement of the Whole. Hence every man and every 
thing in every man is a work of the Whole. This is the 
only way in which the pious sense can conceive man. 
Now I wish to return to the religious limitation of our 
contemporaries which you praise and I bewail. I wish to 
regard it in this aspect and to make it clear why we are 
thus and not otherwise, and what must happen if our limits 
are to be widened. Would that I could at the same time make 
you conscious that you also by your being and doing are 
tools of the Universe, and that your deed, towards quite 
other things directed, has an influence upon the present 
state of religion. 

Man is born with the religious capacity as with every 
other. If only his sense for the profoundest depths of his 
own nature is not crushed out, if only all fellowship 
between himself and the Primal Source is not quite shut 
off, religion would, after its own fashion, infallibly 
be developed. But in our time, alas ! that is exactly 
what, in very large measure, does happen. With pain 
I see daily how the rage for calculating and explaining 
suppresses the sense. I see how all things unite to bind 
man to the finite, and to a very small portion of the finite, 


that the infinite may as far as possible vanish from his 

Who hinders the prosperity of religion ? Not you, not 
the doubters and scoffers. Even though you were all of 
one mind to. have no religion, you would not disturb Nature 
in her purpose of producing piety from the depths of the 
soul, for your influence could only later find prepared soil. 
Nor, as is supposed, do the immoral most hinder the pros 
perity of religion, for it is quite a different power to which 
their endeavours are opposed. But the discreet and prac 
tical men of to-day are, in the present state of the world, 
the foes of religion, and their great preponderance is the 
cause why it plays such a poor and insignificant role, for 
from tender childhood they maltreat man, crushing out his 
higher aspirations. 

With great reverence I regard the longing of young 
minds for the marvellous and supernatural. Joyfully taking 
in the motley show of things, they seek at the same time 
something else to set over against it. They search every 
where for something surpassing the accustomed phenomena 
and the light play of life. However many earthly objects 
are presented for their knowing, there seems still another 
sense unnourished. That is the first stirrings of religion. 
A secret, inexplicable presentiment urges them past the 
riches of this world. Every trace of another is welcome to 
them, and they delight themselves in fictions of unearthly 
beings. All that it is most evident to them cannot be 
here, they embrace with that strong and jealous love 
devoted to objects, the right to which is strongly felt, but 
cannot be established. True, it is a delusion to seek the 
Infinite immediately outside of the finite, but is it not 
natural in those who know but the surface of even the finite 
and sensuous ? Is it not the delusion of whole peoples and 
whole schools of wisdom ? 

Were there but guardians of religion among those who 
care for the young, how easily could this natural error be 


corrected ! And, in clearer times, how greedily would 
young souls then abandon themselves to the impressions 
of the Infinite in its omnipresence ! 

It were even better if life were left quietly to take its 
own course. Let it be supposed that the taste for gro 
tesque figures is as natural to the young imagination in 
religion as in art, and let it be richly satisfied. Have no 
anxiety when the earnest and sacred mythology, that is 
considered the very essence of religion, is immediately 
united with the careless games of childhood. Suppose that 
the Heavenly Father, the Saviour, the angels are but 
another kind of fairies and sylphs. In many, perhaps, the 
foundation may be laid for an insufficient and dead letter. 
While the images grow pale, the word, as the empty frame 
in which they have been fixed, may remain hanging. But 
man, thus treated, would be more left to himself, and a 
right-thinking, uncorrupted soul that knew how to keep 
himself free from the titillation of scraping and scheming, 
would more easily find, in due time, the natural issue from 
this labyrinth. 

Now, on the contrary, that tendency is, from the begin 
ning, forcibly suppressed. Everything mysterious and 
marvellous is proscribed. Imagination is not to be filled 
with airy images ! It is just as easy to store the memory 
with real objects and to be preparing for life ! Poor young 
souls, desiring quite other fare, are wearied with moral tales 
and have to learn how beautiful and necessary it is to be 
genteel and discreet. The current conceptions of things 
that they would of themselves have encountered soon 
enough, are impressed upon them, as if it were an urgent 
business that could never be too soon accomplished. 
Without regard to their real want, there is given them that 
of which far too soon there will be too much. 

In proportion as man must busy himself in a narrow way 
with a single object, to rescue the universality of the sense 
an impulse awakes in everyone to allow the dominating 


activity and all its kindred to rest, and to open all organs 
to the influence of all impressions. By a secret and most 
helpful sympathy this impulse is strongest when the general 
life reveals itself most clearly in our own breasts and in the 
surrounding world. But to yield to this impulse in com 
fortable inactivity cannot be permitted, for, from the 
middle-class standpoint, it would be laziness and idling. 
In everything there must be design and aim ; somewhat 
has always to be performed, and if the spirit can no more 
serve, the body must be exercised. Work and play, but no 
quiet, submissive contemplation ! 

But most of all, men are to be taught to analyze and 
explain. By this explaining they are completely cheated 
of their sense, for, as it is conducted, it is absolutely 
opposed to any perceptive sense. Sense of its own accord 
seeks objects for itself, it advances to meet them and it 
offers to embrace them. It communicates something to 
them which distinguishes them as its possession, its work. 

It will find and be found. But this explaining knows 
nothing of this living acquisition, of this illuminating truth, 
of the true spirit of discovery in childlike intuition. But 
from first to last, objects are to be transcribed accurately 
in thought as something simply given. They are, God be 
thanked, for all men ever the same, and who knows how long 
already they have been docketed in good order with all 
their qualities defined. Take them, then, only as life 
brings them, and understand that and nothing more. But to 
seek for yourselves and to wish to have living intercourse 
with things is eccentric and high-flown. It is a vain 
endeavour, availing nothing in human life, where things 
are only to be seen and handled as they have already pre 
sented themselves. 

Fruitful in human life this endeavour is not, except that, 
without it, an active life, resting on true inward culture, is 
not to be found. The sense strives to comprehend the un- i 
divided impress of something whole ; it will perceive what J 


each thing is and how it is ; it will know everything in its 
peculiar character. But that is not what they mean by 
understanding. What and how are too remote for them, 
around whence and to what end, they eternally circle. 
They seek to grasp nothing in and for itself, but only in 
special aspects, and therefore, not as a whole, but only piece 
meal. To inquire or thoroughly examine whether the 
object they would understand is a whole, would lead them 
too far. Were this their desire, they could hardly escape 
so utterly without religion. 

But all must be used for some excellent purpose, where 
fore they dissever and anatomize. This is how they deal 
with what exists chiefly for the highest satisfaction of 
the sense, with what, in their despite, is a whole in itself, I 
mean with all that is art in nature and in the works of 
man. Before it can operate they annihilate it by explain 
ing it in detail. Having first by decomposition robbed 
it of its character as art, they would teach and impress this 
or that lesson from the fragments. 

You must grant that this is the practice of our people of 
understanding, and you must confess that a superabundance 
of sense is necessary if anything is to escape this hostile 
treatment. On that account alone the number must be 
small who are capable of such a contemplation of any 
object as might awake in them religion. 

But this development is still more checked. The utmost 
is done to divert the remaining sense from the Universe. 
Truth and all that in it is, must be confined in the limits 
of the civil life. All actions must bear upon this life, 
while, again, it is believed that the boasted inner harmony 
of man means that everything bears upon his actions and 
they never think that, if it is to be a true and free life, the 
existence of an individual in the state, even as of the state 
itself, must have arisen from the Whole. But they are 
sunk in blind idolatry of the existing civil life, they are 
convinced that it affords material enough for the sense and 


displays rich enough pictures. Hence they have a right 
to guard against discontented seeking for something else 
and departure from the natural centre and axis. All 
emotions and endeavours not so directed, are but useless 
and exhausting exercises, from which, by purposeful 
activity, the soul must as much as possible be restrained. 
Pure love to arb, or even to nature itself, is for them an 
extravagance, only to be endured because it is not quite 
so bad as other tendencies, and because many find in it con 
solation and compensation in various ills. Knowledge is 
sought with a wise and sober moderation and never with 
out regard to practical life. The smallest thing that has 
influence in this sphere is not to be neglected, and the 
greatest, just because it goes further, is decried, as if it 
were mean and perverted. 

That, nevertheless, there are things which, to some littla 
depth must be explored, is for them a necessary evil, and 
that a few are ever to be found who, from unconquerable 
liking, undertake it, they thank the gods, and with sacred 
pity regard them as willing sacrifices. They most sincerely 
lament that there are feelings which cannot be tamed by 
the external sway of their formulas and precepts, and that 
in this way many men are rendered socially unhappy or 
immoral. People for whom the moral side of civil life is 
everything, and whom, though they may step a little 
beyond their trade, I reckon also among this class, con 
sider this one of the profoundest evils of human nature, to be 
got rid of with all possible speed. The good people believe 
that their own activity is everything and exhausts the task 
of humanity, and that, if all would do what they do, they 
would require no sense for anything except for action. 
Wherefore they dock everything with their shears, and 
they will not suffer a single characteristic phenomenon that 
might awake a religious interest to grow. What can be 
seen and understood from their standpoint is all they allow, 
and it is merely a small, barren circle, without science, with- 



out morals, without art, without love, without spirit, I might 
almost say without letter. 3 In short, it is without any 
thing whereby the world might disclose itself, and yet 
it has many lofty pretensions to the same. They think, 
indeed, that they have the true and real world, and that 
they are the people who grasp and treat all things in their 
true connection. 

Would that they could but once see that, for anything to 
be known as an element of the Whole, it must necessarily 
be contemplated in its characteristic nature and in its fullest 
completeness ! In the Universe it can be nothing except 
by the totality of its effects and relations. That is the sum 
and substance, and, to perceive it, every matter must be 
considered, not from some outside point, but from its own 
proper centre, which is to say, in its separate existence, its 
own proper nature. This is to have all points of view 
for everything, and the opposite is to have one point of 
view for all, which is the most direct way to leave the 
Universe behind, to sink in lamentable narrowness and 
become a serf bound to the spot of earth on which we 
happen to stand. 

In the relations of man to this world there are certain 
openings into the Infinite, prospects past which all are led 
that their sense may find its way to the Whole. Immediate 
feelings of definite content may not be produced by this 
glimpse, but there may be a general susceptibility to all 
religious feelings. Those prospects therefore, are wisely 
blocked up, and in the opening some philosophical carica 
ture is placed as an ill-favoured place is at times covered 
by some sorry picture. 

And if, as happens at times, the omnipotence of the 
Universe makes itself manifest in those people of under 
standing themselves, if some ray penetrating falls upon 
their eyes and their soul cannot be shielded from some stir 
ring of those emotions, the Infinite is never a goal to which 
they fly for rest. It is as a post at the end of a course, 


simply a point to be rounded, without touching, at the 
greatest speed, and the sooner they can return to their old 
place the better. 

Birth and death are such points. Before them it is im 
possible to forget that our own self is completely surrounded 
by the Infinite. Despite of their frequency, so soon as they 
touch us ihore nearly, they always stir a quiet longing and 
a holy reverence. The measurelessness of sense perception 
is also a hint at least of a still higher infinity. But nothing 
would please better those persons of understanding than 
to be able to use the greatest radius of the system of the 
worlds, as men now use the meridian of the earth, for 
measuring and reckoning in common life. And, if the 
images of life and death do approach them, believe me, 
however much they may speak of religion, it does not lie 
so near their hearts as to use the occasion to win some few 
young people for caution and economy in the use of their 
powers and for the noble art of lengthening life. 

Punished they certainly are. They reach no standpoint 
from which they might themselves rear, from the founda 
tion, this worldly wisdom in which they trust, but move 
slavishly and reverently in ancient forms or divert them 
selves with little improvements. This is the extreme of 
utilitarianism to which the age with rapid strides is being 
hurried by worthless scholastic word-wisdom. This new 
barbarism is a fit counterpart of the old. It is the beau 
tiful fruit of the paternal eudai monistic politics which has 
supplanted rude despotism and permeates all departments of 
life. We have all been affected, and the capacity for religion, 
not being able to keep pace in its development with other 
things, has suffered in the early bud. 

These men, the crazy buttresses of a crumbling time, 
I distinguish from you, even as you would not have your 
selves made equal with them, for they do not despise 
religion, and they are not to be called cultured. But they 
destroy religion as much as they can, and they train the age 

K 2 


and enlighten men, even to transparency, if they had their 
will. They are still the dominating party, and you and we 
are but a very few. Whole towns and countries are 
educated on their principles. Those again who have come 
through this education, are found in society, in science, 
and in philosophy. Nay, philosophy is their peculiar place 
of abode. And now it is not merely ancient philosophy 
using the present highly historical classification into ancient 
new and newest but the new also they have annexed. 
By their vast influence on every worldly interest and 
the semblance of philanthropy which dazzles the social 
inclination, this way of thinking ever holds religion in 
subjection, and resists every movement whereby its life 
might anywhere reveal itself with full power. 

Eeligion at present can only be advanced by the strongest 
resistance to this general tendency, and it cannot begin 
except by radical opposition. As everything follows the 
law of affinity, sense can only triumph by taking possession 
of an object on which this kind of understanding so hostile 
to it, hangs but loosely. This it will acquire most easily 
and with superfluity of free power. Now this object is the 
inner, not the outer world. The enlightening psychology, 
the masterpiece of this kind of understanding, has at length 
exhausted itself by extravagance and lost almost all good 
name. The calculating understanding has here first va 
cated the field and left it open once more for pure obser 
vation. A religious man must be reflective, his sense must 
be occupied in the contemplation of himself. Being occu 
pied with the profoundest depths, he abandons meanwhile 
all external things, intellectual as well as physical, leaving 
them to be the great aim of the researches of the people of 
understanding. In accordance with this law, the feeling 
for the Infinite is most readily developed in persons whose 
nature keeps them far from that which is the central point 
of all the opponents of the universal complete life. Hence 
it comes that, from of old, all truly religious characters 


have had a mystical trait, and that all imaginative natures, 
which are too airy to occupy themselves with solid and 
rigid worldly affairs, have at least some stirrings of piety. 
This is the character of all the religious appearances of our 
time ; from those two colours, imagination and mysticism, 
though in various proportions, they are all composed. 
Appearances I say, because, in this state of things, more is 
scarcely to be expected. 

Imaginative natures fail in penetrative spirit, in capacity 
for mastering the essential. A light changing play of 
beautiful, often charming, but merely fortuitous and entirely 
subjective combinations, satisfies them and is the highest 
they can conceive, and a deeper and inner connection pre 
sents itself in vain. They are really only seeking the 
infinity and universality of charming appearances. Accord 
ing as it is viewed this may be less or very much more than 
their sense can attain, but to appearance they have accommo 
dated themselves, and instead of a healthy and powerful life, 
they have only disconnected and fleeting emotions. The 
mind is easily kindled, but it is with a flame as unsteady 
as it is ready. They have emotions of religion just as they 
have of art, philosophy and all things great and beautiful 
they are attracted by the surface. 

To the very nature of the other class, again, religion 
pre-eminently belongs. But their sense always remains 
turned towards themselves, for, in the present condition of 
the world, they do not know how to attain anything beyond, 
and they soon fail in material for cultivating their feeling 
to an independent piety. There is a great and powerful 
mysticism, not to be considered by the most frivolous man 
without reverence and devotion, which, by its heroic 
simplicity and proud scorn of the world, wrings admiration 
from the most judicious. It does not arise from being sated 
and overladen by external influences, but, on every occa 
sion, some secret power ever drives the man back upon 
himself, and he finds himself to be the plan and key of the 


Whole. Convinced by a great analogy and a daring faith 
that it is not necessary to forsake himself, but that the 
spirit has enough in itself to be conscious of all that could 
be given from without, by a free resolve, he shuts his eyes 
for ever against all that is not himself. Yet this contempt 
is no ignorance, this closing of the sense no incapacity. 

Thus, alas ! it stands with our party at the present day. 
They have not learned to open their souls to Nature. Their 
living relation to it suffers from the clumsy way in which 
objects are rather indicated than shown, and they have 
neither sense nor light remaining from their self-con 
templation sufficient to penetrate this ancient darkness. 
Wherefore, in scorn of this evil age, they would fain have 
nothing to do with its work in them. Their higher feeling 
is thus untrained and needy, and their true inward fellow 
ship with the world is both confined and sickly. Alone 
with their sense, they are compelled to circulate eternally 
in an all too narrow sphere, and, after a sickly life, their 
religious sense dies, from want of attraction, of indirect 

Another end awaits those whose sense for the highest 
turns boldly outwards, seeking there expansion and renova 
tion for its life. Their disharmony with the age only too 
clearly appears, for they suffer a violent death, happy if 
you will, yet fearful, the suicide of the spirit. Not knowing 
how to comprehend the world, the essence and larger sense 
of which remains strange to them among the paltry views 
to which an outward constraint limits them, they are 
deceived by confused phenomena, abandoned to unbridled 
fancies, and seek the Universe and its traces where they 
never were. Finally they unwillingly rend asunder utterly 
the connection of the inner and the outer, chase the impo 
tent understanding and end in a holy madness, the source 
of which almost no man knows. They are loud screaming but 
not understood victims of the general contempt and mal 
treatment of the heart of man. Only victims, however, not 


heroes, for whosoever succumbs, though it be in the final 
test, cannot be reckoned among the recipients of the inmost 

This complaint that there are no permanent, openly recog 
nized representatives of religion among us, is not to recall 
my earlier assertions that our age is not less favourable to 
religion than any other. The amount of religion in the 
world is not diminished, but it is broken up and driven 
apart by an oppressive force. It reveals itself in small and 
fleeting though frequent manifestations that rather exalt 
the variety of the Universe and delight the eye of the 
observer, than produce for itself a great and sublime im 
pression. I abide by the conviction that there are many 
who breathe out the sweetest fragrance of the young life in 
sacred longing and love to the Eternal and the Changeless, 
and who late at least, and perhaps never, are overcome by 
the world ; that there are none to whom once, at least, the 
high World-Spirit has not appeared, casting on them, 
while they were ashamed for themselves and blushed at 
their unworthy limitation, one of those piercing glances 
that the downcast eye feels without seeing. By this I abide, 
and the conscience of everyone can judge of it. But heroes 
of religion, holy souls, as they have been seen, who are 
entirely permeated by religion which is all in all to them, 
are wanting and must be wanting to this generation. And 
as often as I reflect on what must happen and what direction 
our culture must take, if religious men of a higher type are 
again to appear as a natural if rare product of their age, 
I think that your whole endeavour whether consciously, 
you may yourselves decide is not a little helpful for a 
palingenesis of religion. Partly your general working, 
partly the endeavours of a narrower circle, partly the 
sublime ideas of a few spirits notable among mankind, 
shall serve this purpose. 4 

The strength and compass, as well as the purity and clear 
ness of every perception, depend upon the keenness and 


vigour of the sense. Suppose the wisest man without 
opened senses. He would not be nearer religion than the 
most thoughtless and wanton who only had an open and 
true sense. Here then we must begin. An end must be 
made to the slavery in which the sense of man is held, for the 
benefit of exercisings of the understanding whereby nothing 
is exercised, of those enlightenments that make nothing 
clear, of those dissectings whereby nothing is resolved. 
This is an end for which you will all labour with united 
powers. It has happened to the improvements in education 
as to all revolutions that have not been begun on the highest 
principles : things have gradually glided back into the old 
course, and only a few changes in externals preserve the 
memory of what was at first considered a marvellously great 
occurrence. Hence our judicious and practical education of 
to-day is but little distinguished from the ancient mechanical 
article, and that little is neither in spirit nor in working. 
This has not escaped you. It begins to be as detestable to 
all truly cultured people as it is to me. A juster idea of 
the sacredness of childhood and the eternity of inviolable 
liberty is spreading. Even in the first stages of develop 
ment, it is seen that the manifestations of liberty must be 
expected and inquired for. Soon those barriers shall be 
broken down ; the intuitive power will take possession of 
its whole domain, every organ will be opened, and ib will 
be possible for objects, in all ways, to affect man. 

With this regained liberty of sense, however, a limitation 
and firm direction of the activity may very well consist. 
This is the great demand from contemporaries and posterity, 
with which the best among you are coming forward. You 
are tired of seeing barren, encyclopaedic versatility. Only 
by this way of self-limitation have you become what you 
are, and you know there is no other way to culture. You 
insist, therefore, that everyone should seek to become some 
thing definite, and follow something with steadfastness and 
concentration. No one can perceive the justice of this 


counsel better than the man who has ripened to a certain 
universality of sense, for he must know that, except by 
separation and limitation, perception would have no objects. 
I rejoice, therefore, at these efforts, and would they had had 
more success. Religion would thereby receive excellent 
help, for this very limitation of effort, if only the sense 
itself is not limited, all the more surely prepares for the 
sense the way to the Infinite and opens again the long 
interrupted intercourse. Whosoever has seen and known 
much and can then resolve, with his whole might, to do 
and forward something for its own sake, must recognize, 
if he is not to contradict himself, that other things have 
been made and have a right to existence for their own 
sakes. And when he has succeeded to the utmost in the 
object of his choice, it will least of all escape him at the 
summit of perfection that, without all the rest, this is 
nothing. This recognition of the strange and annihilation 
of the personal that urge themselves everywhere upon a 
thoughtful man, this seasonably changing love and contempt 
for all that is finite and limited are not possible without a 
dim presentiment of the World and God, and they must call 
forth a more definite longing for the One in the All. 

Every man knows from his own consciousness three 
spheres of the sense in which its different manifestations 
are divided. First there is the interior of the Ego itself; 
second, the outer world, in so far as it is indefinite and 
incomplete call it mass, matter, element, or what you will ; 
the third seems to unite both, the sense turning, in constant 
change, within and without, and only finding peace in 
perceiving the absolute unity of both sides, which is the 
sphere of the individual, of what is complete in itself, of all 
that is art in nature, and in the works of man. Everyone 
is not equally at home in all those spheres, but from each 
there is a way to pious exaltations of the soul which take 
characteristic form simply according to the variety of the 
ways in which they have been found. 


Study yourselves with unswerving attention, put aside 
all that is not self, proceed with the sense ever more 
closely directed to the purely inward. The more you pass 
by all foreign elements, making your personality appear 
diminished almost to the vanishing point, the clearer the 
Universe stands before you, and the more gloriously 
the terror of annihilating the fleeting is rewarded by the 
feeling of the eternal. 

Look outside again on one of the widely distributed 
elements of the world. Seek to understand it in itself, and 
seek it in particular objects, in yourself and everywhere. 
Traverse again and again your way from centre to circum 
ference, going ever farther afield. You will rediscover 
everything everywhere, and you will only be able to re 
cognize it in relation to its opposite. Soon everything 
individual and distinct will have been lost and the Universe 
be found. 

What way now leads from the third sphere, from the 
sense for art ? Its immediate object is by no means the 
Universe itself. It is an individual thing complete in 
itself and rounded off. There is satisfaction in each enjoy 
ment, and the mind, peacefully sunk in it, is not driven to 
such a progress as would make the single thing gradually 
disappear and be replaced by the Universe. Is there no 
where any way, but must this sphere for ever remain apart, 
and artists be condemned to be irreligious ? Or is there 
perhaps some other relation between art and religion ? I 
could wish to leave the question for your own solution, for 
to me the inquiry is too difficult and too strange. But you 
have used your sense and love for arb to good purpose, and 
I would willingly leave you to yourselves on your native 
soil. One of my thoughts on the matter, however, I would 
have not to be wish and presentiment merely but insight 
and prophecy. But judge for yourselves. If it is true 
that there are sudden conversions whereby in men, thinking 
of nothing less than of lifting themselves above the finite, 


in a moment, as by an immediate, inward illumination, 
the sense for the highest comes forth and surprises them 
by its splendour, I believe that more than anything else 
the sight of a great and sublime work of art can accom 
plish this miracle. And I would believe that, without any 
gradual approximation beforehand, you may perhaps be 
met by such a beam of your own sun and turned to 

By the first way of finding the Universe, the most ab 
stracted self-contemplation, the most ancient eastern 
Mysticism, with marvellous boldness that resembled the 
more recent Idealism among us, linked the infinitely great 
to the infinitely little and found everything bordering on 

From the contemplation of the masses and their counter 
parts, again, every religion, the pattern of which is the 
heavens or elemental nature, has manifestly proceeded. 
The polytheistic Egypt was long the most perfect nurse of 
this type of thought. In it we can at least guess that the 
purest intuition of the original and real may have walked 
in meek tolerance close beside the darkest superstitions and 
the most senseless mythology. 5 

And if there is nothing to tell of a religion originating 
in art that has ruled peoples and times, it is all the clearer 
that the sense for art has never approached those two kinds 
of religion without covering them with new beauty and 
holiness and sweetly mitigating their original narrowness. 
Thus the ancient sages and poets, and above all, the artists 
of the Greeks, changed the natural religion into fairer, 
more gladsome form. In all the mythical representations 
of the divine Plato and his followers, which you would ac 
knowledge rather as religious than as scientific, we perceive 
how beautifully that mystical self-contemplation mounts to 
the highest pinnacle of divineness and humanness. Simply 
by the ordinary life in the sphere of art and by a living 
endeavour, sustained by indwelling power and especially by 


poetic art, he penetrates from one form of religion to the 
opposite and unites both. One can only marvel, therefore, 
at the beautiful self-forgetfulness with which in holy zeal, 
as a just king that does not spare even his too soft-hearted 
mother, he speaks against art, for, where there was no cor 
ruption and no misunderstanding produced by corruption, 
the work of art was but a free-will service rendered to the 
imperfect natural religions. 

At present art serves no religion, and all is different and 
worse. Eeligion and art stand together like kindred 
beings, whose inner affinity, though mutually unrecognized 
and unsuspected, appears in various ways. 6 Like the 
opposite poles of two magnets, being mutually attracted, 
they are violently agitated but cannot overcome their 
gravity so as to touch and unite. Friendly words and out 
pourings of the heart are ever on their lips, but they are 
always held back, as they cannot find again the right 
manner and the last reason of their thinking and longing. 
They await a fuller revelation and, suffering and sighing 
under the same load, they see each other enduring, with 
heartfelt liking and deep feeling perhaps, but without the 
love that truly unites. Will this common burden bring 
about the happy moment of their union, or from pure love 
and joy is there to be as you desire a new day for art alone ? 
However it conies, whichever is first set free will certainly 
hasten, with at least a sister s faithfulness, to aid the other. 

But religion of both types not only is without the aid 
of art, but is, in its own state, worse than of old. The 
two sources of perception and feeling of the Infinite 
streamed forth magnificently upon an age when scientific 
subtilties, without true principles, had not yet corrupted by 
their commonness the purity of the sense, even though 
neither may have been rich enough to produce the highest. 
At present, they are troubled by the loss of simplicity and 
the ruinous influence of a conceited and false insight. How 
are they to be purified ? Whence are they to have power 


and fulness for enriching the soil with more than ephemeral 
products ? To unite their waters in one channel, is the 
sole means for bringing religion to completion by the way 
we are now going. That would be an event, from the 
bosom of which, in a new and glorious form, religion would 
soon go to meet better times. 

See then, whether you wish it or not, the goal of your 
highest endeavours is just the resurrection of religion. 
By your endeavours this event must be brought to pass, 
and I celebrate you as, however unintentionally, the 
rescuers and cherishers of religion. Do not abandon your 
post and your work till you have unlocked the recesses of 
knowledge, and, in priestlike humility, have opened the 
sanctuary of true science. Then all who draw nigh, and 
the sons of religion among them, will be compensated for 
what half knowledge and arrogance have made them lose. 

Philosophy, exalting man to the consciousness of his 
reciprocity with the world, teaching him to know himself, 
not as a separate individual, but as a living, operative 
member of the Whole, will no longer endure to see the man 
who steadfastly turns his eye to his own spirit in search of 
the Universe, pine in poverty and need. The anxious wall 
of separation is broken down. The outer world is only 
another inner world. Everything is the reflection of his 
own spirit, as his spirit is the copy of all things. He can 
seek himself in this reflection without losing himself or 
going outside of himself. He can never exhaust himself in 
contemplation of himself, for in himself everything lies. 

Ethics, in its chaste and heavenly beauty, far from 
jealousy and despotic pride, will hand him at the entrance 
the heavenly lyre and the magic glass, that he may see in 
countless forms the earnest quiet image of the spirit ever 
the same and may accompany it with divine music. 

Natural science sets the man who looks around him to 
discover the Universe, in the centre of nature, and no 
longer suffers him to dissipate himself fruitlessly in the 


study of small details. He can now pursue the play of 
nature s powers into tlieir most secret recesses, from the 
inaccessible storehouses of energized matter to the artistic 
workshops of the organic life. He measures its might from 
the bounds of world-filled space to the centre of his own 
Ego, and finds himself everywhere in eternal strife and 
in closest union. He is nature s centre and circumference. 
Delusion is gone and reality won. Sure is his glance and 
clear is his view. Under all disguises he detects it and 
nowhere rests except in the Infinite and the One. Already 
I see some distinguished forms return from the sanctuary 
after initiation into those mysteries, who, having purified 
and adorned themselves, will come forth in priestly robes. 

Can one goddess, then, still linger with her helpful 
presence ? For < this, also, time will make us great and rich 
amends. The greatest work of art has for its material 
humanity itself, and the Deity directly fashions it. For 
this work the sense must soon awake in many, for at 
present, He is working with bold and effective art. And 
you will be the temple servants when the new forms are set 
up in the temple of time. Expound the Artist then with 
force and spirit ; explain the earlier works from the later 
and the later from the earlier. Let the past, the present, 
and the future surround us with an endless gallery of the 
sublimest works of art, eternally multiplied by a thousand 
brilliant mirrors. Let the history of the worlds be ready 
with rich gratitude to reward religion its first nurse, by 
awaking true and holy worshippers for eternal might and 
wisdom. See how, without your aid, the heavenly growth 
nourishes in the midst of your plantings. It is a witness of 
the approval of the gods and of the imperishableness of 
your desert. Neither disturb it nor pluck it up ; it is an 
ornament that adorns, a talisman that protects. 


(1) Page 123. This expression appears to contradict the words of 
Christ which He spoke to His disciples, " Ye have not chosen me, but I 
have chosen you." Yet the contradiction is only apparent, for on another 
occasion He asked of His disciples whether they also were deceived as 
others had been, whereby He acknowledged that their continuance 
with Him was a free act. Now this is all that is here asserted. In 
their declaration of steadfastness, we can say, that they chose Him 
anew as their Master, with a quicker sense and a riper judgment. 
Also it would be wrong to interpret Christ s words as if they had only 
special reference to certain persons. This would be a particular sense 
which I would not defend. It was not by an original divine impulse 
common to Him and to them, that the kingdom of God was founded. 
Of subordinate movements in religion, such as reform of the church, 
this may very well be said, but it was not thus that Peter, as their 
representative, recognized Him as the profoundest and mightiest. 
Originally, the emotion was in Hirn alone ; in them there was only 
the capacity for having it awakened. What is here said, therefore, 
entirely agrees with the representation of Christ ; indeed, his relation 
to His disciples suggested it. Had not Christ set out from the view 
that every living utterance, however individual, can only awake its 
response in another in a universal way and that complete attachment 
to the individuality of another is always a free act, He could not 
have set His disciples on such a footing of equality as to call them 
brethren and friends. 

(2) Page 124. What is here said follows naturally from the passage 
just explained. The best example is found in the oldest Christian 
history, in the Proselytes from Heathenism, who forsook the Jews who 
first woke in them the sense of the one Highest Being and went over to 
Christianity. In every time when the religious life is stirred, as un 
questionably it has begun to be among us since this was written, it 
seems to me specially necessary that all who, either from profession 


or from inward call, exercise a marked religions influence, should rise 
to this freer view, that they may not wonder why so many who have 
received their first impulse from them, should only find their complete 
rest in very different views and sentiments. Let everyone rejoice at 
waking life, for he thereby approves himself an instrument of the 
Divine Spirit, but let none believe that the fashioning of it continues 
in his power. 

(3) Page 130. Only by this last trait is the picture of the way of 
thinking here described made complete, for these men flee also theletter. 
As they admit a moral, political or religious confession only, in so far 
as everyone can still think what he will, so no practical rules are 
valid except with the proviso of standing exceptions, that everything 
following the principle of absolute utility, should stand completely 
alone, as nothing through nothing for nothing. Some reader of 
another stamp may look askance, however, on an expression that 
ascribes a worth, and indeed no small worth, to the letter, for I 
make it equal with the other qualities here named, and misunderstand 
ings, specially struggled against at the present day are thus favoured. 
I would warn him that such a conscious depreciation of what has 
been set too high does not serve truth, but in part produces obstinacy 
and in part it favours reaction. Therefore, we would at all times 
ascribe a high degree of worth to the letter in all earnest things, in 
so far as it is not separate from the spirit and dead. The imme 
diate life in the great unities is too closely shut to be entered by the 
letter, for what letter could comprehend, say, the existence of a 
people ? and in the individual there are elements too fleeting to be 
embraced in it, for what letter could express the nature of a single 
individual ? But the letter is the indispensable selecting discretion, 
without which we could only vibrate giddily between the individual and 
the great classes. By it the chaotic indeterminate crowd is changed 
into the determinate multitude. Nay, in the largest sense the ages 
are distinguished by the letter, and it is the master-piece of the 
highest wisdom to estimate rightly when human things require a new 
letter. Does it appear too early the love for what it is to supplant 
rejects it ? is it too late, that giddiness has already begun which it 
can no more exorcise ? 

(4) Page 135. No one will suppose that I regard the manifestations 
of an awakened religious life so frequent, especially in Germany at the 
present time, as the fulfilment of the hope here uttered. That I do 
not regard it in this way, appears clearly enough from what follows, 
for a piety revived by greater openness of sense would be of a differ 
ent type from what we see among us. The impatient uncharitable- 


ness of our new Pietists that is not content to withdraw from what it 
dislikes, but uses every social relation for defamation to the danger 
of all free spiritual life ; their painful listening for special expres 
sions, in accordance with which they make one man white and another 
black ; the indifference of most of them to all great historical events ; 
the aristocratic narrow-mindedness of others ; the general dislike of 
all science are not signs of an open sense. Rather they are signs of 
a deep-rooted, morbid state which must be treated with love and also 
with great firmness, if there is not to be more loss to society in 
general than gain to individuals. We will not deny that many of 
the lower class can only be awaked from their stupidity, and of the 
higher from their worldliness, by this acerb kind of piety, yet we 
would wish and earnestly labour that this stage should be for most 
but a transition to a worthier freedom of the spiritual life. This 
should the more easily be accomplished as it ia patent enough how 
easily men who are concerned with something quite different from 
true piety, master this form, and how visibly the spirit decays that 
is long shut up in it. 

(5) Page 139. In the " Glaubenslehre " religion is divided as pre 
dominantly active or passive, as concerned with the problem of duty, or 
absolutely dependent on the Whole, as teleological or aesthetical. With 
this division the forms of religion here mentioned would not seem 
to agree, for the most abstracted self-contemplation, or the most 
objective contemplation of the world may be either active or passive. 
But I am not seeking to distinguish here the chief forms of religion, 
I am treating of cultivation of religion by opening of the sense. By 
this cultivation individuals are not introdnced into a definite form of 
religion, but everyone is rendered capable of discerning the form that 
best suits him and of determining himself accordingly. Being more 
concerned to show the chief aspects of sense, I naturally make most 
prominent those forms in which one or other is most conspicuous. 
Yet even here it is not meant that subjective reflection has not to 
do with the objectively observing Ego, or objective observation with 
a world that awakes and sustains the spiritual life. Hence it would 
be vain to expect that Christianity be here assigned its place as in 
the " Glaubeuslehre " it is placed under the ethical or teleological. 
Even in the Speech itself, it is hinted that that historical sense 
which is the completest union of both directions leads most perfectly 
to piety. That this sense lies quite specially at the foundation of 
Christianity, in which everything comes back to the relation of man 
to the Kingcfom of God, requires no proof. It therefore naturally 
follows that Christianity presents a piety nourished as much by con- 



templation of the world, as by self-contemplation, and is best 
nourished when both are most joined. Of course these are subordi 
nate distinctions of receptivity and are naturally quite subjective and 
incapable of determining the different forms of Christianity. 

