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SOME LEADERS OF THOUGHT.
M. Lazarus. Beyond the limits of his race Lazarus has won recognition as a thinker. It is not strange that he should pass from a study of the psychology of nations to an historical investigation of the ethics of his own people, the Jews. Lazarus argues that the ethics of Judaism are, and have been from the beginning, unitary in principle; that, widely scattered in space and time as the ethical ideas of Judaism are, they have been always and everywhere harmonious. Perhaps even the most conservative of the critics of the Old Testament would question whether the ethical principles of the law are the same in essence as those of the prophets. Were we to accept the interpretation of the ethics of Judaism given us by Lazarus all our previous opinions would have to be renounced. For example, he claims that the way to salvation in this life and to happiness in the next is, according to the teaching of the rabbis, open to all men, and that no kinds of religious practice, whether of sacrifice or of temple, but only ethical purity, and the spirit of love are necessary thereto. That anyone acquainted with rabbinical teaching could make such an assertion is to be accounted for only on the ground that a partisan is able to blind himself to the real facts, and to make himself see what he desires. What he holds concerning the autonomy of the moral law is equally far from the truth. He affirms this autonomy in the most extreme form, thereby proving himself modern in the highest degree ; but he strives to make it appear that in Judaism, also, the moral law is so conceived. He admits that the Jews thought of God as the lawgiver, but he affirms that this means only that God gave man reason for the guidance of his will. God is the lawgiver of the Jews in the sense that he determined man's nature, which in turn produced the actual moral law by an inner necessity of his being. It is strange Lazarus does not see that there can be no autonomy when there is no freedom. But it is stranger still that he should attempt to pass off this modern conception of the autonomy of the moral law as the substance of the teaching of the Old Testament concerning the origin of the ideal of duty. By so doing he not only robs the Old Testament of its doctrine of a personally present and communicative God, but proves himself incapable of distinguishing between the results of his own education and the facts in the history of thought.
T. Steinmann. The Moravians have once more (in 1897) considered the right of the instructors in their theological seminary at Gnadenfeld to investigate freely all the problems now before the theological world, and
have determined that that right shall be granted, on the ground that the Moravian Church stands or falls, not with any extrinsic doctrine, but alone with the doctrine and experience of Jesus Christ the Saviour of
When the religious life is sound opinions may also be allowed to differ. As a result the seminary is producing some very able, because unconstrained, thinkers. Steinmann has recently issued a work entitled Der Primat der Religion im menschlichen Geistesleben (The Primacy of Re. ligion in the Life of Man), Leipzig, F. Jansa, 1899. In this work Steinmann assumes that there are other domains in the life of man besides religion which are entitled to their claim of independence. That is, he admits, for instance, that morals need not be imperfect because disconnected from religion. He does not agree that ethical, scientific, and artistic activity and the like are fundamentally dependent upon religion for their existence; according to him they each and all exist independently of each other and of religion, though all have their common ground in the human spirit and though they mutually influence each other. But, though they are thus not dependent upon religion for their existence, he still holds that among the activities of the soul religion is the primate. This he undertakes to show by pointing out that the final result of all other activities is to lead to an attempt to rise above the world. But this is exactly what constitutes the essence of religion, which is defined as such a communion with God as leads to the turning away from this world. Yet, while these other activities lead to the same aspirations as those of religion, so far as our relations with this world are concerned they are not to be regarded as the equals of religion. Religion has three things in its favor which the others lack: First, it, more than any of the other spiritual activities of man, tends toward this elevation above the world. Second, while the other domains of human life point to a very
indefinite transcendental goal, religion points to one that is exceedingly definite. Third, and chiefly, through this communion with God the soul comes, in religion, to a real relationship with the transcendental, while without religion it feels this transcendental goal to be distant and unattainable. The conclusion is that, though all other activities are independent of religion and naturally tend toward the same result as religion, religion is so much superior to all the others in this tendency as rightly to claim the primacy. While we cannot sanction all this there is much in it to command respect.
RECENT THEOLOGICAL LITERATURE.
Christliche Ethik (Christian Ethics). By Julius Köstlin, Berlin, Reuther & Reichard, 1899. On account of increasing age Professor Köstlin retired some years ago from his active connection with the University of Halle, thereby giving himself opportunity to produce this great work. Though written in clear style, and systematically developed, it is not adapted to class use, but rather to private reading. * is written for scholars who are supposed to know the literature of the
subject, and so he gives little attention to other writers on the same or related themes. Nevertheless the book does not undertake to open new paths of research nor to introduce new conceptions of ethics. Like all Christian ethicists this author believes in the natural capabilities of man and in human sin. In order to the true ethical life there must be a renewal of the inner man in contrast to the natural life of sin. Nevertheless, he thinks that the natural conscience suggests the same duties as are suggested to us in the Christian system. Here we are obliged to note an exception. For, while it is a fact that Christianity never requires of us anything repulsive to the natural conscience—the word being here used in the sense of moral judgment—it is not true that the natural moral judgment reaches to the height of the Christian conception of human duty and relationships. In many instances Christianity completely reverses natural moral judgments, and at their best these have always needed the modifying influence of Christian instruction and feeling to bring man to his highest moral possibilities. In other words, Christianity not only furnishes the motive power necessary to the performance of our moral obligations, but alone in the light of Christianity can we see clearly what those obligations are. In both of these ways Christian ethics transcends natural ethics. A couple of other doubtful positions taken by the author are, first, that there is no distinction to be made between that which is required by the moral law and that which is permissible, and, second, that there can be no real instances of conflict of duties. There is one point which, because of its practical bearing upon the work of the ministry, we wish to specially emphasize. Köstlin holds that in the production of a spirit of repentance it is not sufficient to awaken in the hearer or reader admiration for the morally good; but that the moral law must be so presented as to make a stern and unconditional demand upon the conscience, for otherwise there can be no such consciousness of sin as will result in a thorough transformation. This is a profound psychological fact which those who preach the Gospel will do well to consider. It is comparatively easy to produce admiration of goodness. Most of the hardest sinners entertain such a sentiment, yet they go on in sin with comparatively easy consciences. For the vast majority active participation in the duties of the Christian life demands the sense of stern obligation.
