Written: late 1841 / early 1842
Schelling On Hegel[edit source]
This article opens a series of Engels’ writings directed against Schelling. By this time Schelling had abandoned many rationalist elements of his former views and had become a prophet of the mystical religious “positive philosophy” (*). He was invited to Berlin by Frederick William IV of Prussia, as a counterweight to the Hegelian school, particularly the Young Hegelians.
On November 15, 1941, Schelling started his course of lectures at Berlin University. Engels attended them as a non-matriculated student. He had come to Berlin from Barmen in the latter half of September 1841 and did military training there in an artillery brigade until August 1842.
Excerpts from Schelling’s lectures which continued until March 18, 1842, are quoted in Engels’ works from his own notes. Only a small part of these lectures were printed at the time (Schelling’s Verlesungen in Berlin, Darstellung und Kritik der Hauptpunkte derselben, mit besonderer Beziehung auf das Verhältniss zwischen Chistenthum und Philosophie von Dr. J. Frauenstadt, Berlin, 1842), the greater part being published only after the author’s death in his Complete Works. See F. W. Schelling, Philosophie der Offenbarung. Simmtliche Werke, II Abt., Bd. I-IV, Stuttgart und Augsburg, 1856-1861.
(*) ‘Positive philosophy’ — a mystical religious trend (represented by Christian Hermann Weisse, Immanuel Hermann Fichte junior, Franz Xaver von Baader, Anton Günther, and Schelling in his late period) which criticised Hegel’s philosophy from the right. The supporters of this trend sought to subordinate philosophy to religion by declaring divine revelation to be the only source of “positive” knowledge, and labelled as “negative” any philosophy which proceeded from rational knowledge.
Telegraph für Deutschland No. 207, December 1841[edit source]
Ask anybody in Berlin today on what field the battle for dominion over German public opinion in politics and religion, that is, over Germany itself, is being fought, and if he has any idea of the power of the mind over the world he will reply that this battlefield is the University, in particular Lecture-hall No. 6, where Schelling is giving his lectures on the philosophy of revelation. For at the moment all the separate oppositions which contend with Hegel’s philosophy for this dominion are obscured, blurred and pushed into the background by the one opposition of Schelling; all the attackers who stand outside philosophy, Stahl, Hengstenberg, Neander, are making way for a fighter who is expected to give battle to the unconquered on his own ground. And the battle is indeed peculiar enough. Two old friends of younger days, room mates at the Tilbingen theological seminary, are after forty years meeting each other again face to face as opponents; one of them ten years dead but more alive than ever in his pupils; the other, as the latter say, intellectually dead for three decades, but now suddenly claiming for himself the full power and authority of life. Anybody who is sufficiently “impartial” to profess himself equally alien to both, that is, to be no Hegelian, for surely nobody can as yet declare himself on the side of Schelling after the few words he has said — anybody, then, who possesses this vaunted advantage of “impartiality” will see in the declaration of Hegel’s death pronounced by Schelling’s appearance in Berlin the vengeance of the gods for the declaration of Schelling’s death which Hegel pronounced in his time.
An imposing, colourful audience has assembled to witness the battle. At the front the notables of the University, the leading lights of science, men everyone of whom has created a trend of his own; for them the seats nearest to the rostrum have been reserved, and behind them, jumbled together as chance brought them to the hall, representatives of all walks of life, nations, and religious beliefs. In the midst of high-spirited youths there sits here and there a grey-bearded staff officer and next to him perhaps, quite unembarrassed, a volunteer who in any other society would not know what to do for reverence towards such a high-ranking superior. Old doctors and ecclesiastics the jubilee of whose matriculation can soon be celebrated feel the long-forgotten student haunting their minds again and are back in college. Judaism and Islam want to see what Christian revelation is all about; German, French, English, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, modern Greek and Turkish, one can hear all spoken together — then the signal for silence sounds and Schelling mounts the rostrum.
A man of middle stature, with white hair and light-blue, bright eyes, whose expression is gay rather than imposing and, combined with a certain fullness of figure, indicates more the jovial family man than the thinker of genius, a harsh but strong voice, Swabian-Bavarian dialect with a recurring “eppes” for etwas, that is Schelling’s outward appearance.
I pass over the contents of his first lectures so as to come immediately to his utterances on Hegel, with the reservation that I shall add later whatever is necessary to explain them. I reproduce them as I took them down myself during the lecture.
“The philosophy of identity, as I have set it out, was only one aspect of the whole philosophy, namely, the negative aspect. This ‘negative’ had either to be satisfied by the presentation of the ‘positive’, or, absorbing the positive content of previous philosophies, to posit itself as the ‘positive’ and hence to set itself up as absolute philosophy. Over the fate of man also presides a reason which makes him persist in one-sidedness until he has exhausted all its possibilities. Thus it was Hegel who established the negative philosophy as the absolute philosophy. — I mention Herr Hegel’s name for the first time. just as I have expressed myself freely on Kant and Fichte, who were my teachers, so will I also on Hegel, although it gives me no pleasure to do so. But I will do it for the sake of the frankness which I have promised you, gentlemen. It must not appear as if I had anything to be afraid of, as if there were points on which I could not speak freely. I recall the time when Hegel was my listener, my comrade in fife, and I must say that while in general the understanding of the philosophy of identity was shallow and superficial, he it was who saved its fundamental thought for the time to come and acknowledged it constantly to the last, as his Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie above all proved to me. Having found the great material already mastered, he concerned himself chiefly With the method, while the rest of us preferred to Concentrate on the material. I myself, not satisfied with the negative results achieved, would readily have accepted any satisfactory conclusion, even from a stranger’s hand.
“Incidentally, the question here is whether Hegel’s position in the history of philosophy, the position which is to be accorded to him among the great thinkers, is precisely that he attempted to raise the philosophy of identity to the absolute, the final philosophy, a thing which could be done, of course, only with significant changes; and this I intend to prove from his own writings, which are open to all the world. If one were to say that this is precisely what Hegel is to be reproached with, I would reply that Hegel did that which lay closest to him. The philosophy of identity had to wrestle with itself, to transcend itself, so long as the science of the positive’, which covers existence as well, was not yet there. Hence in this endeavour Hegel had to raise the philosophy of identity above its limitation, the power of being, the pure ability to be, and to make existence subject to it.
“Hegel, who with Schelling rose to the recognition of the absolute, diverged from him in that he wished the absolute to be conceived, not as presupposed in intellectual perception, but rather as discovered by scientific method.’ These words form the text on which I shall now speak to you. — At the basis of the above passage lies the view that the philosophy of identity has as its result the absolute not only in substance but in existence; since the starting point of the philosophy of identity is the indifference of subject and object, their existence is also assumed because validated by intellectual perception. In this way Hegel assumes quite artlessly that I wished to prove the existence, the being, of that indifference by intellectual perception, and reproaches me for the inadequate proof. That I did not wish to do so is shown by the protest I have so often voiced that the philosophy of identity is not a system of existence, and, as concerns intellectual perception, the term in question does not occur at all in the presentation of the philosophy of identity which is the sole and only one of the earlier period that I recognise as scientific. This presentation is to be found where no one looks for it, namely, in the Zeitschrift für spekulative Physik, Vol. II, Part 2. Elsewhere it does indeed occur and is part of Fichte’s legacy. Fichte, with whom I did not wish to break outright, arrives through it at his immediate consciousness, the ‘I'; from this, I went further and thus arrived at the indifference. Since in intellectual perception the ‘I’ is no longer regarded as being subjective, it enters the sphere of thought and thus its existence is no longer immediately certain. Accordingly, intellectual perception would not even prove the existence of the ‘I’, and though Fichte uses it for this purpose, I cannot base myself on it to prove from it the existence of the absolute. Hence Hegel could not reproach me for the inadequacy of a proof which I never wished to provide, but only for not having stated explicitly enough that I was not at all concerned with existence. For if Hegel demands proof of the being of the infinite power he goes beyond reason; should the infinite power exist, philosophy would not be free of being, and we must here ask whether something prior to existence can be thought. Hegel denies it, for he begins his logic with being and proceeds directly to an existential system. But we affirm it, by beginning with the pure power of being as existing only in thinking. Hegel, who so often speaks of immanence, nevertheless is only immanent in that which is not immanent in thinking, for being is this non-immanent. To retreat into pure thinking means in particular to retreat from all being outside thought. Hegel’s contention that the existence of the absolute is proved by logic has the further disadvantage that in this way one has the infinite twice, at the end of the logic and again at the end of the whole process. In general one cannot conceive why the logic is put first in the Enzyklopädie, instead of pervading and animating the entire cycle.”
Telegraph für Deutschland No. 208, December 1841[edit source]
Thus far Schelling. In large part and so far as I could I have quoted his very words and can boldly claim that he could not refuse to put his signature to these excerpts. To complete this presentation I add from the preceding lectures that he considers things from two aspects separating the quid from the quod, the essence and the concept from existence. The first he apportions to the pure science of reason or negative philosophy, the second to a science to be newly founded and containing empirical elements, positive philosophy. Of the latter we have not yet heard anything; the former appeared forty years ago in an inadequate form abandoned by Schelling himself, and is now being developed by him in its true, adequate expression. Its basis is reason, the pure power of cognition, which has as its immediate content the pure power of being, the infinite ability to be. The necessary third element to be added here is the power over being, which can no longer alienate itself, and this is the absolute, the spirit, that which is released from the necessity of transition into being and persists in eternal freedom in relation to being. The absolute can also be called the “orphic” unity of these powers, as that outside of which there is nothing. When these powers come into contradiction with each other this mutual exclusiveness is finiteness.
These few sentences suffice, I think, for the understanding of the preceding passages and as an outline of neo-Schellingianism as far as this can be given here and up to now. It only remains for me to draw from this the conclusions probably intentionally concealed by Schelling, and to enter the lists for the great dead man.
If Schelling’s death sentence on Hegel’s system is divested of its bureaucratic language, it comes down to this: Hegel actually had no system whatever of his own, but eked out a miserable existence with the leavings of my thoughts; while I occupied myself with the partie brillante, the positive philosophy, he revelled in the partie honteuse, the negative, and since I had no time for it he took upon himself its completion and elaboration, infinitely happy that I had entrusted this to him. Will you reproach him for this? “He did that which lay closest to him.” He has nevertheless a “position among the great thinkers”, for “he was the only one who recognised the fundamental thought of the philosophy of identity, while all the others had a shallow and superficial understanding of it”. All the same, prospects seemed bad for him, for he wanted to make half of philosophy into the whole.
A well-known saying is quoted, allegedly from Hegel’s mouth, but which, after the above utterances, doubtless stems from Schelling: “Only one of my pupils understood me, and even he unfortunately understood me wrongly.”
But to be serious, can such libels be engraved upon Hegel’s tombstone and we, who owe him more than he owed Schelling, not dare to issue a challenge to protect the honour of the dead, however terrible the opponent? And they are libels, let Schelling say what he will, and the form be ever so scientific in appearance. Oh, “in a purely scientific manner” I could show up Herr von Schelling, or anybody else, if that were required, in such a thoroughly bad light that he would certainly recognise the advantages of the “scientific manner”, but what help would that be to me? It would in any case be frivolous of me, the youth, to teach an old man, and particularly Schelling, who, however decisively he may have deserted freedom, nevertheless always remains the discoverer of the absolute and in his part as Hegel’s forerunner is mentioned by all of us only with the deepest reverence. But Schelling as Hegel’s successor can only lay claim to a certain piety and will demand calm and coolness least of all from me, for I am standing up for a dead man, and it is fit for a fighter to have a certain amount of passion: he who draws the sword in cold blood rarely has much enthusiasm for the cause for which he is fighting.
I must say that Schelling’s speech here and especially these invectives against Hegel leave little doubt that the portrait painted in the preface to Riedel’s well-known latest pamphlets is a likeness, something one was hitherto reluctant to believe. Schelling presents the entire development of philosophy in this century, Hegel, Gans, Feuerbach, Strauss, Ruge and the Deutsche Jahrbücher as dependent on himself to begin with, and then not only negates it, but, with a flourish merely intended to bring him more into the limelight, presents it as a luxury in which the spirit indulges with itself, a curio collection of misunderstandings, a gallery of useless aberrations.. If this does not exceed all that Schelling is reproached with in that pamphlet, then I have no idea what is customary in mutual intercourse. It might, of course, be difficult for Schelling to find a middle way which compromised neither him nor Hegel, and the egoism which caused him to sacrifice his friend so as to preserve himself, might be pardonable; but it is a little too much when Schelling asks the century to take back forty years of effort and work, forty years of thinking, of sacrifice of the dearest interests and the most sacred traditions, as a waste of time, an erroneous trend, only so that he shall not have lived these forty years too long; it sounds like more than irony when he allocates to Hegel a position among the great thinkers precisely by deleting him in reality from their number and by treating him as his creature, his servant; and finally it appears somewhat like intellectual meanness, like petty — what does one call that well-known, pale-yellow passion? — when Schelling claims each and every thing he acknowledges in Hegel as his own property, nay, as flesh of his own flesh. It would indeed be strange if Schelling’s old truth had only been able to maintain itself in Hegel’s bad form, and in that case the reproach of obscurity of expression, which the day before yesterday Schelling levelled against the man he was attacking, would of necessity recoil upon himself, as in the common judgment it already does, in spite of the promised clarity. Anyone who indulges in such periods as Schelling constantly does, who uses expressions like quidditativ and quodditativ, orphic unity, etc., and even with them is so often at a loss that every moment Latin and Greek phrases and words have to help out, clearly forfeits the right to criticise Hegel’s style.
Incidentally, Schelling is most of all to be pitied because of the unfortunate misunderstanding concerning existence. The good, naive Hegel with his belief in the existence of philosophical results in the right of reason to enter into existence, to dominate being; But it would be really strange if he, who after all studied Schelling thoroughly and for a long time maintained personal intercourse with him, if all the others who tried to penetrate the philosophy of identity, had noticed nothing of the real joke, namely, that all this was just bits of nonsense which existed only in Schelling’s head and laid no claims whatever to any influence on the external world. Somewhere that must have been in black and white and somebody would certainly have found it. But one is in fact tempted to doubt whether this was Schelling’s view from the beginning or whether it is a later addition.
And the new version of the philosophy of identity? Kant freed rational thinking from space and time, Schelling takes existence away as well. What then are we left with? This is not the place to prove against him that existence belongs indeed to thought, that, being is immanent in the mind and that the foundation of all modern philosophy, the cogito, ergo sum, cannot thus be stormed and overrun; but I may be permitted to ask whether a power
which itself has no being can produce a being, whether a power which can no longer alienate itself is still power, and whether the trichotomy of the powers does not correspond in a remarkable manner with the trinity of idea, nature and mind which emerges from Hegel’s Enzyklopädie?
And what will result from all this for the philosophy of revelation? It belongs, of course, to the positive philosophy, to the empirical side. Schelling will have no other course open to him than to assume the fact of a revelation, which he will perhaps substantiate in one way or another, only not by reason, for he has locked the door on himself in that respect. Hegel made things a little harder for himself — or can it be that Schelling has other sources of information up his sleeve? This philosophy can thus quite correctly be called empirical, and its theology positive, while its jurisprudence will probably be historical. That would indeed be. not unlike a defeat, for we already knew all that before Schelling came to Berlin.
It will be our business to follow the course of his thinking and to shield the great man’s grave from abuse. We are not afraid to fight. Nothing more desirable could have happened to us than for a time to be ecclesia pressa. There the minds part. What is genuine is proved in the fire, what is false we shall not miss in our ranks. The opponents must grant us that youth has never before flocked to our colours in such numbers, that the thought which dominates us has never before unfolded itself so richly, that courage, conviction, talent have never been so much on our side as now. Hence we shall rise confidently against the new enemy; in the end, one will be found among us who will prove that the sword of enthusiasm is just as good as the sword of genius.
Let Schelling see whether he can muster a school. Many only join him now because like him they are opposed to Hegel and accept with gratitude anybody who attacks him, be it Leo or Schubarth. But for these, I think, Schelling is far too good. Whether he will find any other adherents remains to be seen. I do not yet believe so, although some of his hearers are making progress and have already got as far as indifference.
Schelling and Revelation[edit source]
This pamphlet is Engels’ major work directed against Schelling’s mystical religious concepts. It was written late 1841/early 1842, at the same time as Schelling was lecturing at Berlin University and is mainly a critique of the opening lectures of Schelling’s course. The pamphlet was published anonymously (it was not until the summer of 1842, in an article against Jung which he signed Friedrich Oswald, that Engels confirmed his authorship) and soon attracted the attention of various public circles. Schelling’s followers described Engels’ criticism as “absurd attacks” (see the Jahrbuch der deutschen Universitäten, II, Leipzig, 1842, S. 22), while the Young Hegelians acclaimed the pamphlet. The Deutsche Jahrbücher, a Young Hegelian journal, published a special article on the pamphlet (in Nos. 126-28, May 28, 30-31, 1842) by its editor, Arnold Ruge, which noted the author’s spirit and lucidity in his criticism of Schelling’s views. When Ruge learned later that the pamphlet was written by Engels he wrote to him inviting him to contribute to the journal and addressing him as a “Doctor” (see Engels’ reply to Ruge of June 15, 1842).
For a decade there hung on the mountains of South Germany a thundercloud which gathered in ever darker menace against North-German philosophy. Schelling appeared again in Munich; it was understood that his new system was approaching completion and would oppose the domination of the Hegelian school. He himself spoke out resolutely against that school, and its other opponents, when all arguments had to give way before its conquering might, still had the resort of pointing to Schelling as the man who would ultimately demolish it.
Hence Hegel’s disciples must have welcomed Schelling’s arrival in Berlin six months ago and his promise to submit to the public verdict his by then completed system. One could hope no longer to have to hear the irksome, empty chatter about him, the great unknown, and to see at last what there was in it. Besides, with the fighting spirit which has always distinguished it and the self-confidence it possessed, the Hegelian school could only welcome the opportunity to try its strength with a famous opponent; Schelling had, indeed, long ago been challenged by Gans, Michelet and the Athenäum, and his younger pupils by the Deutsche Jahrbücher.
So the thundercloud came up and discharged itself in thunder and lightning which from Schelling’s rostrum began to excite all Berlin. Now the thunder has died away, the lightning has ceased, has it found its target, is the structure of the Hegelian system, proud palace of thought, going up in flames, are the Hegelians hastening to save what can still be saved? So far nobody has witnessed anything of the kind.