(6) Page 140. This affinity will hardly be denied now by anyone. 
Nothing but attention to the subject is required to find that, on the 
one hand, in all arts, all great works are religious representations, and 
that on the other, in all religions, Christianity not excepted, hostility 
to art involves barrenness and coldness. In all arts there is a severer, 
more sustained style and a freer and easier. Religious art mostly 
upholds the severer style. When religious objects are handled in 
the light style, the decay of religion is decided and the decay of art 
quickly follows. The lighter style only maintains its true character 
as art so long as it finds its mass and harmony in the severer. The 
more it renounces its connection with the severer style, and there 
fore with religion, the more certainly and irresistibly it degenerates 
into over refinement and the art of flattery. Already this has been 
often repeated in the history of the arts, and in individuals it is 
being repeated at the present day. 



THOSE of you wlio are accustomed to regard religion simply 
as a malady of the soul, usually cherish the idea that if 
the evil is not to be quite subdued, it is at least more 
endurable, so long as it only infects individuals here and 
there. On the other hand, the common danger is increased 
and everything put in jeopardy by too close association, 
among the patients. So long as they are isolated, judicious 
treatment, due precautions against infection and a healthy 
spiritual atmosphere may allay the paroxysms and weaken, 
if they do not destroy, the virus, but in the other case the 
only remedy to be relied on is the curative influence of 
nature. The evil would be accompanied by the most 
dangerous symptoms and be far more deadly being nursed 
and heightened by the proximity of the infected. Even a 
few would then poison the whole atmosphere ; the soundest 
bodies would be infected; all the canals in which the processes 
of life are carried on would be destroyed ; all juices would 
be decomposed; and, after undergoing such a feverish 
delirium, the healthy spiritual life and working of whole 
generations and peoples would be irrecoverably ruined. 
Hence your opposition to the church, to every institution 
meant for the communication of religion is always more 
violent than your opposition to religion itself, and priests, 
as the supports and specially active members of such insti 
tutions are for you the most hated among men. 

L 2 


But those of you who have a somewhat milder view of 
religion, regarding it rather as an absurdity than as an 
absolute distraction, have an equally unfavourable idea of 
all organizations for fellowship. Slavish surrender of every 
thing characteristic and free, spiritless mechanism and vain 
usages are, you consider, the inseparable consequences of 
every such institution. It is the skilful work of persons 
who with incredible success make great gain from things 
that are nothing-, or which at least every other person could 
have done equally well. 

Were it not that I strive to bring you in this matter to 
the right standpoint, I would very unwillingly expose my 
heart to you on such a weighty matter. How many of the 
perverse efforts and the sad destinies of mankind you 
ascribe to religion, I do not need to recount. In a thousand 
utterances of the most esteemed among you it is clear as 
day. And I will not pause to refute those charges in 
detail and derive them from other causes. Rather let us 
subject the whole idea of the church to a new consideration, 
reconstructing it from the centre outwards, unconcerned 
about how much is fact and experience. 

If there is religion at all, it must be social, for that is the 
nature of man, and it is quite peculiarly the nature of 
religion. You must confess that when an individual has 
produced and wrought out something in his own mind, it is 
morbid and in the highest degree unnatural to wish to 
reserve it to himself. He should express it in the indis 
pensable fellowship and mutual dependence of action. And 
there is also a spiritual nature which he has in common 
with the rest of his species which demands that he express 
and communicate all that is in him. The more violently he 
is moved and the more deeply he is impressed, the stronger 
that social impulse works. And this is true even if we 
regard it only as the endeavour to find the feeling in 
others, and so to be sure that nothing has been encountered 
f jliat is not human. 


You see that this is not a case of endeavouring to make 
others like ourselves, nor of believing that what is in one 
man is indispensable for all. It is only the endeavour to 
become conscious of and to exhibit the true relation of our 
own life to the common nature of man. 

But indisputably the proper subjects for this impulse to 
communicate are the conscious states and feelings in which 
originally man feels himself passive. He is urged on to 
learn whether it may not be an alien and unworthy power that 
has produced them. Those are the things which mankind 
from childhood are chiefly engaged in communicating. 
His ideas, about the origin of which he can have no doubts, 
he would rather leave in quiet. Still more easily he resolves 
to reserve his judgments. But of all that enters by the 
senses and stirs the feelings he will have witnesses and 
participators. How could he keep to himself the most 
comprehensive and general influences of the world when 
they appear to him the greatest and most irresistible ? How 
should he wish to reserve what most strongly drives him 
out of himself and makes him conscious that he cannot 
know himself from himself alone ? If a religious view 
become clear to him, or a pious feeling stir his soul, it is 
rather his first endeavour to direct others to the same 
subject and if possible transmit the impulse. 

The same nature that makes it necessary for the pious 
person to speak, provides him also with an audience. No 
element of life, so much as religion, has implanted along 
with it so vivid a feeling of man s utter incapacity ever 
to exhaust it for himself alone. No sooner has he any 
sense for it than he feels its infinity and his own limits. 
He is conscious that he grasps but a small parfc of it, 
and what he cannot himself reach he will, at least, so far 
as he is able, know and enjoy from the representations of 
those who have obtained it. This urges him to give his 
religion full expression, and, seeking his own perfection, to 
listen to every note that he can recognize as religious. 


Thus mutual communication organizes itself, and speech 
and hearing are to all alike indispensable. 

But the communication of religion is not like the com 
munication of ideas and perceptions to be sought in books. 1 
In this medium, too much of the pure impression of the 
original production is lost. Like dark stuffs that absorb 
the greater part of the rays of light, so everything of the 
pious emotion that the inadequate signs do not embrace 
and give out again, is swallowed up. In the written com 
munication of piety, everything needs to be twice or thrice 
repeated, the original medium requiring to be again ex 
hibited, and still its effect on men in general in their great 
unity can only be badly copied by multiplied reflection. 
Only when it is chased from the society of the living, 
religion must hide its varied life in the dead letter. 

Nor can this intercourse with the heart of man be carried 
on in common conversation. Many who have a regard for 
religion have upbraided our times, because our manners 
are such that in conversation in society and in friendly 
intercourse, we talk of all weighty subjects except of God 
and divine things. In our defence I would say, this is 
neither contempt nor indifference, but a very correct 
instinct. Where mirth and laughing dwell, and even 
earnestness must pliantly associate with joke and witticism, 
there can be no room for what must ever be attended by 
holy reserve and awe. Religious views, pious feelings, and 
earnest reflections, are not to be tossed from one to another 
in such small morsels as the materials of a light conver 
sation. On sacred subjects it would be rather sacrilegious 
than fitting to be ready with an answer to every question 
and a response to every address. 2 Religion, therefore, 
withdraws itself from too wide circles to the more familiar 
conversation of friendship or the dialogue of love, where 
glance and action are clearer than words, and where a 
solemn silence also is understood. 

By way of the light and rapid exchange of retorts 


common in society divine things cannot be treated, but 
there must be a higher style and another kind of society 
entirely consecrated to religion. On the highest subject 
with which language has to deal, it is fitting that the ful 
ness and splendour of human speech be expended. It is 
not as if there were any ornament that religion could not do 
without, but it would be impious and frivolous of its heralds, 
if they would not consecrate everything to it, if they would 
not collect all they possess that is glorious, that religion 
may, if possible, be presented in all power and dignity. 
Without poetic skill, therefore, religion can only be ex 
pressed and communicated rhetorically, in all power and 
skill of speech, 3 and in its swiftness and inconstancy the 
service of every art that could aid, is willingly accepted. 
Hence a person whose heart is full of religion, only opens 
his mouth before an assembly where speech so richly 
equipped might have manifold working. 

Would that I could depict to you the rich, the super 
abundant life in this city of God, when the citizens assemble, 
each full of native force seeking liberty of utterance and full 
at the same time of holy desire to apprehend and appro 
priate what others offer. When one stands out before the 
others he is neither justified by office nor by compact ; nor 
is it pride or ignorance that inspires him with assurance. 
It is the free impulse of his spirit, the feeling of heart-felt 
unanimity and completest equality, the common abolition of 
all first and last, of all earthly order. 4 He comes forward 
to present to the sympathetic contemplation of others his 
own heart as stirred by God, and, by leading them into 
the region of religion where he is at home, he would infect 
them with his own feeling. He utters divine things and 
in solemn silence the congregation follow his inspired 
speech. If he unveils a hidden wonder, or links with pro 
phetic assurance the future to the present, or by new 
examples confirms old truths, or if his fiery imagination 
enchants him in visions into another part of the world 


and into another order of things, the trained sense of the 
congregation accompanies him throughout. On returning 
from his wanderings through the Kingdom of God into 
himself, his heart and the hearts of all are but the common 
seat of the same feeling. Let this harmony of view 
announce itself, however softly, then there are sacred 
mysteries discovered and solemnized that are not mere 
insignificant emblems, but, rightly considered, are natural 
indications of a certain kind of consciousness and certain 
feelings. It is like a loftier choir that in its own noble tone 
answers the voice that calls. 

And this is not a mere simile, but, as such a speech is 
music without song or melody, there may be a music 
among the saints that is speech without words, giving most 
definite and comprehensible expression to the heart. 

The muse of harmony, the intimate relation of which to 
religion has been long known, though acknowledged by 
few, has from of old laid on the altars of religion the most 
gorgeous and perfect works of her most devoted scholars. 
In sacred hymns and choruses to which the words of the 
poet are but loosely and airily appended, there are breathed 
out things that definite speech cannot grasp. The 
melodies of thought and feeling interchange and give 
mutual support, till all is satiated and full of the sacred and 
the infinite. 

Of such a nature is the influence of religious men upon 
each other. Thus their natural and eternal union is pro 
duced. It is a heavenly bond, the most perfect production 
of the spiritual nature of man, not to be attained till man, 
in the highest sense, knows himself. Do not blame them if 
they value it more highly than the civil union which you 
place so far above all else, but which nevertheless will not 
ripen to manly beauty. Compared with that other union, it 
appears far more forced than free, far more transient than 

But where, in all that I have said of the congregation of 


the pious, is that distinction between priests and laity to which 
you are accustomed to point as the source of so many evils ? 
You have been deluded ; this is no distinction of persons, 
but only of office and function. Every man is a priest, in 
so far as he draws others to himself in the field he has 
made his own and can show himself master in ; every man 
is a layman, in so far as he follows the skill and direction 
of another in the religious matters with which he is less 
familiar. That tyrannical aristocracy which you describe 
as so hateful does not exist, but this society is a priestly- 
nation, 1 a complete republic, where each in turn is leader 
and people, following in others the same power that he 
feels in himself and uses for governing others. 

How then can this be the home of the envy and strife 
that you consider the natural consequences of all religious 
associations ? I see nothing but unity and, just by means of 
the social union of the pious, the gentle mingling of all the 
differences found in religion. I have called your attention 
to two different types of mind and two different directions 
in which specially the soul seeks its highest object. Do 
you mean that from them sects must of necessity arise, and 
unconstrained fellowship in religion be hindered ? In con 
templation, where there is severance because we compre 
hend only in sections, there must be opposition and 
contradiction, but reflect that life is quite different. In 
it opposites seek each other and all that is separated in 
contemplation is mingled. Doubtless persons who most 
resemble will most strongly attract each other, but they 
cannot on that account make up a whole by themselves, 
for there are all degrees of affinity, and with so many 
transitions there can be no absolute repulsion, no entire 
separation, even between the remotest elements. 

Take any body that by characteristic power has its own 
organic structure. Unless you forcibly isolate it by some 
mechanical means, it will not be homogeneous and distinct, 6 
but it will show at the extremities transition to the qualities 


of another body. Pious persons at the lower stage have a 
closer union, yet there are always some among them who 
have a guess of something higher, who, even better than they 
understand themselves, will be understood by a person 
belonging to a more advanced society. There is thus a 
point of union, though it may yet be hidden from them. 
Again, if persons in whom the one type of mind is dominant, 
draw together, there will be some among them who at least 
understand the two types and, belonging in a certain sense 
to both, are connecting links between two otherwise divided 
spheres. Thus a person better fitted to put himself in 
religious communion with nature is not, in the essentials 
of religion, opposed to a person who rather finds the traces 
of the Deity in history, and there will never be a dearth of 
those who walk with equal ease on both ways. And if 
you divide the great domain of religion otherwise, you will 
still return to the same point. If unconstrained univer 
sality of the sense is the first and original condition of 
religion, and also, as is natural, its ripest fruit, you can 
surely see that, as religion advances and piety is purified, 
the whole religious world must appear as an indivisible 

The impulse to abstract, in so far as it proceeds to rigid 
separation, is a proof of imperfection. The highest and 
most cultured always see a universal union, and, in seeing 
it, establish it. Every man is only in contact with his 
neighbour; but on every side and in every direction he 
has neighbours and is thus inseparably bound up with the 
whole. Mystics and physicists in religion ; those to whom 
the Deity is personal and those to whom He is not ; those who 
have risen to a systematic view of the Universe, or those who 
only see it in its elements or as dim chaos should all be 
united. A band encloses them all and they cannot be quite 
separated, except forcibly and arbitrarily. Each separate 
association is a mobile, integrate part of the whole, losing 
itself in vague outlines in the whole, and it must ever be 


the better class of members who feel this truth. Whence 
then, if not from pure misunderstanding, is the wild mania 
for converting to single definite forms of religion that you 
denounce, and the awful watchword, " No salvation save with 
us"? 7 

The society of the pious, as I have exhibited it and as 
from its nature it must be, is occupied purely with mutual 
communication, and subsists only among persons already 
having religion of some kind. How can it be their business 
to change the minds of those who already profess to have a 
definite religion, or to introduce and initiate persons who 
have none at all ? The religion of this society as such is 
simply the collective religion of all the pious. As each one 
sees it in others it is infinite, and no single person can fully 
grasp it, for it is in no one instance a unity, not even when 
highest and most cultivated. If a man, therefore, has any 
share in religion, it matters not what, would it not be a 
mad proceeding for the society to rend from him that 
which suits his nature, for this element also it should 
embrace and therefore someone must possess it ? And 
how would they cultivate persons to whom religion 
generally is still strange ? Their heritage, the infinite 
Whole they cannot communicate to them, and any parti 
cular communication must proceed from an individual and 
not the society. Is there something general, indefinite, 
something common to all the members that a non-religious 
person might receive ? But you know that nothing in a 
general and indefinite form can actually be communicated. 
It must be individual and thoroughly definite, or it is 
nothing. This undertaking would have no measure and no 
rule. Besides, how would the society ever think of going 
beyond itself, seeing the need which gave it birth, the 
principle of religious association, has no such bearing ? 
Individuals join and become a whole ; the whole being satis 
fied with itself, abides in itself, and has no further endeavour. 

Religious effort of this kind, therefore, is never more 


than a private business of individuals, and is, if I might so 
say, rather in so far as a man is outside the church than 
as he is within. When, impelled by sacred feelings, he 
must withdraw from the circle of religious association where 
the common existence and life in God affords the noblest 
enjoyment, into the lower regions of life, he can still bring 
all thafc there occupies him into relation with what to his 
spirit must ever remain the highest. 7 On descending among 
persons limited to one earthly aim and effort, he is apt to 
believe and let it be forgiven him that, from intercourse 
with gods and muses, he has been transported among a 
race of rude barbarians. He feels himself a steward of 
religion among unbelievers, a missionary among savages. 
As an Orpheus or Amp h ion he hopes to win many by 
heavenly melody. He presents himself among them as a 
priestly figure, expressing clearly and vividly his higher 
sense in all his doings and in his whole nature. And if there 
be any response, how willingly he nurses those first pre 
sentiments of religion in a new soul, believing it to be a 
beautiful pledge of its growth, even under an alien and 
inclement sky, and how triumphantly he conducts the 
novice to the exalted assembly ! This activity for the 
extension of religion is only the pious longing of the 
stranger for his home, the endeavour to carry his Father 
land with him, and find again everywhere its laws and 
customs which are his higher, more beauteous life. The 
Fatherland itself, blessed and complete in itself, knows 
no such endeavour. 

After all this, you will possibly say that I seem to be 
quite at one with you. I have shown what the church 
ought to be. Now, by not ascribing to the ideal church 
any of the qualities which distinguish the real, I have, almost 
as strongly as you, condemned its present form. I assure 
you, however, I have not spoken of what should be, but of 
what is, 7 unless, indeed, you deny the existence of what is 
only hindered by the limits of space from appearing to the 


coarser vision. The true church has, in fact, always been 
thus, and still is, and if you cannot see it, the blame is your 
own, and lies in a tolerably palpable misunderstanding. 
Remember only to use an old but weighty expression 
that I have not spoken of the church militant, but of the 
church triumphant, not of the church that fights against 
what the age and the state of man place in its way, 
but of the church that has vanquished all opposition, whose 
training is complete. I have exhibited a society of men 
who have reached consciousness with their piety, and in 
whom the religious view of life is dominant. As I trust I 
have convinced you that they must be men of some culture 
and much power, and that there can never be but very few 
of them, you need not seek their union where many hun 
dreds, whose song strikes the ear from afar, are assembled 
in great temples. So close together, you well know, men 
of this kind do not stand. Possibly anything of the sort 
collected in one place is only to be found in single, 
separate communities, excluded from the great church. This 
at least is certain, that all truly religious men, as many as 
there have ever been, have not only had a belief, or rather 
a living feeling of such a union, but have actually lived in 
it, and, at the same time, they have all known how to 
estimate the church, commonly so-called, at about its true 
value, which is to say, not particularly high. 

The great association to which your strictures properly \ 
apply, is very far from being a society of religious men. 
It is only an association of persons who are but seeking v 
religion, and it seems to me natural that, in almost every 
respect, it should be the counterpart of the true church. 8 
To make this as clear to you as it is to myself, I must, 
alas ! condescend upon a mass of earthly and worldly 
things, and wind my way through a labyrinth of marvellous 
confusions. It is not done without repugnance, but it is 
necessary, if you are to agree with me. Perhaps if I draw 
your attention to the different forms of religious association 


in the visible and in the true church, you will be convinced 
of my opinion in essentials. After what has been said, you 
will, I hope, agree that in the true religious society all 
communication is mutual. The principle that urges us to 
give utterance to our own experience, is closely connected 
with what draws us to that which is strange, and thus 
action and reaction are indivisibly united. Here, on the 
contrary, it is quite different. All wish to receive, and 
there is only one who ought to give. In entire passivity, 
they simply suffer the impressions on their organs. So 
far as they have power over themselves, they may aid in 
receiving, but of reaction on others they do not so much as 
think. 9 Does that not show clearly enough the difference 
in the principles of association ? They cannot be spoken 
of as wishing to complete their religion through others, for 
if they had any religion of their own, it would, from the 
necessity of its nature, show itself in some way operative 
on others. They exercise no reaction because they are 
capable of none ; and they can only be incapable because 
they have no religion. Were I to use a figure from science 
from which, in matters of religion, I most willingly 
borrow expressions I would say that they are negatively 
religious, and press in great crowds to the few points 
where they suspect the positive principle of religion. 
Having been charged, however, they again fail in capacity 
to retain. The emotion which could but play around the 
surface very soon disappears. Then they go about in a 
certain feeling of emptiness, till longing awakes once more, 
and they gradually become again negatively electrified. 

In few words, this is the history of their religious life 
and the character of the social inclination that runs 
through it. Not religion, but a little sense for it, and a 
painful, lamentably fruitless endeavour to reach it, are all 
that can be ascribed even to the best of them, even to those 
who show both spirit and zeal. In the course of their 
domestic and civil life, and on the larger scene of which 


they are spectators, there is much to stir persons with even a 
small share of religious sense. But those emotions remain 
only a dim presentiment, a weak impression on a soft mass, 
the outlines of which at once become vague. Soon every 
thing is swepfc away by the waves of the active life, and is 
left stranded in the most unfrequented region of the memory, 
where it will soon be entirely overlaid by worldly things. 

From frequent repetition, however, of this little shock, 
a necessity at length arises. The dim something in the 
mind, always recurring, must finally be made clear. The 
best means, one would think, would be to take time to 
observe leisurely and attentively the cause. But it is not a 
single thing which they might abstract from all else, that 
works on them. It is all human things, and among them 
the different relations of their life in other departments. 
Then, from old habit, their sense will spontaneously turn 
to those relations and once more the sublime and infinite 
will, in their eyes, be broken up into single, miserable 
details. Feeling this, they do not trust themselves, but 
seek outside help. They would behold in the mirror of 
another person s representation that which in direct per 
ception would soon dissolve. 

In this way they seek to reach some higher, more defined 
consciousness, yet at the end they misunderstand this whole 
endeavour. If the utterances of a truly religious man awake 
all those memories, if they have received the combined 
impression of them, and go away deeply moved, they 
believe that their need is stilled, that the leading of 
their nature has been satisfied, and that they have in them 
the power and essence of all those feelings. Yet they have 
now as formerly, though it may be in a higher degree, but 
a fleeting, extraneous manifestation. Being without know 
ledge or guess of true religion, they remain subject to this 
delusion, and in the vain hope of at length attaining, they 
repeat a thousand times the same endeavour, and yet remain 
where and what they were. 10 


If they advanced, and a spontaneous and living religion 
were implanted in them, they would soon not wish any 
more to be among those whose one-sidedness and passivity 
would no longer accord with their own state. They would 
at least seek beside them another sphere, where piety could 
show itself to others both living and life-giving, and soon 
they would wish to live altogether in it and devote to it 
their exclusive love. Thus in point of fact the church, as 
it exists among us, becomes of less consequence to men 
the more they increase in religion, and the most pious sever 
themselves coldly and proudly. Hardly anything could be 
clearer than that man is in this association merely because 
he is but seeking to be religious, and continues in it only 
so long as he has not yet attained. 11 

But this proceeds from the way in which the members of 
the church deal with religion, for suppose it were possible 
to think of a one-sided communication and a state of willing 
passivity and abnegation in truly religious men, there could 
not possibly be in their combined action the utter perversity 
and ignorance you find in the visible church. If the members 
of the church had any understanding of religion, the chief 
matter for them would be that the person whom they have 
made the organ of religion communicate his clearest, most 
characteristic views and feelings. But that is what they 
would not have, and they rather set limits on all sides to 
the utterances of individuality. They desire that he 
expound to them chiefly ideas, opinions, dogmas, in short, 
not the characteristic elements of religion, but the current 
reflections about them. Had they any understanding of 
religion, they would know from their own feeling that 
those matters of creeds, though, as I said, essential to true 
religious union, can by their nature be nothing but signs 
that the previously attained results agree, signs of the 
return from the most personal impressiveness to the com 
mon centre, the full-voiced refrain after everything has 
been uttered with purely individual skill. But of this they 


know nothing. Those matters for them exist for them 
selves and dominate special times. 12 

The conclusion is, that their united action has nothing of 
the character of the higher and freer inspiration that is 
proper to religion, but has a school-masteriog, mechanical 
nature, which indicates that they merely seek to import 
religion from without. This they attempt by every means. 
To that end they are so attached to dead notions, to the 
results of reflection about religion, and drink them in 
greedily, that the process that gave them birth may be re 
versed, and that the ideas may change again to the living 
emotions and feelings from which they were originally 
deduced. Thus they employ creeds which are naturally 
last in religious communication, to stimulate what should 
properly precede them. 

In comparison with the more glorious association which, 
in my view, is the only true church, I have spoken of this 
larger and widely extended association very disparagingly, 
as of something common and mean. This follows from the 
nature of the case, and I could not conceal my mind on the 
subject. I guard myself, however, most solemnly against 
any assumption you may cherish, that I agree with the 
growing wish that this institution should be utterly de 
stroyed. Though the true church is always to stand open 
only to those who already have ripened to a piety of their 
own, there must be some bond of union with those who 
are still seeking. As that is what this institution should 
be, it ought, from the nature of the case, to take its leaders 
and priests always from the true church. 18 Or is religion 
to be the single human concern in which there are to be no 
institutions for scholars and beginners ? 

But indeed the whole pattern of this institution musst be 
different, and its relation to the true church must take an 
entirely different aspect. On this matter I may not be 
silent. Those wishes and views of mine are too closely 
connected with the nature of religious association, and. the 


better state of things that I imagine, conduces too much 
to its glorification for me to reserve my notions. By the 
clear-cut distinction we have established, this at least has 
been gained, that we can reflect very calmly on all the 
abuses that prevail in the ecclesiastical society. You must 
admit that religion, not having produced such a church and 
not exhibiting itself in such a church, must be acquitted of 
every ill it may have wrought and of all participation in 
its evil state. So entirely should it be acquitted that the 
reproach that it might degenerate into it, should not once 
be made, seeing it cannot possibly degenerate where it has 
never been. 

I grant that in this society a disastrous sectarian spirit 
exists and must exist. Where religious opinions are used 
as methods for attaining religion, they must, seeing a 
method requires to be thoroughly definite and finished, be 
formed into a definite whole. 14 And where they are some 
thing that can only be given from without, being accepted 
on the authority of the giver, everyone whose religious 
speech is of a different cast, must be regarded as a dis 
turber of quiet and sure progress, for by his very existence 
and the claims involved, he weakens this authority. Nay, 
I even grant that in the old Polytheism, where naturally 
religion could not be summed up as one, but willingly sub 
mitted to all division and severance, this sectarian spirit 
was much milder and more peaceable, and that in the other 
wise better times of systematic religion it first organized 
itself and displayed its full power. Where all believe they 
have a complete system with a centre, the value of details 
muet be vastly greater. 

I grant both ; but you will admit that there is no reproach 
to religion in general, and there is no proof that the view 
of the Universe as system is not the highest stage of 
religion. I grant that in this society there is more regard 
to understanding and believing, to acting and to perfect 
ing customs than is favourable to a free development of 


religious perceptions and feelings, and that in consequence, 
however enlightened its teaching be, it borders on some 
superstition and depends on some mythology ; but you 
will admit, that, in that degree, its whole nature is distant 
from true religion. I grant that this association can hardly 
exist without a standing distinction between priests and 
laity as two different religious orders. Whosoever has 
cultivated in himself his feeling to dexterity in some kind 
of presentation, characteristically and completely, cannot 
possibly continue a layman, or conduct himself as if all 
this were wanting. He would be free, nay, bound, either 
to forsake this society and seek the true church, or to allow 
himself to be sent back by the true church to lead as 
a priest. This, however, remains certain, that this spirit 
of division with all that is unworthy in it and all its evil 
consequences, is not brought about by religion but by the 
want of religiousness in the multitude. 

But here you raise a new objection, which seems once 
more to roll back those reproaches upon religion. You 
would remind me that I myself have said that the great 
ecclesiastical society, I mean this institution for pupils in 
religion, must take its priests only from the members of 
the true church, because in itself the true principle of 
religiousness is wanting. How then can those who are 
perfect in religion, endure so much that is utterly contrary 
to the spirit of religion where they have to rule, where all 
things obey their voice, and they obey only the voice of 
religion ! Nay, how do they produce so much that is evil, 
for to whom does the church owe its regulations, if not to 
the priests ? Or if things are not as they should be, and the 
government of the dependent society has been rent from 
the members of the true church, where then is the high 
spirit that is justly to be expected in them ? Why have 
they administered so badly their most important province ? 
Why have they allowed base passions to make that a 
scourge of humanity, which in the hands of religion would 

M 2 


have remained a blessing ? And yet they are the persons 
whose most joyf ul and sacred duty, as you confess, is to gnide 
those who need their help ! 

Truly, alas ! things are not as I maintained they should 
be. Who would venture to say that all, that even the 
majority, that even the foremost and notablest of those 
who for many a day have ruled the great ecclesiastical 
assembly, have been accomplished in religion or even 
members of the true church ? 

Yet do not take what I say in excuse as mere subterfuge. 
When you attack religion, it is usually in the name of 
philosophy, and when you upbraid the church, it is usually 
in the name of the state. You would defend the politicians 
of every age on the ground that the interference of the 
church has made so much of their handiwork imperfect and 
ill-advised. If now, speaking in the name of the religious, 
I attribute their failure to conduct their business with 
better success, to the state and to statesmen, will you 
suspect me of artifice ? Yet if you will but hear what I 
have to say of the true source of this evil, you will not, I 
hope, be able to deny that I am right. 

Every fresh doctrine and revelation, every fresh view of 
the Universe that awakes the sense for it on some new side. 
may win some minds for religion who by no other way 
could be introduced into a higher world. To most of them 
naturally this particular aspect then remains for them the 
centre of religion. They form around their master a school 
of their own, a self-existent, distinct part of the true and 
universal church which yet only ripens slowly and quietly 
towards union in spirit with the great whole. But before 
this is accomplished, as soon as the new feelings have per 
meated and satisfied all their soul, they are usually violently 
urged by the need to utter what is in them that they be 
not consumed of the fire within. Thus everyone proclaims 
the new salvation that has arisen for him. Every object 
suggests the newly discovered Infinite ; every speech turns 


into a sketch of their peculiar religious views ; every counsel, 
every wish, every friendly word is an inspired commenda 
tion of the sole way they know to salvation. Whosoever 
knows how religion operates, finds it natural that they all 
speak, for otherwise they would fear that the stones should 
surpass them. And whosoever knows how a new enthusiasm 
works, finds it natural that this living fire should kindle 
violently around, consume some and warm many, and give to 
thousands the surface imitation merely of a heart-felt glow. 

And it is those thousands that work the mischief. The 
youthful zeal of the new saints accepts them as true brethren. 
What hinders, they say all too rashly, that these also should 
receive the Holy Ghost ? Nay, they themselves believe 
that they have received, and, in joyous triumph, allow 
themselves to be conducted into the bosom of the pious 
society. But the intoxication of the first enthusiasm past, 
the glowing surface burnt out, they show themselves in 
capable of enduring and sharing the state allotted to the 
true believers. Compassionately the saints condescend to 
them, and, to go to their help, relinquish their own higher 
and deeper enjoyment. Thus everything takes that im 
perfect form. This comes to pass without outward causes 
through the corruption common to all human things. In 
accordance with that eternal order, the corruption most 
quickly seizes upon the most fiery and active life, that any 
section of the true church which might arise in isolation 
anywhere in the world, might not remain apart from all cor 
ruption, but be compelled to participate in it and form a false 
and degenerate church. In all times, among all peoples, in 
every religion this has happened. 

Yet if things were only left quietly to themselves, this 
state could not anywhere long endure. Pour liquids of 
various gravities and densities, having small power of 
mutual attraction, into a vessel; shake them violently 
together till they seem to form one liquid, and you will see, 
if only you leave it quietly standing, how they will divide 


and only like associate itself to like. So would it have 
happened here, for it is the natural course of things. The 
true church would quietly have separated itself again to 
enjoy the higher, more intimate fellowship of which the 
rest are not capable. The bond among those that remained 
would then have been as good as loosed, and their natural 
dulness would then have had to look for something from 
without to determine what should become of them. And 
they would not have been forsaken by the members of the 
true church. Besides them, who would have had the 
smallest call to care for their state ? What attraction 
would be offered to the regard of other men ? What were 
to be won or what fame to be obtained from them ? 

The members of the true church could, therefore, have 
remained in undisturbed possession and might have 
entered upon their priestly office among them in a new and 
better appointed form. Every man would then have 
gathered around him those who best understood him, who 
by his method could be most strongly stirred. Instead of the 
vast association, the existence of which you now bewail, a 
great crowd of smaller, less definite societies would have 
arisen. In them men would in all kinds of ways, now here, 
now there, have tested religion. They would have been only 
states to be passed, preparatory for the time when the sense 
for religion should awake, and decisive for those who should 
be found incapable of being taken hold of in any way. 15 

Hail to those who shall first be called when, the simple 
way of nature having failed, the revolutions of human 
affairs shall, by a longer, more artificial way, lead in the 
golden age of religion ! May the gods be propitious to them, 
and may a rich blessing follow their labours in their mission 
to help beginners, and to smooth the way for the babes to 
the temple of the Eternal labours that in our present un 
favourable circumstances yield us such scanty fruit. 16 

Listen to what may possibly seem an unholy wish that I 
can hardly suppress. Would that the most distant pre- 


sentiment of religion had forever remained unknown to 
all heads of states, to all successful and skilful politicians ! 
Would that not one of them had ever been seized by the 
power of that infectious enthusiasm ! The source of all 
corruption has been, that they did not know how to separate 
their deepest, most personal life from their office and 
public character. Why must they bring their petty vanity 
and marvellous presumption into the assembly of the saints, 
as if the advantages they have to give were valid every 
where without exception ? Why must they take back 
with them into their palaces and judgment-halls the 
reverence due to the servants of the sanctuary ? Probably 
you are right in wishing that the hem of a priestly garment 
had never touched the floor of a royal chamber : but let us 
wish that the purple had never kissed the dust on the altar, 
for had this not happened the other would not have 
followed. Had but no prince ever been allowed to enter 
the temple, till he had put off at the gate the most beautiful 
of his royal ornaments, the rich cornucopia of all his 
favours and tokens of honour ! But they have employed it 
here as el-ewhere. They have presumed to decorate the 
simple grandeur of the heavenly structure with rags from 
their earthly splendour, and instead of fulfilling holy vows, 
they have left worldly gifts as offerings to the Highest. 

As soon as a prince declared a church to be a community 
with special privileges, a distinguished member of the civil 
world, the corruption of that church was begun and almost 
irrevocably decided. And if the society of believing 
persons, and of persons desiring belief, had not been mixed 
after a wrong manner, that is always to the detriment of 
the former, this could not have happened, for otherwise no 
religious society could ever be large enough to draw the 
attention of the governor. 

Such a constitutional act of political preponderance 
works on the religious society like the terrible head of 
Medusa. As soon as it appears everything turns to stone- 


Though without connection, everything that is for a 
moment combined, is now inseparably 7 welded together; 
accidental elements that might easily have been ejected 
are now established for ever ; drapery and body are made 
from one block and every unseemly fold is eternal. The 
greater and spurious society can no more be separated from 
the higher and smaller. It can neither be divided nor dis 
solved. It can neither alter its form nor its articles of faith. 
Its views and usages are all condemned to abide in their 
existing state. 

But that is not all. The members of the true church 
the visible church may contain, are forcibly excluded from 
all share in its government, and are not in a position to do 
for it even the little that might still be done. There is 
more to govern than they either could or would do. There 
are worldly things now to order and manage, and privileges 
to maintain and make good. And even though in their 
domestic and civil affairs, they did know how to deal with 
such things, yet cannot they treat matters of this sort as 
a concern of their priestly office. That is an incongruity 
that their sense will not see into and to which they cannot 
reconcile themselves. It does not accord with their high 
and pure idea of religion and religious fellowship. They 
cannot understand what they are to make out of houses and 
lands and riches, either for the true church to which they 
belong, or for the larger society which they should conduct. 17 
By this unnatural state of affairs the members of the true 
church are distracted and perplexed. 

But besides all this, persons are attracted who otherwise 
would for ever have remained without. If it is the interest 
of the proud, the ambitious, the covetous, the intriguing to 
press into the church, where otherwise they would have felt 
only the bitterest ennui, and if they begin to pretend 
interest and intelligence in holy things to gain the earthly 
reward, how can the truly religious escape subjection ? 
And who bears the blame if unworthy men replace ripe 


saints, and if, under their supervision, everything creeps 
in and establishes itself that is most contrary to the spirit 
of religion? Who but the state with its ill-considered 
magnanimity ? 