Die Gleichnisreden Jesu. Erster Teil. Die Gleichnisreden Jesu im allgemeinen (2 neu bearbeitete Auflage). Zweiter Teil. Auslegung der Gleichnisreden der drei ersten Evangelien (The Parables of Jesus. Part I The Parables of Jesus in General. Part II. Exegesis of the Parables of the First Three Evangelists). By Adolf Jülicher. Freiburg i. B., J. C. B. Mohr, 1899. Although both parts of this treatise are mentioned this notice pertains only to the second. Jülicher has had the work in hand for many years, the first part having been published in its first edition in 1886. The vast learning displayed gives evidence of the time the author took for the investigation of every phase of his subject; and, while not all of his conclusions will be accepted by every reader, little is left to be desired in point of completeness. Jülicher discusses the so-called parables under these classes: (1 Simple comparisons, of which he reckons twenty-seven or twenty-eight; (2) Genuine parables, of which there are twenty-one; and (3) Examples, of which he gives four. The author thinks that, because the person of Christ so seldom appears in these parabolic addresses, they point us so directly to the heavenly Father that we may trust the faithfulness of their reproduction, and that consequently we have here a clear light upon the character of the man Jesus and his doctrine and life. He does not claim, however, that we have in these addresses a complete system of the teachings of Jesus, although they contain valuable information. The author's work is so performed that on the basis of the parable we secure a good idea of Jesus in his environment and of the soil from which he drew the main presuppositions of his teaching. The work is written in the strictest scientific spirit. It does not search for double or hidden meanings, nor for unexpected allusions. It treats the words as they would be treated if a modern teacher had uttered them. Jülicher carries this to such an extent as to declare that many of the parables could not possibly have been spoken in the connections in which they are found in the gospels, and hence proceeds to interpret them independently of the context. A further effect of this method is seen in the fact that in some cases, where others find a complicated web of suggestion and profound and novel doctrine, Jülicher finds the simplest and most commonplace teachings. For example, he holds that the parable of the rich fool conveys the simple thought that it is folly to consider one's happiness secured by riches, while God, the arbiter of our destiny, is forgotten. The author has reduced the parable of the prodigal son to what he considers its proper limit, refusing to regard it as a complete, though brief, statement of the whole plan of salvation. However, we are compelled to believe that he has carried his principle of interpretation so far as to rob the parables in some instances of the richness which they had in the thought of Jesus when he uttered them. Hence he should not be followed too slavishly.
RELIGIOUS AND EDUCATIONAL,
Haeckel's Latest Blunder. Those who have followed the utterances of the great scientist of Jena in reference to Christianity have felt that, if his ignorance of our faith could but be exposed to all who recgnize his contributions to science, his baneful influence would be greatly neu'tralized That a truly great scientist should allow himself to be so easily deceived as Haeckel is surpasses our comprehension. In a recently published new work (1899), in which he again portrays the monistic philosophy, he exhibits either a deliberate purpose to misrepresent the facts of Christian history in several important particulars, or else a painful credulity in the following of those whom he accepts as his authorities. We can give but one instance. He claims that at the Council of Nice, in 325, it was desired to settle the question of the canon of the gospels, and that as there were upward of forty gospels from which to choose, and the bishops could not unite in a choice, they laid them all under the altar and prayed that the genuine ones might be miraculously found upon the altar at the close of the prayer, and that the Christian claim is that our present four gospels were thus miraculously chosen. This is a remarkable discovery. Prior to the year 200 the Church everywhere, as can be seen by reference to the writings of Irenæus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and others, had reached the conclusion that the only trustworthy gospels were our present four, and this conclusion was reached by no miraculous aid, but by the employment of historical, or so-called higher, criticism. Furthermore, the Council of Nice, as all the documents upon which we depend for information concerning it show, did not attempt to fix the canon, either of the gospels or any other New Testament documents. Yet, doubtless thousand of unbelievers will herald Haeckel's statements all over the world as a fact damaging to the origin of the Christian faith. Truly, great is the credulity of the unbelieving.
Changing Religious Conditions in Germany. Slowly, but surely, American and English religious ideas are making themselves felt in the land of religious conservatism and of theological radicalism. Total abstinence societies, Christian associations, and numerous evangelists all prove the correctness of our statement; for it was but recently that none of these were found, while now they are increasing in numbers with great rapidity, and all of them are due to English-speaking influences. That which will strike the reader most strangely is the existence of a society entitled “The Young People's Earnest Christianity Association." The peculiarity of the title is that it suggests a profession of religious earnestness on the part of its members, while with us it is taken for granted that young people who unite with our Epworth League or Christian Endeavor Society are in earnest. To those who are aware of the exceeding caution with which any display of religious feeling is exhibited by Germans, it will create surprise that the watchwords at the recent conference of these societies were, “Be filled with the Spirit,” “ Consecrate yourselves more fully to Jesus," “Be more earnest in prayer,” and that the conference closed with a consecration service. All that must have struck the average German observer as bordering on the fanatical. May the Lord guide the good movement safely so that it shall not land in spiritual pride and pretence on the one side, nor on the other be hindered in its progress by the enormous conservatism of the German people.