And yet everything had been expected of Schelling. Had not the “Positives” been down on their knees groaning about the great drought in the land of the Lord and imploring that the rain cloud hanging on the far horizon might draw nearer? Was it not just as of old in Israel, when Elijah was entreated to drive out the then priests of Baal? And when at last he came, the great exorcist, how all the loud, shameless denunciation, all the wild raging and shouting, suddenly ceased so that not a word of the new revelation should be lost! How the valiant heroes of the Evangelische and the Allgemeine Berliner Kirchenzeitung, of the Literarischer Anzeiger and Fichte’s magazines drew back modestly to make room for the St. George who was to slay the dreadful dragon of Hegelianism, which breathed the fire of godlessness and the smoke of obscuration! Was there not a silence in the land as if the Holy Ghost was about to descend, as if God Himself wished to speak out of the clouds?
And when the philosophical Messiah mounted his wooden, very poorly upholstered throne in the Auditorium maximum, when he promised deeds of faith and miracles of revelation, what jubilant cries greeted him from the camp of the Positives! How all tongues were full of him in whom the “Christians” had placed their hopes! Was it not said that the bold hero would venture alone like Roland into enemy territory, plant his banner in the heart of enemy country, blast the innermost citadel of wickedness, the unconquered fastness of the Idea, so that the enemies, left without base or centre, could no longer find counsel or any place of safety in their own country? Was it not proclaimed that the fall of Hegelianism, the death of all atheists and non-Christians, was to be expected by Easter 1842?
Everything has turned out differently. The Hegelian philosophy lives on, on the rostrum, in literature, in the young; it knows that all the blows dealt it up to now could do it no harm and calmly proceeds on its own course of inner development. Its influence on the nation, as proved if only by the increased rage and activity of its opponents, is rapidly growing, and Schelling has left almost all his hearers dissatisfied.
These are facts which not even the few adherents of the new Schellingian wisdom will be able to dispute with valid arguments. When the prejudices formed against Schelling were found to be all too fully confirmed, there was at first embarrassment as to how reverence for the old master of science should be reconciled with that frank, resolute rejection of his claims that was owed to Hegel. He soon helped us out of this dilemma, however, when he expressed himself on Hegel in a manner which released us from all consideration for the alleged successor and conqueror. It will therefore not be taken amiss if in my judgment I follow a democratic principle and without regard to persons confine myself to the matter and its history.
Hegel and his Disciples[edit source]
When in 1831 the dying Hegel left the legacy of his system to his disciples, their number was still relatively small. The system only existed in that no doubt strict and rigid, but also solid form which has since been much criticised but was nothing less than a necessity. Hegel himself, proudly confident in the strength of the Idea, had done little to popularise his doctrine. The writings he had published were all couched in a rigorously scientific, almost thorny style, and, like the Jahrbücher für wissenschaftliche Kritik, in which his pupils wrote after the same fashion, could count on only a small, and moreover preoccupied, public of scholars. The language did not need to be ashamed of the scars received in the struggle with thought; what was first required was to reject decidedly everything imaginary, fantastic, and emotional, and to grasp the pure thought in its self-creation. Once this secure base of operations had been achieved, it was possible to await in calm a subsequent reaction of the excluded elements and even descend into unphilosophic consciousness, since the rear was covered. The influence of Hegel’s lectures always remained limited to a small circle, and although its importance there was great, it could bear fruit only in later years.
But it was only after Hegel had died that his philosophy really began to live. The publication of his collected works, particularly the lectures, had an immeasurable effect. New doors were opened to the wonderful hidden treasure which lay in the secret depths of the earth and of whose splendour only a few had yet caught the gleam. Small had been the number of those who had had the courage to venture on their own into the labyrinth of its approaches; now there was a straight, smooth road by which the fabulous jewel could be reached. At the same time, coming from the lips of Hegel’s pupils, the teaching assumed a clearer, more human form, the opposition on the part of philosophy itself became weaker and less significant, and by and by only the most hidebound theologians and jurists were heard to complain about the impertinence with which a layman was intruding into their special field of learning. Youth seized upon the new offering the more eagerly as in the school itself an advance had meanwhile taken place which urged on to the most meaningful discussions on vital questions both of science and of practice.
The limits within which Hegel himself had confined the powerful, youthfully impetuous flood of conclusions from his teaching were conditioned partly by his time, partly by his personality. In its fundamentals Hegel’s system had been completed before 1810, his world outlook by 1820. His political views, his teaching on the state, which had been developed in reference to England, bear unmistakably the stamp of the Restoration, nor did the world-historical necessity of the July revolution ever become clear to him. Hence he himself came under his own pronouncement that every philosophy is but the thought content of its own time. His personal opinions, on the other hand, were no doubt clarified by his system, but not without influencing its conclusions. Thus his philosophy of religion and of law would undoubtedly have turned out very differently if he had abstracted himself more from the positive elements which were present in him as a product of his time, and had proceeded instead from pure thought. All inconsistencies and contradictions in Hegel can be reduced to that. Everything which in the philosophy of religion appears too orthodox, and in the philosophy of law too pseudo-historical, is to be understood from this point of view. The principles are throughout independent and free-minded, the conclusions — no one denies it — sometimes cautious, even illiberal. Now some of his pupils appeared on the scene who kept to the principles and rejected the conclusions where they could not be justified. The Left wing took form; Ruge created an organ for it in the Hallische Jahrbücher, and overnight the abolition of the sovereignty of the positive was proclaimed. But one did not yet dare to express openly all the conclusions. Even after Strauss one still believed oneself to be within the Christian fold, indeed, in relation to the Jews, one even prided oneself on one’s Christianity; on such questions as the personality of God or the immortality of the individual one was not sufficiently clear to be able to pronounce an unreserved judgment; indeed, when one saw the inevitable conclusions approaching, one was even in doubt whether the new teaching should not remain the esoteric property of the school and be kept secret from the nation. Then Leo came out with his Die Hegelingen and thereby did his opponents the greatest service; and indeed, everything that was intended to bring about the ruin of this school worked to its advantage and proved to it most clearly that it was walking hand in hand with the world spirit. Leo gave the Hegelings clarity about themselves, he reawakened in them the proud courage which follows truth to its most extreme conclusions and declares it openly and intelligibly, be the consequences what they may. It is amusing now to read what was then published in defence against Leo, to see how the poor Hegelings struggled and protested and hedged themselves with reservations against Leo’s conclusions. Today not one of them thinks of denying his charges, so high has their audacity risen these past three years. Feuerbach’s Wesen des Christenthums, Strauss’ Dogmatik and the Deutsche Jahrbücher show the fruits of Leo’s denunciation; nay, Die Posaune demonstrates the relevant conclusions even in Hegel. This book is so important for Hegel’s position if only because it shows how often the bold, independent thinker in Hegel prevailed over the professor who was subject to a thousand influences. It is a vindication of the personality of the man of whom it was expected that he should transcend his time not only where he had genius but even where he had not. Here is the proof that he did this too.
So the “hegelingische Rotte” no longer conceals that it neither can nor will any longer regard Christianity as its limit. All the basic principles of Christianity, and even of what has hitherto been called religion itself, have fallen before the inexorable criticism of reason, the absolute idea claims to be the founder of a new era. The great upheaval of which the French philosophers of the last century were merely the forerunners has achieved in the realm of thought its completion, its self-creation. The philosophy of Protestantism since Descartes has come to an end; a new era has begun, and it is the most sacred duty of all who have followed the self-development of the spirit to transmit the immense result to the consciousness of the nation and to raise it to Germany’s living principle.
During this internal development of the Hegelian philosophy, its external position did not remain unchanged either. Altenstein, the Minister through whose mediation the new doctrine had found a cradle in Prussia, died; with the subsequent changes, not only did the doctrine cease to be favoured in any way, endeavours were also made gradually to exclude it from the state. This was the consequence of the greater emphasis on principles both by the state and by philosophy; as the latter was not afraid to express what was necessary, so the former, quite naturally, insisted more definitely on its own conclusions. Prussia is a. Christian-monarchic state and its position in world history entitles it to have its principles recognised as valid in fact. One may share them or not, it is enough that they are there, and Prussia is strong enough to defend them if need be. Moreover, the Hegelian philosophy has no cause for complaint on that score. Its former position threw a false light upon it and apparently attracted to it a number of adherents who could not be relied on in times of struggle. Its false friends, the egoists, the superficial, the half-hearted, the unfree, have now fortunately withdrawn and it now knows how it stands and on whom it can count. Besides, it can only welcome a sharpening of the contradictions, since its final victory is assured. So it was quite natural that men of the opposite trend were summoned as a counterweight to the hitherto dominant tendencies. The struggle against these was taken up again, and when the historical-positive faction had again found some courage, Schelling was called to Berlin to turn the scales in the struggle and to ban the Hegelian teaching from its own field of philosophy.
Schelling’s Claim[edit source]
His appearance in Berlin was bound to arouse general excitement. He had played so prominent a role in the history of modern philosophy; in spite of all the stimulation he had given, he had never produced a finished system and had put off his settlement with science time and again, until he had now promised to give this great account of his entire life’s work. And he really did undertake to achieve the reconciliation of faith and science, of philosophy and revelation, and everything else he had mentioned in his first lecture. [15 November 1841] A further important source of heightened interest in him was the relation in which he stood to the man he had come to conquer. Already friends and room-mates at the University, the two men later lived together in Jena in such intimacy that to this day it cannot be decided what influence they had on each other. One thing alone is certain, that it was Hegel who made Schelling realise how far he had already gone beyond Fichte without knowing it.
[If Schelling really is as “straightforward and frank” as he claims, if he is sincere in his assertions about Hegel and has Rood reasons for them, he should prove it by publishing his correspondence with Hegel, which is said to be in his possession, or at least the publication of which depends only on him. But that is the tender spot. If he demands belief in his sincerity let him come forward will this proof which would end all arguments on the issue. — Note by Engels.]
After their separation, however, their paths of development, which until then had been parallel, soon began to part. Hegel, whose profound, restless dialectic only now began freely to develop after Schelling’s influence had receded, made in 1806 with the Phänomenologie des Geistes a giant step beyond the standpoint of natural philosophy and declared his independence of it; Schelling despaired more and more of the possibility of achieving the great results he desired by the method hitherto followed and already at that time attempted to master the absolute directly by empirical assumption of a higher revelation. While Hegel’s thought-creating power proved itself increasingly energetic, lively and active, Schelling, as is already evidenced by his making such an assumption, sank into an inert lassitude which soon became outwardly manifest in the slackening of his literary activity. He may well talk complacently now about his long, secret philosophical labours, about the hidden treasures in his desk, about his thirty years’ war with thought, nobody will believe him. He who concentrates the entire effort of his mind on a single point, who still lays claim to the youthful vigour which overcame a Fichte, and wants to be a hero of science, a genius of the first order — and only such a one would be able to overthrow Hegel, as everybody must admit — would he need thirty years and more to produce a few insignificant results? If Schelling had not taken philosophising so lightly, would not all the stages in the development of his thought lie before the world in separate writings? After all, he never showed much self-control in this regard, and used to send at once anything new he found into the world without much criticism. If he still felt himself to be the king of science, how could he live without the recognition of his people, how could the miserable existence of a dethroned prince, a Charles X, how could the long since worn and faded purple of the philosophy of identity satisfy him? Should he not have dared everything to reinstate himself in his lost rights, to reconquer the throne of which a “later comer” a had deprived him? Instead, he left the road of pure thought, buried himself in mythological and theosophical fantasies and kept his system at the disposal, as it’ would appear, of the King of Prussia b for at his call the never completed was at once ready. So he came here, with the reconciliation of faith and knowledge in his bag, got himself talked about and as last mounted the rostrum. And what was the New he brought, the Unheard-of with which he wanted to work wonders?
The philosophy of revelation, on which he had lectured in Munich “since 1831 in exactly the same way”, and the philosophy of mythology, which “dates from even earlier”. Quite old things which had been proclaimed in Munich for ten years without success, which could captivate only a Ringseis or a Stahl. That is what Schelling calls his “system"! There lie the forces which are to save the world, the anathema against godlessness — in the seed which refused to germinate in Munich! As these lectures have been ready for ten years, why did Schelling not have them printed? With all his self-assurance and confidence in success there must be something behind this, some secret doubt must be keeping him from this step.
In appearing before the Berlin audience, he did indeed come a little closer to the public than up to now in Munich. What could there easily remain an esoteric secret teaching because nobody bothered about it, is here mercilessly forced into the light of day. Nobody is admitted to heaven before he has gone through the purgatory of criticism. Anything remarkable that is said in the University here today appears tomorrow in all German newspapers. Hence all the reasons which kept Schelling from having his lectures printed should have held him back also from moving to Berlin. Even more so, for the printed word admits no misunderstanding, while the carelessly spoken word, hastily taken down and perhaps only half heard, is indeed exposed to false interpretations. But, of course, there was now nothing else for it; he had to go to Berlin or by his action admit his inability to defeat Hegelianism. It was now also too late to go into print, for he had to bring to Berlin something new, not yet printed, and his manner here showed that he did not have anything else “in his desk”.
So he confidently mounted the rostrum, and immediately promising his hearers the most tremendous things, he began his lectures before almost four hundred people, of all social positions and nations. Of these I shall now report, on the basis of my own notes, which I have compared with the most accurate of other available records, whatever is necessary to justify my judgment.
Up to now, all philosophy has made it its task to understand the world as reasonable. What is reasonable is, of course, also necessary, and what is necessary must be, or at least become, real. This is the bridge to the great practical results of modern philosophy. If Schelling now does not acknowledge these results, it would have been consistent to deny also the reasonableness of the world. He dared not, however say this outright, but preferred to deny the reasonableness of Philosophy. So he makes a most devious way for himself between reason and unreason, calls the reasonable the understandable a priori, the unreasonable the understandable a posteriors, and assigns the former to the “pure science of reason or negative philosophy”, the latter to a “positive philosophy” yet to be founded.
Here is the first great gulf between Schelling and all other philosophers, here is the first attempt to smuggle belief in dogma [Autoritätsglauben], sentimental mysticism, gnostic fantasy into the free science of thinking. The unity of philosophy, the wholeness of any world outlook, is torn apart into a most unsatisfactory dualism, the contradiction which makes up the world-historic significance of Christianity is raised to the principle of philosophy as well. Right from the start, therefore, we must protest against this division. Moreover, we shall see how invalid it is when we follow the train of thought with which Schelling seeks to justify his inability to grasp the universe as reasonable and whole. He proceeds from the scholastic dictum that in things the quid is to be distinguished from the quod, the what from the that. Reason teaches what things are, experience proves that they are. If one were to deny this distinction by maintaining the identity of thinking and being, this would be a misuse of the postulate. The result of the logical thought process is merely the thought of the world, not the real world. Reason is simply impotent to prove the existence of anything, and in this respect must accept the testimony of experience as sufficient. Philosophy, however, deals also with things which transcend all experience, with God, for example; hence the question is whether reason is capable of providing proof of their existence. To be able to answer this question, Schelling enters into a lengthy discussion which is here quite superfluous since the above premises do not admit any other answer than a decisive No. This is also the result of Schelling’s discussion. Hence according to Schelling it necessarily follows that in pure thought reason has not to deal with really existing things, but with things as possible, with their essence, not with their being; so that its subject is God’s essence, but not His existence. For the real God, therefore, a different sphere must be looked for than that of pure reason, the presupposition of existence must be granted to things which only later, a posteriors, have to show themselves as possible or reasonable and as accessible to experience in their consequences, that is, as real.
Here the contrast to Hegel is already set forth in all its sharpness. In that naive belief in the Idea to which Schelling is so superior, Hegel maintains that anything which is reasonable is also real; Schelling says, however, that what is reasonable is possible, and thus safeguards himself, for in view of the known extensive range of possibility, this proposition is irrefutable. But at the same time he thereby already proves what will be manifest later, namely, his unclarity concerning all purely logical categories. I could, indeed, at once point out the gap in the above battle order of conclusions through which the wicked enemy of dependence stole into the ranks of free thoughts, but I shall save this for a later occasion so as not to repeat myself, and shall at once go on to the content of the pure science of reason as Schelling construed it for his hearers to the great amusement of all Hegelians. It is the following:
Reason is the infinite power of cognition. Power is the same as ability (Kant’s ability to know). As such it appears without any content, but nevertheless it has one, and indeed, without its own doing, without action on its part, for otherwise it would, of course, cease to be power, since power and action are opposites. This content, which is thus necessarily immediate, innate, can only be the infinite power of being, corresponding to the infinite power of cognition, since to every cognition there corresponds something which has being. This power of being, this infinite ability to be, is the substance from which we must derive our concepts. To be occupied with it is pure, self-immanent thinking. This pure ability to be is not just a readiness to exist but the concept of being itself, that which by its nature is eternally passing over into concept, or that which is about to pass over into being, that which cannot be prevented from being and is therefore passing over from thinking into being. This is the mobile nature of thinking, according to which it cannot stop at mere thinking but must constantly pass over into being. This is, however, no passing over into real being but only a logical passing over. So instead of the pure power there appears something that logically is being. But since the infinite power ‘stands in the relation of the prius to that which itself originates in thinking by passing over into being, and since only everything that really is being corresponds to the infinite power, reason possesses as its integral content the ppwer tp assume an a priori attitude to being and thus, without having recourse to experience, to arrive at the content of everything that really is being. That which occurs in reality reason has recognised as logically necessary possibility. It does not know whether the world exists; it only knows that if it does, it must be of such and such a nature.