But in a still more direct way, the state is the cause j 
why the bond between the true church and the visible^ 
religious society has been loosened. After showing to the 
church this fatal kindness, it believed it had a right to its 
active gratitude, and transferred to it three of its weightiest 
commissions. 18 More or less it has committed to the church 
the care and oversight of education. Under the auspices 
of religion and in the form of a congregation, it demands 
that the people be instructed in those duties that cannot 
be set forth in the form of law, that they be stirred up to 
a truly citizenlike way of thinking, and that, by the power 
of religion, they be made truthful in their utterances. As 
a recompense for those services, it robs it of its freedom, as 
is now to be seen in all parts of the civilized world where 
there is a state and a church. It treats the church as an 
institution of its own appointment and invention and 
indeed its faults and abuses are almost all its own invent 
ing ; and it alone presumes to decide who is fit to come 
forward in this society as exemplar and as priest. And do 
you still charge it to religion that the visible church does 
not consist entirely of pious souls ? 

But I am not yet done with my indictment. The state 
pollutes religious fellowship by introducing into its deepest 
mysteries its own interests. When the church, in pro 
phetic devoutness, consecrates the new-born babe to the 
Deity and to the struggle for the highest, the state will 
take the occasion to receive it from the hands of the church 
into the list of its proteges. When it gives the stripling 
its first kiss of brotherhood, as one who has taken his first 
glance into the sacred things of religion, this must also be 
for the state the evidence of the first stage of civil indepen 
dence ; 19 if with pious wishes, it consecrates the union of 


two persons who, as emblems and instruments of creative 
nature, would at the same time consecrate themselves as 
bearers of the higher life, it must also be the state s sanc 
tion for the civil bond. The state will not even believe 
that a man has vanished from this earthly scene, till the 
church assures it that it has restored his soul to the Infinite 
and enclosed his dust in the sacred bosom of the earth. It 
shows reverence for religion and an endeavour to keep 
itself perpetually conscious of its own limits, that the state 
bows before religion and before its worshippers when it 
receives anything from the hands of the Infinite, or returns 
it again, but how all this works for the corruption of the 
religious society is clear enough. In all its regulations 
there is nothing directed to religion alone, nothing even in 
which religion is the chief matter. In the sacred speeches 
and instructions, as well as in the most mysterious and 
symbolical doings, every thing has a legal and civil reference, 20 
everything is perverted from its original form and nature. 
Hence there are many among the leaders of the church 
who understand nothing of religion, but who yet, as servants 
of the state, are in a position to earn great official merit, and 
there are many among its members who do not even wish 
to seek religion, and who yet have interest enough to 
remain in the church and bear a part in it. 

It is very apparent that a society to which such a thiog 
can happen, which with false humility accepts favours that 
can profit it nothing and with cringing readiness takes on 
burdens that send it headlong to destruction; which allows 
itself to be abused by an alien power, and parts with the 
liberty and independence which are its birthright, for a 
delusion ; which abandons its own high and noble aim to 
follow things that lie quite outside of its path, cannot be a 
society of men who have a definite aim and know exactly 
what they wish. This glance at the history of the ecclesi 
astical society is, I think, the best proof that it is not strictly 
a society of religious men. At most it appears that some 


particles of such a society are mixed in it and are overlaid 
with foreign ingredients. Before the first matter of this 
boundless corruption could have been admitted, the whole 
must have been in a state of morbid fermentation in which 
the few sound portions soon utterly disappeared. 

Full of sacred pride, the true church would have refused 
gifts it could not use, well knowing that those who have 
found the Deity and have a common joy in knowing Him, 
have in the pure fellowship in which alone they would ex 
hibit and communicate their inmost nature, really nothing 
in common the possession of which could be protected by 
worldly power. On earth they require nothing but a 
speech by which to make themselves understood and a 
space in which to be together, things requiring no prince s 

But if the true church have nothing to do directly with i 
the profane world, and if there must be a mediating institu- I 
tion whereby to come into a certain contact with it, as it 
were an atmosphere, both as a medium for purification and 
for attracting new material, what form must this institution 
take and how is it to be freed from the corruption it has 
imbibed ? This last question time must answer. Some 
time it will certainly be done, but it may be done in a 
thousand different ways, for, of all sicknesses of man there 
are various ways of cure. Everything in its place will be 
tried and have its effect. The goal only I can indicate in 
order to show you more clearly that here also it has not 
been religion and its endeavour to which you should have 
manifested your repugnance. 

The fundamental idea of such an auxiliary institution 
is to exhibit to persons who in any degree have a sense for 
religion, though because it is not yet apparent and conscious, 
they are not fit for incorporation into the true church, 
so much religion as such that their capacity must neces 
sarily be developed. Let us now see what there is in 
the present state of things that hinders this from taking 


place. I will not repeat that the state chooses accord 
ing to its own wishes which are more directed to the 
extraneous matters in the institution, persons to be leaders 
and teachers, and that in the view of the state a man. 
can be a highly intelligent educator and a single-minded 
effective teacher of duties to the people without, in the 
strict sense of the word, being religiously affected at all, 
and that therefore persons whom it reckons among its 
worthiest servants, may easily fail utterly. I will grant 
that everyone it appoints is truly influenced and inspired 
by piety, if you will grant that no artist can communicate 
his art to a school with any success, if there is not among 
his pupils some equality of preliminary knowledge. This 
is more necessary in respect of our subject where the master 
can do nothing but point out and exhibit, than in art where 
the scholar progresses by exercise and the teacher is chiefly 
useful by criticisms. All his work will be in vain if the 
same thing is not only intelligible to all, but suitable and 
wholesome. The sacred orator must obtain his hearers by 
a certain similarity of talents and cast of mind, and not 
by rank and file, not as they are counted out to him by 
eome ancient distribution, not as their houses adjoin, or as 
they are set down in the police list. 21 

And assuming that only persons equally near religion 
assemble round one master, they may not all be near in 
the same way. It is, therefore, most preposterous to wish, 
to limit any pupil to a single master. There is no one so 
universally cultured in religion, nor anyone who can exer 
cise all kinds of influence. No man is in a position to 
draw by his representation and speech from all who come 
before him the hidden gems of religion to light, for the 
sphere of religion is far too comprehensive. Remember 
the different ways by which men pass from consciousness 
of the individual and particular to the Whole and the 
Infinite : remember that, by this very mode of transition, 
a man s religion assumes its own distinct character. Think 


of the various influences whereby the Universe affects man, 
of the thousand single perceptions and of the thousand 
ways of combining them and showing one in the light of the 
other. Reflect, that if religion is actually to stir a man s 
own feeling, he must meet it in the definite form that suits 
his capacity and his point of view. It is, therefore, im 
possible for any master to be all things to all, and to become 
to every man what he needs. No one can be a mystic and 
a scientist at the same time. He cannot be a master in 
every sacred art whereby religion is expressed, initiated 
at once into prophecies, visions and prayers, into presenta 
tions from history and from experience and into many 
other things too numerous to mention, all the glorious 
branches into which the crown of the heavenly tree of 
priestly art is divided. Master and disciples, therefore, 
must, in perfect freedom, be allowed to seek and choose 
what profits them, and no one must in any way be obliged 
to give except that which he possesses and understands. 

But it is not possible for a man to limit his teaching to 
what he understands as soon as, in the very same trans 
action, he must have something else in view. Without 
question, a priestly man can present his religion with zeal 
and skill as is fitting, and at the same time remain faithful 
to some civil business and accomplish it effectively. Why 
then, if it suits, should not a person, having a call to the 
priesthood, be at the same time a moral teacher in the 
service of the state ? There is nothing against it. He 
may do both, only not the one in and through the other ; 
he must not wear both natures at the same time, not 
accomplish the two concerns by the one action. The 
state may be satisfied, if it so pleases, with a religious 
morality, but religion rejects consciously and individually 
every prophet and priest that moralizes from this point of 
view. Whosoever would proclaim religion must do it 

It is opposed to every sentiment of honour of a master in 


his business, and more particularly of a master in religious 
purity, if a true priest has to do with the state on such 
unworthy and impossible conditions. When the state takes 
other workmen into its pay, whether for the better cultiva 
tion of their own talents or to attract pupils, it removes 
from them all extraneous business, nay, it makes it incum 
bent upon them to refrain. It recommends them to give 
themselves chiefly to the special section of their art, in 
which they believe they can accomplish most, and then it 
allows their nature full scope. With the artists of religion 
alone, it does exactly the contrary. They must embrace 
the whole compass of their subject, and it prescribes to 
them what school they shall be of and lays upon them un 
seemly burdens. It will not even, along with attention to 
its business, grant them leisure for special cultivation of 
some kind of religious presentation which yet is for them 
the chief matter, nor free them from burdensome con 
straints. Even after it has, as in every case it must, set 
up for itself a school of civil duties, 22 it still will not allow 
them to follow their own ways. And yet, though it cannot 
be unconcerned about the priestly works, it employs them 
neither for use nor for show like other arts and sciences ! 
Away then with every such union between church and 
state ! 23 That remains my Cato s utterance to the end, or 
till I see the union actually destroyed. 

Away too with all that has even a semblance to rigid 
union of priest and laity, whether among themselves or 
with each other ! 24 Learners shall not form bodies, for, 
even in mechanical trades, it can be seen how little that 
profits. And the priests, I mean as such, shall form no 
brotherhood among themselves. They shall neither divide 
their work nor their knowledge according to corporations, 
but let each man do his own duty without concerning him 
self about others, or having in this matter closer connection 
with one than with another. Between teacher and congre 
gation also, there shall be no firm outward band. Accord- 


ing to the principles of the true church, the mission of a j 
priest in the world is a private business, and the temple 1 
should also be a private chamber where he lifts up his voice T 
to give utterance to religion. Let there be an assembly 
before him and not a congregation. Let him be a speaker 
for all who will hear, but not a shepherd for a definite 

Only under such conditions, can truly priestly souls take 
charge of seekers for religion. Thus only can this pre 
paratory association actually lead to religion and make 
itself worthy to be regarded as an adjunct and vestibule of 
the true church, for thus only it can lose all that in its pre 
sent state is unholy and irreligious. By universal freedom 
of choice, recognition and criticism, the hard and pro- 
nouQced distinction between priest and laity will be 
softened, till the best of the laity come to stand where the 
priests are. All that is now held together by the unholy 
bond of creeds will be severed. 25 Let there be no point of 
union of this kind, and let none offer the seekers a system 
making exclusive claim to truth, but let each man offer his 
characteristic, individual presentation. This appears the 
sole means for putting an end to the mischief. It is a 
poor, if old device, capable only of alleviating the evil for 
a moment, when ancient formulas were too oppressive or 
were too varied to consort in the same bonds, to cut up the 
church by partition of the creed. Like a polypus, each 
piece grows again into a whole, and if the character is con 
trary to the spirit of religion, it is no improvement that 
several societies should bear it. The visible religious* 
society can only be brought nearer the universal freedom I 
and majestic unity of the true church by becoming a mobile j 
mass, having no distinct outlines, but each part being now \ 
here, now there, and all peacefully mingling together. The 
hateful sectarian and proselytizing spirit which leads ever 
farther astray from the essentials of religion, can only be 
extinguished when no one, any more, is informed that he 

1 76 FO UR TH SPEE Cff. 

belongs to a distinct circle, and is for other circles of a 
different faith. 

In regard to this society, you see, our wishes are iden 
tical. What is obnoxious to you opposes us also. Permit 
me, however, always to add that this would not have been 
as it is, if we had only been left alone to occupy ourselves 
in our own proper work. Our common interest is to have 
the evil removed, but there is little we can do except to 
wish and hope. How such a change will take place among 
us Germans I do not know. Will it be, as in neighbouring 
countries, only after a great commotion and then every 
where at once ? Will the state, by an amicable arrange 
ment and without the death and resurrection of both 
church and state, break off its unhappy marriage with the 
church ? Or will it endure that another, more virginal 
institution arise alongside of the one that is for ever sold to 
it ? 26 I do not know. 

But till something of this kind do happen, a heavy fate 
must lie upon all holy souls, who, glowing with religion, 
would seek to exhibit their most holy things even in the 
profane world, that something might thereby be accom 
plished. I will not delude the members of the state 
privileged order into making much account of what in 
these circumstances they can accomplish by speech for the 
dearest wish of their heart. And if many of them believe 
themselves bound not to be always speaking only of piety, 
nay, not even frequently to speak chiefly of it and to speak 
of it alone only on solemn occasions, if they are not to be un 
true to their political calling, I know little to say against it. 

But this cannot be taken from them, that they can pro 
claim by a priestlike life the spirit of religion, and this may 
be their consolation and their best reward. In a holy 
person everything is significant; in an acknowledged priest 
of religion everything has a canonical meaning. They 
may, therefore, in all their movements exhibit the nature 
of religion. Even in the common relations of life nothing 


may be lost of the expression of a pious mind. The holy 
ardour with which they treat everything shows that even in 
trifles that a profane spirit skims over thoughtlessly, the 
music of noble feelings resounds in them. The majestic 
calm with which they equalize small and great, shows that 
they refer everything to the Unchangeable and in all 
things alike perceive the Deity. The bright serenity with 
which they pass every trace of decay, reveals to all how 
they live above time and above the world. The utmost 
ease of self-denial indicates how much of the limits of 
personality they have already abolished. The constantly 
open and active sense that neither the rarest nor the 
commonest escapes, shows how unweariediy they seek the 
Deity and listen for His voice. If in this way the whole 
life and every movement of soul and body is a priestlike 
work of art, the sense for what dwells in them may by this 
dumb speech be awakened in many. 

And not content to express the nature of religion, they 
must also in a similar way destroy the false appearance of 
it. With childlike ingenuousness, and in the high simplicity 
of utter unconsciousness, seeing no danger, and feeling 
no need of courage, they disregard what base prejudices 
and subtle superstition have surrounded with a spurious 
glory of sanctity. Unconcerned as the infant Hercules, 
they let themselves be hissed at from all quarters by the 
snakes of solemn calumny, being able to crush them quietly 
in a moment. To this holy service they may devote them 
selves till better times, and I think that you also will have 
reverence for this unassuming worth, and will augur well 
for its influence on men. 

But what am I to say to those to whom you refuse the 
priestly robe because they have not gone through a definite 
course of science in a definite way ? Whither shall I direct 
them with the social bent of their religion not directed 
alone to the true church, but also outward to the world t 
Having no greater scene in which, in any striking way, 



they might appear, they may rest satisfied with the priestly 
service of their household gods. 27 One family can be the 
most cultured element and the truest picture of the Uni 
verse. When quietly and securely all things work together, 
all the powers that animate the Infinite are thus operative ; 
when all advances in quiet joyousness, the high World- 
Spirit rules in it ; when the music of love accompanies all 
movements, the harmony of the spheres resounds, resounds 
in the smallest space. They may construct this sanctuary, 
order it and cherish it. In pious might they may set it up 
clearly and evidently ; with love and spirit they may dis 
pose it. By this means many will learn to contemplate 
the Universe in the small, obscure dwelling. It will be a 
Holy of Holies in which many will receive the consecration 
of religion. This priesthood was the first in the holy and 
infant world, and it will be the last when no other is any 
longer necessary. 

Nay, at the end of our future culture we expect a time 
when no other society preparatory for religion except the 
pious family life will be required. At present, millions of 
men and women of all ranks sigh under a load of mechani 
cal and unworthy labours. The older generation succumbs 
discouraged, and, with pardonable inertness, abandons the 
younger generation to accident in almost everything, except 
the necessity straightway to imitate and learn the same 
degradation. That is the cause why the youth of the people 
do not acquire the free and open glance whereby alone the 
object of piety is found. There is no greater hindrance to 
religion than that we must be our own slaves, and everyone 
is a slave who must execute something it ought to be 
possible to do by dead force. We hope that by the perfect- 
ing of sciences and arts, those dead forces will be made 
serviceable to us, and the corporeal world, and everything 
of the spiritual that can be regulated, be turned into an 
enchanted castle where the god of the earth only needs to 
titter a magic word or press a spring, and what he requires 


will be done. Then for the first time, every man will be 
free-born j then every life will be at once practical and con 
templative ; the lash of the task-master will be lifted over 
no man ; and everyone will have peace and leisure for con 
templating the world in himself. It is only the unfortunate 
to whom this is wanting, from whose spiritual organs all 
nourishing forces are withdrawn, because their whole being 
must be spent untiringly in mechanical service that need 
individual, fortunate souls to come forward and assemble 
them about them, to be their eye for them, and in a few 
swift minutes communicate to them the highest content of 
a life. But when the happy time comes and everyone can 
freely exercise and use his sense, at the very first awaking 
of the higher powers, in sacred youth, under the care of 
paternal wisdom, all who are capable will participate in 
religion. All communication that is not mutual will then 
cease, and the father, well repaid, will lead the stout son, 
not only into a more joyful world and a lighter life, but 
straightway into the sacred assembly also of the wor 
shippers of the Eternal, now increased in number and 

In the grateful feeling that, when this better time has 
come, however far off it may still be, the efforts to which 
you have devoted your days, shall have contributed some 
what to its coming, permit me once more to direct your 
attention to the fair fruit of your labour. Allow yourselves 
to be led once more to the exalted fellowship of truly 
religious souls. It is dispersed and almost invisible, but 
its spirit rules everywhere, even where but few are gathered 
in the name of the Deity. What is there in ib that should 
not fill you with admiration and esteem, ye friends and 
admirers of the good and beautiful ? They are among 
themselves an academy of priests. The exhibition of the 
holy life, which for them is the highest, is treated by every 
one as his art and study, and the Deity out of His endless 
riches apportions to each one his own lot. To a universal 

N 2 


sense for everything belonging to the sacred sphere of 
religion, every man joins as artists should, the endeavour 
to perfect himself in some one department. A noble 
rivalry prevails, and a longing to produce something worthy 
of such an assembly makes everyone with faithfulness and 
diligence master all that belongs to his special section. In 
a pure heart it is preserved, with concentrated mind it is 
arranged, by heavenly art it is moulded and perfected. 
Thus in every way and from every source, acknowledgment 
and praise of the Infinite resound, everyone bringing, with 
joyous heart, the ripest fruit of his thinking and examining, 
of his comprehending and feeling. They are also among 
themselves a choir of friends. Everyone knows that he is 
both a part and a work of the Universe, in him also its 
divine life and working being revealed. He, therefore, 
regards himself as an object worthy of the attention of 
others. With sacred reserve, yet with a ready openness 
that all may enter and behold, he lays bare everything of 
the relations of the Universe of which he is conscious and 
what of the elements of humanity takes individual shape in 
him. Why should they hide anything from one another ? 
All that is human is holy, for all is divine. Again, they 
are among themselves a band of brothers or have you 
perhaps an intenser expression for the entire blending of 
their natures, not in respect of existence and working, but 
in respect of sense and understanding ? The more every 
one approaches the Universe and the more they communicate 
to one another, the more perfectly they all become one. No 
one has a consciousness for himself, each has also that of his 
neighbour. They are no longer men, but mankind also. 
Going out of themselves and triumphing over themselves, 
they are on the way to true immortality and eternity. 

If in any other department of life, or in any other school 
of wisdom, you have found anything nobler than this, impart 
it to me ; mine I have given you. 


(1) Page 150. The assertion that scripture alone is sufficent to 
awake piety, seems to have experience against it, from the Bacred 
writings of all religions down to our books for edification so widely 
distributed among a certain class, and the small religious pamphlets 
which are the means chiefly used at present for reaching the people. 
First, in respect of the sacred writings, only those of monotheistic 
religions need detain us. The Koran alone has arisen purely as a 
writing, and it is indisputably to be looked upon mostly as a manual 
and repertorium of themes for religious compositions, a fact quite 
in accordance with the unoriginal character of this religion. And 
the direct, strictly religious influence of the Koran is not to be 
esteemed very highly. In the very various Jewish codex, the gnomic 
books especially have something of this purely literary character. 
The historical section, strictly speaking, has none. The poetical section 
again in part, as for example a large number of the Psalms, deals 
immediately with definite occasions and was not produced simply 
for indefinite use, and is, therefore, not scripture in the strict sense. 
And who will deny that they produced the effect in this connection 
of which their present influence as mere scripture is but a shadow ? 
The prophetic poetry of the earlier period, was for the most part 
actually spoken, and a not insignificant part has been handed down 
imbedded in history. As this living traditional power was lost, and 
the Scriptures became to the Jewish people a learned study, its direct 
influence was lost, and it became simply the bearer of the living 
utterances linked to it. The New Testament Scriptures also are, as 
little as possible, writing in the strict sense of the word. In the 
historical books the speeches are the most essential, the history being 
chiefly to give them the movement of life. Even in the history of 
the Passion the words of Christ are the most sublime and deeply 
moving parts, and the narrative of pains and agonies might easily 
produce only a wrong effect. The Acts of the Apostles alone seems 


to be an exception, and to have its place in the canon chiefly because 
it is the root of all church history. But just because it would quite 
limit the book to this subordinate use, it is repugnant to our feeling 
when the speeches are regarded as subsequently concocted, as is the 
fashion of other historical books. Our didactic books, being letters, 
are as little as possible mere literature, and no one can deny that the 
influence on the immediate recipients to whom the whole movement 
of the time was present, must have been much greater. We can only 
dimly, and then only by learned help, transport ourselves back to 
those times. Even then, the most vital influence of those writings 
for our time is that which was borrowed from the synagogue that 
all living religious utterance is linked to them. 

For that reason only, the reading of the Scriptures by the laity 
continues ; otherwise, its influence would not entirely vanish, but it 
would degenerate into utter vagueness. So vast was the original 
power of these productions that even now, after they have become 
entirely literature, a fulness of quickening spirit dwells in them, 
which is the highest testimony to their divine power ; yet the objective 
side of this influence, the clear understanding, would soon be null 
for the private use of the laity, but for that connection with the 
learned exposition. It is, therefore, natural that the Catholic Church, 
setting little store on preaching, should limit the use of Scripture 
by the laity. On the other hand, we, believing we dare not so limit 
it, must make the public exposition of Scripture much more prominent 
in preaching, and it must always be hurtful to the whole religious 
life when Scripture is generally made use of for preaching simply as 
a motto. The reality of the endeavour to rescue the contents of the 
sacred books from the state of being mere literature, appears from 
the ready adoption by the most pious Christians of a method that 
would be in the highest degree unnatural in a work made throughout 
purely as a book. Single detached passages of Scripture, neither 
chosen by selection nor by memory, but simply by chance, are used 
on every occasion, when religious enlightenment or stimulus is needed. 
This cannot be defended, as it too easily degenerates into magical 
frivolity, yet it is an endeavour to restore to the religious utterances 
of holy men a living influence which shall be direct and independent 
of their effects as a book. 

As regards our literature for edification again, which arises for the 
nn t>t part expressly as books, its great influence is not to be denied. 
The countless editions and the continuance of many of them through 
a long series of generations speak too clearly. And who does not 
feel respect for works that, in addition to their vitality, help to guard 


a great mass of men from the dangerous whirlwind of changing 
doctrine ? Yet it will not be denied that the living word and the 
religious emotion in a community, have a far higher power than the 
written letter. On closer consideration also it will be found that the 
chief influence of practical writings rests less in their completeness 
than in the multitude of forceful, noble formulas contained, which may 
embrace many religious moments, and therefore refresh the memory 
of many things. They also offer a certain assurance that one s own 
religious emotions are not at variance with the common religious life. 
Hence the individual, clever work of this kind seldom rejoices in much 
success. This good witness is only given to able and comprehensive 
practical works. But the present endeavour of so many well-meaning 
societies to scatter a multitude of small religious leaflets among the 
people, that have no right objective character, but utter the most 
subjective inner experiences in the dead letter of a terminology that 
neither accords with literary nor religious usage, rests on a deep 
misunderstanding, and can scarcely have any other result than to bring 
church matters, the evil of which it presupposes, into still deeper 
degradation. A multitude of men will be reared who will have 
manifold hypocrisies, without any actual experience, or who will fall 
into sad perplexity because their own religious experiences do not 
accord with the pattern set before them. Is the public church life 
sick or weak, let each man do his utmost to heal it, but let no man 
believe it is to be replaced by a dead letter. That the religious life 
should issue from the circulating library seems to me like handing 
over the great acts of legislation and executive to irresponsible 
journals, of which the more numbers and improved editions the 

(2) Page! 50. Many perhaps, who formerly cherished the well-meant 
wish that the sociality which had become vain and frivolous should 
have new life put into it by an admixture of the religious element, 
have already applied the proverb to themselves that with time we 
may easily have too much of what earlier we zealously desired. 
Confusion and trouble enough have arisen from treating religious 
subjects in brilliant circles in the form of conversation, in which 
the personal element too easily preponderates. I wrote then from 
my youthful experiences among the Moravians. They had special 
meetings for the distinct object of religious conversation. An absent 
person of a different mind could not there readily be discussed, yet I 
have never heard anything of real life and worth, and I believe I have 
here quite rightly grasped the general principle. Our wish should* 
therefore, be not so much that in our free sociality religious subjects 


should be treated, as that a religious spirit should rule. And this 
wish will certainly not fail as soon as a considerable part of society 
consists of religious men. 

(3) Page 151. Since this was written I have had almost thirty 
years conduct of office, a period within which every man must come 
as near hit ideal as he can. A greater contrast between that 
description, and what I myself have accomplished in that time in 
the domain of religious speech would be hard to imagine. Were 
there really such a difference of theory and practice, my only apology 
would be that, as it was given to Socrates, other wisdom being denied, 
to know that he knew nothing, the higher not being granted me, I 
was content with plain speech rather than strive for false orna 
mentation. Yet it is not quite so. My practice has been based on 
the distinction that is drawn later in this Speech between the existing 
church and the true church. In the former all discourse, whatever 
be its subject-matter, must have a didactic character. The speaker 
would bring something to consciousness in his hearers, which indeed 
he assumes to exist in them, but does not suppose would develop 
of itself in this exact way. Now the more the didactic character 
appears, the less room there is for ornament, and for this purpose 
a blessing undoubtedly rests on unadorned speech. In another 
religious art, the same thing appears. Who would think of taking 
the pious poetry, in all its power and magnificence, that is suited 
for glorifying God in a circle of thoroughly cultured religious men, 
of which we have many splendid examples in our Klopstock and our 
Hardenberg, and making it the standard in collecting a church 
hymn-book P 

(4) Page 151. It can hardly be necessary for me here to guard 
myself against being misinterpreted, as wishing to banish all order 
from the assembly of the truly pious, and make them like many 
fanatical sects that arrange nothing beforehand for their meetings, 
but leave everything to the moment. On the contrary, the higher 
the style of religious utterance, the more it exhibits an artistically 
organized unity, the more it requires a rigid order. This only is 
meant that everything belonging to civil order must be left outside, 
and all things must be fashioned on the foundation of an original, 
universal equality. I hold this the essential condition of all prosperity 
in such a fellowship, not less in the actually existing church than 
in the ideal. Every fellowship is destroyed by disorder, and an order 
that is made for another society is disorder. If the distinction 
between priest and laity is not to be sharply drawn, how much less 
is a difference to apply among the laity themselves that belongs to a 


quite different sphere. If a member of the congregation, even though 
outwardly he may stand in some relation of guardian to it, assumes 
the right, because he is distinguished in the civil society, to interfere 
and have priestly functions in directing the body and arranging the 
meetings, any other member, however low his station in the civil 
society, would have the same right, and true and fitting order would 
be at an end. 

(6) Page 153. Every reader familiar with Scripture, will here think 
of the Apostle Peter, who exhorts all Christians to train themselves 
into a holy priesthood, and assures them all that they are a royal 
priesthood. This is, therefore, a truly Christian expression. The 
view here set forth of the equality of all true members of the religions 
community, so that none are to be made merely recipient and the 
exclusive right of utterance given to one, is also a truly Christian 
view. Christianity has recognized its true goal in that prophetic 
saying that all should be taught of God. Suppose this goal attained 
by the whole community, so that there was no more need to awake 
religion in others, then, leaving out of sight the education of the 
young, there could be no distinction among members, save such as 
the passing occasion required. If then we find in all religious forms, 
from the earliest antiquity, the distinction between priest and laity 
in force, we are driven to assume, either that there was an original 
difference, a religiously developed stock that had joined a rude race 
and had never succeeded in raising it to its own fulness of religious 
life, or that the religious life had developed go unequally in a people 
that it had become necessary, if it were not again to be scattered, 
to organize the more advanced for more effective operation on the 
rest. In this latter case the more it succeeds the more superfluous 
this organization will become. The Christian priesthood is manifestly 
of this kind. This narrower use of the word I never quite justify 
to myself, for we in the Protestant community are quite agreed how 
far the expression generally can have no validity in Christianity. 
The need for this narrower priesthood only gradually made itself 
felt. This is the more apparent that, at the beginning, the apostolic 
character itself involved no special pre-eminence in the community. 
But this smaller body, chosen from the community, came to acquire 
a position apart from the religious enthusiasm of the others, because 
the history of Christianity and in particular the intimate knowledge 
of original Christianity necessarily became an object of science. In 
this scientific information all had to have some share, if their 
communications were to be in conscious agreement with history. 
This distinction could never disappear till all Christians were 


familiar with this science. Even though this is not to be looked for, 
the validity of this distinction must ever more and more be limited 
to the sphere in which finally alone it can have a reason. 

(6) Page 153. This assertion, from which I afterwards draw the 
conclusion that the external religious society should be as mobile a 
body as possible, st-ems to contradict what I have exhaustively 
developed in the Introduction to the " Glaubenslehre," 7-10. 
Here I say that in religious communication there are no entire 
separation sand definite boundaries except by a mechanical procedure, 
that is a procedure which is in a certain sense arbitrary and not 
founded in the nature of the matter. There I say that the different 
pious communions that appear in history stand to one another, 
partly, as stages of development, the monotheistic being the highest, 
and, partly, as different in kind, according as the natural or the 
ethical in human life predominated. Further, I distinguish the 
individual type of common piety, partly externally, by its historical 
origin, and partly internally, as characteristic variation of any faith 
of one stage and one kind. It will not suffice to say that in the 
" Glaubenslehre " communion is secondary, and that the primary aim 
was to discover from their contents the characteristic features of the 
different types of faith, particularly of Christianity, for this involves 
dealing with the Christian church as a definitely bounded society. 
The two passages are rather to be harmonized as follows : On the 
one side, I grant here that certain bodies of communion are formed 
organically, which agrees with the assertion in the " Glaubenslehre " 
that every distinct communion has a historical point of departure 
which dominates the organic development. Did this point of 
departure not also presuppose an inner difference, these bodies 
would only be distinguished by number or by size, and the superiority 
given by favouring circumstances, like the fruits of one stem. Were 
their boundaries to touch they would naturally grow together, and 
could only be again mechanically divided. On the other side, in the 
" Glaubenslehre," an inner difference in the types of faith, whereby 
the communions are divided, is maintained. But it is only difference 
in the subordination and mutual relations of the separate parts, 
which does not involve any greater degree of communion than is 
here represented. The whole attempt there made would be in vain, 
if from one type of faith it were not possible to understand another. 
But if it is understood in its inner nature, its modes of externalizing 
itself, its services must be capable not only of being understood by 
a spectator, but in some degree of being appropriated. Persons to 
whom this is impossible, can in any communion be only the un- 


Cultured. Now that is simply what is here maintained, that the 
separating impulse, when it makes a hard and fast cleavage, is a 
proof of imperfection. Again, as the uncultured do not alone, but 
only along with the cultured, form the communion, the assertions 
there made also agree with this that the religious communion, though 
divided and organized, would yet in another respect be only one but 
for mechanical interference either of sword or letter. Does it not 
appear to us violent and irreligious, when the members of one 
communion are forbidden to frequent, with a view to edification, 
the services of another ? Yet only by such an utterly mechanical 
procedure could the communions be quite separated. 

(7) Pages 155 and 156. It was doubtless serviceable to establish that 
the wild mania for proselytizing is nowhere founded in religion itself. 
But there seems to be too much here, for mild proselytizing also, 
every endeavour to draw from another form to one s own, every 
endeavour to implant religion in souls still without piety, seems to 
be rejected. Against the witness of all history, against the clear 
words of the Founder Himself, no less than against my own state 
ments in the " Glaubenslehre," about the relation of Christianity to 
other forms of religion, it appears to be maintained that the spread 
of Christianity in the world did not proceed from the pious Christian 
sense. But this good endeavour is always in some way connected 
with the notion, here uniformly rejected, that salvation, either 
altogether or in a much higher degree, is not to be found outside a 
definite religious communion as it is found inside. True and false do 
not seem to be here sufficiently distinguished. If the assertion that 
proselytizing work is entirely inadmissible, is a just consequence of 
the previously accepted theory of the religious communion, the error 
must be sought in the theory. On going back upon it we find what 
solves the difficulties, that the spread of our own form of religion 
is a natural and permissible private business of the individual. 
Though there is in the strict sense only one universal religious com 
munion, in which all the different forms of religion mutually recog 
nize each other, in which transference of a follower of one form to 
another seems to be a wish l:o impair the whole by destroying its 
manifoldness, it is manifest that here also much is naturally 
destroyed, which can only happen in an inferior stage of development. 
Hence it is regarded by the experienced as simply a point of transi 
tion, and it cannot be wrong to accelerate and guide the progress. 
Wherefore, the more the adherents of one form of religion are com 
pelled to regard many other forms simply as such transitions, the more 
powerfully will the work of proselytizing organize itself among them. 


This should most apply to the monotheistic religions in general, and 
in the broadest sense to Christianity. And this holds from the 
present standpoint, as it is more fully dealt with in the " Grlaubens- 
lehre," as the issue of a more scientific course of thought. The 
work of proselytizing presupposes the one graduated communion. 
As Paul did in Athens, regarding the Hellenic idolatry, to assign it 
a value and obtain a link of connection for the communication of his 
own piety, it must always be done. This community of two forms 
of religion shows itself at all points wheresoever a like effort at 
assimilation is developed. We can therefore say that this is the 
true distinction between praiseworthy zeal for conversion that would 
recognize the faintest traces of religion and purify and build up a piety 
already begun, and that wild irreligious mania for conversion which 
easily degenerates into persecution. The former begins with un 
prejudiced and loving comprehension even of the most imperfect kind 
of faith, the latter believes it is exalted above any such endeavour. 
Further, it is not to be understood with too painful accuracy that 
proselytizing can only be the private business of the individual. 
The individual stands here opposed to the all-embracing communion. 
Hence associations of individuals, nay, a whole mode of faith can 
be regarded as individuals. The maxim " nulla salus," again has 
for the great communion of the pious an absolute verity, for without 
any piety it can acknowledge no salvation. Only in so far as one 
religious party utters it against another, does it work destructively, 
which is to say, in so far as a universal communion is denied. 
Hence it clearly goes along with the wild mania for conversion. 
The special truth of this in Christianity is dealt with in the 
" Glaubenslehre," in full agreement with these views. 

