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WITHIN a surprisingly brief period a new edition of this System of Ethics has become necessary.

To many critics of’ the work we feel ourselves thankfully indebted; of others, however, we regret to have to say that, instead of scientific earnestness, they have manifested only passionate hostility. It is true, we have gone at our work with honesty and plainness of speech, and have touched somewhat ungently upon certain sore places in the more recent forms of theology; and the tone of ill-will in which the opposers have indulged would seem to indicate that the right spot has been probed; and we are in fact cheerfully ready to be subjected to the most searching criticism. There is an immense difference, however, between actual confutation and unworthy abuse. Some critics have charged this work with being an “attentat” against the “inalienable” conquests 6of modern science; this sounds almost as badly as when, in times past, a certain class of theologians spoke of “attentats” against the teachings of the Church and against the symbolical books. There is, in fact, in the field of contemporary unbelief both an “orthodoxy” which does not stand a whit behind the intolerance of former and much despised ages in its hereticating of dissenters, and an authority-faith in the so-called “heroes” of contemporary science, which exalts the pretentions of the said science to infallibility in exact proportion as it is zealous against a real faith in the Scriptures, and tramples their claims into the dust. Just such a deference to writers who let only their own light shine, (a light kindled not at the divine light, but only at the faintly-shining wisdom of the anti-Christian world,) still weighs down like an Alp upon the theology of the present day, and especially upon ethics; and to do battle against a spiritual despotism of this character, must be to take a step in the direction of true progress. Incredulity constitutes, in fact, in our day no slight recoinmendat4on; will the public, therefore, not let us enjoy the advantage of a little incredulity as to the Apostolical calling 7of certain recent authors who have forced the Pantheism of Spinoza into the doctrines of Christianity? We are not unaware, however, that only that one can hope for favor and popularity with the multitude of to-day, who makes amends for his faith in the living Christ by strewing incense upon the altars of the divinities of recent literature,—who fuses together the Apostolical doctrines with the unquestioningly infallible-assumed “results of modern culture,”—in a word, who selects the golden middle-way between simple evangelical faith and God-denying unbelief: the tints just now in vogue are indefinite and indesignable. We frankly confess that, in scientific respects, we can less readily come to an understanding with this nondescript olla-podrida theology than with those who make a clean sweep of Christianity at once. Upon firm earth one can walk erect, in water one can swim; but in a miry marsh, which mingles earth and water together, one can neither walk nor swim. We must submit to let those who imagine that they stand or swim upon the heights of “modern” culture look disdainfully down upon us, and reproach us with not being abreast with the times; let them do that to which they are called; 8we, however, have a sure prophetic word, and we think we do well to give heed to it as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn and the morning-star arise in the hearts of all, [2 Peter i, 19]; and we feel confident that in so doing we have chosen the “good part, which will not be taken from us” when the specious fruits of the un-Christian culture of the day shall be swept away, without leaving a trace, by the streams of still newer progress. To those to whom appreciation for recent science is synonymous with an unconditional homage to every pretentiously-rising system, we must be content to appear as non-appreciative; meantime, however, may we not suggest that these gentlemen would do well to come to an understanding among themselves as to precisely which of the more recent and violently inter-contradictory systems represents the real progress proper, and as to how long it will do so, before we be peremptorily required to disregard the exhortation of the Holy One, to “hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” [Rev. iii, 11]. We regard it as the first scientific duty of a true truth-seeker not to suffer himself to be captivated by the flickering glare of great names 9and by the sham-gold of pretended latest discoveries, and not to let himself be intoxicated and carried away by the indiscriminate applause of the multitude. We greatly rejoice to see that precisely the most recent productions upon the field of ethics (Harless, Schmid, Palmer) give proof of evangelical soundness, and we shall anxiously await to see whether the rapidly-erring and deteriorating “theology of progress” will not, in its turn, enter upon this field,—whether Rothe, who (encouraged and urged on by the well-calculated applause of this party) shows as yet no signs of hesitation to do service in the ranks of the sympathizers with Strauss and Renan, will not make up his mind to turn to the service of sound words, or whether in the interest of an erroneous system he will drive even still deeper the wounds which he has already inflicted upon evangelical faith,—to which at bottom his heart belongs.

HALLE, August, 1864.

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