Hence, the fact that reason is power compels us to regard its content also as potential. Hence God cannot be the immediate content of reason, for He is something real, not merely potential, possible. In the power of being we first discover the possibility to pass over into being. This being takes away from the power the domination over itself. Before, the power dominated being; it could pass over into it or not. Now it has fallen to being, is under its sway. This is being without mind, without concept, for mind is power over being. This conceptless being is no longer to be found in nature, it has already all been taken possession of by form; but it is easy to see that this condition was preceded by a blind, boundless being, which lies at its basis as matter. But power is this freedom, this infinity, which can pass over into being or not, so that the two contradictory opposites in it, being and not-being, are not mutually exclusive. This second ability — also not to pass over into being — is the equal of the first, as long as the first remains power. Only when that which is immediately able to be actually passes over into being is the other excluded from it. The indifference of the two in the power then ceases, for now the first possibility posits the second outside itself. The ability to realise itself is given to this second only by the exclusion of the first. As in the infinite power the ability to pass over and the ability not to pass over do not exclude each other, so also they do not exclude that which hovers freely between being and not-being. Thus we have three powers. In the first a direct relation to being, in the second an indirect relation, which is able to be only by the exclusion of the first. So we now have 1) that which inclines to being; 2) that which inclines to not-being; 3) that which hovers freely between being and not-being. Before the act of passing over, the third is not distinct from the direct power and so will only become being when it is excluded by the first two; it can only come to be when the first two have passed over into being. With this all possibilities are completed and the inner organism of reason is exhausted in this totality of powers. The first possibility is only that before which there can only be the infinite power itself. There is something which, when it has left the realm of possibility, is only one, but until it has decided to do so, it is instar omnium, the directly imminent, also that which resists, which offers resistance to the other that is destined to succeed it. By yielding its position it transfers its might to another, raising it to power. To this other that is raised to power it will subordinate itself as relative not-being. At first there appears that which can be in the transitive sense, which is therefore also the most accidental, the least substantiated, which can find its basis only in the subsequent, not in the preceding. Only in subordinating itself to this subsequent, in becoming, by comparison, a relative not-being, does it obtain substantiation, only thus does it become something, since alone it would only be lost. This first is the prima materia of all being, itself arriving at determined being by placing above itself something higher. The second thing with the ability to be is only posited and raised into its power by the above exclusion of the first from its placidity; that which in itself is not yet able to be, now becomes something able to be through the negation. From its original indirect ability to be, it is posited as placid, calm willing and so it will necessarily work towards negating that by which it was itself negated, and thus towards returning into its own placid being. This can only come to pass by the first being brought back from its absolute alienation into its ability to be. Thus we obtain a superior ability to be, a being which has been brought back to its ability to be, which as something higher is a being with power over itself. Since with the direct ability to be the infinite power is not exhausted, the second within it must be the direct ability only not to be. But that which has the direct ability to be is already superior to the ability; hence, the second power must be the direct non-ability not to be, the perfectly pure being, for only the being is not the being able to be. The pure being can certainly be power, however contradictory this may seem, for it is not real being, it has not, like the latter, passed a potentia ad actum, but is actus purus. It is, of course, not immediate power, but from that it does not follow that it cannot be power at all. it must be negated in order to be realised; thus it is not power everywhere and throughout, but can become power through negation. As long as that which is immediately capable of being remained mere power, it was itself pure being; as soon as it raises itself above power, it presses the pure being out of its own being so as itself to become being. Pure being, negated as actus purus, thus becomes power. So it has no freedom of will but must work in order again to negate its negation. In this way it could indeed pass over ab actu ad potentiam and thus be realised outside itself. The first, the boundless being, was the non-willed, the hyle, with which the demiurge has to wrestle. It is posited so as at once to be negated by the second power. A bounded being must take the place of the boundless being, it must be led by stages back into the ability to be, and then is an ability which is self-possessing and, at the highest stage, conscious of itself. So between the first and the second possibility there lie a mass of derived possibilities and medium powers. These are already the concrete world. if the power that was posited outside itself is fully brought back into ability, into self-possessing power, the second power, too, will leave the scene, because it is only there to negate the first and in the act of negating the first dissolves itself as power. The more it overcomes the opposing being, the more it destroys itself. At this stage it is not possible to stop. If the being is to be completed, in place of the being which was entirely overcome by the second power a third must be Posited to which the second power completely transfers its might. This can be neither pure ability to be nor pure being, but only that which in being is ability to be and in ability to be is being, the contradiction of power and being posited as identity, that which hovers freely between the two, the spirit, an inexhaustible source of being, which is quite free and in being does not cease to remain power. This cannot work directly but can only be made actual through the second power. Since now the second is that which mediates between the first and the third, the third is posited by that first which was overcome by the second. This third, which remains unconquered in being, is, posited as spirit, that which is able to be and which consummates, so that with its entry into being the consummate being is there. In the self-possessing ability, in the spirit, lies the consummation of nature. This last can also devote itself to a new, consciously produced movement and so form for itself a new, intellectual world standing above nature. This possibility, too, must be exhausted by science, which thereby becomes philosophy of nature and philosophy of spirit.
Through this process everything that is not immanent in thinking, that has passed over into being, is eliminated and there remains the power which no longer needs to pass over into being, which no longer has being outside itself, whose ability to be is its being; the entity which is no longer subordinate to being, but is its being in its truth, what is called the supreme being. Thus the supreme law of thinking is fulfilled, power and action are together in one being, thinking is now by itself and hence is free thinking, no longer subject to an unceasing, necessary movement. Here that which was willed in the beginning has been reached, the self-possessing concept (for concept and power are identical) which, because it is unique of its kind, has a special name and, because it is that which was willed from the beginning, is called the Idea. For he who in thinking will not look to the result, whose philosophy is not conscious of its purpose, is like a painter who simply goes on painting, and the outcome can take care of itself.
So far Schelling has communicated to us the content of his negative philosophy, and these outlines are perfectly sufficient to recognise the fantastic, illogical character of his mode of thinking. He is no longer capable of moving in pure thinking even for a short time; every moment the most fabulous, most bizarre phantoms cross his path, so that the great horses drawing his carriage of thought rear and shy and he himself abandons his goal to chase after these phantoms. That the three powers, when reduced to their naked thought content, are nothing but the three elements of the Hegelian course of development through negation, only , fixed in their separateness and dressed up by torn apart “philosophy which is conscious of its purpose” in accordance with that purpose, can be seen at first glance. It is a sad spectacle to watch Schelling drag thought down — from its lofty, pure ether into the region of sensory perception, strike from its head the true golden crown and make it stagger about, drunk with the fog and mist of the unaccustomed, romantic atmosphere, in a crown of gilded paper, to be the laughing-stock of the street urchins. These so-called powers are no longer thoughts at all, they are nebulous, fantastic shapes in which the outlines of the three divine hypostases already shine clearly through the veil of cloud which mysteriously envelops them. Indeed, they already have a certain self-consciousness: one “inclines” to being, the other to not-being, the third “hovers freely” between the two. They “yield place to each other”, they have different “positions”, they “crowd” each other, they “resist”, they fight each other, they “seek to negate themselves”, they “work” and “endeavour”, etc. This strange sensualisation of thought again arises from a misunderstanding of the Hegelian logic. That powerful dialectic, that inner motive force which constantly drives the individual thought categories, as if it were the bad conscience of their imperfection and one-sidedness, to ever new development and rebirth until they arise from the grave of negation for the last time as absolute idea in imperishable, immaculate splendour, Schelling has been able to grasp in no other way than as the self-consciousness of the individual categories, while in fact it is the self-consciousness of the general, of thinking, of the Idea. He wants to raise the language of emotion to an absolutely scientific language without first having shown us pure thought in a language that alone is suitable to it. On the other hand, he is equally incapable of grasping the concept of being in its complete abstraction, as he shows if only by constantly using as synonymous the concepts of being and of that which is. Being is thinkable for him only as matter, as hyle, as wild chaos. In addition we now already have several such matters, a “boundless being”, a “bounded being”, a “pure being”, a “logical being”, a “real being”, a “placid being”, and later we shall get, besides, an “unpremeditatable being” and a “contrary being”. It is amusing to see how these different-beings collide and crowd each other out, how power has only the choice of losing itself in this chaotic mass or remaining an empty phantom. Do not tell me that this is only because of the figurative language; on the contrary, this gnostic-oriental dream thinking, which conceives every thought category either as personality or as matter, is the basis of the who e process. Take away the mode of looking at things and everything collapses. Even the basic categories, power and action, derive from a time of confusion, and Hegel was quite right when he threw these hazy categories Out of logic. Schelling makes confusion worse confused and uses this opposition by turns, as it suits him, for the following Hegelian categories: being in itself and being for itself, ideality and reality, force and manifestation,’ possibility and actuality, and in all this power is, moreover, a separate, sensory-supersensory essence. The chief meaning which Schelling attributes to it is, however, that of possibility, and so we have a philosophy based on possibility. In this respect, Schelling rightly calls his science of reason the “none-exclusive” science, for in the end everything is possible. What matters, however, is that thought should ‘prove its worth by its inner force to become real. The Germans will decline a philosophy which drags them along a bumpy road through the infinitely boring Sahara of possibility without giving them anything real to eat and drink and without leading them to any other goal than where the world, according to it, is boarded up to reason.
But let us give ourselves the trouble to follow the road through Nothing. Schelling says: Essence is for concept, being for cognition. Reason is the infinite power of cognition, its content the infinite power of being, as set out above. But now he suddenly starts actually to take cognisance of the infinite power of being through the power of cognition. Can he do it? No, cognition is actus, to actus corresponds actus, “to cognition corresponds a being”, hence to the above actual cognition corresponds the actual, real being. Hence, against its will, reason would have to cognise real being, and in spite of all endeavour to keep to the high seas of possibility we would at once be thrown on the hated beach of actuality.
But, it is objected, the power of being is only cognised after its transition, which is certainly a logical one. Schelling himself indeed says that logical being and power of being, concept and power, are identical. When therefore the power of cognition actually passes over into actus, the power of being cannot be satisfied with a pretended, fictitious transition. If the power of being does not actually make the transition, it remains power, cannot be cognised by reason, and therefore is not the “necessary content of reason” but, on the contrary, the absolutely irrational.
Or will Schelling call the activity which reason applies to its content not cognition, but, perhaps, conception? Then reason would have to be the infinite power of conception, since in its own science it would never attain to cognition.
On the one hand, Schelling excludes existence from reason; on the other, he restores it to reason with cognition. Cognition is for him the unity of concept and existence, of logic and the empirical. Hence, contradictions at every turn. How is that?
Is reason then the infinite power of cognition? Is the eye the power of seeing? The eye, even the closed eye, continues to see, it still sees darkness even if it believes it is not seeing anything. Only the diseased eye, the curably blind, is power of seeing without being actus; only the undeveloped or momentarily confused reason is mere power of cognition. But then does it not appear so plausible to understand reason as power? It is that, too, and not mere possibility, but absolute force, necessity of cognition. That, however, must manifest itself, must cognise. The separation of power and actus, of force and manifestation, belongs only to the finite; in the infinite, power is itself its actus, the force its own manifestation. For the infinite does not tolerate any contradiction within itself. If now reason is infinite power, then by virtue of this infinity it is also infinite actus. Otherwise the power itself would be conceived as finite. That is already the case in naive consciousness. Reason which does not get beyond the power of cognition is called unreason. Only that reason is accepted as reason which really proves itself by cognition, the eye only as a true eye if it sees. Here the contradiction between power and actus is at once seen as soluble and in the last resort void, and this solution is a triumph of Hegelian dialectic over Schelling’s narrowness, which. never got beyond this contradiction; for even where power and actus are supposed to coincide in the Idea, this is merely asserted, and the fusion of the two concepts is not shown.
But when Schelling says: Reason is conceiving, and since concept is power, it is power to cognise, which only becomes real cognition when it finds something real to cognise; on the other hand, in the pure science of reason, where it is concerned with the power of being, reason does not go beyond the power of cognition and merely conceives — then nobody, even apart from the above discussion on power and actus, will deny that the purpose of the power of cognition is actually to pass on to cognition, and that it is nothing so long as it does not do this. So it turns out that the content of the pure science of reason is hollow, empty, useless, and that reason when it fulfils its purpose and actually cognises becomes unreason. If Schelling admits that the essence of reason is unreason, I have, of course, nothing more to say.
So from the very start Schelling has got himself so tied up with his powers, transitions and correspondences that the only way out of the confusion of logical and real being, in which he does not want to be entangled, is the recognition of a line of thought other than his own. But let us proceed.
Reason is now to conceive in this fashion the content of all actual being and take up an a priori attitude towards it; it is not supposed to prove that something exists, but that if something exists it must be of such and such a nature, in contrast to Hegel’s assertion that with thought real existence is also given. These statements are again downright confused. It has not occurred either to Hegel or anyone else to want to prove the existence of anything without empirical premises; he merely proves the necessity of that which exists. Schelling here understands reason just as abstractly as earlier he understood power and actus and is in consequence driven to assign to it an existence prior to that of the world and separated from all other existence. The conclusion of modern philosophy, which was at least among the premises of Schelling’s earlier philosophy, and of which Feuerbach first made us conscious in all its sharpness, is that reason cannot possibly exist except as mind, and that mind can only exist in and with nature, and does not lead, so to say, a life apart, in separateness from it, God knows where. Schelling himself admits this when he describes as the aim of individual immortality not the liberation of mind from nature, but the proper balance of the two; also when he says further of Christ that he was not dissolved into the universe but was raised as a man on the right hand of God. (So the remaining two divine persons must have been dissolved in the universe after all?) But if reason exists, then its own existence is proof of the existence of nature. So the necessity exists that the power of being must pass over at once into the actus of being. Or, to use a very humdrum phrase, intelligible even without Feuerbach and Hegel:
So long as one abstracts from all existence one cannot talk about it at all. But if one starts from something existing it is, of course, possible to go on from that to other things, which, all conclusions being correctly drawn, must also exist. If the existence of the premises is admitted, the existence of the conclusion stands to reason. Now the basis of all philosophy is the existence of reason; this existence is proved by its activity (cogito, ergo sum); if therefore one proceeds from reason as existing, the existence of all its consequences follows of itself. No philosopher has yet denied that the existence of reason is a premise; and if Schelling does not want to admit this premise let him keep out of philosophy altogether. Thus Hegel could indeed prove the existence of nature, i.e., that it is a necessary consequence of the existence of reason. But Schelling, who wants to make his way into an abstract and empty immanence of thinking, forgets that all his operations are obviously based on the existence of reason and makes the ridiculous demand that real reason should have unreal, merely logical results, that a real apple-tree should produce only logical, potential apples. Such an apple-tree is usually called barren; Schelling would say: the infinite power of an apple-tree.
If then Hegel’s categories are called not only the models according to which, but also the generating forces through which the things of this world have been created, this means nothing else than that they deduce the thought-content of the world and its necessary consequence from the existence of reason. Schelling, on the other hand, takes reason really for something which could also exist outside the world organism and so places its true realm in the hollow, empty abstraction, in the “aeon before the creation of the world”, which, fortunately, however, has never existed and in which reason still less ever found itself or even felt happy. But here we see how extremes meet: Schelling cannot grasp the concrete thought and drives it on to the most dizzying abstraction, which at once appears to him again as a sensory image, so that precisely this muddle of abstraction and conception is characteristic of Schelling’s scholastic-mystic way of thinking.
We get new proofs of this when we turn to the exposition of the content of “negative philosophy”. The power of being serves as the basis. The caricature of Hegelian dialectic is most obvious. The power can make a transition, but it can also refrain from doing so, as it wishes. So in the retort of reason the two chemical components, being and not-being, are separated from the neutral power. If it were at all possible to bring back the business of power to sound reason, here would be the place where a dialectical element shows itself and Schelling seems to divine that the essence of power is the necessity of transition and that power is only abstracted from the actus of reality. But no, he becomes more and more entangled in the one-sided abstraction. He lets the power make a trial transition and discovers the great thought that after the transition it has forfeited the chance not to make it. At the same time he discovers in the power a third thing, the possibility not to do either and to hover freely between the two. These three possibilities or powers, it is declared, include all reasonable content, all possible being.
The possibility to be becomes actual being. With that the second possibility, the ability also not to be, is negated. Will it seek to reconstitute itself? How can it do so when it is not overcome by a mere negation in the Hegelian sense, but is totally destroyed, reduced to nothing, to such radical not-being as can only occur in a philosophy of possibility? Crushed, swallowed, devoured, how should this possibility still have the strength to reconstitute itself? For not only the second possibility, but even the primeval power, the subject to which that second possibility is a mere predicate, is negated, and so not the latter, but the former, the primeval power, must seek to reconstitute itself. But that cannot at all be its intention — to stick to Schelling’s way of looking at things — for it is bound to know beforehand that by becoming actw, it would negate itself as power. Such a reconstitution can occur only when persons, not categories, negate themselves. Only boundless misunderstanding, a monstrous passion for would-be improvement could so thoughtlessly distort the principle of Hegel’s dialectic which is here clearly the basis. How undialectical the whole process is can also be shown thus: If the two sides in the power have equal strength, then, without an impulse from outside, it does not decide to make the transition at all and remains as before. Then, of course, the whole process would not take place, and Schelling would not know where to derive the prototypes of the world, of the spirit and the Christian Trinity.. So one fails to see the necessity for the whole thing, it remains obscure why the power takes leave of its lovely potential peace, subjects itself to being, etc., and the whole process rests from the start on arbitrariness. If this happens in the “necessary” thinking, what will not occur in the “free"! But that is just the point: this transition must remain arbitrary, for otherwise Schelling would be admitting the necessity of the world and this does not fit into his positivism. But here again is proof that power is only power as actus, but without actus is only a hollow, empty absurdity with which even Schelling cannot be contented. For with empty power he is left without content, this only appears when the power becomes actus, and so against his will he has to acknowledge the untruth of the opposition of power and actus.
Let us return once more to the second power, of which Schelling makes the most wonderful fuss. We have seen above how it was negated, reduced to nothing. Now Schelling says further: Since the first is that which can be, it is its opposite, everything except that which can be, hence the wholly pure being, actus purus! This, however, must already have lain in the primeval power, but how does it get there? How does that which is “averse to being, inclined to not-being”, etc., suddenly become wholly pure being; “pure being” differ from “boundless being”; why is how does there no other possibility for that which cannot be, but to be that which is? To that we get no reply. Instead we are assured that this, the second power, leads the first, which has become boundless, back into the condition of ability and thereby reconstitutes and at the same time — destroys itself! Who can understand that? Furthermore, this reduction process is fixed in its stages by the stages of nature. That nature should be the outcome is incomprehensible. Why, for example, is the boundless being the hyle? Because Schelling thought of the hyle from the start and worked towards it; otherwise this being could have anything else as its sensory or spiritual content. That the stages of nature are to be conceived as powers is also incomprehensible. , In that way the deadest, the inorganic, would have to be that which has the highest degree of being, the organic rather that which is able to be; but one can only regard this as a mystical image in which all thought-content has been lost.