(8) Page 157. The propensity, found in all great forms of religion, 
at all times, in varying degree and under the most different shapes, 
to form smaller and warmer societies within the great one, rests 
undeniably on the presumption that the great society has fallen into 
deep corruption. This expresses itself in separatism which accepts 
generally the type of doctrine, but will have nothing to do with the 
regulations of the religious society. Manifestly therefore, it must 
maintain that the regulations of the society are independent of its 
doctrine, and determined by something alien, and that in conse 
quence the members of the religious society are in a state of sickness. 
After what is said above about the social nature of piety, no one will 
believe that I am here speaking of separatist piety. On the contrary, 
it is rather of the endeavour to found closer associations more 
accordant with the idea of the true church. But this praise associa- 


tions only deserve when they unfold a rich productiveness in 
religious communication, not when they are founded on a narrow and 
exclusive letter, and reject the idea of one all-embracing com 
munion. Is this the case and productiveness is weak or quite fails, 
the state of sickness is not to be denied. Hence among all similar 
societies the Moravian Brethren, who have at least produced a 
characteristic type of poetry, are always pre-eminent. Religious 
speech also among them has more scope and variety, for, besides the 
general assembly, the community is divided up in various ways. A 
very beautiful scheme at least is not to be denied, and if the result 
is less rich, a deficiency in the cultivation of talent may be to blame. 
In other directions also this society has taken a good and praise 
worthy course. It has rejected that exclusiveness of the letter which 
keeps the two chief branches of the Protestant Church apart, and 
stands in manifold relations to the whole of this church according 
as occasion offers. In its missionary efforts, moreover, in which it 
must be acknowledged to excel, it has displayed a pure and right 
tact and a happy readiness in reaching the most imperfect states of 
religion and awaking receptiveness for the high spirit of Christianity. 
Where the sense for such closer union is awakened, the contempt of 
the recognized church, in its existing state, is natural. But this 
contempt is here ascribed to all who, in a higher sense, are religious 
and the next step is, that from this state the endeavour must go 
forth to improve the great outward society itself aud bring it nearer 
its natural union with the true church. 

(9) Page 158. This description may very well be quite in accord 
ance with the form which our assemblies for divine service, broadly 
considered, showed at that time. In any case it was the result of an 
immediate impression. Yet the consequence that the principle of 
communion in these assemblies is entirely different from what has 
actually been developed, is not to be drawn straightway, but only 
under the following limitations. Further on, page 178, family 
worship is assigned to members of the true church, who do not have 
the requisite endowments for coming forward in personal activity 
and priestly function in the outward religious society, that they may 
there satisfy their impulse to communicate. Now persons who are 
in this position cannot, despite outward appearance, be merely 
passive and receptive in the assemblies of the church. They carry 
the work of the church further, and their activity is actually in 
the assembly. Thus when public and family worship are 
regarded as one, the whole of the larger assembly appears as an 
active organism. This activity would also have its influence in the 


assembly if several families were to join for a pious purpose, if the 
leader of the assembly had this inner productiveness of its members 
before his mind. Wherefore, the consequence would only be rightly 
drawn where no religious communication had developed itself in 
domestic life and family intercourse, a thing seldom found at that 
time in our country. Further, religious communication is also an 
art, not determined by piety only, but by training also. Hence 
entire equality and reciprocity are not possible. Compare great re 
presentations in any art. In music, for example, the composer is 
not the only person, but the performers also, from the leading 
instrument to the most subordinate accompanyist. Then there 
must be the maker of the musical instruments, and the audience too, 
if they are connoisseurs, do not merely receive, but each one in his 
own way also has his work. Similarly we must acknowledge that in 
the assemblies of the church the greatest number can only contribute 
to the representation of the whole as accompanying artists. Thus one- 
si dedness only fully appears when such co-operation entirely fails, either 
the piety doing nothing but absorb, or the speaking and working being 
offered simply from a profane artistic sense without religious spirit. 

(10) Page 159. If this were taken quite exactly, the result would 
certainly be that the visible church would exist only through its own 
nullity, through its incapacity to bring the religious feeling to any 
high degree of keenness. But that it is not to be taken exactly is 
manifest, because otherwise this cold and proud withdrawal from the 
visible church would be praised, in direct contradiction to the previous 
contention that this great religious society is by no means to be dis 
solved. Yet here, as in all similar human things, there are grada 
tions, founded in the original constitution of the individual. Persons 
of different grades are directed by nature to one another, but it is 
only a shallow view that one simply affects the other, as if one could 
simply by working on another implant religion in him. Religion 
is original in every man, and stirs in every man. In some, however, 
it keeps pace with the whole individuality of the person, so that, in 
every manifestation of ,.the pious consciousness, this individuality 
appears ; in others, again, religion only appears under the form of the 
common feeling. And this may be so even in persons otherwise of 
marked individuality. The religious emotions are linked to the 
common states of things, and find in the common presentation their 
satisfaction. Were persons of more individual emotion now to with 
draw from those common forms of presentation, both parties would 
<nffer loss. What would become of the common presentations un 
fertilized by individual emotions we can see in the ecclesiastical 


societies in which individuality generally is in the background, and 
all rests on steadfast formulas. The Armenian and Greek churches, 
unless, indeed, the latter be now receiving a new impulse, appear to 
be quite dead, and only to be moved mechanically. The individual 
again, however strong and characteristic his life may be, who leaves 
the common ground, gives over the largest range of his conscious 
ness, and, if the true church nowhere shows itself in actuality, 
nothing remains for him but an isolated, separatist existence, always 
decaying from want of a larger circulation. 

(11) Page 160. Seeing that in this passage the view that dominates 
this whole Speech is here presented most decisively and compactly, 
it may be best to say what remains to be said in explanation and 
justification of it. The whole matter resolves itself into the right 
representation of the relation between the perfectly mutual com 
munication, here regarded as the true church, and the actually 
existing religious communion. The state of this communion is 
acknowledged to be capable of such an improvement as is described 
further on p. 166. This being assumed, the question stands thus : 
Should there be in this educational society, besides the priestly work 
which only those fully cultured religiously should exercise, a special 
communion of such persons corresponding to the idea of the church 
to which the members of the visible religious society might, in the 
measure of their progress, go over ? Now the greatest masters are 
required for the greatest representations. We have seen every 
master, who would have his full effect, requires subordinate artists 
and a worthy, an informed, a responsive audience. Further, great 
masters are too rare, and too much dispersed to fashion alone this 
twofold sphere. What remains for us then but to say that, in 
corporeal and visible form, such a society is nowhere to be found on 
earth. The best of this kind to be actually discovered, is that 
improved type of the existing church, those societies in which a 
skilful master gathers around him a number of kindred souls whom 
he fires and fashions. The more the members of this circle advance 
and fashion that twofold sphere, the more such a company is a great 
presentation of religion. For those who are the soul of such a 
presentation, there is the higher fellowship which consists in mutual 
intercourse and insight. The other members share in so far as they 
succeed in raising themselves to the possibility of such enjoyment 
of forms strange to them. The idea of the true church here given 
is not realized therefore in one single instance, but, as has been 
indicated on p. 154, by the peaceful cosmopolitan union of all existing 
communions, each being as perfect as possible after its own manner. 


This idea, belonging as it does to the completion of human nature, 
must be developed more fully in the science of ethics. Two objections 
to it, however, may be easily set aside. First, how does this agree 
with the call attributed to Christianity in the " Glaubenslehre " to 
absorb all other kinds of faith, for were all one, that cosmopolitan 
union for communicating and for understanding different faiths would 
not exist. But this has already been answered. All naturally 
existing different characteristics in Christianity would not disappear, 
but would always develope itself in a subordinate way, without 
injury to its higher unity. At present Christianity exhibits no 
outward unity, and the highest we can wish to see is just such a 
peaceful union of its various types. We have no reason to believe 
that it will ever exhibit an outward unity, but, even if it did, it would 
still be such a cosmopolitan union. But, secondly, can it be said that 
what is here called the true church has ever actually existed in any 
one instance ? When the Apostles of Christ scattered to preach the 
Gospel and break bread in the houses and the schools, they exercised 
the priestly office among the laity in the visible church, and when 
they were by themselves in the upper-room to praise God and the 
Lord, what were they but that true church ? In this Speech also it 
is pointed out not indistinctly (p. 165), that this kind of existence has 
been always renewed and has never quite vanished from the true 
church. And, certainly, if there has ever been any one instance of 
the true church it was then. But something was wanting, something 
held in this Speech to be essential to the true church, greatness and 
majesty of presentation. This consciousness of inadequacy was, 
humanly speaking, among the motives for the wider expansion of 
Christianity. Yet this instance, despite its short continuance, 
showed that the imperfect church only springs from the perfect. 
But having once disappeared, the enormous expansive power of 
Christianity made its reappearance impossible, and the true church 
can never again be found except in that cosmopolitan union. 

The highest spiritual communion of the most perfect saints is 
thus conditioned by the communion of the more perfect with the 
less perfect. But if this latter communion is of a better type, and 
can be the only foundation for the former, does it deserve the re 
proach that only inquirers enter it, and only those who are not yet 
pious stay in it ? This may still be said, only not as a reproach. 
All who enter, and not only the more receptive and imperfect, seek 
some one to inspire and encourage them, but the more advanced 
also seek helpers for such a presentation as can be recognized as 
proceeding from the spirit of the true church. Through this common 


work they seek advancement in outward mastery as well as inward 
power and truth. Hence none of the members of the church have 
attained, they are only attaining. But if to this combination in its 
best form, a combination of the perfect be opposed who seek nothing 
beyond the joy of contemplation, because everyone is already what 
he can be, this can be nothing but just that cosmopolitan union. 
In it everyone is valued simply according to his present state and 
attainments, and cannot expect to be immediately forwarded in his 
own peculiar sphere by contemplating extraneous things. But if 
the description of the true church were the immediate association of 
the more perfect, it would need to be understood literally of the 
church triumphant, for only in it can an absolutely mutual com 
munion that is without inequality and without progress, be thought 
of. There, on the contrary, there is only so much of the true church 
as there is true life and reproductive development in the existing 
religious communions. 

(12) Page 160. Two reproaches are made here against the present 
regulation of the church. The former evil has doubtless caused far 
more confusion at various times, but the latter has always given me 
a painful feeling of the undeveloped state of the society. I mean 
the regulation, that for our holiest symbol, the Lord s supper, though 
it is, in most larger communions at least, in the most natural way, 
the crown of each service, previous meditation and preparation are 
required on each occasion from the participants. Clearly no one 
will deny that it would be the finest effect of the whole service, if 
very many present were attuned for celebrating this sacred meal. 
But this fairest blossom of devoutness is lost. How often, on the 
other hand, with all previous meditation and preparation, inward 
and outward disturbance may enter, and diminish the full blessing. 
Now just because of the previous preparation it may not be easy to 
put off the participation. Is not this way of doing a speaking proof 
of how little influence upon the heart we believe the matter itself 
to be capable, and how we treat all Christians, without exception, as 
unreliable novices ? It will be a happy time when we dare to cast 
aside this caution and welcome to the table of the Lord everyone 
whom a momentary impulse conducts thither. . . . Still more 
confusion, however, arises from the other misunderstanding here 
mentioned, which is that not only do the clergy among themselves 
estimate themselves by the standard of a creed, but the laity also 
presume to deliver judgment on the clergy by the same standard. 
Nay, a right is acknowledged in the congregation to require that 
their clergy shall teach them according to the letter of the creed. 



In other matters, if anything is prepared for my use I must be 
allowed, if I will, to determine myself how it shall be prepared, seeing 
I alone can rightly judge of my necessity. It is, however, quite 
otherwise with doctrine, for, if I am in a position to judge how a 
doctrine on any subject is to be set forth if it is to be useful to me, 
I do not require teaching, but can myself give it, or at most I require 
to be reminded. This claim, therefore, is the more preposterous the 
sharper the line is drawn between clergy and laity. Were all on the 
same level, indeed, it might be easier to suppose an agreement to 
abide by a common type. It is also the more absurd the more the 
teaching of the clergy is, as, God be thanked, it still is everywhere 
in the Evangelical Church a free outpouring of the heart, and the 
chief worth is not set on the repetition of fixed formularies as 
in the Komish or Greek Churches. If the laity, whether singly as 
patrons of a church or congregation, or combined as state officials, 
or as a congregation, decide what accords with the letter of the creed, 
and how far its authority is to apply to the teaching, it is peculiarly 
preposterous. The letter of the creed has had its sole origin with 
the clergy, who certainly did not wish to be themselves limited by it 
in their dealings with the laity. The laity are only through the 
instruction of the clergy even in a position to understand the letter 
of the creed. This preposterousness appears at its height when the 
head of a state personally believes he has by his position justification 
and qualification for deciding on the creed of another communion, 
when he believes he can judge of the relation of the clergy to it and 
what religious communications, the religiousness of which is quite 
strange to him, may tend to forward its interests. The Chinese 
Emperor, for example, tolerates Christianity, but provides through 
his mandarins that no party swerve from its own creed. There is, 
however, one consolation, that on this point there can be nothing but 

(13) Page 161. This state of things is, in many respects, most pro 
minent in the Romish and Greek Churches. Nor is it merely because 
the distinction between priest and laity is there most pronounced. 
The clergy are not limited to the duty in the congregations ; only 
for the secular clergy is this the chief concern. For the others it is 
only secondary. First of all they are to live in high religious con 
templation. The clergy thus in their inward association form the true 
church. The laity are simply those who by them have been formed 
to piety, and who therefore stand under continual spiritual guidance, 
while the highest triumph is for some to become capable of reception 
into that closer sphere of the religious life. That the principle of 


this theory exists in the Catholic Church we should have to acknow 
ledge, even though, in other respects, the most glaring opposition 
between the two classes had not again appeared. And I do not rest 
on the imperfect result, on the bad state of the clergy, on the irreli 
gious vacuity of the cloister life. In that case we could only say at 
most that the attempt to present the true church, separate from 
those who are only being taught in religion, has not succeeded. The 
chief point is that the failure is based in the principle. In practice 
the clergy and monastics are often deeply involved in all worldly 
matters, but, according to the idea, the contemplative life is quite 
separated from the active, the latter being declared quite incom 
patible with the higher religious stage. Judging the consequences 
from all that has hitherto taken place, it is not to be doubted that 
Protestantism is, in this regard, a return to the right way of pre 
senting the true church, and that it bears more also of its image. 

(14) Page 161. A misunderstanding is here easily possible, as if 
systematic theology had its only source in the corruption of religion. 
Elsewhere I have plainly enough declared that, so soon as any religion 
attains any greatness, it must construct for itself a theology, of which 
system an exhibition of the closest connection of the religious princi 
ples and dogmas has been and must remain a natural and essential 
part. But here I speak only of the false interest taken often by the 
whole church in the connection of doctrine. Clearly this is based 
only on that corruption. The system as a whole and in its sections, 
which can only be fully understood in connection with the whole, 
should remain the exclusive possession of those who in this parti 
cular respect have had a scientific training. It is their concern, 
because on the one side it enables them to scan the whole circum 
ference of possible subjects of religious communication and presenta 
tion, and to assign each its place, and on the other it serves as a 
critical norm for testing all religious utterances by the precise 
expression, whereby it is easier to discover whether anything that 
cannot be reduced to this expression is mere confusion or conceals 
something contrary to the spirit of the whole. As both interests lie 
quite outside the horizon of all the other members of the church, they 
should not be affected by anything exclusively bearing on them. If 
there is anything in the public or social utterance that immediately 
injures their pious consciousness, they have no need of further 
witness from any system. But if they can be injured by what is 
contained only in scientific terminology, then this is just that cor 
ruption here shown, whether they have lost themselves in unseemly 
conceit of wisdom, or are called in blind zeal by theological dispu- 

o 2 


tants to help in crushing some dangerous man. How beautiful 
would it be if theologians would begin the change and warn the laity 
of all kinds against all participation in dogmatic strifes, and point 
them to the good belief that there are pious theologians enough to 
arrange the matter. 

(15) Page 162. This is easy to correct from the preceding explana 
tions. If what is here called the true church has no -separate 
manifestation, neither is there, in a literal sense, a passing sojourn 
in the actually existing communion. Exclusiveness alone is 
passing, so that outside of his own communion everyone advanced in 
piety may be also capable in a certain sense of sharing in the cosmo 
politan union of all. Similarly the word decisive is not to be taken 
literally as if the incapable should be quite outside of all religious 
fellowship, either being put out or keeping out. This the pious 
neither could nor should do, nor even suffer to be done. Since they 
seek to give their presentations of religion the widest and deepest 
influence, they can let no one depart. Still less can they exclude, 
for an absolute incapacity can never be acknowledged. They must 
always look for a time when an element common to all men shall be 
developed, and for some yet untried art that may favour its develop 
ment. Yet it remains true that the person in whom religiousness, 
in the form nearest and most congenial to him, is awakened only 
after such long and painful effort can hardly attain that higher 
development and free enjoyment. 

(16) Page 166. A great preference is here exhibited for the smaller 
communions as against the great ecclesiastical institutions. One side 
only doubtless is brought into prominence. This is difficult to avoid, 
at least in an oratorical connection, when attention has to be drawn to 
an utterly neglected or greatly depreciated subject. The preference, 
however, rests on the following reasons. First, on the greater 
variety that can be manifested in the same time and space. In the 
great bodies either no variety is allowed to grow, or it is hidden, or 
discoverable only by close observers. In the religious sphere, more 
over, more than anywhere else, points of union arise which cannot 
long continue, but which, though fleeting, may produce something 
strong and characteristic. If now only great church institutions 
exist, these germs are all lost, or at least reach no clear and com 
plete organization. The other leading reason is, that the smaller 
ecclesiastical societies, because they awake less apprehension, are 
freer, and are less seldom put in wardship by the civil authority. 
When I first wrote this, America seemed to me a marvellously active 
theatre, where everything took this shape, and where, in conse- 


quence, I thought that, more than anywhere else, our own beloved 
Fatherland not excepted, the freedom of the religious life and of 
the religious society was assured. Since then the development has 
confirmed the anticipation. Unions are freely made and dissolved. 
They divide themselves. Smaller parts separate from a greater 
whole, and smaller wholes draw together. Thus they seek a 
centre around which to form a greater unity. The freedom of 
Christian development is so great that many communions, as the 
Unitarian, would appear to us, I believe wrongly, outside of 
Christianity. In such a breaking up of Christianity there might be 
a fear that it would gradually lose its great historical form, and its 
scientific stability come to be quite forgotten. But the prospect is 
better since science has advanced and institutions have been founded 
for the propagation of Christian learning. Only one thing is to be 
lamented at least so it appears to us from the distance the 
British spirit has so much taken the upper hand and the German 
keeps on receding. For those free states, therefore, such a German 
immigration as would establish an abiding influence, were to be 
wished. ... Now, however, that I have been more weaned from the 
smaller society and have grown more into the larger institution I 
would not speak so decisively. In England, for example, it is most 
evident that it would stand ill with Christianity, either if the Epis 
copal Church were quite dissolved and scattered among the smaller 
societies, or if it absorbed them all and existed alone. Similarly we 
must conclude that if the religious life in its whole variety and ful 
ness would develope in the broad compass of Christianity, both great 
institutions and small societies must exist together as they have 
almost always done, so that the institution must be resolved into 
small societies and from them be again produced. Disorganizing 
elements it must surrender to them, and from them again it must be 
enriched and strengthened. After this exposition of the matter, no 
one will ask how this preference for smaller religious societies is con 
sistent with a lively participation in the union of the two Protestant 
ecclesiastical societies, that would not only make one greater out of 
two smaller, but manifestly cause the smaller at least to disappear. 
The following alone I would add. The difference of doctrine has 
always appeared to me insignificant, but there has manifestly been 
a difference of spirit between the two communions. Without that, 
such a division could not have arisen from motives otherwise so in 
significant. This difference has not yet by any means quite disap 
peared. Now this involves onesidedness on the part of both, and the 
time now appears to be come for a more vigorous effort to diminish 


these limitations by complete combination of differences and by 
friendly proximity. This could better be accomplished by union, by 
a life in freedom more bound and in the bonds more free. Besides, it 
seemed high time to provide that a recurrence of envy between the 
two might not render impossible the strong resistance which is 
becoming necessary against the manifold suspicious endeavours of 
the Romish Church. 

(17) Page 166. A person who has spoken as urgently as I have done 
in the fourth collection of my sermons for once moremakingtjie whole 
care of the poor a business of the ecclesiastical association, appears to 
know quite well to what all property and money endowments might 
be devoted. But even the most extensive care of the poor requires 
only a secure yearly income. Wherefore, if the congregational tie is 
secure, and the spirit that rules in it embraces an active goodwill for 
this subject, this business also can be carried on satisfactorily without 
any such possession. Other things being equal, it will, indeed, be 
carried on better. On the one side all capital can be better used by 
private people, and on the other this possession adds a foreign element 
to the pure character of a congregation and introduces an estimate 
of its members other than the purely religious. 

(18) Page 169. By this complaint I in nowise meant that the state 
should not in many and in most important things rely chiefly on 
the power of the religious sentiments and on the agreement of its 
own interests with their natural working. But I meant that in so 
far as it believes it must so rely, it is to be desired that the state 
do not interfere in a manner hurtful to the pure effect of these 
sentiments. Now this happens without fail, when there is any 
positive intermeddling. The state may on the one side assume the 
religious sentiment of its members and rejoice confidingly in its 
working. It then reserves the right to withdraw this assumption in 
respect of an individual who does not manifest this working, or when 
this deficiency shows itself in a decisive majority of a religious 
society, it inquires how far the defect has its root in the principles 
of the society and modifies its assumption accordingly. But so long 
as it has no ground for withdrawing its trust, it must know that the 
organization of the society proceeds from the very sentiment, from 
which it expects good result, and that in the nature of the case 
only those in whom this sentiment is strongest will have most 
influence in forming and guiding the society. It must, therefore, 
leave the sentiment free to operate, allowing the organization of 
the society to take its own course without its guidance. This must 
oontinue till the result gives ground for lessening the state s confi- 



dence. If a state has this confidence only in one particular form of 
religiousness, it follows this course with the society in- which it exists, 
and regulates its conduct towards the others by the greatness of its 
distrust, varying up to complete intolerance. A state relies on one 
religious society and accords it a high degree of independence ; 
another it watches more closely, and itself decides on its organization. 
Now in reason this can have no other ground than that the state 
gives the latter society less confidence. A marvellous phenomenon 
cannot be thought of, as if a state would watch more closely the 
religious society to which the sovereign himself belonged and limit it 
in its free activity more than any other. This case of confidence 
in the religious sentiment is, for our present inquiry, the first 
point. The second is the opposite case, when the state looks 
for no good effect in respect of anything falling within its own 
sphere from the religious sentiment of its members. Even then 
there seems to be no consistent course, except to allow religion to 
manifest itself as an amusement to which the state is indifferent, 
taking care, as with other private associations, that no harm arises 
to the civil community. Applying this now to education, the matter 
here in discussion and the matter to which everything comes back, 
there seem to be the following consequences. The religious edu 
cation of man will never, as such, be the whole education of man 
All training in which the religious society does not, as such, interest 
itself, as for example the academic and higher scientific, lies outside 
of its domain. Perhaps the church has earlier thought of education 
than the state. The state will then say, "I see that you have the 
institutions for educating the youth, but they do not suffice me. I 
will add what fails but will then take them under my guidance." If 
the church dares to speak and understands its own good, it will 
reply, " Not so, but for all deficiency make your own institutions and 
we, as citizens, will honourably contribute our utmost to their suc 
cess. Within our special limits, however, leave us our own to care 
for ourselves, and only omit from yours that for which you think 
ours will suffice." Does the state, nevertheless, do by force the 
contrary, there will be an element in the highest degree undesirable 
to the church, and it will feel it an injury even when this gives the 
doubtful privilege of a certain influence on many things whereon, by 
the natural course of things, it would have none. . . With the teaching 
of human duties in civil life, which is nothing but a continuous 
education of grown-up people, it is the same. That this is needed 
by the state admits of no doubt, all the more if it does not proceed 
naturally from the public life. The state finds now that there i 


teaching of this kind in the exercises and utterances of the religious 
society existing" in its midst. It willingly resolves to spare an 
institution of its own for this object. The religious society is 
pleased to render this service to the common good. But the 
state says, " 1 will make use of your teaching, but to make 
sure that it completely reaches my purpose, I must prescribe to 
you what you are not to forget to speak of, and what you shall recall 
from history at fixed times, and I must make arrangements to know 
that this is actually done." The church will then, if it dare, 
certainly say, " By no means, for there would then be much teaching 
not belonging to our department, and in respect of history it is 
repugnant to us, for example, to recall joyfully certain days when you 
were victorious over another state, while our society in that state 
must observe a discreet silence, and should rejoice on other days 
when you were defeated, and which we again must pass over. Both 
days are alike to us, and we must, in our own way, make the same 
use both of what is to your honour and to your shame. With this use 
you may well be content, but for that special purpose make another 
arrangement, for we cannot assist." And if the state gives no heed 
to these representations, it injures the personal freedom of its 
members where it is holiest and most inviolable. . . . The third 
matter here mentioned, the taking of oaths, properly belongs to the 
second, but is specially mentioned because of the special manner in 
which the state brings the church to its aid. An injury has here 
also been inflicted. The different small societies of non-swearers are 
allowed a simple affirmation, instead of an oath, but the great 
church, specially favoured by the state, is exhorted to preach on the 
sacredness of oaths, and its members must take them in the pre 
scribed manner or lose all the privileges involved. There may, 
however, be many among them who, fearing the plain prohibition of 
Christ, are troubled in conscience about swearing, and among the 
teachers there may also be many who cannot get over the literal inter 
pretation of those words, and who think it irreligious to come to the 
help of the state in such a manner. How can it be that such an injury 
to religious freedom should not be felt very painfully ? These fuller 
explanations, it is to be hoped, will justify the wish expressed in the 
text, that the state should employ what is useful to it in the ar 
rangements of the church only in so far as consists with uninjured 

(19) Page 269. Of the three points here lamented, two are only 
burdensome because they witness to the dependence of the church 
or the state. The sacred acts of baptism and solemnization 


of marriage are made to appear as done by the clergy, first of all, as 
servants of the state, in the name of the state. Without question 
this is one reason why the way they are carried out, betrays so little 
of a Christian or indeed of a religious character. If inscription in 
the civil register were a purely civil act, no one could regard 
baptism as merely a legal formality, accompanied occasionally by a 
stately speech. And if the marriage contract were first concluded 
purely civilly, and the blessing of the church were purely an act of 
the members of a congregation, it would soon appear that marriages 
are best where a special value is set on this additional outward con 
secration. But the worst is, the point between. An Evangelical 
Christian state unites many civil qualifications with admission to 
the sacrament. In many instances it demands attestations of this 
act. It acts with the best intention towards the youth, seeking to 
guard them against the religious negligence of their parents or 
guardians. But how much are the consciences of pious clergymen 
burdened; how often must they, quite against their conviction, 
declare religious instruction and closer supervision at an end. Even 
were a great number of baptized Christians to remain all their lives 
without participation in the other sacrament, as is the case in North 
America, it does not appear that this would be a misfortune. 
E-ather it would have the advantage that the Christian church 
would not appear responsible for the lives of the grossest men, while 
the strife about the right of exclusion from the congregation would 
be spared. In Protestant Europe only the grossest would be outside, 
for the continued participation in divine service would sooner or 
later supply what they had lost at that time when confirmation 
usually takes place. As in the American free states it might 
furthermore happen with us that the children of Christian parents, 
who set no great store on the fellowship of the church, would remain 
unbaptized. They would then have no link with the church. This 
might well happen, though with us such an anti-Christian zealotism 
would be very rare. But to hinder the real loss that would hence 
arise, the state should not be required to impose baptism by force, 
but it should begin early to protect the freedom of conscience of the 
children even against the parents. These complaints appear plainly 
capable of remedy, but only by a great difference of form in all those 
concerns that relate to the connection of church and state. If the 
example of the free states in the other hemisphere alone were 
considered, and everything in the condition of the church charged 
as consequences of what is here postulated, it would unquestionably 
be unfair. There are these imperfections inseparable from a young 


and very dissimilar population that have been gathered from all 
quarters, which will be thrown off without the necessity of essential 
change in these matters. 

(20) Page 170. That in all religious doings the predominance of 
legal or civil relations is a departure from the original nature of the 
matter, especially if it occasions pecuniary transactions between the 
clergy and the members of the congregation, requires no further 
discussion. Yet it appears as if this complaint would never be 
removed so long as a state, as such, confesses its adherence to any one 
religious society, or even if it believes it can require all its members 
to belong to some society. In the former case, if a law declares that 
only in one church is there the greatest fulness of that sentiment 
which can maintain this state and be the fullest security against all 
its possible foes, it would follow that the whole maintenance of the 
state would be entrusted only to the members of this society. In the 
present state of social relations this can only continue as a law where 
the great body of the people belong to that society, the rest being only 
clients and strangers. But even in Catholic countries such a state 
of matters no longer exists, and it does not seem as if, in the present 
position of affairs, a state would easily be able to confess absolute 
and undivided adherence to one religious society. The south Euro 
pean states, which have anew proclaimed the Catholic religion to be 
the religion of the state, will not, even though their position is 
favourable and Protestants are only found scattered as clients, be 
able for many generations of tranquillity to adhere without harshness 
and injustice to this system. It is quite different when, without 
law and in consequence of the natural effect of public opinion, all 
that is essential in the government of the state falls to the adherents 
of one society. Such a transaction is not a state s confession, and 
we must wish that it may long continue. But if adherence to one 
society is now a passing state of things, is it a right maxim for the 
state, without deciding which, to require that its citizens belong to 
some one ? Let it be granted that irreligious men are neither 
profitable for the civil union, nor to be relied upon. But would they 
be made religious by being compelled to confess adherence to any 
one religious society ? Manifestly the only way to make irreligious 
men really religious is to strengthen the influence of religious men 
upon them as much as possible. For this end the state cannot work 
more effectively than by allowing all the religious societies within its 
domain to operate with the fullest freedom. This freedom they will 
never feel till those intermeddlings cease. 

(21) Page 172. With this exposition, which rests on a very meagre 


experience, I can no longer agree. And first, in respect of capabili 
ties, it appears as if the people and the cultured would have a very 
unequal enjoyment of a religious utterance on which, according to 
the demands made above, all the flowers of speech are to be expended. 
But all true eloquence must be popular throughout. It is affecta 
tion that chooses either expressions or combinations of thought 
unsuited to the majority, and the cultured also must be capable of 
guidance by a thoroughly popular diction. A division of hearers in 
respect of capacity is not required by the nature of the subject, but 
by the consciousness of imperfection in the artists. It is only a 
different kind of imperfection when one man speaks better for the 
people and another for the higher ranks. But in the second 
place, in respect of mental type, it is indeed not to be denied that 
the differences of the audience must be contained in very narrow 
limits, if a religious utterance is to have a large and happy result. 
But it must be a wrong assumption, that in a multitude united in 
other matters and woven together in a common life, we must have 
very different religious peculiarities, and indeed so marvellously 
different that on the one side they are not strong enough to form a 
religious society of their own, and on the other they are so markedly 
singular that they cannot appropriate a religious utterance of 
another type. Only in great cities could elements so different be 
brought into a small compass, and here every one has an easy choice, 
selecting the presentations of religion that can strengthen and 
quicken him. But suppose the people are considered in relation to 
the different forms of religion afterwards mentioned. It will always 
be found that in whole districts, through many generations, the 
religious life has been prevailingly mystic, or more linked to history, 
or influenced by understanding and reflection. Exceptions are rare, 
and those who are not religious according to the dominant type are 
less religious altogether. If, therefore, the easy selection of the gay 
world in great cities were not troubled by narrow partiality for the 
ministrants, and on the other hand all religious orators strove only 
after true popularity, on this point, at least, our present state would 
be tolerable enough. 

(22) Page 174. That the state, besides what it confides to the 
church, must provide an educational institution of its own, be it for 
the younger generation or for the less educated portion of the people, 
is here regarded as absolutely necessary. This contention shows the 
speaker s decision on the much discussedquestionof therelationof state 
and church to what in the widest sense of the word is called school. 
In part the state may continue to rely on the religious associations. 


Yet it must be content to exercise only a negative supervision over 
their institutions. For the rest it is the duty of the state to arrange 
and care. Where there is any kind of religious association, that the 
awaking of the higher spiritual be not hindered, there is also in the 
homes a uniform discipline for taming sensuality, which is in every 
way useful for the civil life. But if the state requires a special dis 
cipline to produce certain habits in its citizens suited to the time, it 
must not come from the church. The proper feeling of its necessity 
being universally diffused, the state may rely on the work of the 
families, not as elements of the religious but of the civil society. If 
this feeling is not sufficiently diffused, the state must make public 
provision. All that is academic in education is of this kind, for it 
cannot and, being quite foreign to it, should not even appear to pro 
ceed from the church. Further, wherever a system of religious 
communication exists, there must be common instruction of the youth 
in all that bears upon understanding the religious speech and the 
creed. This is properly the church parish school. In Christendom 
it is for transmitting religious ideas, and among Protestants for 
some small understanding at least of the Scriptures. Has the state 
confidence that an effective communication of moral ideas and the 
germs of mental development will be given at the same time, it may 
rely on the church school for those objects. But everything statis 
tical, mathematical, technical and such like is foreign to the church 
school. If the ecclesiastical and the civil community are identical, the 
ecclesiastical and the civil school may for some good reason be 
united in one institution. But the state no more acquires the right 
thereby to conduct the ecclesiastical school, than the church to con 
duct the civil. Finally, every religious fellowship that has a history 
requiring, for comprehending its development, attainments that 
belong to the sphere of science and learning, needs an institution to 
maintain and encourage such attainments. This is the church 
academy. All other sciences are foreign to the church. Suppose 
there exist in the state, either being maintained by the state or 
being independent bodies, academies for general science, and suppose 
the church has confidence that their methods are suited to its re 
quirements, it may find it expedient to unite with them its own 
special academy. But the expediency must be determined by the 
church, and neither by the state nor by the scientific bodies. The 
church may neither found a claim on this union to general super 
intendence of scientific institutions, nor give up its right to 
manage its own academy. These are the principles then on which 
church and state are to act together or act apart. But to acknow- 


ledge these principles towards one church and not towards another 
is the worst possible inconsistency. It must necessarily pain the 
slighted church that incurable disagreement should arise between 
their religious and their political feeling. 

(23) Page 174. Well said of every such relation ! and in this view I 
still stand firm. Nay, I stand firmer, the more lamentable complica 
tions I see arising from this dependence of the church on the state. 
These complications were less thought of then, for the only thing of 
the kind so rapidly came to grief on the dominant tendency of the time. 
Yet it is impossible that the church should be without any union 
with the state. That appears even where the church is freest. The 
least is that the state treat the religious societies like any other 
private society. As a general principle of association it takes know 
ledge of them and puts itself in a position to interfere in case they 
should cherish anything prejudicial to the common freedom and 
safety. With this least, however, it is seldom possible to escape, as 
appears even in North America where the church is freest. The 
freer the churches are the easier it happens that some dissolve and 
some combine. Now even though they may have no possessions except 
the most absolutely necessary means for meeting together, there are 
difficulties of settlement in which the state is the natural arranger 
and umpire. Had this and no other relation existed between church 
and state at the time of the Eeformation, the present curious position 
of affairs would not have come to pass, that in lands almost entirely 
Protestant the Catholic Church is well endowed and secured, while 
the Evangelical Church is referred to a changeable and often doubt 
ful good will. Every further union of church and state should be 
regarded as a private agreement for the time being. The more 
of these transactions there are the more it will seem that a church- 
communion in one state becomes the church of the land, and 
becomes more divided from its brethren in the faith in other states. 
The less there are, the more a communion, though spread over many 
states, may appear an undivided whole, and the more marked is 
the independence of the church from the state. Within these 
limits, all existing relations are permissible, and it belongs to com 
pleteness that at some time and place they have all had historical 
existence. On the contrary, what transcends these limits is of evil. 

(24) Page 174. This rejection of all closer connection among the 
congregations of the same faith and of all religious associations, rests 
solely on the presupposition that every existing church is only a 
visible appendage of the true church. It is, therefore, right, only in 
so far as the presupposition is right. Since I wrote this I have 


shown myself a zealous defender of synodal government which is 
manifestly included in this rejection. In part I have abandoned 
the presupposition. By observation and joyful experience I have 
reached the conviction that truly believing and pious persons exist 
in adequate number in our congregations, and that it is good to 
strengthen as much as possible their influence on the rest. This 
result naturally flows from well-ordered combinations. In part 
also, life in our time soon conducts to the view that every improve 
ment that is to succeed must be ushered in from all sides at once. 
This involves that men should in many respects be treated as if 
they already were what they ought to be. Otherwise it would be 
necessary to wait on and on and no beginning would be possible. 
But according to my view the sole warrant for such closer combina 
tions is that the participators are members of the true church, in 
which the distinction between priests and laity is only to serve the 
occasion and cannot be permanent. Wherefore, I could only defend 
a constitution that rested on this equality and any other in the 
Evangelical Church there could never be. Where synodal unions 
consist purely of the clergy, they seem either by the state commis 
sion and purely consultative, or literary and friendly, rather than 
ecclesiastical, and constitutional. A constitutional priestly govern 
ment becomes only the Catholic Church. The foundation stone of 
that church is the higher personal religious worth of the priests, and 
its first principle that the laity, only by their mediation, enjoy 
their share in the blessings of the church. The last assertion 
ventured in this passage, that there should be no outward bond 
between teachers and congregation, depends still more on the 
presupposition that the congregation still require to be led to 
religion. This could only be done on condition of the most complete 
spontaneousness. Who is then to impose this outward bond V 
Neither the state nor a corporation of the clergy, if this spontaneous- 
ness is to exist. The congregations cannot, for they cannot judge of 
those who must first communicate to them the ability to judge the 
worth in question. Hence this bond can only be entered on and 
upheld where the spirit of piety in the congregations can be assumed, 
and where those who can guide and limit this judgment are re 
garded as having come forth from the congregation. Herein are 
contained the principles for determining in different circumstances 
the firmness or the freedom of the bond. 

(25) Page 175. On the limits of the binding power [exercised by 
creeds, I have lately declared myself more fully, though with special 
reference to the Evangelical Church. I here call this bond unholy 


when it is regarded in the ordinary way, and I am still of this 
opinion. Than unbelief nothing is more unholy to the pious. Of 
unbelief an abundance underlies the maxim that teachers of 
religion, and even teachers of theology, should be bound by the letter 
of a written confession. It is unbelief in the power of the common 
spirit in the church, when men are not convinced that alien elements 
in individuals will not, by the living power of the whole, be either 
assimilated or enveloped and made harmless, but believe external 
force is required to cast it out. It is unbelief in the power of the 
word of Christ and of the Spirit that declares Him, when men do not 
believe that every time has naturally its own fitting interpretation 
and application of it, when they believe we must adhere to the pro 
duction of another age. It can never again befall us that the spirit 
of prophesy should become dumb. The Sacred Scripture itself has 
obtained its position, and will retain it only by the power of free 
belief and not by outward sanction. 

(26) Page 176. The feeling that ecclesiastical matters as they then 
existed in the greater part of Germany, and still exist, little altered, 
could not continue as they were, has since become much more general 
and definite. Yet how the matter will turn is still not much clearer. 
This alone can be foreseen, that if an Evangelical Church is not soon 
put in a position in which a fresher public spirit can be developed in it, 
and if the restrictive treatment of our universities and our open 
spiritual intercourse is longer continued, the hopes we cherished will 
be fruitless blossom, and the fair dawn of the recent time has only 
betokened storm. Living piety and liberal courage will ever more 
and more disappear from the clerical order. Dominion of the dead 
letter from above and uneasy spiritless sectarianism from below will 
approach. From their collision a whirlwind will arise that will drive 
many helpless souls into the outstretched net of Jesuitism, and 
deaden and weary the great masses to utter indifference. The signs 
that proclaim this are clear enough ; but everyone should on every 
occasion declare that he sees them as a testimony against those who 
heed them not. 

(27) Page 178. This limitation will seem to many too narrow. A 
profound and extensive cultivation of the mind, and a rich inward ex 
perience may very well exist where the theological erudition, that is the 
essential condition of the office of church teacher, is wanting. Should 
such gifts be limited in their religious working to the narrow circle of 
the domestic life? Could not and should not such men, even when 
they cannot lead in public religious assemblies, yet work by the living 
word in freer, wider circles ? Should not the enormous influence 


which they can obtain through the written word be pointed out to 
them ? To this I have a twofold answer. First, all that, as free 
sociableness, most resembles the family connection, links itself 
naturally to the domestic life. The work of exhibiting there the 
character of a liberal-minded religious life is not insignificant. It 
is a duty hitherto neither sufficiently understood nor sufficiently 
exercised. If it were, there could not possibly be such a marked 
contrast in a great part of Germany, particularly among the higher 
and more refined circles, between the interest taken in religious 
formulas and theological disputes, and the domestic and social life 
in which no trace of a decisive religious character appears. Here, 
then, is a great sphere for the pious sense. But larger assemblies, 
exceeding the limits and the nature of the social life, yet not aiming 
at forming a congregation, in short conventicles, are always miserable 
half and between affairs, that have never contributed much to the 
advancement of religion, but have rather produced and cherished 
what is morbid. Secondly, in respect of religious influence by the 
written word, it would certainly be a great evil if the clerical order 
were to possess a monopoly. Nay, it does not seem to me consistent 
with the spirit of the Evangelical Church, that they should exercise 
a general censorship. But while there should be the greatest freedom, 
it is an entirely different question whether everyone should venture 
to communicate his religious views and sentiments in this way ; and 
whether it would be expedient that it should happen often is very 
much to be doubted. The harm from the flood of mediocre romances 
and children s books may very well be compared with the harm from 
the mass of mediocre religious writings. Nay, they are manifestly a 
desecration, which the former are not. Even superior talent falls 
more easily into mediocrity, for what is to have attraction and effect 
is the subjective apprehension of universally known objects and 
relations. Only a high degree of unaffected originality, or a true 
inspiration, coming from the inmost depths of a reflective mind, 
or from the stimulating power of a life, nobly active, can succeed. 
Otherwise there can be nothing but mediocrity. With religious 
songs, indeed, it is different. Among us a large proportion of them 
has been composed by laymen of all classes. Many that a severe 
judge would call only mediocre, have passed into church use, and 
have attained thereby a kind of immortality. Two circumstances 
assist. First, every hymn book has only a very limited sphere, and 
here much may be good that has not all the qualities demanded by 
absolute publicity. Many of those productions would doubtless have 
long perished, and been forgotten, had they required to maintain 


themselves as pure literary works. Secondly, in the public use of 
hymns so many other things assist. The author does not produce 
the effect alone. He is supported by the composer by whom, more 
or less, everything that has the same metre and is known to all 
has harmony and effect ; he is supported by the congregation who 
put their piety into the execution, and by the liturgies that assign 
the work of the poet its right place in a larger connection. 



MAN in closest fellowship with the highest must be for you 
all an object of esteem, nay, of reverence. No one capable 
of understanding such a state can, when he sees it, with 
hold this feeling. That is past all doubt. You may 
despise all whose minds are easily and entirely filled with 
trivial things, but in vain you attempt to depreciate one 
who drinks in the greatest for his nourishment. You may 
love him or hate him, according as he goes with you or 
against you in the narrow path of activity and culture, but 
even the most beautiful feeling of equality you cannot 
entertain towards a person so far exalted above you. The 
seeker for the Highest Existence in the world stands above 
all who have not a like purpose. Your wisest men say 
that, even against your will, you must honour the virtuous 
who, in accordance with the laws of the moral nature, 
endeavour to determine finite concerns by infinite require 
ments. And were it even possible for you to find some 
thing ridiculous in virtue itself, because of the contrast 
between the limited powers and the infinite undertaking, 
you still co aid not deny esteem to one whose organs are 
open to the Universe, who is far from strife and opposition, 
exalted above all imperfect endeavour, responsive to the 
Universe and one with it. You cannot despise when you 
see man in this supreme moment of human existence and 
the clear beam is reflected in its purity upon you. 


Bat whether the picture of the nature and of the life of 
religion I have drawn has claimed your esteem I do not 
inquire. Because of false conceptions and devotion to non- 
essentials esteem is too often refused, but I am sure of the 
power of the subject, as soon as it is freed from its distort 
ing drapery. Nor do I ask whether my thoughts on the 
coherence of this indwelling capacity with all that is sublime 
and godlike in our nature, have stimulated you to an 
intenser study of our nature and possibilities. I also pass 
the question, whether you have taken the higher stand 
point I showed you, and have recognized from thence, in 
that nobler fellowship of spirits, so much misjudged, 
wherein everyone freely surrenders himself, not regarding 
the glory of his self-will, nor the exclusive possession of his 
deepest, most secret individuality, that he may regard 
himself as a work of the eternal, the all-fashioniug World- 
Spirit, even the holy of holies of fellowship, higher far than 
any earthly fellowship, holier than the tenderest tie of 
friendship. In short, I do not ask whether all religion, in 
its infinity, its divine power, has compelled you to adoration, 
for I leave the matter itself to work upon you. 

At present I have something else to deal with, a new 
opposition to vanquish. I would, as it were, conduct you 
to the God that has become flesh ; I would show you 
religion when it has resigned its infinity and appeared, 
often in sorry form, among men ; I would have you dis 
cover religion in the religions. Though they are always 
earthly and impure, the same form of heavenly beauty that 
I have tried to depict is to be sought in them. 

The divisions of the church and the difference of re 
ligion are almost always found together. The connection 
seems inseparable. There are as many creeds and con 
fessions as churches and religious communions. Glancing 
at this state of things, you might easily believe that my 
judgment on the plurality of the church must also be my 
judgment on the plurality of religion. You would, how- 

p 2 


ever, entirely mistake my opinion. I condemned the 
plurality of the church, but my argument presupposed the 
plurality of religion. I showed from the nature of the case 
that in the church all rigid outline should be lost, that all 
distinct partition should disappear. Not only did I hold 
that all should be one indivisible whole in spirit and sym 
pathy, but that the actual connection should have larger 
development and ever approach the highest, the universal 
unity. Now if there is not everywhere plurality of religion, 
if the most marked difference is not necessary and un 
avoidable, why should the true church need to be one ? Is 
it not that everyone in the religion of others may see and 
share what he cannot find in his own ? And why should 
the visible church be only one, if it is not that everyone 
may seek in it religion in the form best fitted to awake 
the germ that lies asleep in him ? And if this germ can 
only be fertilized and made to grow by one definite kind of 
influence, it must itself be of a definite kind. 

Nor can these different manifestations of religion be 
mere component parts, differing only in number and size, 
and forming, when combined, a uniform whole. In that 
case every one would by natural-progress come to be like his 
neighbour. Such religion as he acquired would change 
into his own, and become identical with it. The church, 
this fellowship with all believers which I consider indis 
pensable for every religious man, would be merely pro 
visional. The more successful its work, the quicker would 
it end a view of the institution I have never contemplated. 
I therefore find that multiplicity of the religions is based in 
the nature of religion. 

That no man can perfectly possess all religion is easy to 
see. Men are determined in one special way, religion is 
endlessly determinable. But it must be equally evident 
that religion is not dismembered and scattered in parts by 
random among men, but that it must organize itself in 
manifestations of varying degrees of resemblance. Recall 


the several stages of religion to which. I drew your attention. 
I said that the religion of a person, to whom the world 
reveals itself as a living whole, is not a mere continuation 
of the view of the person who only sees the world in its 
apparently hostile elements. By no amount of regarding 
the Universe as chaotic and discrete can the higher view be 
attained. These differences you may call kinds or degrees 
of religion, but in either case you will have to admit that, 
as in every similar case, the forms in which an infinite force 
divides itself is usually characteristic and different. 

Wherefore, plurality of religions is another thing than 
plurality of the church. The essence of the church is 
fellowship. Its limit, therefore, cannot be the uniformity of 
religious persons. It is just difference that should be 
brought into fellowship. 1 You are manifestly right when you 
believe that the church can never in actuality be completely 
and uniformly one. The only reason, however, is that 
every society existing in space and time is thereby limited 
and losing in depth what it gains in breadth, falls to pieces. 
But religion, exactly by its multiplicity, assumes the utmost 
unity of the church. This multiplicity is necessary for the 
complete manifestation of religion. It must seek for a 
definite character, not only in the individual but also in the 
society. Did the society not contain a principle to indi 
vidualize itself, it could have no existence. Hence we 
must assume and we must search for an endless mass of 
distinct forms. Each separate religion claims to be such a 
distinct form revealing religion, and we must see whether 
it is agreeable to this principle. We must make clear to 
ourselves wherein it is peculiar. Though the difference bu 
hidden under strange disguises, though it be distorted, not 
only by the unavoidable influence of the transitory to which 
the enduring has condescended, but also by the unholy 
hand of sacrilegious men, we must find it. 

To be satisfied with a mere general idea of religion would 
not be worthy of you. Would you then understand it as 


it really exists and" displays itself, would you comprehend 
it as an endlessly progressive work of the Spirit thafc 
reveals Himself in all human history, you must abandon 
the vain and foolish wish that there should only be one 
religion ; you must lay aside all repugnance to its multi 
plicity ; as candidly as possible you must approach every 
thing that has ever, in the changing shapes of humanity, 
been developed in its advancing career, from the ever 
fruitful bosom of the spiritual life. 

The different existing manifestations of religion you call 
positive religions. Under this name they have long been 
the object of a quite pre-eminent hate. Despite of your re 
pugnance to religion generally, you have always borne more 
easily with what for distinction is called natural religion. 
You have almost spoken of it with esteem. 

I do not hesitate to say at once that from the heart I en 
tirely deny this superiority. For all who have religion at 
all and profess to love it, it would be the vilest inconse 
quence to admit it. They would thereby fall into the 
openest self-contradiction. For my own part, if I only 
succeeded in recommending to you this natural religion, 
I would consider that I had lost my pains. 

For you, indeed, to whom religion generally is offensive, 
I have always considered this preference natural. The so- 
called natural religion is usually so much refined away, and 
has such metaphysical and moral graces, that little of the 
peculiar character of religion appears. It understands so 
well to live in reserve, to restrain and to accommodate 
itself that it can be put up with anywhere. Every positive 
religion, on the contrary, has certain strong traits and a 
very marked physiognomy, so that its every movement, 
even to the careless glance, proclaims what it really is. 

If this is the true ground of your dislike, you must now 
rid yourself of it. If you have now, as I hope, a better 
estimate of religion, it should be no longer necessary for 
me to contend against it. If you see that a peculiar and 


noble capacity of man underlies religion, a capacity which, 
of course, must be educated, it cannot be offensive to you 
to regard it in the most definite forms in which it has yet 
appeared. Rather you must the more willingly grant a 
form your attention the more there is developed in it 
the characteristic and distinctive elements of religion. 

But you may not admit this argument. You may 
transfer all the reproaches you have formerly been accus 
tomed to bestow on religion in general to the single 
religions. You may maintain that there are always, just in 
this element that you call positive, the occasion and the 
justification of those reproaches, and that in consequence 
the positive religions cannot be as I have sought to repre 
sent, the natural manifestations of the true religion. You 
would show me how, without exception, they are fall of 
what, according to my own statement, is not religion. Con 
sequently, must not a principle of corruption lie deep in their 
constitution ? You will remind me that each one proclaims 
that it alone is true, and that what is peculiar to it is absolutely 
the highest Are they not distinguished from one another 
by elements they should as much as possible eliminate ? 
In disproving and contending, be it with art and under 
standing, or with weapons stranger and more unworthy, do 
they not show themselves quite contrary to the nature of 
true religion ? You would add that, exactly in proportion 
as you esteem religion and acknowledge its importance, 
you must take a lively interest in seeing that it everywhere 
enjoys the greatest freedom to cultivate itself on all sides. 
You must, therefore, hate keenly those definite religious 
forms, that hold all their adherents to the same type and 
the same word, withdraw the freedom to follow their own 
nature and compress them in unnatural limits. In contrast, 
you would praise mightily the superiority in all these 
points of the natural to the positive religions. 

Once more I say, I do not deny that misunderstandings 
and perversions exist in all religions, and I raise no objec- 


tions to the dislike with which they inspire you. Nay, I 
acknowledge there is in^ them all this much bewailed de 
generation, this divergence into alien territory. The 
diviner religion itself is, the less would I embellish its cor 
ruptions, or admiringly cherish its excrescences. But forget 
for once this one-sided view and follow me to another. 
Consider how much of this corruption is due to those who 
have dragged forth religion from the depths of the heart 
into the civil world. Acknowledge that much of it is un 
avoidable as soon as the Infinite, by descending into the 
sphere of time and submitting to the general influence of 
finite things, takes to itself a narrow shell. And however 
deep-rooted this corruption may be, and however much the 
religions may have suffered thereby, consider this also : if 
the proper religious view of all things is to seek even in 
things apparently common and base every trace of the 
divine, the true and the eternal, and to reverence even the 
faintest, you cannot omit what has the justest claims to be 
judged religiously. 

And you would find more than remote traces of the Deity. 
I invite you to study every faith professed by man, every 
religion that has a name and a character. Though it may 
long ago have degenerated into a long series of empty 
customs, into a system of abstract ideas and theories, will 
you not, when you examine the original elements at the 
source, find that this dead dross was once the molten out 
pourings of the inner fire ? Is there not in all religions 
more or less of the true nature of religion, as I have pre 
sented it to you ? Must not, therefore, each religion be 
one of the special forms which mankind, in some region 
of the earth and at some stage of development, has to 
accept ? 

I must take care not to attempt anything systematic or 
complete, for that would be the study of a life, and not the 
business of a discourse. Yet you must not be allowed to 
wander at hazard in this endless chaos. That you may not 


be misled by the false ideas that prevail ; that you may 
estimate by a right standard the tme content and essence 
of any religion ; that you may have some definite and sure 
procedure for separating the inner from the outer, the 
native from the borrowed and extraneous, and the sacred 
from the profane, forget the characteristic attributes of 
single religions and seek, from the centre outwards, a 
general view of how the essence of a positive religion is to 
be comprehended and determined. 

You will then find that the positive religions are just 
the definite forms in which religion must exhibit itself 
a thing to which your so-called natural religions have no 
claim. They are only a vague, sorry, poor thought that 
corresponds to no reality, and you will find that in the 
positive religions alone a true individual cultivation of the 
religious capacity is possible. Nor do they, by their nature, 
injure the freedom of their adherents. 

Why have I assumed that religion can only be given 
fully in a great multitude of forms of the utmost definite- 
ness ? Only on grounds that naturally follow from what 
has been said of the nature of religion. The whole of 
religion is nothing but the sum of all relations of man to 
God, apprehended in all the possible ways in which any 
man can be immediately conscious in his life. In this sense 
there is but one religion, for it would be but a poverty- 
stricken and halting life, if all these relations did not exist 
wherever religion ought to be. Yet all men will not by 
any means apprehend them in the same way, but quite 
differently. Now this difference alone is felt and alone 
can be exhibited while the reduction of all differences is 
only thought. 

You are wrong, therefore, with your universal religion 
that is natural to all, for no one will have his own true and 
right religion, if it is the same for all. As long as we 
occupy a place there must be in these relations of man to 
the whole a nearer and a farther, which will necessarily 


determine each, feeling differently in each life. Again, as 
long as we aro individuals, every man has greater recep- 
tiveness for some religious experiences and feelings than 
for others. In this way everything is different. Mani 
festly then, no single relation can accord to every feeling 
its due. It requires the sum of them. Hence, the whole 
of religion can be present only, when all those different views 
of every relation are actually given. This is not possible, 
except in an endless number of different forms. They must 
be determined adequately by a different principle of re 
ference to the others, and in each the same religious element 
must be characteristically modified. In short, they must 
be true individuals. 

What determines and distinguishes these individuals, and 
what, on the other hand, is common to all their component 
parts, holds them together, and is their principle of adhesion, 
whereby any given detail is to be adjudged to its own type 
of religion, are implied in what has been already said. But 
this view can only be verified by the existing historical 
religions, and of them it is maintained that all this is 
different, and that such is not their relation to one another. 
This we must now examine. 

First, a definite quantity of religious matter is not neces 
sarily, in the same degree, a definite form of religion. 

This is an entire misunderstanding of the nature of the 
different religions. Even among their adherents it is 
general, and causes manifold opposite and false judgments. 
They suppose that because so many men acknowledge the 
same religion, they must have the same body of religious 
views and feelings. Their fellow-believers must have the 
same opinions and the same faith as they have, and this 
common possession must be the essence of their religion. 
The peculiarly characteristic and individual element in a 
religion is not easy to find with certainty from instances, 
but, however general the idea may be, if you believe that 
it consists in including a definite sum of religious intuitions 


and feelings, and that as a consequence the positive religions 
are prejudicial to the freedom of the individual in the de 
velopment of his own religion, you are in error. Single 
perceptions and feelings are, as you know, the elements of 
religion, and it can never lead to the character of any one 
religion to regard them as a mere heap, tossed together 
without regard to number, kind or purpose. 

If now, as I have sought to show, religion needs to be 
of many types because, of every relation different views 
are possible, according as it stands related to the rest, how 
would we be helped by such a compendium of some of them 
that could define none ? If the positive religions were only 
distinguished by what they exclude, they could certainly 
not be the individual manifestations we seek. That this is 
not their character, however, appears from the impossibility 
of arriving from this point of view at a distinct idea of 

As they continue to exist apart, such an idea must be 
possible, for only what commiDgles in fact is inseparable in 
idea. It is evident that the different religious perceptions 
and feelings are not, in a determinate way, awakened by 
one another or interdependent. Now, as each exists for 
itself, each can lead, by the most various combinations, to 
every other. Hence, different religions could not continue 
long beside one another, if they were not otherwise dis 
tinguished. Very soon each would supplement itself into 
uniformity with all others. 

Even in the religion of any one man, as it is fashioned 
in the course of life, nothing is more accidental than the 
quantity of religious matter that may arrive at conscious 
ness. Some views may set and others may rise and come to 
clearness, and his religion in this respect is ever in flux. 
Much less can the boundary, which in the individual is so 
changeable, be permanent and essential in the religion of 
several associated individuals. In the highest degree it 
must be an unusual and accidental occurrence that, even 


for a little time, several men remain in the same circle of 
perceptions and advance along the same path of feeling. 2 

Hence, among those who determine their religion in this 
way, there is a standing quarrel about essentials and non- 
essentials. They do not know what is to be laid down as 
characteristic and necessary, and what to separate as free 
and accidental ; they do not find the point from which the 
whole can be surveyed ; they do not understand the 
religion in which they live and for which they presume to 
fight; and they contribute to its degeneration, for, while 
they are influenced by the whole, they consciously grasp 
only the detail. Fortunately the instinct they do not 
understand, guides them better than their understandings, 
and nature sustains what their false reflections and the 
doing and striving that flow from them would destroy. 
x" If the character of any special religion is found in a defi 
nite quantity of perceptions and feelings, some subjective 
and objective connection, binding exactly these elements 
together and excluding all others, must be assumed. This 
false notion agrees well enough with the way of comparing 
religious conceptions that is common but is not agreeable 
to the spirit of religion. A whole of this type would not 
be what we seek to give religion in its whole compass a de 
terminate shape. It would not be a whole, but an arbitrary 
section of the whole ; it would not be a religion, it would 
be a sect. Except by taking the religious experiences of 
one single person, and necessarily of only one short period 
of his life, as the norm for a society, it could hardly arise. 
But the forms which history has produced and which are 
now actually existing are not wholes of this sort. All sec 
tarianism, be it speculative, for bringing single intuitions 
into a philosophical coherence, or ascetic, for reaching a 
system and determinate series of feelings, labours for the 
utmost uniformity among all who would share the same 
fragment of religion. Those who are infected with this 
mania certainly do not lack activity, and if they have never 


succeeded in reducing any one positive religion to a sect/ 
you will have to acknowledge that the positive religions 
must be formed on another principle and must have another 

You will see this even more clearly by thinking of the 
times that gave them birth. You will recall how every 
positive religion, in its growth and bloom, when its peculiar 
vigour was most youthful, fresh and evident, did not con 
centrate and exclude, but expanded and pushed fresh shoots 
and acquired more religious matter to be wrought up in 
accordance with its own peculiar nature. 

Therefore religions are not fashioned on this false prin 
ciple. It is not one with their nature, it is a corruption 
that has crept in from the outside, as hostile to them as to 
the spirit of religion generally. Their relation to it which 
is a standing warfare, is another proof that they actually 
are constituted as individual manifestations of religion 
should be. 

Just as little could the general differences of religion 
suffice to produce a thoroughly definite individual form. 
The three ways of being conscious of existence and of its 
totality, as chaos, system and elemental diversity, so often 
mentioned, are very far from being so many single and 
distinct religions. Divide an idea to infinity if you will, 
you cannot thereby reach an individual. You only get less 
general ideas which may, as genus and species, embrace a 
mass of very different individuals. To find the character 
of individual beings, there must be more than the idea 
and its attributes. But those three differences in religion 
are only the usual division according to the current scheme 
of unity/ diversity and totality. They are types of religion 
but not religious individualities, and the need to seek for 
this individuality is by no means satisfied by the existence 
of religion in this threefold way. It is clear as day that 
there are many distinct manifestations of religion belonging 
to each type. 


Just as little are the personal and the opposing panthe 
istic modes of conception two such individual forms. 4 They 
go through all three types of religion and, for that reason 
alone, cannot be individualities. They are simply another 
principle of division. Only recently we agreed that this 
antithesis rests simply on a way of regarding the religious 
feeling, and of ascribing to its phenomena a common object. 
Hence the fact that any particular religion inclines more 
to one form of representation and expression than to the 
other, no more determines its individuality than it would 
its worth and the stage of its development. The individual 
elements of religion are as indefinite, and none of the various 
ways of regarding them are realized, because either the one 
or the other thought accompanies them. This may be seen 
in all purely deistic manifestations of religion. Though 
they desire to be considered quite definite, you will find 
everywhere that all religious feelings, and especially what 
is most dwelt on all views of the movements of humanity 
in the individual, of the highest unity of mankind, of every 
thing in the mutual relations of men that lies beyond each 
man s good pleasure, are utterly indefinite and ambiguous. 
The personal and the pantheistic conceptions, .therefore, 
are only very general forms that may be further determined 
and individualized in various ways. 

Perhaps you may seek this further determination by 
uniting the two modes of conception with the three modes 
of intuition. You would reach narrower sub-divisions, but 
not a thoroughly definite and individual whole. Neither 
naturalism 5 meaning perception of the world limited to 
elemental diversity, without the conception of a personal 
consciousness and will in the various elements nor pan 
theism, nor polytheism, nor deism are single and definite 
religions, such as we seek. They are simply types within 
which there have been, and there will still be, very many 
genuine individualities developed. 6 

Let me say then at once, that the only remaining way 



for a truly individual religion to arise is to select some onej, 
of the great relations of mankind in the world to the Highest II 
Being, and, in a definite way, make it the centre and refer 
to it all the others. In respect of the idea of religion, this 
may appear a merely arbitrary proceeding, but, in respect 
of the peculiarity of the adhereots, being the natural ex 
pression of their character, it is the purest necessity. 
Hereby a distinctive spirit and a common character enter 
the whole at the same time, and the ambiguous and vague 
reach firm ground. By every formation of this kind one 
of the endless number of different views and different 
arrangements of the single elements, which are all possible 
and all require to be exhibited, is fully realized. Single 
elements are all seen on the one side that is turned towards 
this central point, which makes all the feelings have a com 
mon tone and a livelier closer interaction. 

The whole of religion can only be actually given in the 
sum of all the forms possible in this sense. It can, there 
fore, be exhibted only in an endless series of shapes that are 
gradually developed in different points of time and space, 
and nothing adds to its complete manifestation that is not 
found in one of those forms. Where religion is so moulded\ 
that everything is seen and felt in connection with one i 
relation to the Deity that mediates it or embraces it, it j 
matters not in what place or in what man it is formed or ] 
what relation is selected, it is a strictly positive religion./ 
In respect of the sum of the religious elements to use a 
word that should again be brought to honour it is a heresy, 7 
for from many equals one is chosen to be head of the rest. 
In respect, however, of the fellowship of all participants and 
their relation to the founder of their religion who first 
raised this central point to clear consciousness, it is a school 
and a discipleship. 

But if, as is to be hoped, we are agreed that religion 
can only be exhibited in and by such definite forms, only 
those who with their own religion pitch their camp in some 


such positive form, have any fixed abode, and, if I might so 
say, any well-earned right of citizenship in the religious 
world. They alone can boast of contributing to the ex 
istence and the progress of the whole, and they alone are 
in the full sense religious persons, on one side belonging 
by community of type to a kindred, on the other being 
distinguished by persistent and definite traits from everyone 

But many perhaps who take an interest in the affairs of 
religion may ask with consternation, or some evil-disposed 
person may ask with guile, whether every pious person must 
connect himself with one of the existing forms of religion. 
Provisionally, I would say, by no means. It is only necessary 
that his religion be developed in himself characteristically 
and definitely. That it should resemble any great, largely 
accepted, existing form is not equally necessary. I would 
remind him that I have never spoken of two or three definite 
forms, and said that they are to be the only ones. Rather, 
they may evermore develope in countless numbers from all 
points. Whosoever does not find himself at home in an 
existing religion, I might almost say whosoever is not in a 
position to make it if he had not found it, 8 must belong to 
none but should be held bound to produce a new one for 
himself. Is he alone in it and without disciples, it does not 
matter. Everywhere there are germs that cannot arrive at 
any more extended existence, and the religion of one person 
may have a definite form and organization, and be quite as 
genuinely a positive religion as if he had founded the 
greatest school. 

In my opinion, then, you will see that the existing forms 
should not in themselves hinder any man from developing 
a religion suitable to his own nature and his own religious 
sense. The question of abiding in one of them or of con 
structing a religion of one s own, depends entirely on what 
relation developes in a man as fundamental feeling and 
middle-point of all religions. 


This is my provisional answer, bat if he will hear more 
I would add that, except by misunderstanding, it would be 
very difficult to find oneself in such a position. A new re 
velation is never trivial, and. merely personal, but always rests 
on something great and common. Hence adherents and 
fellow-believers have never failed the man really called to 
institute a new religion. Most men, following their nature, 
will belong to an existing form, and there will be only few 
whom none suffices. 

Yet and this is my chief point the authority being 
the same for all, the many are no less free than the few, 
and do no less fashion something of their own. If 
we follow any man s religious history, we find first dim 
presentiments which never quite stir the depths of the heart, 
and, being unrecognized, again disappear. Around every 
man, especially in earlier days, they doubtless hover. Some 
hint may awaken them, and they may again vanish without 
reaching any definite form and betraying aught characteristic. 
Afterwards it first comes to pass that the sense for the 
Universe rises once for all into clear consciousness. One 
man discovers it in one relation, another in another. Here 
after all things are referred to this relation, and so group 
themselves around it. Such a moment, therefore, in the 
strictest sense, determines every man s religion. Now I 
hope you will not consider a man s religion less charac 
teristic, less his own, because it lies in a region where 
already several are collected. In this similarity you are 
not to find a mechanical influence of custom or birth, but, 
as you do in other cases, you are to recognize a common 
determination by higher causes. This agreement is a 
guarantee of naturalness and truth, and cannot, whether 
one is first or last, be hurtful to individuality. Though 
thousands before him and after him referred their religious 
life to one relation, would it, therefore, be the same in all ? 
Remember that every definite form of religion is 
exhaustless for any one man. In its own way it should 



embrace the whole, a thing too great for any man. And 
not only so, but in itself there exist endless varieties of 
cultivation which are, as it were, subordinate types of 
religion. Is there not here work and scope enough for all ? 
I, at least, am not aware that any religion had succeeded 
in so taking possession of its territory, and had so determined 
and exhibited everything therein, according to its own 
spirit, that, in any one professor of distinguished gifts and 
individuality of mind, nothing is wanting to perfection. 
Only to few of our historical religion has it been granted, 
even in the time of their freedom and higher life, to develope 
rightly and perfectly the neighbourhood of the middle-point, 
and, in even a few forms, to give individual impress to the 
common character. The harvest is great but the labourers 
are few. An infinite field is opened in each of those 
religions, wherein thousands may scatter themselves. 
Uncultivated regions enough present themselves to every 
one who is capable of making and producing something of 
his own. 9 

The charge that everyone who allows himself to be 
embraced in a positive religion, can only be an imitator of 
those who have given it currency and cannot develope 
himself individually, is baseless. This judgment no more 
applies here, than it would to the state or to society. 
It seems to us morbid or quixotic for any one to maintain 
that he has no room in any existing institution, and that 
he must exclude himself from society. We are convinced 
that every healthy person will, in common with many, have 
a great national character. Just because he is rooted in it 
and influenced by it, he can develope his individuality with 
the greatest precision and beauty. Similarly, in religion 
only morbid aberration so cuts off a man from a life in 
fellowship with those among whom nature has placed him, 
that he belongs to no great whole. Somewhere, on a great 
scale, everyone will find exhibited or will himself exhibit 
what for him is the middle-point of religion. To every such 


common sphere we ascribe a boundless activity that goes 
into detail, in virtue of which all individual characteristics 
issue from its bosom. Thus understood, the church is with 
right called the common mother of us all. 

To take the nearest example, think of Christianity as a 
definite individual form of the highest order. First there is 
in our time the well known outward division, so definite and 
pronounced. Under each section there is then a mass of 
different views and schools. Each exhibits a characteristic 
development, and has a founder and adherents, yet the last 
and most personal development of religiousness remains for 
each individual, and so much is it one with his nature that 
no one can fully acquire it but himself. And the more a 
man, by his whole nature, has a claim to belong to you, ye 
cultured, the more religion must reach this stage in him, for 
his higher feeling, gradually developing and uniting with 
other educated capacities, must be a characteristic product. 

Or if, after unknown conception and rapid birth-pangs of 
the spirit, the higher feelings develope, to all appearance 
suddenly, is not then a characteristic personality born with 
the religious life ? There is a definite connection with a past, 
a present and a future. The whole subsequent religious 
life is linked in this way to that moment and that state in 
which this feeling surprised the soul. It thus maintains its 
connection with the earlier, poorer life, and has a natural 
uniform development. Nay more, in this initial consciousness 
there must already be a distinctive character. Only in a shape 
and only under circumstances thoroughly definite, could it 
so suddenly enter a life already developed. This distinctive 
character, then, every subsequent moment displays and is 
thus the purest expression of the whole nature. The living 
spirit of the earth, rending itself from itself as it were, links 
himself as a finite thing to one definite moment in the series 
of organic evolutions and a new man arises, a peculiar 
nature. His separate existence is independent of the mass 
and objective quality either of his circumstances or his 

Q 2 


actions. It consists in the peculiar unity of the abiding 
consciousness that is linked to that first moment, and in the 
peculiar relation to it which every later moment preserves. 
Wherefore, in that moment in which in any man a definite 
consciousness of his relation to the highest Being has, as it 
were, original birth, an individual religious life originates. 