Now instead of conceiving the third power, the spirit — for again we can see Schelling working towards it from afar — as the highest quantitative stage of the first, which has been overcome by the second, and in which at the same time a qualitative change takes place, Schelling again does not know where to derive it from. “Science is looking round for a third...... One cannot stop here.” “In place of the being overcome by the second power, a third must be posited.” These are the magic flourishes with which he conjures up the spirit. Now we learn how this spirit, which has made its entrance through generatio primitiva, is constituted. If we think of nature, it is, of course, evident that, given these premises, the spirit is to be understood as self-possessing ability to be (not mere ability), which, of course, is already bad enough; but if we abstract from this future nature, which will perhaps never even come, if we keep to the pure powers, it is impossible to grasp, try as one may, that the first power, which has been brought back into ability to be by the second, can be anything but the primeval power. Schelling seems to have felt in Hegel the depth of the mediation which has passed through the negation and the opposition, but it is beyond him to achieve anything like it. With him there are two things, indifferent to each other, one of which pushes the other aside, whereupon the second reconquers its place and drives the first back to its original position. Nothing else than the initial state can possibly result. Moreover, if the first is strong enough to push the second aside, where does the second suddenly find the strength to go over, after an unsuccessful defensive, to the offensive and drive the first away? I will say nothing about the unfortunate definition of the spirit; it refutes itself and the entire process of which it is the result.
So we would now have happily worked through this so-called process of development and could pass on to other thin s, if Schelling, after finally the spirit had concluded all, had not held out for us the prospect of another, intellectual world, the coping-stone of which he calls the Idea. How Schelling, after the concrete nature and the living spirit, Can now bring out the abstract idea (in this position it can indeed only be abstract), is quite incomprehensible, and Schelling should have justified this, since he rejects the contrary position of the Hegelian Idea. He arrives at this through his mania for having the absolute decidedly at the end of philosophy, and through his failure to comprehend how Hegel actually achieved this. The absolute is, however, the self-knowing spirit, and that, it is to be supposed, is what Schelling’s Idea is too; but according to Schelling this spirit is to be a postulate at the end of the negative philosophy. But that again is a contradiction. History cannot come into this philosophy since it has nothing to do with actuality; on the other hand, it is the philosophy of spirit, the crown of which is the philosophy of world history; moreover, the negative science is supposed to “exhaust this last possibility of a consciously occurring process” (which can only be history). Where does that leave us? This much is certain, that if Schelling had a philosophy of history, the self-knowing spirit would appear to him not as a postulate, but as a result. The self-knowing spirit is, however, a long way from being the concept of the personal God, as Schelling claims for the Idea.
When Schelling had got thus far, he claimed that it had been his endeavour forty years earlier to give a coherent presentation of the science just outlined. The philosophy of identity, he said, had been intended only as this negative philosophy. Its slow, gradual elevation above Fichte had at least in part been intentional:
“He had wished to avoid all abrupt transitions, to keep the continuity of philosophical development, and even flattered himself with the hope perhaps some time later to bring Fichte himself over to his side.”
As if we did not know Hegel’s previously quoted saying or how little Schelling knew himself. The subject, which in the philosophy of identity comprised within, itself all positive content, is now declared to be power. Already in this philosophy it is supposed that all the stages of nature are being relative to the next higher stages, which are themselves ability to be and, in turn, being relative to their higher stages, so that what is there called subject and object here becomes ability to be and being until the final outcome is no longer that which relatively has being, but that which absolutely has “super-being”, the identity, no longer the mere indifference, of thinking and being, of power and actus, subject and object. Everything in this philosophy, however, according to Schelling, had been stated “presupposing the pure science of reason”, and the worst misunderstanding was that the whole was taken for a not merely logical but also a real process, that this philosophy was thought to infer from a principle that was true in itself, the truth of all that followed. Only when this philosophy had reached its conclusion, did being, which was no longer able to alienate itself, remain stationary in its full splendour and see nature and spirit beneath it as its throne to which it had been raised; yet, for all its sublimity this was no more than a construction of thought and only to be transformed into a real process by a complete reversal.
For the moment we will leave it open whether this presentation of the philosophy of identity has not been adapted to Schelling’s present views, whether forty years ago he cared as little for the reality of his thoughts as now, and whether it would not have been better to remove the “greatest misunderstanding” with two words, which could easily have been done, instead of maintaining a superior silence; we shall go on directly to the judgment of the man who “pushed” Schelling “out of his place”, without the latter hitherto having been able to “negate that which has negated him”.
Schelling says that while almost everybody understood the philosophy of identity wrongly and superficially, Hegel rescued its fundamental thought and acknowledged it to the last, as testified by his Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie. Hegel erred in that he took the philosophy of identity for the absolute philosophy and did not acknowledge that there are things which go beyond it. Its limit was the ability to be; he went beyond that and drew being into its compass. His basic error was that he wished to turn it into an existential system. He believed the philosophy of identity had the absolute for its subject not merely in essence, but in existence. By bringing existence into it, he leaves the sphere of development of pure reason. So he is consistent when he begins his science with pure being and thereby denies the prius of existence. Thus it came about that he was only immanent in the non-immanent, for being is that which is non-immanent in thinking. Then he claims to have demonstrated the absolute in logic. So he had the absolute twice, at the end of logic, where it is derived in exactly the same way as at the end of the philosophy of identity, and at the end of the whole process. This shows, therefore, that logic is not to be premised as the ‘first part of the development but should rather pervade the whole process. Hegel defines logic as a subjective science in which thinking is in and with itself alone, prior to and outside all actuality. And yet thinking is supposed to have the actual, real idea as its terminal point. While with its first step the philosophy of identity is within nature, Hegel throws nature out of logic and thereby declares it illogical. The abstract concepts of Hegel’s logic do not belong to the beginning of philosophy; they can enter it only when consciousness has absorbed the whole of nature, for they are mere abstractions from nature. So there can be no question of objective logic in Hegel, for just where nature, the object, begins, logic ceases. So in logic the Idea is in the process of becoming, but only in the thought of the philosopher; its objective life only begins when it has arrived at consciousness. But as actually existing, it is already at the end of logic — hence it is impossible to continue. with it. For the Idea as absolute subject-object, as ideal-real, is complete in itself and incapable of further progress; how then can it still pass over into the other, into nature? Here it becomes clear that in the pure science of reason there can be no question of an actually existing nature. What concerns actual existence must be reserved for positive philosophy.
The error of this presentation rests mainly on the naive belief that Hegel did not advance beyond Schelling’s standpoint and that, moreover, he misunderstood it. We have seen that, try as he will, Schelling cannot get away from existence, and therefore there is hardly any need to justify Hegel for not making this claim of abstract ideality. Even if Schelling could abide by the pure Power, his own existence should convince him that the power has made the transition, hence that all consequences of mere logical being now belong in the real, and hence the “absolute” exists. After that, why does he still need positive philosophy? If the logical absolute follows from the logical world, the existing absolute follows from the existing world. But that Schelling cannot be content with this and now in addition assumes a positive philosophy of faith shows how strongly the empirical, extramundane existence of the absolute contradicts all reason, and how strongly Schelling himself feels this. Because Schelling now seeks to pull down to his own low level the Hegelian Idea, which stands infinitely high above the absolute of the philosophy of identity since it is what the other merely pretends to be, he cannot grasp the relation of the Idea to nature and spirit. Schelling again conceives the Idea as an extra-mundane being, as a personal God, a thing which never occurred to Hegel. For Hegel the reality of the Idea is nothing but — nature and spirit. That is also why Hegel does not have the absolute twice. At the end of logic the Idea is there as ideal-real, but for that very reason it is, of course, also nature. If it is only expressed as Idea it is merely ideal, merely logically existing. The ideal-real absolute, complete in itself, is nothing but the unity of nature and spirit in the Idea. Schelling, however, still conceives the absolute as absolute subject, for, although it is filled with the content of objectivity, it still remains subject without becoming object, i. e., the absolute is for him real only in the shape of the personal God. He should leave him out altogether and keep to the pure definition of the concept in which it is not a question of personality. So the absolute is not real outside nature and mind. if it were, they would, of course, both be superfluous. Hence, if in logic it was a question of the ideal definitions of the Idea as real in nature and mind, it is now a question of this reality itself, of the demonstration of these definitions in existence, which is the final test and at the same time the highest stage of philosophy. So an advance out of logic is indeed not only possible but necessary, and in the self-conscious, infinite mind this very advance returns to the Idea. So we can see the nullity of Schelling’s assertions that Hegel declares nature illogical (which Schelling, by the way, at once declares the whole world to be), that his logic, the necessary, self-active development of thought, is “subjective science, and that objective logic cannot exist at all since it is philosophy of nature and this philosophy has been thrown out of logic”. As if the objectivity of science consisted in its regarding an external object as such! If Schelling calls logic subjective, there is no reason nota to declare the philosophy of nature also subjective, for the same subject which thinks here also thinks there, and it does not matter, of course, what content is under consideration. Hegel’s objective logic, however, does not develop the thoughts, it lets them develop themselves, and the thinking subject is, as mere spectator, quite accidental.
Passing on to the philosophy of spirit, Schelling now proceeds from those utterances in which Hegel’s philosophy is at war with his personal inclinations and prejudices. The religious-philosophical side of the Hegelian system gives him occasion to point out contradictions between premises and conclusions which have long since been discovered and acknowledged by the Young Hegelian school. Thus he says quite correctly: This philosophy wants to be Christian, to which, however, nothing whatever compels it; if it maintained its original attitude as science of reason, it would have its truth in itself. — He then concludes his remarks by acknowledging Hegel’s statement that art, religion and philosophy are the ultimate forms of achieving the absolute. Only since art and religion transcend the pure science of reason, this philosophy — and this he takes for the dialectical point of the statement — would also have to do so and be a second philosophy, different from the former one. But where does Hegel say this? At the end of the Phänomenologie, where he has the whole of logic before him as a second philosophy. Phenomenology, however — here stands out the very opposite of Schelling’s interpretation — was not the pure science of reason, but only the path to it, the raising of the empirical, of sensory consciousness to the level of the pure science of reason. Not logical, but phenomenological consciousness finds these three before it as ultimate “possibilities to assure itself of the existence of the absolute super-being”. Logical, free consciousness sees quite different things, with which, however, we need not concern ourselves for the moment; it has the absolute already in itself.
So the difficult step will have been taken and the apostasy from pure reason openly pronounced. Since the scholastics, Schelling is the first to have dared this step; for Jacobi and his like do not count, since they represented their time only in certain aspects, never in its wholeness. For the first time for five hundred years a hero of science stands up and declares science the servant of faith. He has done it — the consequences be on his head. We can only be glad that the man who was a representative of his time like no one else, in whom his century came to self-consciousness, that this man is declared also by Schelling the finest flower of the science of reason. Let him who believes in the omnipotence of reason take to heart this testimony of an enemy.
Schelling describes positive philosophy as follows: It is quite independent of negative philosophy and cannot start with the end of this philosophy as something existing, but must itself first demonstrate existence. The end of the negative philosophy is in the positive philosophy not a principle but a task; the beginning of the positive philosophy is absolute through itself. The unity of the two has never existed, nor could it be achieved either by suppressing one or by mixing the two. It can be proved that the two have always been in conflict with each other. (Here follows the attempt at such a demonstration from Socrates to Kant, in whom empiricism and apriorism are claimed to be again sharply separated. We must pass over this, since it remains without any result.) Now Positive philosophy is, however, not pure empiricism, least of all o the kind which is based on inner, mystic-theosophical experience; it has its principle in that which occurs neither in mere thinking nor in experience, but in the absolutely transcendental, which goes beyond all experience and all thinking and precedes both. Hence the beginning must not be a relative prius, as in pure thinking, where the power has the transition before it, but the absolute prius, so that we proceed not from concept to being but from being to concept. This transition is not necessary, like the first, but is the consequence of a free act which overcomes being and is proved a posteriori empirically. For if it can be immaterial to negative philosophy, which rests on logical consistency, whether there is a world and whether this world agrees with its construction, positive philosophy progresses through free thinking and so must find its confirmation in experience, with which it has to keep pace. If negative philosophy is pure apriorism, positive philosophy is a priori empiricism. Since in it a free thinking, i..e., a thinking with volition, is presupposed, its proofs are also only for the willing, and the “wise”; one must not only understand it but have the will to feel its power. If revelation is also among the objects of experience, then it belongs as much to positive philosophy as to nature and mankind, and has therefore no other authority for this philosophy than for anything else; as for astronomy, for example, the movements of the planets are indeed authorities with which the calculations have to agree. If it is claimed that without preceding revelation philosophy would not have arrived at this result, this is correct, of course, in a way, but now philosophy can also do it by itself. Just as there are people who, when they have once discerned small fixed stars with the telescope, can afterwards see them also with the naked eye and hence are no longer dependent on the telescope. Philosophy must take in Christianity, which is as much reality as are nature and mind, yet not only revelation, but the inner necessity of the merely logical philosophy forces it to transcend itself. Negative philosophy brings everything only to the point of cognisability and then hands it over to the other sciences; only the one ultimate thing it cannot bring to this point and that is the thing most worthy of cognition; this it must take up again in a new philosophy which has the task to demonstrate precisely this ultimate thing as existing. Thus negative philosophy becomes philosophy only in relation to positive philosophy. If negative philosophy were alone, it would have no real result, and reason would be void; in positive philosophy it triumphs; reason, which in negative philosophy was bowed down,. again stands erect.
I hardly need say anything in elucidation of these Schellingian propositions; they explain themselves. But if we compare them with the promises Schelling made in the beginning, what a difference is revealed Philosophy was to be revolutionised, a teaching was to develop which would put an end to the negative philosophy of recent years, the reconciliation of faith and knowledge was approaching, and in the end what is the outcome? A teaching which has no foundation either in itself or in anything else that has been proved. Here, it is based on a thinking freed from all logical necessity, that is, an arbitrary, empty thinking; there, on something of which precisely the reality is in question, and of which the claims are disputed, namely, revelation. What a naive demand that in order to cure oneself of doubt one must cast away doubt! “Well, if you don’t believe, there is no help for you!” What did Schelling come to Berlin for? Instead of his positive treasure he should have brought with him a refutation of Strauss’ Leben Jesu of Feuerbach’s Wesen des Christenthums, etc.; then he might have done something; as it is, the Hegelians prefer to remain stuck in the notorious “blind alley” rather than “place themselves at his mercy”; and the positive theologians will also prefer to continue to work from revelation rather than steep themselves deeper in it. Then, too, his admission, repeated day after day since the New Year, that he wishes to give neither proof of Christianity nor any speculative dogma but merely a contribution to the explanation of Christianity, falls into place. The need of negative philosophy to transcend itself, as we have seen, has not much to it either. If the assumption of the transition a potentia ad actum leads necessarily to the logical God dependent only on this assumption, the empirically demonstrated real transition leads to the real God, and positive science is superfluous.
Schelling takes the transition to positive philosophy from the ontological proof of the existence of God. God cannot exist by chance, hence “if He exists”, He exists of necessity. This clause inserted in the gap of the argument is quite correct. So God can only be that which is in and before itself (not for itself; Schelling is so furious with Hegel that he even thinks he must criticise his expressions as misuse of language and improve on them), i.e., He exists before Himself, before His divinity. So He is blind being, prior to all thinking. But since it is doubtful whether He exists, we must proceed from that blind being, and see whether we cannot arrive at the concept of God from there. Hence, if in negative philosophy the principle is the thinking which precedes all being, in positive philosophy it is the being which precedes all thinking. This blind being is the necessary being; God, however, is not this being but that which of necessity “is necessary”; the necessary being alone is the ability to be of the supreme being. Blind being is that which requires no substantiation, since it precedes all thinking. Thus positive philosophy begins with something altogether beyond concepts so as to make it a posteriori, as God, conceivable and the immanent content of reason. Here only is the latter free and has escaped from the realm of necessary thinking.
This “blind being” is hyle, the eternal matter of earlier philosophy. That it develops itself into God is at least new. Up to now it has always been the dualistic principle opposed to God. But let us consider further the content of positive philosophy.
This blind being, which can also be called “unpremeditatable being”, is the purus actw of existence and the identity of essence and being (which in the case of God is described as aseity). But this, it seems, cannot serve as the basis of a process, since it lacks all motive force, which lies only in power. But why should the actus purw be denied all possibility of subsequently also becoming power; it does not follow that the being which is cannot post actum also be that which has ability to be. Unpremeditatable being can afterwards be given the possibility — nothing stands in the way — of letting a second being emerge from itself. Blind being thereby becomes power, for it receives something which it can will and so becomes master of its own blind being. If it releases this second being, the first blind being is only potentia actus purus and is thus self-possessing being (but all this is only hypothesis which has to be proved by success); only by differentiation from the second does it become conscious of itself as necessary by its nature; blind being appears as accidental because it is not foreseen, and so has to prove itself necessary by overcoming its opposite. This is the ultimate ground of the being which stands in opposition to it, and hence the ultimate ground of the world. The law that everything must become clear and nothing remain hidden is the supreme law of all being; not, of course, a law that stands above God, but one which first sets Him free, and is therefore already itself a divine law. This great world law, this world dialectic, is simply unwilling that there should be anything undecided. It alone can solve the great riddles. Nay, God is so just that He acknowledges that opposed principle to the very end and until all contradiction is exhausted. All involuntary, unpremeditatable being is unfree; the true God is the living God who can become something other than the unpremeditatable. Otherwise it must either be assumed with Spinoza that everything emanates from the divine nature necessarily, without it doing anything towards it (bad pantheism), or that the concept of creation is one that cannot be grasped by reason (shallow theism which cannot overcome pantheism). Thus unpremeditatable being becomes the power of the opposite, and since potentiality is for it something intolerable, it will necessarily want to work towards its restoration into actus purus. So the second being must again be negated by the first and be led back into power. So it becomes master not only of the first power, but also of the second, the power to transform its unpremeditatability into a being and thereby to remove it from itself and thus give up its entire existence. In this also lies its essence, which hitherto was concealed by being; the pure being, which through resistance has received a power into itself, is now independent as essence. Thus the master of the first possibility has also been given the possibility to reveal itself as itself, as free from necessary being, to posit itself as spirit; for spirit is that which is free to work or not to work, which in being is master of itself and remains in being even when it does not manifest itself. But this is not that which is directly able to be, nor that which must be, but that which, being able to be, must be. These three moments appear to the unpremeditatable being as that which properly should be, so that there is nothing outside these three moments and everything which is of the future is excluded.
The train of thought in positive philosophy is, as we see, very “free”. Schelling does not conceal that he proposes only hypotheses which have yet to be proved by success, i.e., by agreement with revelation. It is a consequence of this free, willing thinking that he lets the “unpremeditatable being” behave exactly as if it were already that which has yet to be developed from it, namely, God. The unpremeditatable being can, of course, not yet see, will, release, or lead back. It is nothing but a naked abstraction of matter which is most remote precisely from anything personal, self-conscious. It is not possible by any kind of development to introduce self-consciousness into this rigid category unless it is understood as matter and develops through nature to spirit, like the “boundless being” in negative philosophy from which it is distinguished only by the empty attribute of unpremeditatability. This unpremeditatability can only lead to materialism and at most to pantheism, but never to monotheism. Cuvier’s saying here also proves correct:
“Schelling puts metaphors in the place of arguments, and instead of developing concepts he changes images and allegories according to his needs.”
Moreover, the method of argument in which every advance is rejected with “there is no reason why this should not happen, there is no logical necessity that this should not be possible”, etc., has never been encountered in philosophy, at least up to now. In this way the Chinese and Otaheitan [Tahitian] religions can also be deduced out of the “unpremeditatable being”, and that, too, is justified since they are just as much facts as Christianity. But as for the newlydiscovered world law that everything must become clear, it cannot be denied that here at least very little becomes clear and very much remains hidden. Here we only see clarity of thought sink into the dark abyss of fantasy. But if that law means that everything must justify itself to reason for its existence, then this again is one of Hegel’s basic thoughts and, moreover, it is not applied by Schelling himself. Considerable time may still be spent in a vain endeavour to bring the conclusion of the above presentation with its “can”, “must”, and “should” to a point where everything becomes clear. Above all, we must ask: In what relation do the three positive powers stand to the three negative ones? Only one thing becomes clear, that they are indeed possibilities which should be, but not possibilities which, being able to be, must be. This “most thoroughgoing” dialectic, Schelling maintains, alone makes it possible to advance from Spinoza’s necessarily-existing actu to the necessarily-being natura sua. For this is all he could have wanted to do, since he did not want to prove the existence of the divine, but only the divinity of that which exists (Young Hegelian philosophy does precisely the same), namely, the divinity of that which exists actu, eternally, of itself. But who then will prove to us that anything exists from eternity? That which is actu, of itself, can only lead to the eternity of matter, if one argues logically. And illogical conclusions have no validity, even if revelation agrees with them.
“If, in accordance with a weak dialectic, we were to say: God only assumes the power of the opposed being so as to transform the blind affirmation of His existence into one mediated by negation, the question is why does He do so? Not for His own sake, for He knows His might; only for the sake of others can He make the being which differs from Himself into the object of volition. Only in this being-away-from-Himself lies God’s essence, His beatitude; all His thoughts are only outside Himself, in creation. Thus it is, indeed, a process of suspension and restoration, but in between there lies the whole world.”
How ridiculous is here the arrogance with which this caricature of a most thoroughgoing dialectic looks down upon its “ weak” originals It has not even understood it sufficiently to present it correctly. According to Schelling, even Hegel thinks in this speculative manner; Schelling makes him reason something like this: Here is God. He creates the world. It negates Him. Why? Because it is evil? God forbid, only because it exists. It takes up all space for itself, and God, who does not know where to turn, finds Himself compelled to negate it again. Then He must destroy it, of course. The profundity, however, according to which the negation necessarily follows from what exists yet only in itself, as the unfolding of the innermost essence, as the awakener of consciousness, until in its supreme activity it must negate itself again out of itself and brings forth as product the developed, that which stays with itself, the free — of that Schelling can have no idea, for his God is free, i.e., acting arbitrarily.
God or the unpremeditatable being has now posited the world or the contrary being. This exists only in God’s will and depends on it. His justice does not allow it to be destroyed in one blow for the sake of His restoration, for the contrary being now has, as it were, a right, a will independent of God. Hence it is brought back through the two last powers, gradually and according to a principle which determines the stages of the process. If then the first power was the cause which started the whole movement and the cause of the contrary being, the second was the one posited ex actu, which, realising itself by overcoming the first and acting on the contrary being, subjected this to the third power, so that the contrary being stepped between the three powers as a concrete thing. These now prove to be: causa materialis, ex qua; causa efficiens, per quam; causa finalis, in quam (secundum quam) omnia fiunt. [a material cause from which, efficient cause through which, final cause in conformity with which (according to which) everything happens.]
If now unpremeditatable being is a condition of divinity, so with the creation God exists as such, as lord of being who has it in His power to realise or not to realise those possibilities. He remains outside the whole process and goes beyond that triad of causes as causa causarum. So as not to make the world appear as an emanation of His essence, it was for God to try all possible positions of the powers relative to one another, i.e., to let the future world pass before Him as in a vision. For mere omnipotence and omniscience does not ensure this by itself, but the works are present as visions of the creator. Hence that primeval power, that prime cause of the contrary being, has always been specially glorified; it is the Indian Maja (akin to the German Macht, power), which spreads out the nets of mere appearance so as to move the creator to real creation, like Fortuna primigenia at Praeneste. I will not add a word so as not to rub off the mystic butterfly dust of this vision.
Now it cannot be proved a priori that God really creates, it is explained by the sole need which can be attributed to God, the need to be known, which is precisely a quality most inherent in the noblest natures. The God of creation is not just the single God, but the single God in a plurality, and since this plurality (these powers) is self-contained, the creator is the All-One, and this is monotheism. Since He precedes everything He can have no equal, for powerless being is capable of absolutely nothing [kann überhaupt nicht](!). God, of whom it is said only in passing that He is the sole one, is merely the God of the theists; monotheism demands the soleness without which God is not God, while theism stops at infinite substance. The advance from here to that which is God in relation to things is pantheism; in it, the things are determinants of God. Only monotheism contains God as the real, living God, where the unity of substance has disappeared in the power and has been replaced by a supersubstantial unity, so that God is the unconquerable One against three. Though several, they are not several gods, but only one God, not several in divinity. Monotheism and pantheism are thus advances over theism, which is the last expression of the absolute in negative philosophy. In monotheism there is the transition to Christianity, for the singleness finds its definite expression in the Trinity.
However much one may try to grasp this Trinity, there always remain three against one, one against three. If God is the unity of three, He can be so only as a fourth, or else there remain three gods. If only divinity is their unity, then humanity is likewise the unity of all human beings and just as we have only one God, so we have only one human being. But the many can no more be done away with than the three, and three persons will never make one. The old contradiction of the Trinity lies bare, and we are amazed at Schelling’s boldness in claiming it has been solved. That only the Trinity is the true expression of unity is again taken from Hegel, but as usual made shallow to the point of sheer emptiness. With Hegel the Trinity remains a succession of the stages of God’s development, if one insists on having a god in his system. Here, however, the three moments are conceived as standing side by side as personalities, and the original proposition is advanced that the true personality of one person is that it is three persons.
Up to now we have indeed only the one person, the Father. For if a prior being removes from itself something belonging to it, so that the latter necessarily realises itself, this is rightly called procreation. If now in this process of realisation the contrary being (B) is actually overcome, the second power, like the first, is master over it, and hence the divinity of the Son is equal to that of the Father. So, too, the third power, which, as essence free of being, can only return into being after overcoming B, but then has the same glory and personality as the first two and appears as the Holy Ghost. So in the end there are three personalities, but not three gods, since being is one, and hence also the glory of it is only one (as though the two Spartan kings, because their rule was one, had been only one king!). In the powers, while they are in tension, we only see the natural side of the process (“tension” appears to be the process of negative philosophy) as the genesis of the world; only with the persons is there opened up the world of the divine and the divine significance of that process in which being, originally as possibility in the Father, is given to the Son and by him returned to the Father as overcome. Besides being given to the Son, it is also given to the Holy Ghost, by Father and Son, and it has only that being which is common to them both. The tension of the powers pervades all nature, and is present in a certain proportion in everything. Everything that arises is a fourth between the powers, but man, in whom the tension becomes fully resolved, already has a relationship to the personalities as such, for in him that last moment of realisation is expressed in which the powers become real personalities. This process, then, is a process of creation for things, and a theogonic process for the personalities.
Thus, out of the abyss of unpremeditatable being Schelling has conjured up for us into the light of day not only the personal but also the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, though the third has indeed only been accommodated with difficulty, and then the arbitrarily created world, dependent on arbitrariness and therefore hollow and void; and he has thus the basis of Christianity. It cannot be my intention to show up one by one the inconsistencies, the arbitrary judgments, the rash claims, the gaps, leaps, assumptions and confusions of which Schelling is guilty here; if things were already bad enough in the necessary thinking, in the free thinking one must reckon with an even greater confusion of scholasticism and mysticism — that is the essence of neo-Schellingianism. The reader can neither demand such superhuman patience of me, nor I of the reader such interest in the matter. Moreover, what lies on the surface does not first have to be uncovered. My purpose is merely to follow the train of thought in general, only to show how between Hegel and Schelling precisely the opposite occurs of what Schelling affirms. Now, on the ground of Christianity, we can let the facts speak for themselves even more. Firstly, Schelling declares his inability to understand the world insofar as he is unable to understand evil. Man could, or could not, remain in God; that he did not do so was an act of free will on his part. He thereby put himself in God’s place and, where everything seemed ordered, jeopardised everything again. Separated from God, the world was exposed to externals, and the element in an ordered system [Moment] lost its position as such. The Father was “as it were” pushed out of his place (later, the “as it were” is omitted).
But the Christian Trinity was still not there, and the Son’s will, his own, independent of the Father’s, was not yet pronounced. But now, at the end of the creation, there appears something new, the B which possesses itself in Man. He can choose whether to be or not to be one with God. He does not want to be and thereby pushes the superior power back into potentiality, which now, separated from the Father by the will of Man, is as much the Son of Man as the Son of God (this is the significance of the expression in the New Testament) and has a being both divine and extra-divine. Now the superior power can follow being into extradivinity and lead it back to God. The Father is now turned away from the world and no longer acts in it with his will but with his unwillingness (this is the true significance of the wrath of God). So the Father did not destroy the evil world, but preserved it in view of the Son, as it is written. In him, i. e., in view of him, all things are made. So we have here two periods: the age of the Father, where being (the world) still lay in the Father as power and the Son was not yet independent, and the age of the Son, the time of the world, whose history is that of the Son. This age again has two periods; in the first man is entirely under the sway of the contrary being, the B, the cosmic powers. Here the Son is in the state of negation, of the deepest suffering, of passivity, at first excluded from being (i. e., from the world), unfree, outside human consciousness. It can only work in a natural way towards the conquest of being. This is the time of the old covenant, where the Son strives for dominion over being not according to his will, but according to his nature. So far this significance of that time has been missed in science, nobody has grasped it yet. It is most definitely indicated in the Old Testament, namely, in Chapter 53 of Isaiah, which speaks of the present suffering of the Messiah. The second period only begins with the strengthening of the second power, with the achievement of dominion over being, when it acts freely and with will. This is the time of its appearance in Christ, the time of revelation. This is the key to Christianity; with this Ariadne’s thread it is possible “to find the way through the labyrinth of my trains of thought”. — Through the rebellion of man the personalities that arose through the overcoming of B in creation become again mere possibilities, pushed back into potentiality and excluded from consciousness, posited outside God. Here now is the cause of a new process which takes place in the consciousness of man and from which the divinity is excluded, for in their tension the powers are extra-divine. This process of the subjugation of consciousness to the dominion of the powers took place in paganism as mythological. development. The deeper historical precondition of revelation is mythology. We must now trace in the philosophy of mythology the individual powers in the mythological consciousness and the consciousness of them in the Greek mysteries.
The question arises whether this influence of man on the self-development of God — for it can only be called that — which Schelling affirms, is Christian? For the Christian God is one who has been complete from all eternity, whose composure suffers no change even through the Son’s temporary life on earth. In general, according to Schelling the creation ends ignominiously. The house of cards of the “intermediate powers, the relatively being and able to be”, has no sooner been built and the three powers are on the point of becoming personalities than stupid man plays a silly trick and all the ingenious architectonics come tumbling down and the powers remain powers as before. It is just as in the fairy-tale, where a treasure, surrounded by brightly shining phantoms, is conjured up from the depths; already the coveted treasure is seen rising over the edge of the abyss — then a rash word is spoken, the phantoms dissolve, the treasure sinks and the depths close over it forever. Schelling’s God could have done His job a little more cleverly, and He would then have saved Himself much trouble and us the philosophy of revelation. Schelling’s mysticism, however, comes to its finest flowering in the Son’s state of suffering. This obscure, mysterious relationship of divine extra-divinity, conscious unconsciousness, active inactivity, unwilling will, this spate of crowding contradictions is for Schelling indeed a priceless gold-mine of conclusions, for anything can be derived from it. Still more unclear is the relationship of this power to man’s consciousness. All powers here act as cosmic, natural powers, but how? What are cosmic powers? Not a single one of Schelling’s pupils, not even Schelling himself, can give a rational answer. This is again one of those confused, mystical thought-categories in which he has to take refuge in order to arrive, even “with free, self-determined thinking”, at revelation.
“The mythological concepts cannot be explained in any other way than as the necessary product of consciousness which has fallen under the sway of the cosmic powers.”
But the cosmic powers are the divine powers in their state of tension, the divine as non-divine. In this way, then, we are to explain also the relation of mythology to nature, to obtain entirely new facts and to supply a content to the prehistoric period of mankind, namely, by the “immense agitation of the mind and heart in begetting concepts of gods”.
We can spare ourselves the presentation of the “philosophy of mythology” since it is not directly part of the philosophy of revelation and, moreover, Schelling will treat of it in greater detail next term. This part of the lectures, incidentally, was by far the best and contains much that should not be rejected — once it is freed from the mystical, distorting outlook — even by him who considers these phases of consciousness from a free, purely human standpoint. The question is only how far this is really Schelling’s property, and whether it does not in fact originate with Stuhr. The chief fault of Schelling’s presentation is that he does not conceive the mythological process as the free self-development of consciousness within world-historic necessity, but constantly introduces superhuman principles and forces, and does so in the most confused manner, so that these powers are at one and the same time the “substance of consciousness” and yet again something more. Resort to such means becomes indeed necessary once absolutely superhuman influences are stipulated. So I gladly concede to Schelling his main results of mythology in relation to Christianity, only in a different way, inasmuch as I understand both phenomena not as having been brought into consciousness from outside, supernaturally, but as innermost products of consciousness, as purely human and natural.
Now at last we arrive at the revelation, prepared by mythology. This is Christianity as a whole. Hence its philosophy does not have to be concerned with dogma, etc.; it does not itself intend to establish a doctrine ‘ but only to explain the historical fact of Christianity. We shall see, however, how the whole dogmatic system gradually emerges. We shall see how Schelling regards “Christianity only as a fact, as also paganism”. The facts of paganism, as they appeared, he did not regard as true; he did not take Dionysus, for instance, for a real God; those of Christianity, by contrast, are to him absolute; when Christ declares himself the Messiah, when Paul claims this or that, Schelling believes him unconditionally. Schelling explained the mythological facts, at least in his own fashion; those of Christianity he asserts. And with all this he flatters himself
“to have won the love of youth by his straightforwardness and frankness, nay, not only its love, but also its enthusiasm”.
In order to explain revelation he proceeds from a passage in Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, Ch. 2: 6-8, which I here quote:
“[Christ Jesus], being in the form of God [n morfh qeon], thought it not robbery [arpagma] to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation [ikenwse], and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Without entering into the extensive exegetical discussions with which Schelling accompanied his philosophical explanation I will here merely recount in Schelling’s own manner the fact told by Paul. In his state of suffering Christ had gradually become master of consciousness through the mythological process. He possessed his own world independently of the Father and could do with it what he wished. He was the God of the world, but not the absolute God. He could persist in this extra-divine-divine state. Paul calls this: being in the form of God, in morfh qeou. But he did not want this. He became man, divested himself of his glory to surrender it to the Father and thus to unite the world with God. Had he not done so, there would no longer have been any possibility for the world to unite with God. This is the true significance of Christ’s obedience. The story of the temptation is also to be explained in this sense. The adversary, the blind cosmic principle, has been brought to the point where he offers his realm to Christ, if he will worship him, i. e., will himself remain cosmic power, in morfh qeou. Christ, however, rejects this possibility and surrenders his being to the Father by making it creature-like and becoming man.
“God preserve me from deducing as Christian philosophical doctrines of which Christianity knows nothing,” Schelling concluded this deduction. To dispute about the Christianity of these doctrines would be a luxury, for even if it were proved, nothing would yet be gained for Schelling. In my view, however, they contradict the entire basic outlook if Christianity ‘ It is no great art to prove the most abnormal thing by single passages from the Bible, but this is in no way the point here. Christianity is nearly two thousand years old and has had time enough to come to itself. Its content is expressed in the church, and it is impossible that any other positive content of significance is still concealed in it, or that its true meaning has only now been understood. In any case it would now be too late. But apart from that, there is still enough that is edifying in the above explanation. Was it a free act of Christ to surrender himself to the Father? Impossible, it was a natural necessity. We cannot stipulate the possibility of evil in Christ without destroying his divinity. He who can do evil can never become God. How in any case can one become God? But supposing now that Christ had kept the world for himself? One cannot imagine so absurd, comical a state of affairs as that which would have resulted. Here is Christ living gloriously and joyfully in his beautiful world, the flower of Hellenism in heaven and on earth, and there is the old God, lonely and childless, grieving over the failure of the trick against the world. The main fault of Schelling’s God is that He has more luck than intelligence. Everything went well in fact, but it could have turned out very differently. Altogether, Schelling’s doctrine of God is thoroughly anthropopathic. If the devil had offered the dominion of the world to Christ before he became man, he would at least have had the prospect of winning him, and who knows what would have happened; but once Christ had become man he had thereby already entered into his submission to God, and all hope was lost for the poor devil. Besides, had not Christ already gained the dominion of the world in the mythological process; what then could the devil still offer him?
Herewith the gist of what Schelling says in explanation of Christianity has been given. The rest consists partly of quotations and their interpretations, partly of detailed analysis of the deductions. Of these I will give the more important.
According to the earlier doctrine of the succession of the powers in the dominion of the world, it can be explained how each time the dominating power is the herald of the next. Thus in the Old Testament the Father prophesies the Son, in the New, the Son prophesies the Spirit. In the prophetic books this is reversed, and the third power foretells the second. Here a progression of the powers with time is now revealed, in particular in the “Jehovah of Malachi”, the “Angel of the Lord” who, although not directly the second person, is yet the second power, the cause of the appearance of the second power in B. He is a different one at different times, so that the age of each book can be judged by the manner of his appearance, and thus from the progression of the powers the most “amazing” results can be achieved, surpassing everything yet accomplished by criticism. This determinant is “the key to the Old Testament from which the reality of the concepts of the Old Testament is to be demonstrated in their relative truth”.