It is individual, not by an irreversible limitation to a 
particular number and selection of feelings and intuitions, 
not by the quality of the religious matter. This matter all 
who have the spiritual birth at the same time and in the 
same religious surroundings have in common. But it is 
individual by what he can have in common with no man, by 
the abiding influence of the peculiar circumstances in which 
his spirit was first greeted and embraced by the Universe, 
and by the peculiar way in which he conducts his observa 
tion and reflection on the same. This character and tone 
of the first childhood of his religion are borne by the whole 
subsequent course of his views and feelings, and are never 
lost, however far he may advance in fellowship with the 
Eternal Fountainhead. 

^ Every intelligent finite being announces its spiritual 
nature and individuality by taking you back to what I may 
call a previous marriage in him of the Infinite with the finite, 
and your imagination refuses to explain it from any single 
prior factor, whether caprice or nature. In the same way 
you must regard as an individual everyone who can point 
to the birthday of his spiritual life and relate a wondrous 
tale of the rise of his religion as an immediate operation of 
the Deity, an influence of His spirit. He must be charac 
teristic and special, for such an event does not happen to 
produce in the kingdom of religion vain repetition. 10 Every 
thing that originates organically and is self-contained can 
only be explained from itself. If its origin and individuality 
are not regarded as mutually explanatory and identical, it 
can never be quite understood. Thus you can only under 
stand the religious person in so far as you know how to 


discover the whole in the notable moment that began his 
higher life, or from the developed manifestation can trace 
back this uniform character to the first, dimmest times of 

All this being well considered, it will not be possible for 
you, I believe, to be in earnest with this complaint against 
the positive religions. If you still persist in it, it can only 
be from prejudice, for you are far too careless about the 
matter to be justified by your own observation. You have 
never felt the call to attach yourselves to the few religious 
men you might be able to discover. Though they are ever 
attractive and worthy enough of love, you have never tried 
by the microscope of friendship, or even of closer sympathy, 
to examine more accurately how they are organized both by 
and for the Universe. 

For myself I have diligently considered them, I have 
sought out as patiently and studied them with the same 
reverent care that you devote to the curiosities of nature, 
and it has often occurred to me whether you would not be 
led to religion simply by giving heed to the almighty way 
in which the Deity builds up, from all that has otherwise 
been developed in man, that part of the soul in which He 
specially dwells, manifests His immediate operation, and 
mirrors Himself, and thus makes His sanctuary quite 
peculiar and distinct, and if you only noticed how He glori 
fies Himself in it by the exhaustless variety and opulence of 
forms. I, at least, am ever anew astonished at the many 
notable developments in a region so sparsely peopled as 
religion. Men are distinguished by all degrees of receptivity 
for the charm of the same object and by the greatest differ 
ence of effect, by the variety of tone produced by the prepon 
derance of one or other type of feeling, by all sorts of idiosyn 
crasies of sensitiveness and peculiarity of temperament, 
and the religious view of things nevertheless is perpetually 
prominent. Again I see how the religious character of a man 
is often something quite peculiar in him, strongly marked 


off to the common eye from everything else shown in his 
other endowments. The most quiet and sober mind may be 
capable of the strongest, most passionate emotions ; a sense 
most dull to common and earthly things feels deeply even 
to sadness, and sees clearly even to rapture and prophecy ; 
a heart most timid in all worldly matters testifies even by 
martyrdom to the world and to the age. And how wonder 
fully is this religious character itself fashioned and composed. 
Culture and crudeness, capacity and limitation, tenderness 
and hardness are in each, in a peculiar way, mixed and inter 

Where have I seen all this ? In the peculiar sphere of 
religion, in its individual forms, in the positive religions 
which you decry as utterly wanting in variety. I have seen 
it among the heroes and martyrs of a definite faith in a way 
for which the friends of natural religion are too cold, among 
enthusiasts for living feeling, in a way they hold as too 
dangerous, among the worshippers of some new sprung 
light and individual revelation. There I will show you them, 
there at all times and among all peoples. Nowhere else are 
they to be met. No man as a mere single being can come 
to actual existence. By the very fact of existence he is set 
in a world, in a definite order of things, and becomes an object 
among other objects, and a religious man, by attaining his 
individual life, enters by this very fact into a common life, 
which is to say into some definite form of religion. The two 
things are simply one and the same divine act, and cannot 
be separated. If the original capacity of a man is too weak 
to reach this highest stage of consciousness, by fashioning 
itself in a definite way, the stimulus must also be too weak 
to initiate the process of a characteristic and robust religious 

And now I have rendered you my account. It is for you 
now to tell me how, in respect of development and indi 
viduality, it stands with your boasted natural religions. 
Show me among its professors an equally great variety of 


strongly marked characters. For myself I must confess 
that I have never found among them anything of the sort. 
Your boast of the freedom that this kind of religion gives 
its adherents to develope themselves religiously according 
to their own sense, seems merely of freedom to remain un 
developed, freedom neither to be, nor to see, nor to feel 
anything at all that is definite. Eeligion plays in their 
mind far too wretched a role. It is as if religion had no 
pulse, no vasculary system, no circulation, and so had no 
heat, no assimilative power. It has no character of its 
own, no peculiar presentation. Everywhere it shows itself 
dependent upon the cast of a man s morals and sensibility. 
In union with them, or rather meekly following them, it 
moves idly and sparingly, and is only perceptible when it is 
patiently, and, as it were by drops, separated from them. 

Many estimable and strong religious characters, indeed, I 
have met, whom the adherents of the positive religions, 
not without wondering at the phenomenon, regard as ad 
herents of natural religion. But on closer view they 
recognized them as their confreres. Such persons have 
always swerved somewhat from the original purity of the 
religion of reason, and have accepted something arbitrary, 
as it is called, something positive. 

But why do those who respect natural religion at once 
distrust everyone who introduces any characteristic feature 
into his religion ? They also would have uniformity, 
though at the opposite extreme from sectarianism, the 
uniformity of indefiniteness. So little is any special per 
sonal cultivation through the positive religions to be thought 
of, that its most genuine adherents do not even wish the 
religion of man to have any history of its own at all or to 
commence with any notable event. Too much there has 
been already for their taste, moderation being for them 
the chief matter in religion, and all who can boast of 
religious emotions issuing suddenly from the depths of 
the heart, come at once into the evil repute of being in- 


fected by baleful enthusiasm. By little and little men are 
to become religious, just as they become wise and prudent 
and everything else they should be. All must come to 
them by instruction and education. There must be 
nothing that could be regarded as supernatural or even as 

I would not say that in making instruction and education 
everything, natural religion has pre-eminently fallen into 
the evil of being mixed with metaphysics and morals, nay, 
of being changed into them : but this at least is clear, that 
its adherents have not started from any living self-contem 
plation and allowing nothing to mark their cast of thought, 
whereby in any characteristic way men might be affected, 
they have no sure middle-point. The belief in a personal 
God, more or less anthropomorphic, and in a personal im 
mortality, more or less dematerialized and sublimated the 
two dogmas to which they reduce everything depends, as 
they know themselves, on no special way of viewing or 
comprehending. Hence, any one who joins them is not 
asked how he came to his faith, but how he can demonstrate 
it. Thus they assume that he must have reached every 
thing by demonstration. Any other and more definite 
middle- point you would have difficulty in indicating. The 
little that their meagre and attenuated religion does con 
tain is of great ambiguity. They have a providence in 
general, a righteousness in general, a divine education in 
general. Now it is in this perspective and fore-shortening, 
now in that, so that the value of everything is perpetually 
changing. Or if there is any common reference to one 
point, it is to something alien to religion, such as how to 
remove obstacles from morality, or sustain the desire for 
happiness, or something else about which, in ordering the 
elements of their religion, truly religious men have never 
asked. Their scanty religious possessions are thereby still 
more scattered and dispersed. 

This natural religion, then, does not unite its religious 


elements by one definite view and is no definite religious 
form, no proper individual representation of religion. 
Those who profess it have in its territory no definite 
dwelling, but are strangers whose home, if indeed they 
have any, must be elsewhere. They remind one of the 
thin and dispersed mass said to float between the worlds, 
which is here attracted by one and there by another, but 
not enough by any to be swept into its rotation. Why it 
exists the gods may know. It must be to show that the 
indefinite also can have a certain existence. Yet it is 
properly only a waiting for existence, to which they can 
only attain by the power of some force stronger and of a 
different kind from any they have been subjected to here 
tofore. More I cannot ascribe to them than the dim pre 
sentiments that precede that living consciousness in which 
religious life comes to visibility for man. There are certain 
dim impulses and conceptions that have no coherence with 
a man s individuality and only, as it were, fill up the vacant 
spaces. They originate only in the collective life, and are 
uniformly the same in all. The religion of men of this 
kind is thus the inarticulate echo of the piety around 

At the highest it is natural religion in the sense in 
which men used to speak of natural philosophy and natural 
poetry. The name was applied to such productions as 
lacked originality, and which, without being clumsy, con 
scious imitations, were but crude utterances of superficial 
endowments. The epithet was meant to distinguish them 
from the works of living, plastic science and art. 

The better part found only in the productions of the 
religious societies, they do not wait for with longing, they 
do not esteem it more highly because they cannot reach it, 
but they oppose it with all their might. The essence of 
natural religion consists almost entirely in denying every 
thing positive and characteristic in religion and in violent 
polemics. It is the worthy product of an age, the hobby of 


which was that wretched generality and vain soberness 
which in everything was most hostile to true culture. Two 
things are hated supremely, a commencement in anything 
extraordinary and incomprehensible, and subsequently any 
suggestion of a school. This same corruption you will find 
in all arts and sciences. Into religion also it has forced 
its way, and its product is this empty formless thing. Men 
would be self-produced and self-taught in religion, and they 
are rude and uncultured, as is common with such persons. 
For characteristic production they have neither power nor 
will. Every definite religion they resist because it is a 
school, and if they should light on anything whereby a 
religion of their own might be fashioned, they would be as 
violent against it, seeing that from it also a school might 

Hence their resistance to the positive and arbitrary is 
resistance to the definite and real. If a definite religion 
may not begin with an original fact, it cannot begin at all. 
There must be a common ground for selecting some one 
religious element and placing it at the centre, and this 
ground can only be a fact. And if a religion is not to be 
definite it is not a religion at all, for religion is not a name 
to be applied to loose, unconnected impulses. Recall what 
the poet says of a state of souls before birth. Suppose 
someone were to object to come into the world because he 
would not be this man or that, but a man in general ! The 
polemic of natural religion against the positive is this 
polemic against life and it is the permanent state of its 

Go back then, if you are in earnest about beholding 
religion in its definiteness, from this enlightened natural 
religion to those despised positive religions. There every 
thing appears active, strong and secure, every single 
intuition has its definite content and its own relation to the 
rest, and every feeling has its proper sphere and its peculiar 
reference. You find somewhere every modification of 


religiousness and every mental state in which religion can 
place men, with each of its effects somewhere complete. 
Common institutions and single utterances alike testify that 
religion is valued almost to forgetfulness of all else. The 
holy zeal with which it is contemplated, communicated and 
enjoyed, and the child-like long-ing with which new reve 
lations of heavenly power are expected, 11 guarantee that no 
element visible from this standpoint shall be overlooked, 
and that nothing has disappeared without leaving a monu 
ment. Consider the variety of forms in which every single 
kind of fellowship with the Universe has already appeared. 
Do not be scared either by mysterious darkness or by 
wonderful dazzling grotesque traits. Do not admit the 
delusion that it may all be imagination and romance. Dig 
ever deeper where your magic rod has once pointed, and 
without fail you will bring forth the heavenly stream to the 
light of day. 

But regard also the human which is to receive the 
divine. Do not forget that religion bears traces of the 
culture of every age and of the history of every race of men. 
Often it must go about in the form of a servant, displaying 
in its surroundings and in its adorning the poverty of its 
home and its disciples. You must not overlook how it has 
often been stunted in its growth from want of room to 
exercise its powers, and how from childhood it has pined 
miserably from bad treatment and ill-chosen nourishment. 

And if you would comprehend the whole, do not abide by 
the various forms of religion that for centuries have shone 
and have dominated great peoples, and have been glorified 
in many ways by poets and sages. Recollect that what is 
historically and religiously most noteworthy is often dis 
tributed among but few, and remains hidden to the common 
eye. 12 

But when, in this way, you have wholly and completely 
within your vision the right object, it will ever remain a diffi 
cult business to discover the spirit of the religions and from 


it to interpret them. Once more I warn you not to try to 
deduce it as an abstraction from the elements common to 
all the adherents. You will wander into a thousand vain 
researches, and come in the end not to the spirit of the reli 
gion but to a definite quantity of matter. You will remem 
ber that no religion has quite reached actuality, and that 
you cannot know it until, far removed from seeking it in 
a narrow space, you are able to complete and define it in 
the way it would develope if its scope had been large enough. 
And as this applies to every positive religion, it applies to 
every period of it and to every subordinate form of it. You 
cannot enough impress it upon yourselves that it all resolves 
itself into finding the fundamental relation. Without that, 
knowledge of details is unavailing, and you have not found 
it till all details are fast bound in one. 

Even with this principle of research as a touchstone, you 
will be exposed to a thousand errors, for much will meet 
you to withdraw your eyes from the true path. Above all, 
I beseech you, never forget the difference between the 
essence of a religion, in so far as it is a definite form and 
representation of religion in general and its unity as a 

Eeligious men are throughout historical. That is not 
their smallest praise, but it is also the source of great mis 
understandings. The moment when they were first filled 
with that consciousness which they have made the centre 
of their religion is always sacred for them. Without refer 
ence to it, they never speak of what for them is character 
istic in religion and of the form to which in themselves it 
has attained. You can easily imagine, then, how.much more 
sacred still the moment must be in which this infinite 
intuition was first of all set up in the world as the founda 
tion and centre of one peculiar religion. To it the whole 
development of this religion in all generations and indi 
viduals is historically linked. Now this sum of the religion, 
and the religious culture of a great body of mankind, is 


something infinitely greater than a man s own religious 
life, and the little mirror of this religion which he person 
ally exhibits. This fact then is glorified in alt ways ; every 
ornament of religious art is heaped upon it. It is wor 
shipped as the greatest and most blessed miracle of the 
Highest. Men never speak of their religion, nor ever exhibit 
any of its elements except in connection with this fact. 

As a consequence nothing is more natural than that this 
fact should be confused with the fundamental intuition of 
the religion. This has misled almost everyone and dis 
torted the view of almost all religions. Never forget that 
the fundamental intuition of a religion must be some 
intuition of the Infinite in the finite, some one universal 
religious relation, found in every other religion that would 
be complete, but in this one only placed in the centre. 

I beg you also not to regard everything found in the 
heroes of religion or in the sacred sources as religion. Do 
not seek in everything the decisive spirit of that religion. 
Nor do I exclude trifles merely, or things that on any 
estimate are foreign to religion, but things often mistaken 
for it. Recollect how undesignedly those sources were pre 
pared, so that it was impossible to provide for the ex 
clusion of everything not religion. And recall how the 
authors lived in all sorts of circumstances in the world, and 
could not say at every word they wrote, this does not 
belong to the faith. When they speak worldly wisdom 
and morality, or metaphysics and poetry, therefore, do not 
at once conclude that it must be forced into religion, or 
that in it the character of religion is to be sought. Morality, 
at least, should be everywhere only one, and religion which 
should not be anywhere one, cannot be distinguished by 
the differences of morality, which are always something to 
be got rid of. 13 

Above all I beg you not to be misled by the two hostile 
principles that everywhere, and almost from the earliest 
times, have sought to distort and obscure the spirit of 


religion. Some would circumscribe it to a single dogmi, 
and exclude everything not fashioned in agreement with it, 
others, from hatred to polemics, or to make religion more 
agreeable to the irreligious, or from misunderstanding and 
ignorance of the matter, or from lack of religious sense, 
decry everything characteristic as dead letter. Guard your 
selves from both. With rigid systematizers or shallow 
indifferentists you will not find the spirit of a religion. It 
is found only among those who live in it as their element, 
and ever advance in it without cherishing the folly that 
they embrace it all. 

Whether with these precautions you will succeed in dis 
covering the spirit of the religions I do not know. I fear 
religion is only comprehensible through itself, and that its 
special architecture and characteristic difference will not 
become clear till you yourselves belong to some one 

How you may succeed in deciphering the rude and un 
developed religions of remote peoples, or in unravelling 
the manifold, varied religious phenomena lying wrapped up 
in the beautiful mythologies of Greece and Rome, I care 
very little. May your gods guide you ! But when you 
approach the holiest in which the Universe in its highest 
unity and comprehensiveness is to be perceived, when you 
would contemplate the different forms of the highest stage 
of religion which is not foreign or strange, but more or 
less existent among ourselves, I cannot be indifferent 
as to whether or not you find the right point of view. 

Of one form only I should speak, for Judaism is long 
since dead. Those who yet wear its livery are only sitting 
lamenting beside the imperishable mummy, bewailing its 
departure and its sad legacy. Yet I could still wish to say 
a word on this type of religion. My reason is not that 
it was the forerunner of Christianity. I hate that kind of 
historical reference. Each religion has in itself its own 
eternal necessity, and its beginning is original. Bu the 


beautiful childlike character of Judaism charms me. This 
is so entirely overlaid, and we have here such a notable 
example of the corruption and utter extinction of religion 
in a great body in which it formerly existed, that it will 
well repay a few words. Remove everything political and 
moral as well, so God will, whereby this phenomenon is 
supposed to be characterized. Forget the experiment of 
joining the state to religion, if I should not say to the 
church ; forget that Judaism was, in a certain sense, an 
order founded on an ancient family history and sustained 
by priests. Regard only its strictly religious elements, andi 
then say what is the human consciousness of man s position* 
in the Universe and his relation to the Eternal that every 
where shines through. Is it anything but a relation of 
universal immediate retribution, of a peculiar reaction of 
the Infinite against every finite thing that can be regarded 
as proceeding from caprice ? In this way everything is 
regarded, growth and decay, fortune and misfortune. Even 
in the human soul freedom and caprice interchange with 
immediate operation of the Deity. All other recognized 
attributes of God express themselves in accordance with 
this principle, and are always regarded in their bearing 
upon it. The Deity is throughout represented as rewarding, 
punishing, disciplining single things in single persons. 
When the disciples asked Christ, " Who has sinned, this 
man or his parents ? " the religious spirit of Judaism ap 
peared in its most pronounced form, and his answer : " Think 
ye that these have sinned more than others ? " was his 
polemic against it. 

The universal interweaving of parallelism, therefore, is 
not an accident, nor the value set on dialogue. All history, 
being an abiding interchange between this attraction and 
this repulsion, is presented as a colloquy in word and deed 
between God and man, and what unity there is, is only from 
the uniformity of this dealing, and hence the sacredness of 
the tradition in which the connection of this great dialogue 


was contained, the impossibility of attaining religion, except 
through initiation into this connection, and hence also, 
in later times, the strife among the sects about the pos 
session of this intercourse. 

Just because of this view, it came to pass that the gift 
of prophecy was developed in Judaism as in no other re 
ligion. Even Christians are, in comparison, mere learners. 
The whole idea of the religion is in the highest degree 
childlike. It could only work 011 a narrow scene, without 
complications, where the whole being simple, the natural 
consequences of actions would not be disturbed or hindered. 
The more the adherents of this religion advanced on the 
scene of the world and had relations with other peoples, 
the more difficult did the exhibition of this idea become. 
Imagination had to anticipate the word which the Almighty 
would speak, and, abolishing intervening time and space, 
bring the second part of the same transaction immediately 
before the eyes. That is the essence of prophecy, and the 
effort after it was necessarily a prominent feature of 
Judaism, so long as it was possible to hold fast the fun 
damental idea and original form of the Jewish religion. 

The belief in the Messiah was its highest product, its 
noblest fruit, but also its last effort. A new sovereign 
must come to restore Zion, wherein the voice of the Lord 
was dumb, to its original splendour. By the subjection of 
the peoples to the old law, the simple course of patriarchal 
times, broken by the unpeaceful association of peoples, the 
opposition of their forces, and the difference of their 
customs, should again become general. This faith has long 
persisted, and, like a solitary fruit, after all life has vanished, 
hangs and dries on the withered stem till the rudest season 
of the year. 

The limited point of view allowed this religion, as a 
religion, but a short duration. It died, and as its sacred 
books were closed, the intercourse of Jehovah with His 
people was looked upon as ended. The political associa- 


tion linked with it dragged on still longer a feeble existence. 
Till very much later its external part endured, and was 
that unpleasant phenomenon, a mechanical motion from 
which life and spirit have long vanished. 

The original intuition of Christianity is more glorious, j 
more sublime, more worthy of adult humanity, penetrates I 
deeper into the spirit of systematic religion and extends^! 
itself further over the whole Universe. It is just the 
intuition of the Universal resistance of finite things to the 
unity of the Whole, and of the way the Deity treats this 
resistance. Christianity sees how He reconciles the 
hostility to Himself, and sets bounds to the ever-increasing 
alienation by scattering points here and there over the 
whole that are at once finite and infinite, human and 
divine. Corruption and redemption, hostility and media 
tion, are the two indivisibly united, fundamental elements 
of this type of feeling, and by them the whole form of 
Christianity and the cast of all the religious matter con 
tained in it are determined. With ever-increasing speed 
the spiritual world has departed from its perfection and 
imperishable beauty. All evil, even this that the finite 
must decay before it has completed the circuit of its 
existence, is a consequence of the will, of the self-seeking 
endeavour of the isolated nature that, everywhere rending 
itself from its connection with the Whole, seeks to be 
something by itself. Death itself has come on account of 
sin. The spiritual world, going from bad to worse, is 
incapable of any production in which the Divine Spirit 
actually lives. The understanding being darkened has 
swerved from the truth ; the heart is corrupt and has no 
praise before God ; the image of the Infinite in every part 
of finite nature has gone extinct. 

In accordance with this state of the spiritual world, all 
dealings of Divine Providence are calculated. They are 
never directed to the immediate results for feeling ; they 
do not consider the happiness or suffering which they pro- 


duce ; they are not even for hindering or forwarding 
certain actions. They are simply calculated to check 
corruption in the great masses, to destroy, without mercy, 
what can no more be restored, and with new powers to 
give birth to new creations. Wherefore He does signs 
and wonders that interrupt and shake the course of things, 
and sends ambassadors, with more or less of divine spirit 
indwelling, to pour out divine powers upon men. 

And when man does seek through self-consciousness to 
enter into fellowship with the unity of the Whole, the finite 
resists him, and he seeks and does not find and loses what 
he has found. He is defective, variable and attached to 
details and non-essentials. He wills rather than gives heed, 
and his aim vanishes from his eyes. In vain is every 
revelation. Everything is swallowed up by the earthly 
sense, everything is swept away by the innate irreligious 
principle. The Deity finds ever new devices. By His 
power alone, ever more glorious revelations issue from the 
bosom of the old. He sets up ever more exalted mediators 
between Himself and men. In every later ambassador the 
Deity unites with humanity ever more closely, that men 
may learn to know the Eternal Being. Yet the ancient 
complaint that man cannot comprehend what is from the 
Spirit of God is never taken away. 

This is how Christianity most and best is conscious of 
God, and of the divine order in religion and history. It 
manipulates religion itself as matter for religion. It is 
thus a higher power of religion, and this most distinguishes 
its character and determines its whole form. Because it 
presupposes a widely-extended godlessness it is through 
and through polemical. It is polemical in its outward com 
munication, for, to make its deepest nature evident, every 
corruption must be laid bare, be it in morals or in thinking. 
Above all it must expose the hostility to the consciousness 
of the Highest Being, which is the irreligious principle 
itself. Eelentlessly it unmasks every false morality, every 


bad religion, every unhappy union of both for mutual 
covering of nakedness. Into the inmost secrets of the 
corrupt heart it presses and illumines, with the sacred 
torch of personal experience, every evil that creeps in dark 
ness. Almost its first work on appearing was to destroy 
the last expectation of its pious contemporaries, saying it 
was irreligious and godless to expect any other restoration 
than restoration to purer faiths, to the higher view of 
things and to eternal life in God. Boldly it led the heathen 
beyond the separation they had made between the world 
of the gods and the world of men. Not to live and move 
and have the being in God is to be entirely ignorant of 
Him. If this natural feeling, this inner consciousness is 
lost amid a mass of sense impressions and desires, no 
religion has yet entered the narrow sense. Everywhere, 
then, its heralds tore open the whited sepulchres and 
brought the dead bones to light. Had these first heroes of 
Christianity been philosophers, they would have spoken as 
strongly against the corruption of philosophy. They never 
failed to recognize the outlines of the divine image. 
Behind all distortions and degradations they saw hidden 
the heavenly germ of religion. But as Christians they 
were chiefly concerned with the individual who was far 
from God and needed a mediator. 

Christianity, moreover, is as sharply and strongly po 
lemical within its own borders, and in the inmost fellow 
ship of the saints. Just because religion is nowhere so 
fully idealized as in Christianity, through its original pos 
tulate, perpetual warfare against all that is actual in religion 
is presented as a duty that can never be sufficiently fulfilled. 
And just because the ungodly is everywhere operative, 
because all actuality together appears unholy, an infinite 
holiness is the aim of Christianity. Never content with its 
attainments, it seeks, even in its purest productions, even 
in its holiest feelings, traces of irreligion and of the ten 
dency of all finite things to turn away from the unity of the 

E 2 


Whole. In the tone of the highest inspiration an ancient 
writer criticizes the religious state of the community ; in 
simple openness the great apostles speak of themselves. 
And this is how every man is to walk in the sacred circle. 
He is not only to be an inspired man and a teacher, but in 
humility he is to present himself also to the universal 
testing. Nor shall anything be spared, not even what is 
most loved and dear; nor shall anything be indolently put 
aside, not even what is most generally acknowledged. 
Though without it be praised as holy and be set up before 
the world as the essence of religion, within it must be sub 
jected to a severe and repeated test. Thus impurities are 
to be removed, and the splendour of the heavenly colours 
to shine more clearly in every pious impulse of the spirit. 

In nature you often see a compound mass, as soon as its 
chemical powers have overcome outside resistance or reduced 
it to equilibrium, take to fermenting, and eject one and 
another element. So it is with Christianity, it turns at last 
its polemical power against itself. Ever anxious, lest in its 
struggle with external irreligion it has admitted something 
alien, or may yet have in itself some principle of corruption, 
it does not avoid even the fiercest inward commotions to 
eject the evil. 

This is the history of Christianity that is rooted in its 
very nature. " I am not come to bring peace, but a sword/ 
the Founder Himself said. His gentle soul could not pos 
sibly have meant that He was come to occasion those bloody 
commotions, so utterly contrary to the spirit of religion, or 
that wretched strife of words that deals with dead matter 
which living religion does not admit. But what He did 
foresee, and in foreseeing command, were those holy wars 
that spring necessarily from the essence of His teaching, and 
which, as bitterly as He describes, rend hearts asunder and 
dissolve the most intimate relations of life. 

But not only are the elements of Christianity themselves 
subjected to this perpetual sifting; in their unbroken 


existence and life in the spirit there is an insatiable longing 
for ever stricter purification, ever richer fulness. Irreligiou 
is thought to dominate every moment in which the religious 
principle is not evident in the mind. Religion has no other 
opposite than just the absence of religious purpose : every 
interruption of religion is irreligion. If the mind is for a 
moment without intuition and feeling of the Infinite, it at 
once becomes conscious of hostility and remoteness. Chris 
tianity then demands as first and essential that piety be a 
constant state. It scorns to be satisfied, even with the 
strongest displays of it, as soon as it only rules certain por 
tions of the life. Piety should never rest, and there should 
never be anything so absolutely opposed as to be incon 
sistent with it. From all finite things we should see the 
Infinite. We should be in a position to associate religious 
feelings and -views with all sentiments, however they may 
have arisen, and with all actions, whatever be their object. 
That is the true highest aim of mastery in Christianity. 

How the fundamental view in Christianity, the view 
to which all others are referred, determines the charac 
ter of its feelings is easy to discover. What do you call 
that feeling of an unsatisfied longing which is directed 
towards a great object, and which you are conscious is 
infinite? What impresses you on finding the sacred and 
the profane, the noble with the common and the mean 
intimately united ? And what is the mood that urges 
you at times to assume the universality of this combination, 
and to search for it everywhere ? With Christians this 
holy sadness is not occasional, but is the dominant tone of 
all their religious feelings. That is the only name which 
the language affords me. It accompanies every joy and 
every pain, every love and every fear. Nay, in its pride 
and in its humility it is the ground tone. If you can re 
construct the depths of a spirit from single features, undis 
turbed by foreign elements that have come from who knows 
where, you will find this feeling throughout dominant in the 


Founder of Christianity. If a writer, who has left but a 
few leaves in a simple speech is not too unimportant for 
your attention, you will discover this tone in every word 
remaining to us from his bosom friend. 14 And if ever a 
Christian has allowed you to listen in the sanctuary of his 
soul, you have certainly caught just the same tone. 

Such is Christianity, Its distortions and manifold cor 
ruptions 1 will not spare, for the corruptibility of every holy 
thing, as soon as it becomes human, is part of its funda 
mental view of the world. And 1 will not go farther into 
the details of it. Its doings are before you, and I believe I 
have given you the thread that, guiding you through all 
anomalies, will make the closest scrutiny possible. From 
first to last look only at the clearness, the variety, and the 
richness with which that first idea has been developed. 

When, in the mutilated delineations of His life I con 
template the sacred image of Him who has been the author 
of the noblest that there has yet been in religion, it is not 
the purity of His moral teaching, which but expressed what 
all men who have come to consciousness of their spiritual 
nature, have with Him in common, and which, neither from 
its expression nor its beginning, can have greater value, 
that I admire; and it is not the individuality of His cha 
racter, the close union of high power with touching gentle 
ness, for every noble, simple spirit must in a special situa 
tion display some traces of a great character. All those 
things are merely human. But the truly divine element 
is the glorious clearness to which the great idea He 
came to exhibit attained in His soul. This idea was, that 
all that is finite requires a higher mediation to be in 
accord with the Deity, and that for man under the power of 
the finite and particular, and too ready to imagine the 
divine itself in this form, salvation is only to be found in 
redemption. Yain folly it is to wish to remove the veil 
that hides the rise of this idea in Him, for every begin 
ning in religion, as elsewhere, is mysterious. The prying 


sacrilege that has attempted it can only distort the divine. 
He is supposed to have taken His departure from the 
ancient idea of His people, and He only wished to utter its 
abolition which, by declaring Himself to be the Person 
they expected, He did most gloriously accomplish. Let us 
consider the living sympathy for the spiritual world that 
filled His soul, simply as we find it complete in Him. 

If all finite things require the mediation of a higher 
being, if it is not to be ever further removed from the 
Eternal and be dispersed into the void and transitory, if its 
union with the Whole is to be sustained and come to con 
sciousness, what mediates must not again require mediation, 
and cannot be purely finite. It must belong to both sides, 
participating in the Divine Essence in the same way and 
in the same sense in which it participates in human nature. 
But what did He see around Him that was not finite and in 
need of mediation, and where was aught that could mediate 
but Himself ? " No man knoweth the Father but the Son, 
and He to whom the Son shall reveal Him." This con 
sciousness of the singularity of His knowledge of God and 
of His existence in God, of the original way in which this 
knowledge was in Him, and of the power thereof to com 
municate itself and awake religion, was at once the con 
sciousness of His office as mediator and of His divinity. 

I would not speak of Him as standing opposed to the 
rude power of His foes without hope of longer life, for 
that is unspeakably unimportant. But when, forsaken in 
the thought of being silenced for ever, without seeing any 
outward institution for fellowship among His own actually 
set up, when in the face of the solemn splendour of the old 
corrupt system that had so mightily -resisted Him, when 
surrounded by all that could inspire awe and demand sub 
jection, by all that, from childhood, He had been taught to 
honour, sustained by nothing but that feeling, He uttered 
without delay that Yea, the greatest word mortal ever 
spake, it was the most glorious apotheosis, and no divinity 


can be more certain than that which He Himself thus 
proclaimed. 15 

With this faith in Himself, who can wonder at His 
assurance that He was not only a mediator for many, but 
would leave behind a great school that would derive their 
religion from His ? So certain was He that before it yet 
existed He appointed symbols for it. This He did in the 
conviction that they would suffice to bring the band of His 
disciples to a secure existence. Nay, so sure was He that 
already He had spoken among His own, with prophetic 
enthusiasm, of the immortalization of His memory. 

Yet He never maintained He was the only mediator, 
the only one in whom His idea actualized itself. All 
who attach themselves to Him and form His Church 
should also be mediators with Him and through Him. 
And He never made His school equivalent to His religion, 
as if His idea were to be accepted on account of His 
person, and not His person on account of His idea. Nay, 
He would even suffer His mediatorship to be undecided, if 
only the spirit, the principle from which His religion de 
veloped in Himself and others were not blasphemed. 

His disciples also were far from confusing this school 
with His religion. Pupils of the Baptist, still only very im 
perfectly initiated into the nature of Christianity, were, 
without anything further, regarded and treated by the 
apostles as Christians and reckoned genuine members of 
the community. And it should be so still. Everyone who, 
in his religion, sets out from the same cardinal point, 
whether his religion originates from himself or from anoiher, 
is, without respect of school, a Christian. It will naturally 
follow that when Christ with His whole efficacy is shown 
him he must acknowledge Him, who has become historically 
the centre of all mediation, the true Founder of redemption 
and reconciliation. 16 

Nor did Christ say that the religious views and feelings 
He Himself could communicate, were the whole extent of 


the religion that should proceed from this ground-feeling. 
He always pointed to the living truth which, though only 
"taking of His," would come after Him. Similarly with 
His disciples. They never sefc limits to the Holy Spirit. 
His unbounded freedom and the absolute unity of His 
revelations are everywhere acknowledged by them. 

And when, the first bloom of Christianity being past 
and it was appearing to rest from its works, those works, 
so far as they were contained in the sacred scriptures, were 
regarded as a finished codex of religion, it was only brought 
about by those who took the slumber of the Spirit for death 
religion, as far as they were concerned, being dead. All 
who still feel the life of religion in themselves or perceive 
it in others, have ever protested against this unchristian 
proceeding. The sacred scriptures have, by their native 
power, become a bible, and forbid no other book to be or 
to become a bible. Anything written with like power they 
would willingly allow to be associated with themselves. Nay, 
should not every later utterance of the whole church, 
and therefore of the Divine Spirit, append itself confidently, 
even though there be ineffaceably in the first fruits of the 
Spirit a special holiness and worth ? 17 

In accordance with this unlimited freedom, this essential 
infinity, then, this leading idea of Christianity of divine 
mediating powers has in many ways been developed, and 
all intuitions and feelings of the indwelling of the Divine 
Being in finite nature have within Christianity been 
brought to perfection. Thus very soon Holy Scripture in 
which, in its own way, divine essence and heavenly power 
dwelt, was held as a logical mediator to open for the know 
ledge of God the finite and corrupt nature of the under 
standing, while the Holy Spirit, in a later acceptation of 
the word, was an ethical mediator, whereby to draw near 
to the Deity in action. Nay, a numerous party of Christians 
declare themselves ready to acknowledge everyone as a 
mediating and divine being who can prove, by a divine life 


or any impress of divinenesSj tliat he has been, for even a 
small circle, the first quickening of the higher sense. To 
others Christ has remained one and all, while others have 
declared that their mediators have been their own selves 
or some particular thing. Whatever failure there may 
have been in form and matter, the principle is genuinely 
Christian, so long as it is free. Other human situations 
have, in their relation to the central point of Christianity, 
been expressed by feelings and represented by images, of 
which there is no hint in the speeches of Christ or elsewhere 
in the sacred books. Hereafter there will be more, for 
the whole being of man is not yet by any means embodied 
in the peculiar form of Christianity, but, despite of what 
is said of its speedy, its already accomplished overthrow, 
Christianity will yet have a long history. 