The Old Testament has its basis and its premises in common with paganism. Hence. the pagan element in so many Mosaic. customs. Thus circumcision is evidently merely a milder form of castration, which plays such a great part in the most ancient paganism and mimically and symbolically represents the conquest of Uranus, the oldest God, by the subsequent stage. So also the food taboos, the institution of the Tabernacle, which recalls Egyptian sanctuaries just as the Ark of the Covenant recalls the sacred chest of the Phoenicians and Egyptians.
The appearance of Christ is not accidental, but predestined. The Roman era was the dissolution of mythology, for it absorbed into itself all religious concepts of the world even to the oldest Oriental religions-without itself offering any new elements, and thus showed that it was incapable of producing anything new. At the same time, there arose out of the emptiness of these moribund forms a presentiment that something new must come. The world remained still and awaited the things to come. From this outward Roman world empire, from this destruction of the nations, there arose the inner kingdom of God. When the time was fulfilled, God sent his Son.
Christ, divesting himself of morfh qeou, the extra-divine being as divine, became man, thereby exercising most brightly and brilliantly the divinity which continued in him. That Christ became poor for our sakes does not mean his parting with his divinity, the non-usus of the latter, but the discarding of the morfh qeou the form of God. The divine essence remains in him. only he could mediate, because he was from God and in human consciousness.
Through his effect on paganism and Judaism the principle which hampered mankind and might possibly have negated it was not negated; only the symptoms, not the cause of the disease, were removed by the repeated sacrifices. The ill will of the Father could only be overcome by another will, stronger than it, than death, than any other will. No physical, only the moral overcoming of this will was admissible, and that through the greatest voluntary submission of the mediator in place of man. Man’s greatest voluntary submission was never wholly voluntary, that of the mediator, however, was free, without his will or his guilt free over against God. Hence the process through paganism so that the mediator could appear as the representative of consciousness. The taking of this decision was the greatest marvel of the divine mind.
The physical side of the incarnation can, of course, not be made clear down to the smallest detail. The material possibility for this lies in himself. To be material means to serve as substance to a superior power, to be subject to it. When Christ thus submits to God, he becomes material over against Him. But only as a creature has he the right to be outside God. So he must become man. That which in the beginning was with God, and which dominated consciousness in paganism in the form of God, is given birth in Bethlehem as a man by a woman. The reconciliation had always been only subjective, hence subjective facts were sufficient. But here it was necessary to overcome the ill will of the Father, and this could only be achieved by an objective fact, the incarnation.
With this the third power now enters as mediating personality. Christ is conceived of, i.e., by the power of, the Holy Ghost, but is not his Son. The demiurgic function passes over to the third power; its first manifestation is the material man Jesus. The second power is substance, the third that which gives it form. The process in question is extraordinary, materially inconceivable, but it can be grasped by a loftier comprehension. Christ took the substance of the incarnation from himself. This first form, the nature of which does not further concern us here, was received into the organic process of the mother. To ask more questions would be more than micrology.
When God works anywhere with His will, that is a miracle. In nature ‘nothing has will. Neither has Christ. The demiurgic function belongs to him natura sua, without his will, hence he cannot discard it when he is man; here this function becomes the guide of his will. It depends on the will of the Father that the Son with his will is in nature, hence the Son works the miracles by virtue of the Father. He who reads the New Testament after these lectures, will find there much that he has not previously, seen.
The death of Christ had been decided even before the incarnation and approved by Christ and Father. It was then no accident, but a sacrifice demanded by the divine mind. It was necessary in order to deprive the evil principle of all its might, to overcome it in its power. Only the mediating power could achieve this, but not by counterposing itself as a purely natural power to the former. But since God Himself desired that principle to be overcome, the second power had to submit to it. For in the eyes of God the second power, being natural, is worth no more than that which negates God, even if it did not become natural through its own fault, but through the fault of man. This last circumstance also gives it a certain right thus to be outside God. God is so just that He does not unilaterally annul the opposing principle, nay, He is so human that He loves this basically merely accidental element which gave Him the possibility to be as God more than He loves the necessary element, the power out of Himself. He is as much the God of the contrary principle as that of the second power. This is His nature, which stands even above His will. This singleness of all principles is His divine majesty and this does not allow that principle to be unilaterally broken. If it is to be annulled, it is necessary for the second power to precede it and in its extra-divine being to . submit to God completely. Here the incarnation could not yet suffice. Immediately after the Fall, Christ followed man into estrangement from God and placed himself between the world and God. By taking up a position on the side of the contrary principle, he opposed the Father, came into tension with him, shared the guilt of that being and as guiltlessly guilty, as guarantor of the being estranged from God, had to suffer the punishment. Christ atoned in death for thus placing himself on a level with the contrary principle by taking upon himself the sins of the world. This is the reason for his death. Other men indeed die too, but he died a very different death from theirs. This death is a miracle which we would not dare believe at all were it not so certain. All humanity was present in its representatives at his death: Jews and pagans attended it. The principle of the pagans had to die the death of the pagans, the death on the cross — in this, of course, nothing special is to be seen. The crucifixion was the solution of the prolonged tension in which Christ had found himself in paganism, as it is written that by death he was relieved of the judgment and the fear (i. e., the tension). This is the great secret which to this day is a scandal to the Jews (the moralists) and a folly to the pagans (the merely rational).
The resurrection of Christ has always been regarded as a guarantee of personal immortality. On this teaching, apart from the resurrection of Christ, the following Must be remarked. In this fife nature dominates spirit, and it therefore presupposes another, in which this state of affairs is compensated for by the domination of spirit over nature, and a third and last in which the two elements balance each other and are in harmony. So far philosophy has had no satisfying purpose for immortality; here, in Christianity, it is given.
The resurrection of Christ is itself proof of the irrevocability of his incarnation. In it human being is again accepted by God. Not any single deed of man displeased God, but the entire condition in which man found himself, and therefore also the individual, even before he had sinned. Hence no human will, no deed could be really good until the Father was reconciled. In Christ’s resurrection this condition is acknowledged by God, joy is restored to the world. Hence the justification was only completed in the resurrection inasmuch as Christ was not dissolved in the universe but sits as man on God’s right hand. The resurrection is a stroke of lightning from inner history to outer. Whoever takes it away has only the external without divine content, without that transcendental which alone turns history into history; he has a mere fact of memory and stands there like the great mass before the events of the day whose inner workings are unknown to him. Moreover, he goes to hell, i.e., “the moment of dying stretches for him into eternity”.
In the end, the Holy Ghost comes and concludes all. He can only descend after the Father is completely reconciled and his coming is the sign that this has taken place.
Here Schelling interpolated his judgment on the latest criticism since Strauss. It had never been able, he said, to tempt him into any sort of polemic, as he had proved by always giving these lectures in the same way, without additions, since 1831. He dated the philosophy of mythology even farther back. Then he spoke of the “trivial, eminently philistine mind” of these people, of their “school-boyish treatment of incomplete propositions”, of the “impotence of their philosophy”, etc. By contrast, he had nothing to say against pietism and purely subjective Christianity, except that it was not the only kind nor the highest.
Shall I also give excerpts from the satanology? The devil is neither personal nor impersonal, he is a power; the evil angels are powers, they are such as should not be, but were posited by the fall of man; the good angels are also powers, they are such as should be and through the fall of man are not. That is enough for the present.
The church and its history have developed from the three apostles Peter, James (with his successor Paul) and John. Neander is of the same view. The Catholic Church, the conservative, the Jewishly-formal, is that of Peter, the Protestant that of Paul, and the third, still to be expected and presumably prepared by Schelling, that of John, who combines in himself the simplicity of Peter with the dialectical acumen of Paul. Peter represents the Father, Paul the Son, John the Holy Ghost.
“To those whom the Lord loves he gives the task of completion. If I had to build a church, I would build it for St. ‘ John. Some day, however, a common church will be built for all three apostles, and that will be the true Christian pantheon.”
That is the main content of Schelling’s lectures, as far as it could be made out by comparing three notebooks. I am conscious of having proceeded with the greatest sincerity and candour. Here we have the entire dogma: the Trinity, the creation from nothing, the fall of man, original sin and the impotence to do good, the reconciliation through the death of Christ, the resurrection, the descent of the Holy Ghost, the community of the Saints, the resurrection of the dead and eternal life. Thus Schelling himself negates the separation of fact and dogma which he had stipulated. But if we look at the matter more closely, is this Christianity still the old one? If you approach it without prejudice you will have to say: Yes and No. The irreconcilability of philosophy and Christianity has gone so far that even Schelling falls into a still worse contradiction than Hegel. The latter had at least a philosophy, even if the outcome was only an apparent Christianity; by contrast, what Schelling produces is neither Christianity nor philosophy, and his passing it off for both is the measure of his “straightforwardness and frankness”, of the merit that “to those who asked him for bread he gave real bread, not a stone, while saying it was bread”. That Schelling does not know himself in the least is again proved by the speech from which these words are taken. Such a doctrine again really brings home to one how weak are the foundations on which modern Christianity rests.
If we once more review this doctrine in its entirety, in addition to what has already been said we obtain also the following results for the definition of the neo-Schellingian manner of thinking. The confusion of freedom and arbitrariness is in full flower. God is always conceived as acting in a humanly arbitrary fashion. This is indeed necessary so long as God is conceived as single, but it is not philosophical. Only that freedom is genuine which contains necessity, nay, which is only the truth, the reasonableness of necessity. Therefore Hegel’s God cannot now or ever be a single person, since everything arbitrary has been removed from Him. Therefore when he speaks of God, Schelling has to employ “free” thinking, for the necessary thinking of logical inference excludes any kind of divine person. The Hegelian dialectic, this mighty, never resting driving force of thought, is nothing but the consciousness of mankind in pure thinking, the consciousness of the universal, Hegel’s consciousness of God. Where, as with Hegel, everything produces itself, a divine personality is superfluous.
Furthermore, another contradiction is revealed in the division of philosophy. If the negative philosophy is without all reference to existence, “there is no logical necessity” that it should not also contain things which do not occur in the real world. Schelling admits this when he says of it that it is not concerned with the world, and that if the world agrees with its constructions, this is accidental. In this way, however, negative philosophy becomes quite empty and hollow, wandering around in the most arbitrary possibility and flinging its doors wide open to fantasy. On the other hand, however, if it contains only what is real in nature and spirit, it, of course, includes reality and the positive philosophy is superfluous. This is to be seen also from the other side. Nature and spirit are for Schelling all that is rational. God is not rational.. So here also it is shown that the infinite can only rationally exist in reality when it appears as finite, as nature and spirit, and that any other-worldly, extra-mundane existence of the infinite must be relegated to the realm of abstractions. That particular positive philosophy depends entirely on faith, as we have seen, and exists only for faith. If now a Jew or Mohammedan accepts Schelling’s premises in the negative science, he will necessarily also have to fashion for himself a Jewish or Mohammedan positive philosophy. Indeed, it will differ even for Catholicism and for the Anglican Church. All are equally justified, for “it is not dogma that matters, but fact”. And the so beloved “free” thinking allows everything to be construed as absolute. Particularly in Mohammedanism, the facts are far better construed than in Christianity.
So we have come to the end of Schelling’s philosophy and can only regret that such a man should have become so caught in the snares of faith and unfreedom. He was different when he was still young. Then there arose from the ferment of his brain forms as radiant as Pallas, of which many a one forged to the front also in later struggles; then freely and boldly he sailed into the open sea of thought to discover Atlantis, the absolute, whose image he had so often seen rising from the distant horizon of the sea like a dreamily shimmering fata morgana; then all the fire of youth broke from him in flames of enthusiasm; a prophet drunk with God, he foretold a new era; carried away by the spirit which came over him, he often did not know himself the meaning of his words. He tore wide open the doors to philosophising so that the breath of nature wafted freshly through the chambers of abstract thought and the warm rays of spring fell on the seed of the categories and awakened all slumbering forces. But the fire burnt itself out, the courage vanished, the fermenting new wine turned into sour vinegar before it could become clear wine. The old ship dancing joyfully through the waves turned back and entered the shallow haven of faith, ran its keel so fast into the sand that it is still stuck there. There it lies, and nobody recognises in the old, frail wreck the old ship which went out with all sails spread and flags flying. The sails have long since rotted, the masts are broken, the waves pour in through the gaping planks, and every day the tides pile up more sand around the keel.
Let us turn away from this waste of time. There are finer things for us to contemplate. No one will want to show us this wreck and claim that it alone is a seaworthy vessel while in another port an entire fleet of proud frigates lies at anchor, ready to put out to the high seas. Our salvation, our future, lies elsewhere. Hegel is the man who opened up a new era of consciousness by completing the old. It is curious that just now he is being attacked from two sides, by his predecessor Schelling and by his youngest follower Feuerbach. When the latter charges Hegel with being stuck deeply in the old, he should consider that consciousness of the old is already precisely the new, that the old is relegated to history precisely when it has been brought completely into consciousness. So Hegel is indeed the new as old, the old as new. And so Feuerbach’s critique of Christianity is a necessary complement to the speculative teaching on religion founded by Hegel. This has reached its peak in Strauss, through its own history the dogma dissolves objectively in philosophical thought. At the same time Feuerbach reduces the religious categories to subjective human relations, and thereby does not by any means annul the results achieved by Strauss, but on the contrary puts them to the real test and in fact both come to the same result, that the secret of theology is anthropology.
A fresh morning has dawned, a world-historic morning, like the one in which the bright, free, Hellenic consciousness broke out of the dusk of the Orient. The sun has risen greeted with smiles by sacrificial fires on all the mountain peaks, the sun, whose coming was announced in ringing fanfares from every watch-tower, whose light mankind was anxiously awaiting. We are awakened from long slumber, the nightmare which oppressed us has fled, we rub our eyes and look around us in amazement. Everything has changed. The world that was so alien to us, nature whose hidden forces frightened us like ghosts, how familiar, how homely they now are! The world which appeared to us like a prison now shows itself in its true form, as a magnificent royal palace in which we all go in and out, poor and rich, high and low. Nature opens up before us and calls to us.. Do not flee from me, I am not depraved, I have not fallen away from the truth; come and see, it is your own inmost and truest essence which gives also to me the fullness of life and the beauty of youth! Heaven has come down to earth, its treasures lie scattered like stones on the road-side, whoever desires them has but to pick them up. All confusion, all fear, all division has vanished. The world is again a whole, independent and free; it has burst open the doors of its dank cloister, has thrown off its sackcloth and chosen the free, pure ether to dwell in. No longer does it have to justify itself to unreason, which could not. grasp it; its splendour and glory, its fullness and strength, its life is its justification. He was surely right who eighteen hundred years ago divined that the world, the cosmos, would one day push him aside, and bade his disciples renounce the world.
And man, the dearest child of nature, a free man after the long battles of youth, returning to his mother after the long estrangement, protecting her against all the phantoms of enemies slain in battle, has overcome also the separation from himself, the division in his own breast. After an inconceivably long age of wrestling and striving, the bright day of self-consciousness has risen for him. Free and strong he stands there, confident in himself and proud, for he has fought the battle of battles, he has overcome himself and pressed the crown of freedom on his head. Everything has become revealed to him and nothing had the strength to shut itself up against him. Only now does true life open to him. What formerly he strove towards in obscure presentiment, he now
attains with complete, free will. What seemed to lie outside him, in the hazy distance, he now finds in himself as his own flesh and blood. He does not care that he has bought it dearly, with his heart’s best blood, for the crown was worth the blood; the long time of wooing is not lost to him, for the noble, splendid bride whom he leads into the chamber has only become the clearer to him for it; the jewel, the holy thing he has found after long searching was worth many a fruitless quest. And this crown, this bride, this holy thing is the self-consciousness of mankind, the new Grail round whose throne the nations gather in exultation and which makes kings of all who submit to it, so that all splendour and might, all dominion and power, all the beauty and fullness of this world lie at their feet and must yield themselves up for their glorification. This is our calling, that we shall become the templars of this Grail, gird the sword round our loins for its sake and stake our lives joyfully in the last, holy war which will be followed by the thousand-year reign of freedom. And such is the power of the Idea that he who has recognised it cannot cease to speak of its splendour or to proclaim its all-conquering might, that in gaiety and good heart he gives up all else at its bidding, that he sacrifices body and soul, life and property in order that it and it alone shall triumph. He who has once beheld it, to whom in the nightly stillness of his little room it has once appeared in all its brightness, can never abandon it, he must follow where it leads, even to death. For he knows that it is stronger than everything in heaven and on earth, that it fights its way through against all enemies. And this belief in the all-conquering might of the Idea, in the victory of eternal truth, this firm confidence that it can never waver or yield, even if the whole world were to rise against it, that is the true religion of every genuine philosopher, that is the basis of the true positive philosophy, the philosophy of world history. This is the supreme revelation, that of man to man, in which all negation of criticism is positive. This press and storm of nations and heroes over which the Idea hovers in eternal peace and at last comes down into the midst of the turmoil and becomes its inmost, most living, self-conscious soul, that is the source of all salvation and all deliverance; that is the realm in which each one of us in his place has to work and act. The Idea, the self-consciousness of mankind, is that wonderful phoenix who builds for himself a funeral pyre out of all that is most precious in the world and rises rejuvenated from the flames which destroy an old time.
So let us carry to this phoenix on the funeral pyre all that is most dear to us and most beloved, all that was sacred and great for us before we were free! Let us not think any love, any gain, any riches too great to sacrifice gladly to the Idea — it will repay us everything a thousandfold! Let us fight and bleed, look undismayed into the grim eye of the enemy and hold out to the end! Do you see our flags wave from the mountain peaks? Do you see the swords of our comrades glinting, the plumes on the helmets fluttering? They are coming, they are coming, from all valleys, from all heights they are streaming towards us with song and the call of trumpets; the day of the great decision, of the battle of the nations, is approaching, and victory must be ours!
Schelling, Philosopher In Christ[edit source]
Written: in early 1842
First published: as an anonymous pamphlet in Berlin in 1842
Note from MECW vol. 2, 1975 :
Engels’ pamphlet Schelling, Philosopher in Christ was written, following his Schelling and Revelation, in response to the continued attacks on Hegel’s philosophy and progressive philosophical trends made by Schelling in his Berlin lectures from the standpoint of religious mysticism.
The conservative press sharply criticised the author: the pietist Elberfelder Zeitung for May 18, 1842, described him as a “young, frivolous scribbler”, while the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung accused him of “cynicism” (No. 139, May 15, 1842). The Rheinische Zeitung, published with the active co-operation of Young Hegelians, came out in defence of the pamphlet (in No. 138, May 18, and No. 157, June 6, 1842), as did several other progressive German periodicals. Among other things it praised the pamphlet’s original satirical form. The author, it wrote on May 18, 1842, had imitated the pietist tone very skilfully.