For why should it be overthrown ? The living spirit of 
it, indeed, slumbers oft and long. It withdraws itself into 
a torpid state, into the dead shell of the letter, but it ever 
awakes again as soon as the season in the spiritual world 
is favourable for its revival and sets its sap in motion. 
Thus in oft repeated cycle it renews itself in various ways. 
The fundamental idea of every positive religion, being a com 
ponent part of the infinite Whole in which all things must 
be eternal, is in itself eternal and universal, but its whole 
development, its temporal existence may not, in the same 
sense, be either universal or eternal. For to put the centre 
of religion just in that idea, it requires not only a certain 
mental attitude, but a certain state of mankind. Is this 
state, in the free play of the universal life, gone, never to 
return, that relation which, by its worth, made all others 
dependent on it, can no longer maintain itself in the feeling, 
and this type of religion can no more endure. This is the 
case with all childlike religions, as soon as men lose the 
consciousness of their essential power. They should be 
collected as monuments of the past and deposited in the 
magazine of history, for their life is gone, never to return. 


Christianity, exalted above them all, more historical and 
more humble in its glory, has expressly acknowledged this 
transitoriness of its temporal existence. A time will come, 
it says, when there shall no more be any mediator, but the 
Father shall be all in all. But when shall this time come ? 
I, at least, can only believe that it lies beyond all time. 

One half of the original intuition of Christianity is the 
corruptibleness of all that is great and divine in human 
things. If a time should come when this I will not say 
can no more be discovered, but no more obtrudes, when 
humanity advances so uniformly and peacefully, that only 
the navigator who calculates its course by the stars knows 
when it is somewhat driven back on the great ocean it 
traverses by a passing contrary wind, and the unarmed eye, 
looking only at what is taking place, can no more directly 
observe the retrogression of human affairs, I would gladly 
stand on the ruins of the religion I honour. 

The other half of the original Christian faith is that 
certain brilliant and divine points are the source of every 
improvement in this corruption and of every new and closer 
union of the finite with the Deity. Should a time ever 
come, when the power that draws us to the Highest was so 
equally distributed among the great body of mankind, that 
persons more strongly moved should cease to mediate for 
others, I would fain see it, I would willingly help to level 
all that exalteth itself. But this equality of all equalities 
is least possible. Times of corruption await all human 
things, even though of divine origin. New ambassadors 
from God will be required with exalted power to draw the 
recreant to itself and purify the corrupt with heavenly fire, 
and every such epoch of humanity is a palingenesis of 
Christianity, and awakes its spirit in a new and more 
beautiful form. 

And if there are always to be Christians, is Christianity, 
therefore, to be universal and, as the sole type of religion, 
to rule alone in humanity ? It scorns this autocracy. 


Every one of its elements it honours enough to be willing 
to see it the centre of a whole of its own. Not only would 
it produce in itself variety to infinity, but would willingly 
see even outside all that it cannot produce from itself. 
Never forgetting that it has the best proof of its immor 
tality in its own corruptibleness, in its own often sad 
history, and ever expecting a redemption from the imper 
fection that now oppresses it, it willingly sees other and 
younger, and, if possible, stronger and more beautiful types 
of religion arise outside of this corruption. It could see 
them arise close beside it, and issue from all points even 
from such as appear to it the utmost and most doubtful 
limits of religion. The religion of religions cannot collect 
material enough for its pure interest in all things human. 
As nothing is more irreligious than to demand general uni 
formity in mankind, so nothing is more unchristian than 
to seek uniformity in religion. 

In all ways the Deity is to be contemplated and wor 
shipped. Varied types of religion are possible, both in 
proximity and in combination, and if it is necessary that 
every type be actualized at one time or another, it is to be 
desired that, at all times, there should be a dim sense of 
many religions. The great moments must be few in which 
all things agree to ensure to one among them a wide- 
extended and enduring life, in which the same view is 
developed unanimously and irresistibly in a great body, and 
many persons are deeply affected by the same impression 
of the divine. Yet what may not be looked for from a 
time that is so manifestly the border land between two 
different orders of things ? If only the intense crisis were 
past, such a moment might arrive. Even now a prophetic 
soul, such as the fiery spirits of our time have, 18 turning its 
thoughts to creative genius, might perhaps indicate the 
point that is to be for the future generations the centre for 
their fellowship with the Deity. But however it be, and 
however long such a moment may still linger, new develop- 


ments of religion, wlietlier under Christianity or alongside 
of it, must come and that soon, even though for a long 
time they are only discernible in isolated and fleeting mani 
festations. Out of nothing a new creation always comes 
forth, and in all living men in whom the intellectual life 
has power and fulness, religion is almost nothing. From 
some one of the countless occasions it will be developed in 
many and take new shape in new ground. Were but the 
time of caution and timidity past ! Religion hates loneli 
ness, and in youth especially, which for all things is the time 
of love, it wastes away in a consuming longing. When it 
is developed in you, when you are conscious of the first 
traces of its life, enter at once into the one indivisible 
fellowship of the saints, which embraces all religions and in 
which alone any can prosper. Do you think that because 
the saints are scattered and far apart, you must speak to 
unsanctified ears ? You ask what language is secret 
enough is it speech, writing, deed, or quiet copy ing of the 
Spirit ? All ways, I answer, and you see that I have not 
shunned the loudest. In them all sacred things remain 
secret and hidden from the profane. They may gnaw at 
the shell as they are able, but to worship the God that is in 
you, do you not refuse us. 


(1) Page 213. As the question of the multiplicity of religion and 
unity of the church, treated in earlier passages, is here expressed in 
short compass, I would take the occasion to add something to the ex 
planations of this seemingly paradoxical statement. First, in every 
type of faith it is the narrower brethren who would make the society 
so exclusive, that on the one hand they would absolutely take no part 
in the religious exercises of other types of faith, and would remain in 
entire ignorance of their nature and spirit ; and on the other, for the 
slightest deviation, they are ready to found a distinct society. The 
more liberal and noble again seek to have an affectionate apprecia 
tion of the mind of strange fellow believers, not only as spectators, 
but as far as may be by active participation in the divine services 
that have as their chief purpose the exhibition of this mind. Had 
this not taken place among the members of the two Evangelical 
churches, there could not be, even where they most mingle, any 
thought now, more than three hundred years ago, of union. A 
Catholic could more easily be edified by the whole Evangelical service, 
in which he would only miss much that in another way is made up to 
him, than a Protestant with the Catholic service which, as it exhibits 
in the most positive way the difference between the two types of faith, 
cannot be the expression of his own. Even for a Protestant, however, 
there is a way of taking part in much, by recasting, adjusting, trans 
lating in one s own heart, that is not indifferentism. Only the Pro 
testant who has done this can boast of understanding the Catholic 
type, and of having guarded his own faith when put to the touch-stone 
of contrast. This leads us to the second point. The endeavour to 
found an all-embracing society is the true and blameless principle of 
tolerance. Though the possibility of such a society may be remote 
if you take it quite away, nothing would remain but to regard the 
different types of religion as an unavoidable evil. It is just like the 
mutual toleration between differently constituted states. It continues 

EX PL A NA TIONS. 2 5 5 

because intercourse is still possible. When this ceases intolerance 
enters, and a supposed right is assumed to interfere in the affairs 
of other people. This can only be done by an act, by a government, 
taking outward destructive action, and never by reasoning or even 
by plausibility. Only the narrow-minded, however, assume such a 
right. The more liberal seek everywhere to open up intercourse, and 
to make manifest thereby the unity of the human race. Their love 
to the constitution of their Fatherland does not in the least suffer, 
and in religion also true tolerance is far removed from all in- 

(2) Page 220. This expression savours strongly of the time when this 
book was written. There was then no great common interest: every man 
estimated his own condition according to his individual circumstances, 
without the smallest trace of public spirit ; and the French Revolu 
tion itself, though already it had largely developed as a historical 
event, was regarded by us in a way thoroughly selfish and in the 
highest degree different and vacillating. Only at a later time, in 
the days of calamity which were the days of glory, did we again learn 
the power of common sentiments, and then the consciousness and 
the consolation of common piety returned. At present the patriotic 
and the religious sentiment may easily be measured by each other. 
Where empty words, instead of the deed looked for, are given in the 
concerns of the Fatherland, piety is also empty, however zealous ita 
pretence; and where the interest in the improvement of our condi 
tion breaks up into morbid factions, piety again degenerates into 
sectarianism. It appears then that a quickening of natural, healthy 
public spirit contributes more to clearness in religion than all critical 
analysis. As is indicated by what follows in the Speech, analysis, 
wanting this impulse, is too apt to become sceptical. When the 
great social interests are weakened, piety is lamed and perplexed. 
Hence the religious societies that have a tendency to obscurity, do 
well to keep clear of all contact with other forms of religion. 

(3) Page 221. I have made slight changes here, rejecting a capri 
cious play on words that I might be more historical. The manifold 
divisions of one and the same type of faith are manifestly not all of 
equal worth. Such as recast the whole in a characteristic way have 
a natural worth, and have a good right to exist. All splits, however, 
about single points of small importance, as most of the separations 
from the great body of the church in the first centuries, owe their 
existence simply to the obstinacy of the minority. While they 
deviate in one point they may not, however, unless kept in breath 
by persistent polemics, neglect the rest. Those only are most called 


sects, and deserve only a name that indicates willing exclusion who 
absorb themselves in a few devious views and allow all the rest to 
grow strange. Such sects always rest on one narrow but forcible 

(4) Page 222. On the position assigned to this difference I hope 
I have already sufficiently declared myself. This representation, how 
ever, of the antithesis between the personal and the pantheistic, as 
going through all three stages, gives me an opportunity to explain the 
matter from another side. In the polytheistic stage this antithesis is 
undeniable, only it is less clear as in everything imperfect antitheses are 
less pronounced. Even when all that is known of their history is put 
together, most of the gods of Hellenic mythology have little unity. 
For explanation it is necessary to go back to the rise of their service 
to their different countries and the character of the myths there pre 
valent. The personality being slight, the forms readily become 
symbolical. Many of foreign origin have received native names and 
are quite symbolical, such as the Ephesian Diana, which is a pure 
representation of the universal life, natura naturans, the direct 
opposite of the idea of personality. In the Egyptian and Indian 
systems the basis is either symbolic or hieroglyphic, and there is no 
personality underneath. Such a purely symbolical representation of 
first causes has properly no conscious gods, but is really pantheistic. 
The dramatic or epic representation of the relation of the symbolic 
or hieroglyphic being, however, produces an appearance of personality. 
The two forms of polytheism, the personal and pantheistic, thus 
appear to mingle, but in principle they are easy to distinguish. 
Analogy would show that the same antithesis exists in the chaotic 
stage or fetichism. Here, however, it is more difficult to recognize 
and exhibit, there being but larvae of the gods which only by a later 
development become psychic. 

(5) Page 222. I include in naturalism all the forms of religion 
usually known as worship of nature. They are all, in the sense given 
above, impersonally polytheistic. The worship of the stars is not an 
exception. Even the worship of the sun is only apparently mono 
theistic, for a wider knowledge of the system of the world must at 
once reduce it to worship of the stars, and, therefore, to polytheism. 
This departure from common usage has the disadvantage that the 
words naturalist and naturalism are employed among us for some 
thing quite different. I can orily defend myself by hoping that 
every reader who does not think of the ancient usage, but of the 
present connection, will easily understand the expression employed 
and rind it appropriate. Still I would have refrained, if the manner 


in which naturalism and rationalism were used almost synonymously 
as the opposite of supernatural! sm nad not even then so much dis 
pleased me. Even at that time I had the opinion, to which I have since 
given expression on different occasions, that it caused confusion. 
There is some sense, and more perhaps than is usually thought, in 
opposing reason to revelation, but there is no ground for a contrast 
between nature and revelation. For this antithesis the biblical 
foundation, to which a Christian will always return, entirely fails, 
and the more a matter is discussed from such a standpoint the more 
perplexed it will become. 

(6) Page 222. The expectation that some polytheistic religions 
would yet develope was not expressed at random. It rested on the 
view also hinted at in the Introduction to my " Glaubenslehre," that 
many polytheistic systems have manifestly arisen from smelting to 
gether small idolatrous clan religions, and that they are of higher 
value than their elements. As long as races exist that have only a 
fetich worship such an occurrence is possible, and at a time when 
Christian missions had almost gone to sleep, I regarded this as the 
natural road to improvement for the most rude societies. This pro 
bability has since greatly diminished, and it has grown more likely 
that they also can be taken hold of directly by Christianity. 

(7) Page 223. At one time the expression heretic was honourable 
Among the Greeks the schools of the philosophers and physicians, 
the home of all the science and art of the time, were so called. 
And to come nearer to our subject the different dogmatic schools 
of the Jews also bore among the Hellenists the same name. In 
ecclesiastical language the established faith of the church is no longer 
the orthodox or catholic heresy. Yet the exclusive use of the word 
for what is to be rejected does not rest on etymology. Probably it 
has arisen because with a different reference it is used in this bad 
sense in scripture. Here I use it of the positive religions in the 
sense in which it was used of the Hellenic schools, which together 
contained the whole national philosophy. It must be a bad philo 
sophical system indeed that has not caught some truly philosophic 
element, and in some way sought to refer to it all other elements. The 
same holds of the positive religions, and we may conclude that if 
they were all developed there would be contained in the sum of them 
the whole religion of the human race. 

(8) Page 224. This make is, of course, to be understood with a certain 
limitation. In writing it I lived in the good confidence that every 
one would complete it for himself. For example, it could not be my 
meaning that he alone is a true Christian who could himself have 



been Christ had not Christ already been before him. But this nrnst 
be admitted, that any man is a Christian only in so far as in pre- 
christian times he would among the Jews have held and transmitted 
the messianic idea, and among the heathen been convinced of the in 
sufficiency of sensuous idolatry, only in so far as, by the feeling of 
his need for redemption, Christianity had attracted him and drawn 
him to itself. What follows shows clearly enough how little I was 
serious with the statement that some or perhaps many could have 
the germs of quite new types of religion outside of the historical 
forms, and that it should be their duty to bring them to the light. 

(9) Page 226. Though I hope this passage, in its connection, could 
not easily be misunderstood, I would not leave it without a slight 
correction of both sense and expression. The expression has a 
certain appearance of giving countenance to the idea that it is 
possible, in the sphere of religion to proceed to discovery or by set 
purpose to produce something. Everything that is new, in particular 
if it is to be true and unadulterated, must issue spontaneously, as 
by inspiration, from the heart. This appearance, however, will not 
deceive those who hold fast the expression and the connection of the 
whole. In the second place, the sense appears to be presented too 
broadly and with too little regard to the great difference in various 
forms of religion. Every religion of the highest stage, and especially 
one that has constructed for itself a complete theology, must be in 
a position to review its whole domain. It is the business of systematic 
theology to draw such a map of it, that not only everything that has 
come to actuality in that form of religion finds its place, but that 
every possible place be indicated. And when such a map is looked 
at. we will not easily find any place empty, only some parts better 
filled, some less. None but subordinate forms of religion and 
smaller sects fail to aim at completeness. I have already shown 
why these sects have a natural inclination not to deal with the 
whole mass of religious matter, and in the smaller religious forma 
individuals may differ too little to be able fully to complete one 

(10) Page 228. This book bears throughout the marks of opposition, 
and those who can call up that time will easily see that I am here 
chiefly defending the cause of those who refer the beginning of their 
religious life to one definite moment. Yet this is by no means a 
mere attempt to reduce the opponents of this view to silence, in the 
good assurance that they could not defend themselves. Singularly 
I have had to defend this position against an able man, now long 
departed, who was a distinguished teacher in a religious society I 



greatly value, and whose whole practice really rested on this assump 
tion of definite moments of grace. He asked me if I actually believed 
in such moments and considered them necessary, so that a gradual 
imperceptible growth of religious life would not suffice me. He raised 
an objection from an experience that must have struck all attentive 
readers of the lives of men who have been awakened. They have 
moments when they receive the assurance of divine grace, when 
they are born to a personal, individual religious life. But, sooner 
or later, to most of them times of relaxation come, when this cer 
tainty is again lost. Moments of confirmation must follow, and it 
may be easily doubted whether the first or the second experience 
is the true commencement. From this doubt it follows that the 
truth is only in the gradual progress which the first moment pre 
pared for, and the second and third confirmed. I reminded him of what 
I would here again recall, that! did not consider this the only form, 
but acknowledged also the imperceptible rise and growth. The inner 
truth, however, I held to be the union of both, one being more promi 
nent in one case and the other in another. It was, however, one 
thing to postulate such moments and another to require that every 
one should be able to specify it and have consciousness of the time. 
This idea I have further developed in a sermon. Thus we came to 
agree. To the way, however, in which the matter is here presented 
as an extraordinary moment with each life produced from it neces 
sarily quite individual, two objections may be raised. First, even in 
the early times of the church, by the preaching of the apostles, there 
were Christian awakenings in large numbers together, and even yet, 
at times, not only among members of other faiths, but particularly 
among Christians whose piety has succumbed to worldly cares and 
occupation, such awakenings are, as it were, epidemic, and cannot, 
therefore, be regarded as extraordinary. Wherefore, secondly, it 
is probable that all it produces is not extraordinary and individual, 
more especially as these awakenings often appear as reactions 
against uniform, extensive indifference and licentiousness. This con 
clusion is supported by experience. At different times we find, just 
among those who hold by such authentic decisive moments, only one 
wearisomely uniform type of piety and the same, somewhat confused 
phraseology about the state of the soul that is conjoined with it. But 
this is connected with the uncertainty of those moments, and it is 
not in this sense that I contrast a life suddenly awaked with a life 
gradually developed. In a gradual development, the common 
elements dominate. By their power the individual elements are 
moulded and subordinated. Characteristic features are rarer and 

8 2 


lesa pronounced. But the religiousness that rests apparently on a 
moment of awakening has the same character. Even those who effect 
the conversions have usually only one traditional type, which, from 
its very limitation to a few strong formulas, is fitted to arouse the 
indifferent, whether they are callous or have suffered defeat. Just 
because their view requires such a moment, their persistent demand 
actually prepares for it. By the repetition of such moments, though 
only in a quite general and originally passing manner, consciousness 
of personal worthlessness and of divine grace increase together, 
and a religious life is gradually established. This is the undeniable 
blessing that rests on this method. Yet the life adheres rigidly to 
that type, and is consequently careful and troubled and but sparingly 
equipped. If persons having such a history remain modestly in their 
own circle, they are for us worthy comrades. When they are highly 
cultured in an earthly sense and find themselves happy in this stage 
of religion, it is a phenomenon both elevating and humbling. But 
it is to none of those persons I refer here, for they have not developed 
an individual life. The moments I refer to are of quite a different 
stamp. They come to pass only where a religious tendency exists, 
though chaotic and indefinite. They are not the result of external 
influences, rather they are prepared for by the ever renewed feeling 
that everything offered from without is precarious and inadequate. 
By quiet thought and aspiration the positive is fashioned from that 
negative, ohe inmost self is taken hold of by the divine, and then, 
comprehending itself, it more or less suddenly comes forth. These 
are rare occurrences, but even the most careless observer cannot 
deceive himself into believing that he can exhaustively describe them 
by one general name. 

(11) Page 235. Of course it is not new revelations outside the 
circuit of any given religion that are here meant. A longing for such 
revelations could not exist in any positive religion, for even its long 
ing must naturally bear its own characteristic form. Even the 
messianic hopes of the Jews were not a longing for something beyond 
Judaism, though they were afterwards fulfilled by the appearing of 
Christ. In the measure of its vitality every religion has a desire to 
find in itself something divine yet unknown. Hence the historical 
consistency of any faith that is to have an extended influence for a 
long time is determined by its possession of some principle to which 
everything new may be referred. Where this fails unity tends to 
dissolution. Even if despite this principle there should still be 
divisions the largest sections will abide by it. In this sense we can 
say the strife between the Greek and Eoman Churches is between 


the original and the translation, and that the strife between them 
both and the Evangelical Church is between scripture and tradi 

(12) Page 235. On similar grounds this passage requires a slight 
explanation. It might appear as if the great historical religions 
were put in the shade and the noteworthy sought only in smaller 
modifications. In the political sphere, indeed, we are somewhat 
accustomed to such a procedure. Many constitutions of great 
peoples appear to us clumsy or insignificant, while the form of govern 
ment of single towns with small dominion are admired and studied 
by historians as masterpieces of political art. But it is otherwise 
in the religious sphere. A strong religious life, even if hedged in by 
narrow forms, sooner or later breaks through the limits of nationality. 
This even Judaism did, and nothing in this sphere with character 
and strength can remain small for ever. But I am speaking here 
especially of what takes place within the great forms of religion, 
particularly Christianity. Here it is quite otherwise. What most 
easily finds an entrance with the multitude becomes great and 
extended, which is usually that mean between extremes which 
is only to be reached by active attention on every side. Now 
this involves to some extent a direction of the attention without, 
that does not encourage an inward and characteristic develop 
ment. This is the dominant character of what in the ancient sense 
of the word we call catholic. As this is chiefly thought of when 
the character and development of Christianity are under discussion, 
it seemed to me right to direct the attention of earnest inquirers 
away from what impresses by its size to what was smaller. But it 
was less to heretical parties that are marked by special partialities 
than to individuals in the greater church who cannot manage to 
adhere to mediocrity, or if you will to circumspection, whereby alone 
the individual retains a distinguished place among the catholic, but 
who prefer their inward freedom, and are not vexed by obscurity. 

(13) Page 237. It has never seriously been my opinion that the 
doctrine of ethics should everywhere be one and the same. It will 
suffice, if I here adduce what is universally accepted. It appears 
to me that morality never can be everywhere the same, as all times 
witness that it never has been. Its form is essentially speculative, 
and never can be the same till speculation in general is everywhere 
the same. Of this, despite the great f ruitf ulness of the last centuries 
in philosophy of universal validity, there is not yet any appearance. 
Nor can its content be the same, even if everyone who dealt with 
ethics set out from pure humanity, for he only sees it through the 


medium of his age and his personality. Wherefore, any doctrine of 
morals of universal application can contain only the most general 
truths in formulas of varying worth. Hence the universal application 
is always rather apparent than real. Still the position here main 
tained is so far right, in that ethics applies another standard to 
these differences than religion. It begins by subordinating the 
individual and therefore the characteristic to the general. Only 
by this subordination does the characteristic gain a right to make 
itself valid. Suppose it possible to have as correct or even exactly the 
same system built on the opposite mode of procedure, it would never 
reach the universal feeling and anywhere give it effect. In religion 
on the contrary, everything issues from the individual life, and the 
more individual the more effective, and all common elements arise 
simply from observing affinity and connection. Hence many who 
are not yet conscious of their difference can adhere to one kind 
of religion. Many, even when they are conscious of their difference, if 
only their apprehension of human relations is the same, may, it is true, 
accept one doctrine of morals, yet there may be found among the 
adherents of one religion such marked difference that it is impossible 
i or them to have even a common moral doctrine. 

(14) Page 246. Nothing betrays less sense of the nature of Chris 
tianity and of the person of Christ Himself than the view that John has 
mixed much of his own with the speeches of Jesus. It even betrays 
small historical sense and understanding of what brings great events 
in general to pass, and of the nature the men must have on whom they 
are founded. This assertion was formerly but a whisper, but after 
strengthening itself in quiet, and providing itself with critical weapons, 
it makes a bolder venture, and now John did not write the gospel at 
all, but a later writer invented this mystic Christ. But we are left 
to find out for ourselves how a Jewish rabbi of philanthropic dis 
position, somewhat Socratic morals, a few miracles, or what others 
took for miracles, and a talent for striking apothegms and parables, 
a man to whom, according to the other evangelists, some follies will 
have to be forgiven, a man who could not have held water to Moses 
and Mahommed, could have had such an effect as to produce a new 
religion and a new church. But this must be fought out in a learned 
manner, and the friends and adorers of the Johannine Son of God are 
doubtless already girding themselves. The sadness of the Christians 
of which I have spoken can be traced in Christ in the other evange 
lists also, as soon we learn to understand them rightly through 
John. I have said that this sadness is the ground- tone in the pride 
as in the humility of the Christian. It may appear that, though it 


is generally agreed that something exists which may be described as 
pride which is not to be blamed, it is somewhat venturesome to call it 
a Christian state of mind. In the Christian disposition, humility 
is so essential and so predominant, that in this sphere it does not 
appear as if there could be anything resembling pride, even though 
in civil morals we would not blame it. I will not shield myself by 
saying that I have also put fear and love together. As love is the 
mark of the Christian, and peri ect love casts out fear, I might say 
that I was thinking of a human, that is an imperfect state of things. 
But my meaning was this. There must be distinguished in the 
Christian his personal consciousness over against Christ from his 
personal consciousness in fellowship with Christ. The former, even 
after the divine spirit of goodness has accomplished much in him, 
can be nothing but humility, but the later, consisting in the acquisi 
tion of all Christ s perfections, must be of quite the opposite nature. 
Now I know no other term that would express the contrast more 
strongly. To point out this feeling I only need to recall all the 
glorification of the Christian church in our New Testament books- 
But that even in this pride there should be sadness about the still 
narrow limits in which fellowship with Christ is actually felt, is a 
matter of course. 

(15) Page 248. It is always dangerous, especially as here before un 
believers, to rest faith in Christ on any one thing in Him. Something 
apparently similar may only too readily be compared with it, and its 
inner and essential difference may not be easy to detect. Many an 
enthusiast has thought greatly of himself and died in that faith. 
How often has an error been defended with the firmest conviction 
at the risk of life ! Such a rooted error, if indeed the proper object 
of the faith is not the truth to which the error has attached itself, 
rests only on an idiosyncrasy which cannot extend far. But of this 
self-consciousness of Christ, the faith of the whole company of His 
disciples and the joy of all the martyrs of this faith are the reflection. 
Such a power the self-deception of any one soul never exercised. 
Consider also that this claim did not have to do merely with inner 
phenomena of the consciousness about which men oould easily deceive 
themselves, nor with some prospect in the distant future, which offers 
free play to fancy. Christ had to believe that, under unfavourable 
circumstances, open and easily surveyed, the divine power of this 
abiding consciousness would approve itself. Still the vindication of 
faith by any one thing is always incomplete, and to attempt to plant 
it thereby in another is always hazardous. 

(16) Page 248. The conclusion of this exposition that, Christ is the 


centre of all mediation, should connect all the details in it and com 
plete what appears insufficient. Still I would not have the reader 
overlook what I wish to make prominent. At that time the distinc 
tion between the teaching of Christ and the teaching about Christ 
was hailed as a great discovery. Even allowing its validity to some 
extent, the idea of mediation must in every way be reckoned the 
teaching of Christ. Our teaching about Christ is nothing but the 
ratification and application of that teaching of Christ as it is 
fashioned by faith and sealed by history. And if I distinguish His 
school from His religion it is only, as the conclusion shows quite 
clearly, a different consideration of the same matter from different 
points of view. The religion of Christ is that the idea of redemption 
and mediation is the centre of religion. The application, so far, 
however, as the reference of this idea to a person was a historical 
process and on this reference the whole historical existence of the 
doctrine as well as of the society rests I call, by an expression 
now generally used, His school. That this was for Christ only 
secondary appears from what is here adduced, and also from the fact 
that at first the kingdom of God, and He who was to come was an 
nounced, and only afterwards He is spoken of as having come. Again, 
when it is said further back that Christ has become a mediator for 
many, it is to be remembered that Christ Himself said that " He 
would give his life a ransom for many." A particularist meaning is 
not to be drawn from my words, or at least only in accordance with 
my view set forth elsewhere. This is, that the actually experienced 
relation of man to Christ is limited, and ever will be, even when 
Christianity spreads over the whole earth. On the other hand, I 
acknowledge a purely inward and mysterious relation of Christ 
to human nature generally, which is absolutely general and un 

(17) Page 249. Many of the members of our church will perhaps 
consider what is here said of the Scriptures to be Catholic, and 
Catholics will consider it hyper-protestant ; the constitution of the 
Scriptures by the church not being acknowledged, but the volume 
being declared not yet finished. This is said only in a tentative 
way, to distinguish clearly the shell of the matter from the kernel. 
If there could be a book from an author like Mark or Luke or Jude, 
with all the marks of authenticity, we would hardly agree unani 
mously to receive it into the canon. Yet it would show its native 
biblical power and be bible in fact. Just this power has been the 
ground for determining the practice of the church, and the ecclesias 
tical deliverance only confirmed it. How imperceptible the transition 


from the canonical to the apocryphal, and both in power and purity, 
how in strength and beauty many productions of the church 
approach the canonical, no Protestant with experience and love of 
history will deny. 

(18) Page 252. This is not an addition which I now make for the 
first time. It was meant for the second edition, but as it seemed to 
me too much of a challenge I again erased it. Now that those times 
are past, it can stand as a monument of the impression made on 
me and doubtless on many. It was not that the surfeit of a sense 
less Christianity at that time appeared in many as irreligioh, for it 
was to the honour of Christianity that they believed that where 
Christianity was nothing religion generally was nothing. But 
among not a few there was an endeavour to provide for natural 
religion, an external existence, a thing already shown in England 
and France to be a vain endeavour. There was also an itch for 
innovation that, dreaming of a symbolized or gnostic Heathenism, 
of a return to ancient mythologies as of a new salvation, rejoiced at 
the thought of seeing the fanatical Christ vanquished by the calm 
and cheerful Zeus. 


BEFORE parting with you, let me add a word about the con 
clusion of my Speech. Perhaps you think that it had 
been better suppressed, because now, after several years, it 
is apparent that I was wrong in adducing as a proof of 
the power of the religious sentiment that it was in the act 
of producing new forms. As nothing of the* sort has any 
where come to pass, did I not wrongly presume to guess 
what they would be ? If you think so, you have forgotten 
that prophecy only deserves its name, in so far, as it is the 
first fore-runner of the future. It is an indication of what 
is to be, and in it, to the eyes of the prophet s kindred, the 
future is already contained. But the more the thing pro 
phesied is great and comprehensive, and the more the pro 
phesying itself is in the genuine lofty style, the less can 
the fulfilment be near. As in the far distance the setting 
sun makes, from the shadows of great objects, vast magic 
shapes on the grey east, prophecy sets up only in the far 
distance the shapes of the future which it has fashioned 
from the past and the present. Wherefore, what I said was 
in no sense to be to you a sign to prove the truth of my 
Speech, which should rather be clear to you by itself. I 
had no wish to prophesy, even if the gift had not been 
wanting, for it would have availed me nothing to point you 
to a distant future. 

All I wished was partly to demand, not of you, but of 
some others, half in irony, whether they could perhaps pro 
duce that of which they appear to boast, and partly I hoped to 


lead you to trace for yourselves the course of the fulfilment. 
I was sure you would there find, what I would willingly 
show you, that, in the very type of religion, which in 
Christianity you so often despise, you are rooted with your 
whole knowing, doing and being. You would see that 
you cannot get away from it, and that you seek in vain to 
imagine its destruction without the annihilation of all that 
you hold dearest and holiest in the world your whole 
culture and mode of life, your art and science. 

From this it follows that, as long as our age endures, 
nothing disadvantageous to Christianity can come forth, 
either from the age or from Christianity itself, and from 
all strife and battle it must issue renewed and glorified. 
This was my chief purpose, and you can see that I could not 
have meant to attach myself to some expressions of able 
and superior men, from which you understand that they 
wish to re-introduce the Heathenism of Antiquity, or even 
to create a new mythology, and by it to manufacture a new 
religion. In my opinion, rather, you can recognize, in the 
way that everything connected with such an endeavour is 
void and without result, the power of Christianity. 

Above all, it is necessary that you understand what I 
have said of the fortunes of Christianity. This is not the 
place .to expound and defend or even largely indicate my 
views, but I shall make a simple explanation that may 
prevent me from being classed, in the usual way of refer 
ring everything to schools and parties, with persons with 
whom, in this respect at least, I have nothing in common. 

From the first there has almost always been some pro 
nounced antithesis in Christianity. As is natural, it always 
has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The hostile ele 
ments gradually separate, the division reaches a climax, and 
then gradually subsides until it fully disappears in another 
antithesis that has meantime been developing. This lias 
marked the whole history of Christianity, and at present 
Protestant and Catholic are the dominant antithesis in 


Western Christendom. In each the idea of Christianity 
has characteristic expression, so that, only by conjoining 
both, can the historical phenomenon of Christianity corre 
spond to the idea of Christianity. This antithesis, I say, is 
still in operation and persists. "Were I to interpret for 
you the signs of the time, I would say it has reached the 
turn of the tide, but has not appreciably diminished or disap 
peared. 1 Let no one, therefore, be indifferent, but let every 
man consider to what side he and his Christianity belong, 
and in which church he can lead a religious and edifying 
life. And none who are happy in having a healthy, strong 
nature, and who follow it, can go astray. 2 

At present there are some who appear to rescue them 
selves from the Protestant into the Catholic Church. I am 
not speaking of those who in themselves are nothing and 
are dazzled like children by glitter and show, or are talked 
over by monks. But there are some to whom I myself 
have formerly drawn your attention who are somewhat- 
able poets and artists who are worthy of honour ; and a 
host of followers, as is the fashion nowadays, has followed 
them. The reason given is that in Catholicism alone there 
is religion, and in Protestantism only irreligiousness, a 
godlessness growing out of Christianity itself. Let that 
man be honoured by me who ventures on such a step solely 
on the conviction that he is following his nature. But if 
his nature is only at home in that form of Christianity, 
surely traces of this natural constitution will appear in his 
whole life. It must be capable of proof that his act has 
only completed outwardly what inwardly and spontaneously 
was strictly contemporaneous and anterior. 

There is another class also which I would pity and 
excuse if I cannot honour. With the instinct of the sick, 
which at times indeed is marvellously successful but may 
also be dangerous, they take this step. Manifestly they 
are in a state of dismay and weakness. Avowedly they 
require external support for a bewildered feeling or some 


incantations to allay anxious dread and bad headache, or 
they seek an atmosphere in which weak organs, being less 
stimulated, would feel better, as many sick people must not 
seek the free mountain air but the exhalations of animals. 