128 Pelagianism (after the Celtic monk Pelagius)-a Christian trend hostile to the official church and widespread in the Mediterranean countries in the early 5th century. The Pelagians affirmed the freedom of man’s will.
Socinianism (after the Italian theologian Faustus Socinus) — a religious doctrine widespread in Poland in the late 16th and the early 17th century, and later in certain other European countries. Its followers were critical of the dogmas of the official church and like the Pelagians affirmed the freedom of man’s will.
Rationalism here means the trend in Protestant German theology which enjoyed a considerable following in the 18th and the early 19th century. The rationalists sought to combine theology with philosophy and to prove that “divine truths” could be understood by reason.
Or The Transformation Of Worldly Wisdom into Divine Wisdom For Believing Christians Who Do Not Know the Language of Philosophy
“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).
This word of the Lord may easily come to mind when one speaks of Schelling; for in him have wonders of God’s mercy been manifested, so that the name of the Lord should be exalted. For He has shown mercy to him as once He showed mercy to Paul, who also, before he was converted, went and made havoc of the churches and breathed out threat and slaughter against the Disciples of the Lord. But as he was on his way to Damascus, suddenly there shone around him a light from heaven and he fell to the earth; but the Lord spake to him and drew him to Him so that he became a believer at that very hour, let himself be baptised and bore the name of the Lord before all nations and became a chosen vessel of the Lord. So also the grace of the Saviour has imposed its hand on Schelling, and when the time had come a great light shone for him. For who could ever have foretold according to human understanding that the man who at the beginning of the century, with his friend of that time, the notorious Hegel, laid the foundations of that vile worldly wisdom which now no longer prowls in the dark but whose darts spoil at midday — that this man would yet take up his cross, and follow Christ? But that is how it has come to pass. The Lord, who guides the hearts of men like runnels of water, had elected him too in His grace and only waited for the right hour to draw him to Him. And now He has done so, He has enlightened him and made him one of His fighters against unbelief and godlessness. There is no longer any doubt; he himself calls from the rostrum to the believers: Come and see, and praise the mercy which the Lord has done to me! Nay, the guardian in Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers, the old God is still alive, in spite of all the mockers, and still gives signs and works wonders for all who want to see. They make a clamour, the godless, and say in their hearts, there is no God, but He who dwells in heaven laughs at them, and the Lord pours scorn on them. He has triumphed over them as long as the world has stood and will triumph over them in all eternity. With His strong arm He has held His regiment and has awakened vessels for Himself in all places to glorify His name. And now He has once more brilliantly triumphed over the philosophers who have been an abomination to Him at all times, since He has raised the best and cleverest of them, the true founder of their doctrine, out of their midst and made him His servant. For that formerly Schelling himself was most pitiably deep in this so-called pantheism, in this deification of the world and of himself, is as clear as daylight from his earlier books. He had not yet seen everything rightly in its connection and did not rightly know where this road would lead. May he thank the Lord that He has taken him from this road and guided him along the narrow path which leads to heaven, and thereby has proved on him most clearly His might over all enemies of faith. Now they can no longer say: Where is your God? What does He do? Where does He roam? Why does He no longer work wonders? For here He is, His arm strikes down like lightning in their own flock and makes fire out of water, white out of black, just out of unjust. Who can still deny that this is God’s hand?
But that is not all. By calling Schelling the Lord has prepared for us another triumph over the ungodly and blasphemous. He has elected none other than Schelling since he, being familiar with the wisdom of this world, was best suited to refute the proud and haughty philosophers, and in His immeasurable grace and love He has opened a way for them by which they can come to Him again. Can one ask more from Him? To those who curse Him, who rage against His existence, who are His most furious, most raving, most impenitent enemies, instead of rooting them out from the earth and casting them into the deepest abyss of hell, He offers again and again a rescuing hand to draw them up to the light out of the abyss of corruption wherein they lie; nay, the grace of God is as wide as the heaven from sunrise to sunset, and there is no end to His mercy. Who could resist such forbearance and love? But their hearts are so impenitent and hardened in sin that even now they reject the hand that wants to save them; so dazzled are they by the lusts of this world and the devil of their own pride. They dig for themselves wells with holes and scorn the source of life which runs in the blood of Christ., They shut their ears against the salvation which comes from above, they lust for that which displeases the Lord.
“The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soull for they have rewarded evil unto themselves” (Isaiah 3:9).
But still the Lord has not ceased to call them to flim, so that they have no excuse. Through Schelling He has shown them how weak and vain is human reason. If they are not converted now, it is their fault alone, and they cannot say that they did not know the Gospel.
Since now God has done such a great thing and has given such a comforting sign to all Christendom that He is close to it and will not abandon it in need or in the struggles of this world, so it must be near to the heart of every believer to announce the glad tidings to his fellow Christians. And since Schelling has now professed his belief in Christ in his lectures, this, on the one hand, became known to only a few, on the other, is couched in such a difficult, artificial, philosophical language that only those can understand it who have occupied themselves with worldly wisdom for a long time; in the third place, however, much is meant for philosophers and other things for believers, so that the simple Christian would have difficulty in finding his way. Hence the writer of these lines, not to stand idle in the Lord’s vineyard, did not think it entirely superfluous to present this in short, simple words, for all those who have neither the time nor the inclination to enter into the fruitless study of worldly wisdom and yet would like to know what there really is to the famous Schelling. May the Lord give His blessing to it so that it may prosper to the benefit and advantage of His kingdom.
But first it must be remarked that for all he has done for true Christianity, Schelling cannot quite get rid of his old, perverse wisdom. He still has various views which make us believe that he cannot entirely suppress the arrogance of his own reason and that he still hesitates a little to face the world and confess his complete conversion in all gladness and gratitude to Christ. We will not blame him too much for this; He who made grace break through in him so splendidly will wash away these stains too; He who began the work will bring it to completion. But let the courageous fighter for truth of whom we speak remember this thorn in his flesh when the devil of pride comes over him and tempts him. May he put away all pride in his former philosophy, which has borne only ungodly children, and only take pride in Him who in His free, immeasurable grace has saved him from this corruption.
The first thing Schelling did here on the rostrum was that he immediately and with open visor attacked philosophy and cut away its ground, reason, from under its feet. With the most striking arguments, taken from its own armouries, he proved that natural reason is incapable of proving the existence of even a blade of grass; that all its demonstrations, arguments and conclusions do not hold water and cannot lead up to the divine, since in its heaviness it always remains prostrate on the earth. Now we have, of course, known this for a long time, but the hardened philosophers have never been told it so well and clearly. This he has done in a whole lengthy system of so-called negative philosophy, where he demonstrates to them as clearly as daylight that their reason can only comprehend possibilities and nothing actual, least of all God and the mysteries of Christianity. The trouble to which he went over such a fruitless subject, the airy phantoms of worldly wisdom, deserves the highest thanks for the sake of the kingdom of God. For so long as these philosophers could still presume on their reason, nothing could be done with them. Now, however, when they have been convinced from their own standpoint that their reason is altogether unfit to cognise truth and can bring to the surface only empty, hollow phantoms, which have no right whatever to exist, it would really need a hardened head, grown grey in sin, to persist in the pagan doctrine, and it is quite possible that with the aid of divine grace one or the other of them will be converted from his evil ways. It is very true and must always be repeated that the darkened reason of man is altogether incapable and lacks the fame it should have before God, for that is the main bulwark of the unbelievers that their reason tells them other things than the word of God. But it is an outrage against the Almighty to want to comprehend Him, the enemy of all sin, with reason that is stained with sin and blinded, nay, to set this reason which is subject to all the lusts of this world, all the temptations of Satan, above God Himself; and yet that is what the worldly wise do when they criticise the word of God with that corrupt reason, throw out whatever does not please them, nay, lay their wicked hands on and deny not only the holiness of the Bible, but even the existence of God Himself so as to make themselves God in His place. These are the natural consequences of setting reason upon the throne of God, like that whore of old in the gory days of the French Revolution, and presuming to criticise the dispositions of the Almighty Lord of the world. Here it is that we must heal, not on the surface, but at the root of the evil. Do men put a piece of new cloth unto an old garment? How does Christ come to terms with Belial? It is not possible, and it is blasphemy to try and grasp by natural reason the Lord’s death of salvation, the resurrection and the ascension. Then let us set to work in earnest with Schelling, and cast reason out of Christianity into paganism, for there it belongs, there it can rise against God and take as divine the world with its lusts and desires which we have renounced, excuse all sins and vices, the abominations of gluttony and lasciviousness as virtues and service to God, and present as models for mankind the suicide of a Cato, the unchastity of a Lais and Aspasia, the parricide of a Brutus, the Stoicism and Christian-persecuting rage of a Marcus Aurelius. Then, of course, it frankly opposes Christianity and everybody knows where he is with it. But it has been a chief stratagem of the adversary to smuggle it into Christianity, where it thereupon has given birth to such choice bastards as Pelagianism and Socinianism, rationalism and speculative theology.
“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise” (1 Corinthians 1 :27); hence “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him and must be spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2: 14).
So it is a truly Christian endeavour when Schelling, in the pure science of reason, which is, of course, the negative philosophy, deeply humbles and humiliates reason instead of allowing it any measure of presumption, so as to bring it to acknowledge its weakness and sinfulness and make it turn in penance to grace, for only this can sanctify and enlighten it and let it be born again so that it becomes capable of knowing God. To crucify reason is harder, and therefore more, than to crucify the flesh. For the latter is subject to conscience, which has been given even to the pagans to restrain their lusts and be the internal judge of their sin . s; reason, however, raises itself above it and even gets on with it quite well, and it is only given to Christians to submit it to the mild yoke of faith. But that is what Scripture demands of us, and there can be no objections or subterfuges here: either let your reason surrender to faith or go over to the left side, to the goats (for the worst of these self-worshippers call themselves as in mockery: the left side), there you are in your place!
With that Schelling has now cleared the ground for himself. All the survivals of paganism which in our time are being brought out again and are supposed to be the new truth, all the misshapen abortions of unchaste, lascivious reason have been removed, and his hearers are now ready to receive the milk of the Gospel. That is the right way. The pagans could be got hold of by their worldly lusts and desires; but our philosophers pretend, at least today, that they still want to acknowledge Christian morals. Hence, if the apostles demanded of the pagans a penitent, sorrowing, battered and contrite heart, so a penitent, humble, battered reason must be demanded of the proud worldly-wise men of our time before they are ready to enjoy the grace of the Gospel. So also Schelling could only now really judge his former comrade in godlessness, the notorious Hegel. For this Hegel had such a pride in reason that he expressly declared it to be God when he saw that with it he could not come to another true God, higher than man. Hence also Schelling frankly declared that he wanted nothing more to do with this man and his doctrine and no longer bothered with him.
Since reason has now humbled itself and shows the desire to accept salvation, it can be exalted again and enlightened by the spirit of truth. This happens in positive philosophy, where by a free, that is, enlightened, thinking with the aid of divine revelation it is admitted to the grace and favour of Christianity. Now that the understanding of the higher world has been opened up to it, it at once discerns the whole marvellous connection in the history of the kingdom of God, and what formerly was incomprehensible to it is now clear and comprehensible as if it could not be otherwise. For only the eyes which the Lord has enlightened are true Lyes and seeing; but where darkness reigns and the lusts and desires of this world have their way, nobody can see anything. Schelling expresses this effect of grace when he says that this philosophy is only for the willing and the wise, and that it finds its proof in revelation. Hence this philosophy is not for him who does not believe in revelation. In other words, this thing is not a real philosophy at all, and this name has only been chosen for the sake of the worldly wise, as it is written: “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10: 16); for the rest, however, it is a right and real Christianity, as we shall soon see. Schelling has brought back the good old times when reason surrenders to faith, and worldly wisdom, by becoming the handmaid of theology, of divine wisdom, is transfigured into divine wisdom.
“And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23: 12).
Along this road of enlightened thinking the dear man of whom we are speaking comes at once to the true fundamental doctrine of all Christianity, namely, the Trinity of God. The god-fearing reader cannot be expected to accompany him on this road, for he knows and believes that this road only can lead to truth, this is only said for the unbelievers to show them how they can come to truth and how much their reason must be purified and sanctified to be able to discern and comprehend salvation in Christ Jesus. Hence we shall pass over these things which have no value for the discernment of salvation by the faithful. Schelling then describes according to Scripture how God created the world from nothing and how man, seduced by Satan in the shape of the serpent, lost his first way of life and became the slave of. the Prince of Darkness. Thereby he tore the whole world from God and brought it into the power of Satan. All the forces which before were kept together by divine unity now fell apart and came into savage hostility, so that Satan could play havoc in the world to his heart’s delight. One must not be dazzled by the philosophical manner of expression of our theologians. In our ungodly times the worldly wise no longer understand the simple language of Holy Scripture inspired by God Himself; they must be taught in their own way until they are again ripe for the understanding of the Bible, for it is written:
“I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11 : 25).
Hence Schelling calls the “angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation” (jude 6), calls the devil and his godless hosts cosmic powers, which means as much as princes of this world. Now God can, of course, have no further pleasure in the world. In His justice He rejects it, and where He works in it He does so in His wrath and without His full free will. But the Eternally Merciful cannot let go of it; the word through which “all things were made and without which was not any thing made that was made” (John 1: 3), the only begotten Son of God with his immeasurable love and grace remains in the poor, rejected world. His state of suffering begins with the fall of man and not just with his becoming man under Herod, for with the fall he is completely thrust out of mankind, in which he lived still more than the Father. Nay, by placing himself between the angry God and the fallen world, which the former wanted to destroy, and taking its side. he separated himself from the Father and so was in a sense jointly guilty and could not claim any part of the divine splendour so long as the Father was not reconciled. This great work of reconciliation, the struggle against the prince of this world, he now began in this form, neither divine nor human, in this separation from the Father which makes up his suffering and his pain. That this interpretation is founded on Holy Scripture is most clearly shown in Chapter 53 of the Prophet Isaiah, which speaks of a present, not future suffering. This great struggle is now beginning both among the Jews and the pagans. How the Lord subjugates the Jews unto Himself is shown in the history of the people of Israel in the Old Testament, and the splendid guidances by which the Lord led His people are well known to Christians. But among the pagans? Was not the devil precisely the God of the pagans? We shall try to answer this as clearly as possible without deviating from the pronouncements of Holy Scripture.
Everybody will have already heard that among the pagans, too, in the books of the Sibyls “’ and elsewhere, there were prophecies about Christ. Here we see already that they were not quite so forsaken by God as is the usual view, for the prophecies are of divine origin. But now this is not enough. Why should the Lord in His mercy let them go so far astray and fall into the devil’s clutches? He lets rain fall on good and evil alike and the sun shine on the just and the unjust! Nay, if the pagans had been so entirely without God’s protection and guidance in the power of the evil enemy, would their sins not have been greater and more outrageous than they actually were? Would not then all the shameful lusts and unnatural desires, the sins of the flesh and other sins, murder, adultery, fornication, thieving, roguery, unchastity have cried to high heaven so that God would have had to exterminate them without hesitation? Nay, would they themselves not have slain and devoured each other? It already follows from this that God must have had mercy even on the pagans and given them some light from above; and this consists in their having been led gradually and without noticing it through all stages of idolatry to the worship of the true Christ, but without their knowing that their God and that of the Christians was one and the same, and that He who was hidden in paganism was now revealed in Christianity. Now those who failed to realise this when the Gospel was preached to them no longer worshipped the hidden Christ, since they persecuted the revealed one, but their god was now the enemy of Christ, the devil. It is Schelling’s great merit that he is the first to devote himself to tracing the guidance of God among the pagans and so prepares new praise of the love of Christ for sinful men.
Since now the Jews consciously and the pagans without knowing it and in a false form were brought to the knowledge of the true God, when the proud palaces of the Greeks lay in ruins and the iron hand of the Roman Emperor lay upon the whole world, the time was fulfilled and God sent His Son so that all who believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life. This happened in the following manner. Since Christ had subjected paganism unto himself, he was its God, but not the true God, which he could not be without the Father. So he had wrested the world from the devil and could do with it what he wished; he could keep it for himself and rule over it alone in this form of God; but out of free obedience he did not do so, but handed it over to his Father by divesting himself of the form of God and becoming man.
“...Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).
There are many other passages in Holy Scripture which declare this interpretation to be the right one and prove it; moreover, one can in this way take everything quite simply and literally, without need for a lot of subterfuges and erudition.
For what is great in Christ’s obedience is that the Saviour could have possessed the whole world for himself and dissociated himself from the Father, and that he did not want this, but laid the world he had wrested from the devil at his Father’s feet and suffered death for the sake of atonement for many.
Here we also see the meaning of the story of Christ’s temptation. Had it not been in Jesus’ free choice to submit or not to submit himself to the Father, the devil could not have tempted him at all, for he must have known that it would be in vain. Hence the above interpretation by Schelling is certainly correct.
Thus we have heard that Christ is the true God, and now our authority passes on to the second nature of the same Christ, the human. He also is of the firm belief that Christ was truly a true man and not, as many heretics think, a mere apparition or the Spirit of God which had descended on an already existing man.
In representing the world before God, standing surety for it, Christ stepped out of God and confronted Him. So long as the world was not reconciled again with God, Christ was not God, but in a middle state which took the form of God through the conquest of paganism, but was not itself the true state of divinity. To put himself back into this, Christ had to hand over to his Father the world he had wrested from the devil, divest himself of the form of God and submit humbly to the Father, so as to take upon himself the punishment for the iniquity of the world. This humility he showed by becoming man, born of woman, and being obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. No purifications or sacrifices could reconcile God; they were merely preludes to the one great sacrifice in which not only evil was extirpated, but God’s wrath reconciled. The latter could only be reconciled by the greatest, most freely rendered, most humble submission, and that could only be done by the Son, not by a man compelled to submission by fear and the torment of conscience, the threatening wrath of God. Christ could now also represent the people before God, since he had become their Lord, their defender, through the worship they paid him without knowing it. So as now really to bear punishment in place of man, who had deserved it, he became man; the decision to become man is a miracle of the divine spirit. So he who in the beginning was with God, nay, was God Himself, and after the Fall was in the “form of God”, was now born in Bethlehem as man, namely, of Mary through the Holy Ghost without the agency of any man.