But the persons to whom I now refer, are neither one 
nor other, but, appear to me simply despicable, for they know 
not what they wish nor what they do. Is there any sense 
in what they say ? Do the heroes of the Reformation 
impress any uncorrupted mind with godlessness and not 
with a truly Christian piety ? Is Leo X. actually more pious 
than Luther, and Loyola s enthusiasm holier than Zinzen- 
dorf s ? And where are we to assign the greatest produc 
tions of modern times in every department of science, if 
Protestantism is godlessness and hell ? And in the same way 
that Protestantism is for them only irreligion, they love in 
the Roman church not what is in any way characteristic 
and essential, but only its corruption a clear proof that 
they know not what they wish. Consider this purely his 
torically, that the papacy is in no way the essence of the 
Catholic Church, but its corruption. 3 

What they are really in search of is idolatry. The Pro 
testant Church, alas ! has also to contend with idolatry, but 
in a less gorgeous, and therefore less seductive form. And 
because it is not pronounced and colossal enough here, 
they seek it beyond the Alps. For what is an idol, if not 
what can be made, touched, and broken with hands, and 
which yet, in its perishableness and fragility, is foolishly and 
perversely set up to represent the Eternal, not merely in 
its own place, and according to its indwelling power and 
beauty, but as if a temporal thing could be the Eternal, 
as if the Eternal could be handled and magically weighed 
and measured at pleasure. The highest they seek is this 
superstition in church and priesthood, sacrament, absolu 
tion, and salvation. But they will accomplish nothing 
thereby, for it is a perverse state of things and will show 
itself in them through increased perversity. Leaving the 


common sphere of culture, they will rush into a vain and 
fruitless activity, and the portion of art that God has lent 
them will turn to foolishness. This, if you will, is a pro 
phecy, the fufilruent of which lies near enough to be 

And now one more prophecy of a different sort, and may 
you, as I hope, also see its fulfilment. It refers to the 
second point I have just touched upon, the persistence 
of the opposition of the two parties. Unquestionably many 
in the Komish Church have rid themselves of her corrup 
tions. Now it might happen that outwardly also this 
should take place, if not everywhere, and in all things, yet in 
a large measure. Seducers might then come, threatening the 
strong, and flattering the weak, persuading the Protestants 
that, as this corruption is held by many to be the sole ground 
of separation, they should return to the one, indivisible, 
original church. Even that is a foolish and perverse pro 
ject. It may attract and terrify many, but it will not suc 
ceed, for the abolition of this opposition at present would 
be the destruction of Christianity. I might challenge the 
mightiest of the earth to attempt it. For him everything 
is a game, and I would allow all power and guile. Yet I 
prophesy he would fail and be put to shame, for Germany 
still exists, and its invisible power is not weakened. Once 
more it would take up its calling with unsuspected power 
and would be worthy of its ancient heroes and its renowned 
descent. It was chiefly appointed to develope this pheno 
menon, and, to maintain it, it would rise again with giant 
force. 4 

Here you have a sign if you require it, and when this 
miracle comes to pass you will perhaps believe in the living 
power of religion and of Christianity. But blessed are they 
by whom it comes to pass, who do not see and yet believe. 


(1) Page 268. This deliverance will now appear less strange than it 
did at first. At that time, looking from one side, it was easy to 
believe that both churches would unite in unbelief, in indifferentism ; 
from the other, that they would soon be two forms of superstition, only 
outwardly and accidentally different. Lately, however, many events 
have not only quickened the consciousness that the opposition still 
actually exists, but have made it very clear what holds the two sections 
apart. We cannot deny that the chief seat of the opposition is in 
Germany. In England, indeed, it is strong enough, but it is more 
political, in France again it plays a rery subordinate part. It be 
comes us Germans above all to comprehend it both historically and 
speculatively. This happens, alas ! too seldom. We have fallen sadly 
into impassioned ways. If anyone among us would speak of the 
matter impartially, he will certainly be suspected by his brethren as 
a crypto-catholic, and he would be exposed to many importunate and 
flattering advances from the Romanists. Praiseworthy exceptions, 
when truly thorough-going moderation is acknowledged, are very 
rare. Leaving quite aside, therefore, the present state of things, 
I will indicate, in few words, wherein this opposition, regarded 
from, the point of view of its historical development, seems to me 
still to exist. There is in both churches an evident disposition to be 
exclusive, and as far as possible to ignore each other. Of this the 
almost inconceivable ignorance of one another s doctrine and usages 
gives sufficient proof. This disposition is natural enough in the mass 
of men, for each section finds religious stimulus and nourishment 
enough in its own narrow circle, and the other section, though but 
little may be wanting to it, appears, if not as impure as members of 
alien religions to the Jews, at least utterly strange. This tendency 
rules in quiet times. It is only interrupted in the mass of men by 
outbreaks of passion, when one section gains some decisive advantage 
in political matters or, in a large number of single cases in private 


life. As the educated, however, in whom a historical consciousness 
should dwell, ought not to share this lazy exclusiveness, neither should 
they share this hurtful passionateness. Between both churches there 
should be a living influence, even though it should not be direct. Quiet 
contemplation should stir up a keen rivalry in whatever in the other 
section is acknowledged to be good. The contrast in the character 
of both churches involves at least that one is receptive of the imper 
fections that the other more suppresses. May the Catholics be edified 
by seeing that the more prominently the religious tendency appears 
among us, the more any return to any kind of barbarity is hindered. 
And if they would not deceive themselves as though there were no 
difference in this respect between us, let them see how far they can 
advance in the demand for individual freedom. And we should, as 
passionlessly as possible, observe the secure position which in all out 
ward matters the Catholic Church knows how to secure by strong 
organization. Let us then try how far we can attain to unity and 
coherence, yet it must be done in our own spirit and not by setting 
the spiritual order over against the laity in a way quite opposed to 
this spirit. Such healthy influences appear, and the results are seen 
from time to time. But the lazy exclusiveness of the mass checks 
them and all passionate moments interrupt them. It may there 
fore be long before the purpose of the disagreement is attained. Till 
then, we cannot say that the variance has reached its climax and 
has begun to diminish. When that comes to pass, there will be a 
common duty to exercise a vitalizing influence on the Greek Church. 
As it is almost quite defunct, both churches will need for along time 
to employ alltheir powers and all their remedies. But, until they have 
succeeded in waking the dead, they cannot have fulfilled the destiny 
of their division. 

(2) Page 268. How seldom anyone in lands belonging entirely to 
one church, without interested views or artful suasion, but by a true 
inward impulse, is driven to the other church is apparent. In regions 
where the two sects commingle, how calmly we educate the children 
of parents of one faith in the paternal religion, and it does not in the 
least occur to us that they may have an inward destination for the 
other. As the different national character of Christian peoples was 
not without influence on the course the Reformation took, should it 
not be thought that this spiritual attitude is a matter of inheritance 
or birth ? And is not this confirmed by the fact that when the adhe 
rents of another faith come over to Christianity, we do not consider 
the Christian sense pure and steadfast till after two generations. 
For children of mixed marriages, therefore, the natural rule would 

NOTES. 273 

not be for the sons to follow the father and the daughter the mother, 
but for each to follow the parent with whom there is more in 
herited resemblance. On the other side, however, it is not to be 
denied that the original relation of the two churches is not favourable 
to the hypothesis of a strictly innate inclination. It would rather 
lead us to expect a self-determination for one or other form, according 
to personal character. From this view the natural principle for 
mixed marriages and the principle that without extraneous inter 
ference would have effect, would be for the children to follow the 
more strongly religious parent. Under the special influence of this 
parent, the religious element would be most strongly developed, 
and then the child s own choice could be calmly and hope 
fully waited for. Were there no foreign motives, no influences 
that are almost violence, and were this natural course generally 
followed, change in the prime of life would be rarer. After 
a faith has been apprehended with love, and has for a long time 
guided the life, this step is always the result and the cause of con 
fusion. It would be only taken by individuals who are in other 
respects exceptions, as it were capricious sallies of nature, or by 
persons who, from perverse guidance, have been made to see very 
clearly the imperfection and narrowness of the accepted faith, and 
are thereby driven to the opposite faith a thing not rare at present 
in both churches. 

(3) Page 269. Only a few will require a defence of this position, 
that the Catholic Church, not merely in the old sense, but in the sense 
we understand when we contrast it with the Evangelical Church, might 
shake off the papal authority and return from the monarchical to the 
aristocratic form of the episcopal system, without removing the differ- 
ence between the churches, or, in any marked degree, facilitating their 
union. Nor does it need much proof that the papal authority, whether 
considered in its rise or in its prevailing tendency, has striven for aims 
almost always false and beyond the church s sphere. It is noteworthy, 
however, that almost all who fall away from our church become 
strong papists. It is hardly possible to avoid the conclusion that 
they have not apprehended the true character of the Catholic Church, 
and are only destined to display their religious incapacity in two 

different forms. 

(4) Page 270. It would be bad if the very conclusion of a work could 
cause a smile that might efface any earlier good impressions. Yet this 
may do it in two respects. First, there is thedread that Bonaparte could 
have some design against Protestantism, for did he not afterwards 
threaten to go over with a large part of France to Protestantism, 


and, quite recently, were not the Protestants in the south of France 
persecuted as his most attached followers ? Then, again, I 
almost always speak as if all Germany were Protestant, and now 
many are hoping that sooner or later it will be once more altogether 
or almost Catholic. In respect of the former possibility, what I said 
expressed too accurately onr feelings in the years of ignominy that I 
should not let it stand as I then wrote it. So much had been taken 
from us that we might well fear that all was threatened. Undeniably 
Napoleon acted in a quite different way in Protestant and in Catholic 
Germany, and it could not remain hidden from him that our religious 
sentiment and our political were intimately connected. On the 
other point let everyone take heed not to laugh too soon. However 
firmly he holds his hope, I hold mine as firmly. Further progress of 
a Papistical Catholicism in Germany on many grounds necessarily 
involves a return to every kind of barbarity. As the freedom of the 
Evangelical Church will remain the surest support of every noble 
endeavour, it cannot lie in the ways of Providence to weaken it and, 
at its expense, to allow Catholicism to prevail. 


IN the first chapter there are many changes, but for the 
most part merely of single words and phrases. The com 
plimentary passage on us proud Islanders is even stronger 
in its original form. Eeligion can only be for us a dead 
letter, a sacred article in the constitution without any 
reality, for we are only occupied with fierce defence of 
national orthodoxy and the maintenance of superstitious 
attachment to ancient usages, while our pursuit of know 
ledge is limited to a miserable empiricism/ 

P. 16, last par., has lost something of the irony of the 
Romanticist. "We have systems from all schools, yea, 
even from schools that are mere habitations and nurseries 
of the dead letter. The spirit is neither to be confined in 
academies nor to be poured out into a row of ready heads. 
It evaporates usually between the first mouth and the first 

On p. 17, foot, beginning "In isolation/ a somewhat 
mighty figure has been weakened, doubtless as too youth 
fully daring. He is speaking of the work of the true 
heroes of religion. " Only single noble thoughts flash 
through their soul, kindled with celestial fire. The magic 
thunder of an enchanting speech accompanied the high 
phenomenon, and announced to adoring mortals that the 
Deity had spoken. An atom impregnated with heavenly 
power, fell into their soul, and there assimilated all, and 
gradually expanded till it burst like a divine fate in a world 
whose atmosphere offers too little resistance, and produced in 
its last moments one of those heavenly meteors, one of 

T 2 


those significant signs of the time, of the origin of which 
none was ignorant, and with awe of which all mortals were 
filled. You must seek this heavenly spark which is pro 
duced when a holy soul is stirred by the Universe, and you 
must attend to it in the incomprehensible moment of its 

The earlier portion of the Second Chapter (pp. 26-66), 
has been materially altered, a large part of it having been 
entirely re-cast. The opening passage is little altered, the 
parallel drawn between the sociality of states and the com 
bining of the mental activities is only verbally different, 
but it is used to explain that he frequently returns to more 
childlike times, not from depreciation of the present but in 
order to discover religion more by itself. 

Ultimately, metaphysics, morals and religion have the 
same object, the Universe. This has led to confusion. 
Yet your instinct and opinions are against making religion 
one with metaphysics, for you do not admit that it can 
tread with the same firm step, or with morals, for there are 
foully immoral parts in its history. It must, therefore, 
deal with the same matter in a different way. "What 
does your metaphysics do, or, if you will not have that 
antiquated, too historical name, your transcendental philo 
sophy ? It classifies the Universe, gives the grounds for 
what exists, deduces the necessity of the actual, and spins 
from itself the reality and the laws of the world." Religion, 
however, has nothing to do with grounds and deductions 
and first causes. " And what does your ethics do ? It 
developes from the nature of man and his relation to the 
Universe a system of duties, it commands and prohibits 
actions with absolute authority. But religion cannot 
venture to use the Universe for the deduction of duties, or 
to contain a code of laws." The common idea of religion 
is that it is a mixture of fragments of metaphysics and 
ethics, but it is time this idea was quite annihilated. 
" The theorists in religion who seek to know the nature of 


the Universe and of a Highest Being whose work it is, are 
metaphysicians, but discreet enough not to despise a little 
morals ; the practical persons, to whom the will of God is 
the chief matter, are moralists, but a little in the meta 
physical style. They import the idea of the good into 
metaphysics as the natural law of a Being without limits 
and without wants, and they import the idea of an Original 
Being from metaphysics into morals that the great work 
should not be anonymous, but that such a glorious code 
might be prefaced by a picture of the law-giver." Were 
this mixture anything more than a selection for beginners, 
and had a principle of union of its own, religion must be 
the highest in philosophy, and metaphysics and ethics only 
sub-divisions. All these are found together even in the 
sacred books, unavoidably and also of high design. But 
religion is like the diamond in the clay, enclosed not to 
remain hidden, but to be all the more surely found. It is 
simply a device for subtle winning of the hearer, but it has 
overstepped the mark when the shell conceals the kernel. 
" I have been put out by your common idea, it is taken out 
of the way I trust. Interrupt me now no more/ 

" Religion neither seeks like metaphysics to determine 
and explain the nature of the Universe, nor like morals to 
advance and perfect the Universe by the power of freedom 
and the divine will of man. It is neither thinking nor act 
ing, but intuition and feeling. It will regard the Universe 
as it is. It is reverent attention and submission, in child 
like passivity, to be stirred and filled by the Universe s im 
mediate influences." To metaphysics, man is the centre of 
all, the condition of all existence ; to religion, he is, like 
every other finite thing, but a manifestation of the 
Universe. Morals proceeds from the consciousness of free 
dom and seeks to expand the realm of freedom to infinity ; 
religion regards man as needing to be what he is, whether 
he will or not. Religion, morals and metaphysics aro 
equals, different but complementary. " To have specula- 


tion and practice without religion is mad presumption, 
audacious hostility to the gods, the unholy sense of 
Prometheus, who faintheartedly stole what he might have 
asked for in safety. Man has but stolen the feeling of his 
infinity and likeness to God, and as unjust goods he cannot 
prosper with it, for he must also be conscious of his 

" Practice is art, speculation is science, religion is sense 
and taste for the Infinite." Without religion, practice 
cannot get beyond venturesome or traditional forms, and 
speculation is only a stiff and lean skeleton. " Practice 
opposes man to the Universe, not having received him as a 
part of it from the hand of religion. It has, in consequence, 
a miserable uniformity, knows only one ideal and forgets 
to cultivate man himself. The feeling for infinite and 
living nature is wanting, whereof the symbol is variety and 
individuality." And why has speculation so long given 
delusions for a system and words for thoughts ? From 
want of religion. " All beginning must be from intuition 
of the Universe, and if the desire to have intuition of the 
Infinite is wanting, there is no touchstone and there is 
need of none, to know whether anything has been rightly 
thought. Modern Idealism is in need of religion, p. 40. 

On intuition of the Universe my whole Speech hinges. 
It is the highest formula of religion, determining its nature 
and fixing its boundaries. " All intuition proceeds from 
the influence of the thing perceived on the person perceiv 
ing. The former acts originally and independently, and the 
latter receives, combines and apprehends in accordance with 
its nature." Without mechanical or chemical affection of 
the organs, .there is no perception. " What is perceived is 
not the nature of things, but their action upon us, and what 
is known or believed of this nature is beyond the range 
of intuition. The Universe is in unbroken activity, and 
reveals itself to us at every moment. Every form, every 
creature, every occurrence is an action of the Universe upon 


us, and religion is just the acceptance of each separate thing 
as a part of the Whole, of each limited thing as an 
exhibition of the Infinite. What would go further and 
penetrate deeper into the nature and substance of the 
Whole, is no more religion, and if it will nevertheless be 
taken for religion, it invariably sinks into vain mythology." 
Then follows, almost unchanged, the passage on p. 49, about 
what in the ancient world was religion, and what was 

Intuition is always single and distinct. Union and 
arrangement into a whole are not the business of sense but 
of abstract thinking. For religion, each intuition and 
feeling is unconnected and independent, immediate and 
true by itself. As the Universe can be viewed from an 
infinite number of points of view, there can be no system. 
There can no more be a system of intuitions than of the 
stars. The only system among them is the primitive en 
deavour to group them in definite but wretched and in 
appropriate figures. You may sketch the wain on the blue 
scroll of the worlds, but your neighbour is free to enclose 
them in quite other outlines. " This infinite chaos, where 
each point is a world, is the best and highest emblem of 
religion." At each different point of the material world 
you see a new arrangement that leaves no trace of your 
arbitrary figures, and there are new objects within your ken. 
No horizon could embrace all, and there could be no eye 
which nothing could escape. In religion, from each different 
point of view you will see new intuitions and different 
groupings of the old. The infinity of speculation is in the 
endless variety of action and passion between the same 
limited matter and the mind ; the infinity of morals is the 
impossibility of inward completeness ; but religion is not 
only infinite in these respects, it is infinite on every side, in 
matter and in form and in way of perception. 

The passage (pp. 54-56) follows little altered. 

" But to complete the general sketch of religion, recol- 


lect that each intuition, from its very nature, is linked to a 
feeling. Your organs mediate the connection between the 
object and yourselves. The influence of the object that 
reveals its existence to you, must stimulate them in various 
ways, and produce a change in your inner consciousness. 
Frequently it is hardly perceived. In other circumstances it 
becomes so violent that you forget both the object and your 
selves." Yet, even then, you will not ascribe the activity 
of your spirit that has been set in motion, to the influence 
of external objects. " Thus also in religion the same opera 
tion of the Universe, whereby it reveals itself in the finite, 
brings it also into a new relation to your mind and to your 
state/ With the intuition you must necessarily have many 
feelings. The intuition does not, indeed, as in perception, 
preponderate so much over the feeling, but the eternal world 
may, like the sun, dazzle the eyes, casting its image and its 
splendour long after on all objects. 

The kind of intuition of the Universe determines the type 
of your religion, the strength of feeling, its degree. The 
sounder the sense, the more clearly and definitely will each 
impression be apprehended ; the more ardent the thirst, 
the more persistent the impulse to be always and every 
where impressed by the Universe, the more easy, perfect 
and dominant will the impressions be. The feelings of reli 
gion should possess us and we should give them expression, 
but if they urge us to action, we are in another sphere. 
If you will still consider it religion, however good the 
action, it is only superstition. All actions must be moral, 
religion accompanying as a sacred music, " all should be 
done with religion, nothing from it." And even though 
you do not admit that all actions are moral, the same is 
true of those you exclude. The moralist, the politician, 
the artist must all act with calmness and discretion, not a 
possible thing if man is impelled to action by the violent 
feelings of religion. Eeligion, without any other impulse 
to activity, rather tends to inactive contemplation. To act 


on the Whole by feeling direct from the Whole, would be 
like acting towards a man according to the immediate 
impression he makes upon us. Morals condemns it 
because it gives room for alien motives, and religion 
because it makes man cease to be what gives him religious 
value a part of the Whole acting by its own free power. 
Action proceeding from its own proper source with the 
soul full of religion, is the aim of the pious. Action from 
religion is the impulsion of bad spirits not good. The 
legion of angels with which the Father provided the Son 
were around Him not in Him. 

The next matter to understand is intuitions and feelings. 
For clear consciousness, reflection and utterance they must 
be considered apart, but the finest spirit of religion is there 
by lost. In our original consciousness there are two activi 
ties, one controlling and working outwards, and another 
subservient, sketching and copying. Straightway in the 
simplest matter the elements divide, one set combines into 
an image of the object and the other penetrating to the cen 
tre of our being, dashes itself upon our original impulses 
and developes a fleeting feeling. In the same way no 
creation of the religious sense can escape this fate of divi 
sion. Yet intuition without feeling is nothing, and feeling 
without intuition is nothing. There is a mysterious moment 
in every sense perception, before intuition and feeling 
divide, when sense and object mingle and are one. " It 
is fleeting and indescribable, but I wish you could seize it 
and recognize it again in the higher, the divine religious 
activity of the spirit." 

This moment is a kiss, an embrace, pp. 43, 44. Without 
it religion is but a spinning of formulas, pp. 47, 48. 

The divine life is like a tender plant, the flowers of which 
are fertilized in the bud. The holy intuitions and feelings 
that you can dry and preserve are but the calixes and 
corollas that soon open and soon fall. But out of them I 
would now wind a sacred wreatb. 


First I conduct you to Nature as the outer court. The 
first intuition of the world and its Spirit is neither from fear 
of material forces nor from joy at physical beauty. Both 
had their place in preparing rude peoples, and may yet 
through art have a higher influence, but these influences 
naturally diminish with civilization, (p. 64) one god being 
made to conquer another, and the beauties of the globe 
being seen to be for universal matter pure delusion. 
" At a higher stage, perhaps, we shall see that to which 
here we must submit, ruling universally in all the vault of 
heaven, and a sacred awe will fill us at the unity and 
universality of material forces, and we may some time 
discover with astonishment in this delusion the same 
Spirit that quickens the Whole/ 

After p. 66 the alterations are less extensive. 

On p. 93 the section on the idea of God has been re-cast, 
and some think entirely changed. 

1 For me the Deity is only one kind of religious intui 
tion, of which any others there may be, are independent. 
I do not accept the position, No God, no religion/ 

The idea of God may be very different. To most men 
God is merely the genius of humanity, man being the 
prototype. To this God mankind is everything, and 
His disposition and nature are determined by what man 
takes to be His doings and dealings. But to me mankind is 
not everything, but an infinitely small part, a fleeting form 
of the Universe. There may be many beings above hu 
manity, but every race and individual is subordinated to 
the Universe. Can God in this sense then be anything for 
me but one type of intuition ? 

Let us proceed to the highest idea, a Highest Being, a 
Spirit of the Universe who rules with freedom and under 
standing. On this idea also religion is not dependent. To 
have religion is to have an intuition of the Universe, aud 
while this idea of God suits every intuition, a religion 
without God might still be better than another with God. 


The stages of religion depend on the sense, the idea of God 
on the direction of the imngination. " If your imagination 
attach itself to the consciousness of freedom so that it 
cannot think of what originally operates on it, except as a 
free being, you will personify the Spirit of the Universe and 
have a God. If it attach itself to understanding, so that 
you always clearly perceive that freedom has only meaning 
in the individual and for individuals, then you have a World 
and no God. You will not I trust consider it blasphemy 
that the belief in God should depend on the direction of the 
imagination. You will know that imagination is the 
highest and most original activity in man, and that all 
besides is only reflection upon it." Your imagination 
creates the world, and you could have no God without the 
world. " The knowledge of the source of this necessity 
will not make anyone less certain, nor enable him to 
escape the almost absolute necessity to have this idea of 
God. Only as operative can God be in religion, and no one 
has denied the divine life and action of the Universe. 
With the God of existence and command religion has 
nothing to do." 

In the Third Speech, p. 120, " Everyone misses in him 
self, etc.," was, till the third edition, " Seeing I myself miss 
not a little in myself." 

On p. 138 another interesting personal reference has been 
toned down. " Were it not impious to wish to be more 
than one is, I would wish that I could see as clearly how 
the sense for art by itself passes into religion, how despite 
the rest into which through each separate enjoyment the 
spirit sinks, it yet feels itself urged to that progress which 
might lead to the Universe. Why are those who have 
gone this way, such silent natures ? I do not know this 
sense, it is my most marked limitation, it is the defect in 
my nature that I feel most deeply. But I treat it with 
esteem. I do not presume to see, but I believe. The 
possibility of the matter stands clear before my eyes, only 


it must remain a secret for me." Again, p. 139, By the sense 
for art the " divine Plato raised the holiest mysticism! on the 
summit of divineness and humanness. Let me do homage to 
the goddess to me unknown, that she cherished him and his 
religion so carefully and disinterestedly." 

In the Fourth Speech there are no changes of any 

In the Fifth Speech, the first clause, " Man in closest 
fellowship with the Highest," was, " Man in the intuition of 
the Universe." That is the key-note of the changes. 
Intuition of the Universe gives place to relation to God. 
Thus p. 217, " The whole of all religions is nothing but the 
sum of all relations of man to God," replaces a passage that 
derives the need of an endless mass of religious forms 
from the number, variety, and independence of intuitions 
of the Infinite. 

Later the additions are more striking than the changes. 
On p. 224, when he asks whether it is necessary to belong 
to an existing religion, he replies " By no means/ without 
any " Provisionally " or any modification as in the para 
graph at the top of p. 225. Further additions are, on 
p. 246 foot, " and that for man under the power of the finite, 
and particular, and too ready to imagine the divine itself 
in this form, salvation is only to be found in the redemp 
tion " ; p. 248, after " Yet He never maintained He 
was the only mediator," " the only one in whom His idea 
actualized itself. All who attach themselves to Him and form 
His Church should also be mediators with Him and through 
Him"; further on, on the same page, the reason given why 
the person who sets out from the same point as Christ is a 
Christian, " It will naturally follow that they will acknow 
ledge Him/ and p. 249 the last clause in the second para 
graph about the first-fruits of the Spirit having special 
holiness and worth. Page 251, first paragraph. " I at 
least can only believe/ was " I at least fear." 


ACTS of Apostles, 181. 
America, 196, 197, 201, 205. 
Ancients, religion of, 49, 65, 69. 
Antithesis, xxix., Hi., 3, 51, 256, 


Aristotle, xxiii. 
Art, xxxiii., xlii., Ivii., 29, 37, 68, 129, 

138-141, 142, 146, 180, 283, 234. 
Asceticism, 62. 

BAPTISM, 160, 200-201. 

Berkeley, xxx. 

Berlim, xvii., xxi., xxxvii., xlvii., 


Birth and death, 131. 
Braasch, ix., xl. 
Brinkmann, xvi., xvii., xli. 
Butler, xxii. 

CATHOLICISM, liv., 51, 254, 267-274. 

Celibacy, 105. 

Charite, the, xxiv. 

Chinese Emperor, 194. 

Christ, historical, xx., xxxv., liii., 17, 
143, 187, 245, 262-263; as media 
tor, xl.,liv., 246, 248-249, 258, 263- 
264, 284 ; School of, 248. 

Christianity, description of, xlv.- 
xlvi., lii.-liii., 241-253,262 ; priest 
hood of, 185 ; spread of, 108, 187, 
188, 272 ; polemical, 243 ; catholic 
in, 261; future of, xl., 265, 267- 
268, 270. 

Church, Apostolic. 192; Catholic, 
23, 110, 182, 194, 195, 198, 205, 
206, 260, 268 ; Evangelical or Pro- 
testant, 110, 194, 261, 273, 274; 
Greek, 23, 191, 194, 260, 272; 
order in, 184; Eeformed, xiii., 
xlix., 1., 189; and State, xlix., 
Iviii., 164-176, 198-205; unity of, 
xxxiii. ; Visible and Invisible, 
157-180, 190-TJ3. 

Communions, smaller, 196-197, 235, 

Conversation, religion in, 150-151, 


Conversion, 260. 
Clergy, 153, 194, 206. 
Creeds, 193-194, 206-207. 
Culture, 92. 

DEISM, xxi., 14. 
Dilthey, ix., xxvii., xxxvi. 
Divorce, xxxviii. 
Dogma, xlii., 87, 195, 238. 
Dogmatics, liv., 109, 258. 
Drossen, xvii., xx. 

EDITIONS of "Speeches," ix., xxxv., 

xxxix.-xlvi., li., 275-284. 
Education and the church, 199-200, 

203-204 ; of to-day, 136. 
Ego, xxvii., 77, 78, 79, 84, 137, 138, 

142, 145. 
Emotions, 18. 
England, religious life in, 9, 23, 197, 

271, 275; Episcopal Church of, 


Eudaimonists, 116, 117. 
Explanations, li. 

FAITH implicit, 23. 

Fichte, xxvii., xxviii., xxxvii., xlvii., 


French, the, 10, 23. 
French Revolution, xix., 10, 255. 

GERMANY, religious life in, 9, 197, 

207,208,270, 271, 274. 
Glanbenslehre, xliii., li., 105-9, 101- 

i\ 114-5, 117, 145, 186-8, 1! 
God, existence of, xxvii., L -, ! :!- . |l ., 

101, 115, 137; Kingdom of, 17, 

145 ; personality of, xl., xliii., >- 



Goethe, x., xr., xxiv., xxv. 

Grace, 90, 114; moments of, 228, 

Greeks, 96, 139. 

HALLE, xv.-xvii., xxxix., xlvi., xlviz. : 

Harms, xii., 1. 

Heathenism, 108, 267. 

Hegel, x., xi., lii., liv. 

Herder, xxv. 

Heresy, liv., 109-110, 223, 257. 

Hierarchists, Iviii. 

History, xliv., xlvii. 

Humanity, 71-78. 

Humility, 79, 112. 

Hypocrisy, 19. 


Illumination, The, x., xvi., xix., xxi., 

xxii., xxxiv., xlii. 
Imagination, xxvi., 98, 283. 
Imaginative natures, 133-134. 
Immortality, 92, 93, 99-101, 117, 118. 
Individuality, xxx. 
Infinite, seers of, 55. 
Inspiration, 89. 
Intuition, xliii., 44, 280, 284. 

JACOBI, xxiii., xxx. 
John, 262. 

Judaism, xxxv., liii., 108, 238-241, 
260, 261. 

KANT and the Illumination, xxi., 
xxii. ; influence of, x., xxii. ; study 
of, xv., xvi., xxiii. ; system of, xx., 
xxvii.-xxviii., 113. 

Kantians, 116. 

Klopstock, 106, 184. 

Koran, 181. 

Kurze Darstellung, lii., 107. 


Leibnitz, xxviii. 

Leo X., 269. 

Lessing, xxiv. 

Letter, the, 130, 144, 207. 

Lipsius, ix., xi., xxxix.-xl., xliii. 

Literature of edification, 182-183 ; 

mediocre religious, 203. 
Liturgy, xlix.-lu 
Lord s Supper, 193. 
Loyola, 269. 
Lucinde, Confidential Letters on, 

Luther, 269. 


Marriage, 169, 170, 200-202 ; mixed, 


Mediators, 6, 79, 113. 
Messiah, 240. 
Methodism, xiv., Ivii. 
Mind, predominating power in, 

xxxiii., 27. 

Miracle, 88, 89, 113, 114. 
Missions, 23, 257. 
Monotheism, liii., Ill, 186. 
Morals, aim of, xxxi., 261. 
Moravians, xiii.-xv., xx., xxvi., xxxiv., 

xxxv., Ivii., 151, 183, 189, 197. 
Music, 51, 59, 119, 152, 190. 
Musical temperament, Iviii. 
Mystics, 17, 154. 
Mysticism, 133, 139. 
Mythology, Heathen, 238, 256, 267 ; 

senseless, 139, 163; use of, 106- 

107, 126. 

NAPOLEON,XI., xx., xlvi., xlvii., xlviii., 

xlix., 270, 273. 
Nature, 65-67, 282. 

laws of, 67-71. 

Neander, xi., Ivi. 

Novalis, xxv., xxvi., 41, 104, 184. 

OATHS, 200. 

Oratory, Sacred, 172, 203. 

PANTHEISM, xl., 24, 97, 115, 116, 222, 

Papacy, xxxvi., 269, 273. 

Patriotism, xi., xlv., xlvi., 255. 

Paul, 112, 115, 186. 

Personality, 77. 

Peter, 143, 185. 

Pietism, Ivii., 144-145. 

Piety. See " Religion. " 

Pious, Society of, 155. 

Plato, xxiii., xxviii., xxxii., 118, 139, 

Polytheism, xlvi., 102, 110, 111, 139, 
256, 257. 

Poor, care of, 198. 

Presentiment, 83, 225. 

Priesthood of Humanity, 8 ; of Be 
lievers, 151, 153, 185. 

Priests, 2, 141, 153. 

Prophecy, 89, 2 06. 

Proselytes, Jewish, 143. 

Proselytizing, 187-188. 

Protestantism, liv., 51, 195, 254, 267- 



Piinjer, ix., xxxix. 
Purism, xliv. 

RATIONALISM, xxi., 257. 

Keason, xxviii. 

Reformation, 1., liv., 268, 272. 

Religion as activity, 27-29; aim of, 
xxxi. ; artistic conception of, 
xxxiii. ; communication of, 149- 
152, 158, 190 ; corruption of, 215- 
216; definition of, Hi., 103; en 
dowments of, 198; and ethics, 
xxxiii., xliii., 14, 36-42, 141, 261, 
262 ; in the family, 173, 189 ; as 
feeling, xxxiii., xxxvi., xlii., 45- 
50; heroes of, 60, 135, 230, 237, 
275 ; and history, 80-82 ; impelling 
to action, 56-59 ; individuality in, 
225, 232, 259; imitation of, 122; 
its infinity, 54, 82 ; as knowledge, 
xxxiii., xliii., 29-31, 35, 36,38-40; 
a malady, 147 ; mastership in, 
Ivii., 123, 172-175; and metaphy 
sics, xxii., xxxii., 14, 34, 102, 141, 
276; and morality, xxii., 18, 34, 
56-62, 84 ; representatives of, 135 ; 
its rise, 12 ; and sensuous self- 
consciousness, 106; social, 148; 
and the state, xxxiv., 19-21, 24, 
37; as a system, 50-56 ; not teach 
able, 122 ; teleological, liii., 145 ; 
true and false in, 108, 187 ; types 
of, 221. 

Religions. Natural, 214, 217, 230, 
232, 233, 234, 265; nature of, 
xxxiv.-xxxv., Iviii., 218, 223 ; 
plurality of, 212-214, 254; posi 
tive, 214-218, 234. 

Religious life, rise of, 225-228, 258- 

Eevelation, 89-90. 

Hitachi, ix., xl., Ivii. 

Romantic School, xxiii., xxiv., xxri., 
xli., Ivii., 275. 

Rome, 55, 109-110. 

Rule of religious, Iviii., 163. 

SACK, xx., xxxv., xliii. 

Schelling, xxvi., xxix. 

Schiller, xxxvi. 

Schlegel Friedrich, xii., xxy., xxvi., 

xxxvi., xxxvii., xxxix., xlv., xlviii. 
Schleiermacher, birth, xiv. ; death, 

Iv.-lvi. ; doubts, XT., 23 ; estimates 
of, x.-xii., Ivi.-lviii. ; marriage, 
xlviii. ; parentage, xiii.-xiv. ; per 
sonal references, xlii., 8, 9, 283, 
284 ; uncle, xvii. ; works of, xii., 
xix., xxxvii., xxxviii., xxxix., xlvi., 
xlvii., li., lii. ; works on, ix. 

Schlobitten, xviii. 

Science, aim of, xxxi., 94, 141. 

Scriptures, canon of, 249, 264 ; 
exposition of, xvi., xxi., xlvii., 182 ; 
a logical mediator, 237 ; monument 
of heroic time, 91 ; and piety, 150, 
181 ; not unmixed, 33-34, 237, 277. 

Sectarianism, 22, 153, 162, 220, 255. 

Sense, 127, 136, 154, 159, 164 ; per 
ception, 42-45. 

Socrates, 38, 184. 

Spinoza, x., xxiii., xxviii., xliii., 40- 
41, 104-105. 

Spinozism, xxviii., xl., 97, 115. 

Steffens, xxvi., xlvi. 

Stein, xlviii. 

Stourdza, 23. 

Strauss, xxxiv., li., Iviii. 

Supernatural, liii., 125, 257. 

Synodal government, xlix., 206. 

System, 55, 109, 161, 195, 258. 

TASKMASTER, 178-179. 
Theology, lii., liv., Iviii.; systems of, 
15-18, 40. 

UNCULTURED, the, 11. 
Understanding, people of, 125, 128- 


Uniformity, xlix., 74, 231, 278. 
Unitarianisin , 197. 
Universal Lawgiver, 35. 
Universe, active, xxix. 
Upheaval, times of, 120-121. 
Utilitarianism, xxi., 131. 

Virtuosos, 86. 

Women, piety of, 37, 47. 
World- Spirit, xxviii., 49, 70, 71, 81, 
st, 111, 135,211; Soul, 111. 

ZEUS, 64, 265. 
Zinzendorf, 269. 





Schleiermacher, Friedrich 
Ernst Darnel 

On religion; tr. by 
J. W. Oman