Who would have dared hope that in the year 1842 a philosopher, nay, the founder of the new school of blasphemy, would make such a pleasing conversion and acknowledge so gladly the main doctrines of Christianity? That which was always the first to be attacked by doubt, which half-Christians have always rejected and which is nevertheless the corner-stone of the Christian faith, the birth of Christ by Mary without the agency of any man — the fact that this too has been asserted by Schelling as his conviction, is one of the most gratifying signs of the times, and the favourite of God who has had the courage to do this has a claim to the gratitude of every believer. But who does not recognise here the hand of the Lord in this marvellous, wonderful dispensation? Who does not see that He is giving a sign to His Church that He has not forsaken it and remembers it day and night?
On the death of the Lord Schelling pronounces himself in a no less truly Christian and edifying manner. This is said to have been decided from the beginning of the world in the Council of the Guardians and to be a sacrifice demanded by the divine spirit. God is said to be just even to Satan and so fully to have allowed him his rights that He delivered His own Son up to death so that all who believed in Him should not perish but should have eternal fife, so that the devil should not have even the slightest grounds for saying he had been overthrown by the greater might of God, and unjustly. It is the majesty and splendour of the Lord Himself which does not tolerate even the least semblance of such a blemish. For this reason Christ had to become man and had to take upon himself the iniquity of mankind forsaken by God and suffer the death on the cross so that through the death of one many would come to life. For this reason the Lord in his grace and mercy had to sacrifice himself for us, to stand surety for the sinners to his Father and to pay our debt, so that we might again have access to the throne of grace. The other men also, it is true, are one and all delivered over to death, but none has died like the Lord, none has suffered such a death of salvation as Jesus Christ. And so also this crown of faith, the purification from sin in the blood of Christ, is once again marvellously saved from the claws of the old dragon who now roams in the form of worldly wisdom and the odious spirit of the times, and the Lord has once again kept the precious promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church. Further, Schelling says of Christ very beautifully: this death is such a great miracle that we would never dare believe it were we not so certain of it. At his death all mankind was represented; Jews and pagans were present, and they were the two sides of the whole human race. The principle of the pagans, as Christ had become in paganism through his struggle with Satan, had to die the death of the pagans, the death on the cross. His crucifixion is only the resolution of the prolonged tension in which he found himself among the pagans, that is, the extra-divine position of the Lord was resolved and by death he again became one with God, as it is written:
“He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken” (Isaiah 53:8).
But of the Lord’s resurrection Schelling says it was proof that Christ had not taken on his humanity for appearance’s sake but had become man in earnest and forever, and that God had again accepted into grace the human form and the human essence, and indeed not the humanity in Christ alone, but the whole of humanity, of whom Christ had merely been the representative. For not the individual sin displeased God so much that He therefore had to abandon mankind, the worst was rather the whole iniquitous state of all mankind, sold to the evil one, and therefore God finds displeasure in man even before he has sinned, so that before God it was equivalent to a sin to be human. Hence no goodwill pleasing to God, not a single good deed that was just in the eyes of God, could be found in the world before Christ had died, and hence even now only believers can do good works and be of goodwill. But by the resurrection of the Lord the human state is vindicated before God and recognised by God as purified from sin, and so the vindication is completed only by the resurrection. So Christ has been raised up to heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father as true man and true God, representing mankind before the Father.
The resurrection is further a proof to us of the immortality of our own soul and the resurrection of the flesh. Schelling acknowledges this also and adds that if during this life the flesh dominates the spirit, then a second must follow, where the spirit has overcome the flesh, and finally an equalising of both sides is necessary. This accords wholly with the teaching of Scripture, for the last state after the resurrection and the Last Judgment, after the transfiguration of the body, is nothing but what Schelling calls the equilibrium between soul and body. About the condition of the impenitent and damned who have passed away in unbelief, hard-heartedness and sin, Schelling offers a surmise too. He holds the second, eternal death for an eternal dying without ever being able to come to real death. It seems better to refrain from pondering over this and to leave it to the Lord to decide how He wishes to punish and torment His contemners and blasphemers.
Finally, the dear Schelling delivers the following priceless testimony to the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: This resurrection is a stroke of lightning from inner history to outer. Whoever denies such facts, to him the history of the kingdom of God remains a mere series of external, accidental occurrences without any divine content, without the transcendental (which goes beyond reason), which alone is history proper. Without it history is merely a matter of superficial memorising, not true, complete knowledge of the events. — That is a beautiful and Christian word, but the talk of the worldly wise about God being in the history and development of the consciousness of the species is sheer filth and blasphemy. For if these proud seducers of youth have their god in the history of all human sins and crimes, how can God remain outside those sins? These mockers will not understand that the entire history of the world is a jostling succession of all kinds of injustice, malice, murder, adultery, fornication, thieving, blasphemy, profanation, anger and rage and drunkenness; they would without fail hurl themselves into hell and the whole world with them if one did not see everywhere the saving hand of God, which restrains and prevents the evil; and this shameful scene of blasphemy is their heaven, their whole immortality, they have said so frankly themselves. But these are the fine consequences of casting all divine action out of history. God avenges Himself on them by closing their minds against His true essence and letting them make a god for themselves who is even less than a deaf idol of wood and straw, who is a vague phantom of air, a so-called world spirit and spirit of history. We have seen what is the outcome of such a view of history, of which the chief preacher is that Hegel, who is in evil repute with all good Christians; let us hold against that the picture of history outlined by a man of God like Schelling.
Among the Twelve, Schelling says, who were always near the Lord and whom He appointed apostles, there were in particular three whom he favoured before the others at every opportunity, Peter, James and John. In these three the models of the whole Christian Church are given if we substitute as successor for James, who was earlier killed for the sake of Christ, Paul, who was converted at about the same time. Peter, Paul and John are the rulers of three different periods of the Christian Church, as in the Old Testament Moses, Elijah and John the Baptist were the three representatives of three periods. Moses was the lawgiver through whom the Lord laid the foundation; Elijah the fiery spirit who brought the inert,, apostate people back to life and activity; John the Baptist was the accomplisher who led the Old Testament into the New. So also for the Church of the New Testament, Peter was Moses, the founder, through whom the Jewish essence of ‘the times was represented in the, Christian Church; Paul the driving, fiery Elijah who did not let the faithful become lukewarm and fall asleep and who represented the essence of paganism, culture, learning and worldly wisdom — insofar as it submitted to faith; but John will again be the accomplisher, the one who points to the future, for to those whom the Lord loves He gives the task of completing. So John in his lifetime, already pointing to the future, wrote the Revelation. The Church of the apostle Peter is now the Catholic Church, whose ceremonial service as well as its teaching of good works corresponds to the Jewish Law; and it cannot be denied that the word of the Lord: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” refers to the Church he founded. As he thrice denied the Lord, so it can be shown that the Roman Church thrice denied the Lord. First, when it strove for worldly domination, then when it used worldly power for its own purposes, and lastly, when it lent itself to the worldly power as a means to its ends. The second Church, that of the apostle Paul, is now the Protestant Church, in which prevail erudition and all godly wisdom, that is, the essential spirit of those Christians who came over from paganism, and into which, instead of the established permanence of the Catholic Church, there enters the driving, partisan life of the Evangelical Church, split into many sects. Who knows whether the thoughts and aspirations of these pagan Christians will not in the end be more beneficial to the kingdom of God than those of the Jewish Christians!
But neither of these two parties is the true, last Church of the Lord; this will be only the one which from Peter’s foundation will penetrate through Paul to John and so prepare the last times. This last Church is the Church of love, as John was the messenger of love, the consummation of the Church, in whose times will be the great apostasy which has been foretold for the end, to be followed by the Last Judgment. Many churches have been built for all the apostles, but relatively very few for St. John. If I had to build a church I would consecrate it to him; one day, however, a church will be built for all three apostles, and this will be the last, the true Christian pantheon.
These are the words with which the first truly Christian philosopher concluded his lectures, and so we will have followed him to the end. The author of these lines believes that he has sufficiently shown what a chosen vessel the Lord has awakened for His Church in this worthy man. This is the man who will drive out the pagans of the modern world who there pursue their practices in many forms, as men of the world, Young Germans,"” philosophers, and what else they may call themselves. Indeed, when one entered the hall where Schelling was lecturing, and heard these people mock and make fun of the Elect among the worldly wise, one had to think of the apostle Paul when he preached in Athens. It is just as if history were repeating itself, as it is told in The Acts of the Apostles 17 :16 ff. where it says the following:
“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.”
Well might Schelling, too, grow angry, here in Berlin, since he saw the city so wholly given to idolatry. For where is there more worshipping of things of the earth, of Mammon and the honour of this world, of one’s own dear Ego, and where is the true God more thrust aside, than precisely here? Where has the life of the world with its opulence, its luxury and its hollow, vain pomp, with its glittering vices and embellished sins, reached a higher pitch than precisely here? Did not your scholars, your shallow unChristian writers wish to flatter you when they compared your city so often to Athens? Oh, what bitter truth they told you! Yes, Athens, full of pagan, proud culture and civilisation which blinds your eyes to the simple truth of the Gospel; Athens, full of brilliance and glamour and earthly splendour, full of the life of pleasure and comfortable idleness which stretches and yawns on a soft bed of dissoluteness and finds the word of the cross much too boring and penance much too strenuous; Athens, full of voluptuous, wild ecstasy and intoxication of the senses, in which the loud voice of conscience is shouted down and drowned, the inner unrest and pain concealed beneath a bright covering. Yes, indeed, Athens, full of proud worldly-wise men who rack their brains over Being and Nothing and other stale things and have long finished with God and the world but who laugh at the word of humility and poverty of spirit as a folly and curiosity of past times; Athens, full of accomplished scholars who know by heart all the kinds of infusoria and all the chapters of Roman Law but forget the eternal salvation which is the bliss of the soul. There a Schelling might well get angry as once Paul did when he entered such a city. And when he arrived there the worldly wise spoke just as once the Epicureans and Stoics did in Athens of old: What will this babbler say? They already spoke ill of him before he opened his mouth, they reviled him even before he entered their city. But let us see what Holy Scripture reports further:
“And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)”
Now, is that not the Berliners to the very life? Are they not also bent on nothing but to hear and see some new thing? Just go into your coffee-houses and pastry shops and watch the new Athenians running after the newspapers while the Bible lies at home gathering dust, and nobody opens it; listen when they gather together whether their greetings are anything but: What is the news? Nothing new? Always something new, always something that never happened before, otherwise they are bored to death with all their culture, their pomp and their enjoyments. Whom do they think amiable, interesting and notable? Him who is most enlightened by the Holy Ghost?, No, him who always has the most news to tell. What worries them most? Whether a sinner has been converted, at which the angels of God rejoice? No, what scandals have occurred during the night, what has been reported from Berlin in the Leipziger Allgemeine Zeitung! Above all the brood of vipers of politicians and beer-parlour orators is the worst and most obsessed by news. These hypocrites interfere most loudly in the government instead of leaving unto the King what is the King’s and never for a moment do they worry about the salvation of their immortal souls; they want to remove the mote from the eye of the government, and will not notice the beam in their own, unbelieving eye which is blind to the love of Christ. These most especially are like the Athenians of old, who also spent all day lounging around in the market-place and ferreting out news while the old truth was lying untouched in their closets. What did they want of Schelling but to hear something new, and how they turned up their noses when he gave them nothing but the old Gospel! How few were they who were not looking all the time for something new, but only demanded from Schelling the old truth, the word of salvation through Christ Jesus!
And so it is with the whole of history, as there with Paul so here with Schelling. They listened to his sermon with critical faces, now and then gave a superior smile, shook their heads, exchanged meaningful glances and then looked pityingly at Schelling, “and when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked” (The Acts of the Apostles 17: 32). Only a few took his side. For as it was in Athens so it is today: the resurrection of the dead is their chief stumbling-block. Most of them are honest enough not to want to know anything about any immortality; the minority admits a very uncertain, vacillating, nebulous immortality of the soul, but leaves the body to rot forever, and they are all unanimous in scorning the real, definite and open resurrection of the flesh and in holding it to be a matter of impossibility, as if it were not written: for God nothing is impossible.
It still remains for us to make one more remark if we return to the history of the Church of Christ presented to the believing reader as it is typified in the three apostles Peter, Paul and John. It follows from this that it is a most grievous wrong and a sin against the ordinance of God Himself if we, as many do even today, were to despise and disparage the Catholic Church in comparison with ours. For it is preordained in the divine counsel, just as the Protestant Church, and we have much to learn from it. The Catholic Church still has the old Apostolic Church discipline, which with us has been completely lost. We know from the Scriptures that the apostles and the churches expelled from the communion of the Holy Ghost unbelievers, false teachers and sinners who were a cause of offence to the church. Does not Paul say in 1 Corinthians 5: 3-5:
“For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that bath so done this deed, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
Did not Christ say to Peter:
“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall he loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16: 19).
Did he not say after the resurrection to all the disciples:
“Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John 20: 23).
Such passages in Holy Scripture point to strong church discipline, as it flourished in the Apostolic Church and still persists among Catholics, and if the Apostolic Church is our model and Holy Scripture our guide, we also must endeavour to assert again that ancient institution, and considering the fury with which the evil enemy today persecutes and attacks the Church of the Lord, we would do well to be armed not only inwardly with faith and hope, but also outwardly through the strengthening of the community in spirit and the expulsion of false prophets. The wolf must not be allowed to come among the flock without being driven out again. Moreover, the celibacy of Catholic priests is also not to be entirely condemned. It is written in Matthew 19:10-12:
“His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
Again, 1 Corinthians 7 deals from beginning to end with the advantages of the unmarried over the married state, and I will only quote from it a few passages:
7: 1-2. “It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." 7:8. “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I." 7:27. “Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife." 7:32-33. “He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, — how he may please his wife." 7..38 ff. Finally, “he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better. The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.”
These utterances are surely clear enough, and it is difficult to understand how, with such precepts, the single state could come so much into disrepute among Protestants. So we see that the Catholic Church is in many respects closer to the Scriptures than we, and we have no cause to despise it. On the contrary, our brethren in the Catholic Church, insofar as they are believing and god-fearing, are closer to us than the apostate and un-Christian Protestants, and it is time for us to begin to prepare the Church of John by uniting with the Catholics against the common foes who threaten the whole of Christendom. It is no longer the time to quarrel over the differences between the various denominations, we must leave that to the Lord, since we humans have been unable here to reach clarity in three hundred years; we must watch and pray and be prepared always,
“having our loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith we shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17). For the times are evil, and “the adversary ... as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devout” (1 Peter 5:8).a
And if the author may be allowed to express his humble opinion where so many godly and enlightened men could speak, then he is of the opinion that the Church of ‘ John, and with it the last days, are at the door. Who has watched the events of the last years with the Lord in view and has not noticed that great things are approaching and the hand of the Lord commands the affairs of kings and countries! Since the dreadful French Revolution a wholly new, devilish spirit has entered a great part of mankind and godlessness raises its insolent head so impudently and proudly that one is forced to think the prophecies of Scripture are about to be fulfilled. But let us see again what Scripture says about the godlessness of the last times. The Lord Jesus says in Matthew 24:11-14:
“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” And in 24: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” And Paul says, in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 ff.: “that man of sin shall be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; ... after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” And in 1 Timothy 4:1. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”
Is that not as if the Lord and Paul saw our time before their eyes, large as life? The general falling away from the kingdom of God is ever increasing, the godlessness and blasphemy is daily becoming more impudent, as Peter says, 2 Peter 3:3.
“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.”
All enemies of God are coming together and attacking the believers with all possible weapons; the indifferent ones who indulge in the lust of this world and to whom the word of the cross was too boring, pricked by conscience, are uniting with the atheist worldly wise and by their doctrine are trying to lull the worm within to sleep; the latter, for their part, deny with barefaced impudence everything that cannot be seen with the eyes, God and all life after death, and so, of course, it follows that for them this world is supreme, this world with its enjoyments of the flesh, with feasting, boozing and whoring. They are the worst pagans who have made themselves hardened and stiff-necked against the Gospel and of whom the Lord says that the Last Judgment would be more tolerable for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah than for them. It is no longer an indifference and coldness in respect of the Lord, nay, it is open, declared hostility, and instead of all the sects and parties we now have only two: Christians and Anti-Christians. But he who has eyes to see, let him see and not blind them; for now is not the time to sleep and resort to subterfuges; where the signs of the times speak so clearly, there is need to pay heed to them and to search in the words of the prophecy, which has not been given us for nothing. We see the false prophets in our midst,
“and there has been given unto them a mouth to speak great things and blasphemies: and they open their mouths in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it is given unto them to make war with the saints and” (it almost seems) “to overcome them.” Revelation 13:5-7.
All shame and respect and reverence have vanished out of them and the abominable mockeries of a Voltaire are child’s play compared with the horrible earnestness and the deliberate blasphemy of these seducers. They roam about in Germany and want to sneak in everywhere, they preach their satanic doctrines in the market-places and carry the devil’s standard from city to city, enticing the poor youths after them, to cast them into the deepest abyss of hell and death. Temptation abounds as never before, and it cannot be without special purpose that the Lord permits it. Shall it be said even of us:
“O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” Matthew 16:3.
Nay, we must open our eyes and look about us; the times are important and it is meet to watch and pray, so that we enter not into temptation and the Lord, who will come like a thief in the night, may not find us sleeping. Great trouble and temptation will befall us, but the Lord will “not forsake us, for He has said, Revelation 3:5:
“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels.” And in 3:11: “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”
- Engels is referring to the following publication: G. F. W. Hegel, Werke. Vollständige Ausgabe durch einen Verein von Freunden des Verewigten. 19 Bücher in 23 Bänden, Berlin, 1831-1845. By 1841 almost all the books had been published except for 7 and 18. In 1887 Briefe van und an H., hrsg. von K. Hegel, appeared as the 19th and last book.
- A reference to Strauss’ work Das Leben Jesu, kritisch bearbeitet, Rd. 1-2, which was published in Tubingen in 1835-36.
- Engels is presumably quoting here from Cuvier’s book Discours sur les revolutions de la surface du globe, Paris, 1840, p. 53.
- The Temple of Fortuna primigenia, an ancient Roman deity embodying creative power, was at Praeneste (the ancient name for the town of Palestrina), east of Rome.
- The Holy Grail. According to medieval legend, this was a precious cup possessing miraculous powers.
- Pelagianism (after the Celtic monk Pelagius)-a Christian trend hostile to the official church and widespread in the Mediterranean countries in the early 5th century. The Pelagians affirmed the freedom of man’s will. Socinianism (after the Italian theologian Faustus Socinus) — a religious doctrine widespread in Poland in the late 16th and the early 17th century, and later in certain other European countries. Its followers were critical of the dogmas of the official church and like the Pelagians affirmed the freedom of man’s will.