« Prev Notes - Lecture II. Next »


Note I., p. 69.

“Unless we have independent means of knowing that God knows the truth, and is disposed to tell it to us, his word (if we be ever so certain that it is really his word) might as well not have been spoken. But if we know, independently of the Bible, that God knows the truth, and is disposed to tell it to us, obviously we know a great deal more also. We know not only the existence of God, but much concerning his character. For, only by discerning that he has Virtues similar in kind to human Virtues, do we know of his truthfulness and his goodness. Without this a priori belief, a book-revelation is a useless impertinence.”—F. W. Newman, The Soul, p. 58. With this a priori belief, it is obvious that a book-revelation is, as far as our independent knowledge extends, still more impertinent; for it merely tells us what we knew before. See an able criticism of this theory in the Eclipse of Faith, p. 73 sqq.

Note II., p. 71.

“Furthermore, since, for us, that falls under the sphere of the understanding, which a great many philosophers before us have declared to be within the province of the reason, we shall have for the highest kind of intelligence a position unattained by them; and we shall define it as that by which finite and infinite are seen in the eternal, but not the eternal in the finite or in the infinite.”—Schelling, Bruno, p. 163. (Compare p. 69.) “But there are still other spheres, which can be observed,—not merely those which are confined to a relativity of finite to finite, but those, too, wherein the divine in its absoluteness is in the consciousness.”—Hegel, Philosophie der Religion (Werke, XI. p. 196). In like manner, Mr. Newman speaks of the Soul as “the organ of specific information to us,” respecting things spiritual;132132   The Soul, p. 3. and Mr. Parker says, “that there is a connection between God and the soul, as between light and the eye, sound and the ear, food and the palate, etc.”133133   Discourse of Matters pertaining to Religion, p. 130.

Note III., p. 71.

“This substance, simple, primitive, must comprise the perfections in eminent degree, contained in the derivative substances, which are its 250 effects; thus it will have power, knowledge, good-will in perfection; that is, omnipotence, omniscience, supreme goodness. And as justice, taken generally, is nothing but goodness conformed to wisdom, there must also be in God a supreme justice.”—Leibnitz, Principles de la Nature et de la Grace, § 9. “Being conscious that I have, personally, a little Love, and a little Goodness, I ask concerning it, as concerning Intelligence,—where did I pick it up? and I feel an invincible persuasion, that if I have some moral goodness, the great Author of my being has infinitely more. Ile did not merely make rocks, and seas, and stars, and brutes, but the human Soul also; and, therefore, I am assured he possesses all the powers and excellencies of that soul in an infinitely higher degree.”—F. W. Newman, Reply to the Eclipse of Faith, p. 26. This argument, however true in its general principle, is liable to considerable error in its special applications. The remarks of Bishop Browne are worth consideration, as furnishing a caution on the other side. “To say that God is infinite in perfection, means nothing real and positive in him, unless we say, in a kind of perfection altogether inconceivable to us as it is in itself. For the multiplying or magnifying the greatest perfections whereof we have any direct conception or idea, and then adding our gross notion only of indefinite to them, is no other than heaping up together a number of imperfections to form a chimera of our imagination.”—Divine Analogy, p. 171.

Note IV., p. 72.

Compare Wegscheider’s definition of Mysticism, Instit. Theol. § 5.—”A near approach to superstition, or rather a species of it, is mzysticisnm; or a belief in a particular faculty of the soul, . . . . . by which it may reach even in this world an immediate intercourse with the Deity or with celestial natures, and enjoy immediately a knowledge of divine things.”

Note V., p. 73.

Fichte, Versuch einer Kritik aller Offenbarung. (Werke, V. pp. 40, 115.)—The following remarks of Mr. Parker are another application of the same principle, substituting, however, as if on purpose to show the contradictory conclusions to which such a method of reasoning may lead, the conception of perfect love and future compensation, for that of a moral nature with no affections and no future promises. “This we know, that the Infinite God must be a perfect Creator, the sole and undisturbed author of all that is in Nature. . . . . Now, a perfect Motive for creation,—what will that be? It must be absolute Love, producing a desire to bless 251 everything which He creates. . . . . If God be infinite, then He must make and administer the world from perfect motives, for a perfect purpose, and as a perfect means,—all tending to the ultimate and absolute blessedness of each thing He directly or mediately creates; the world must be administered so as to achieve that purpose for each thing. Else God has made some things from a motive and for a purpose not benevolent, or as a means not adequate to the benevolent purpose. These suppositions are at variance with the nature of the Infinite God. I do not see how this benevolent purpose can be accomplished unless all animals are immortal, and find retribution in another life.”—Theism, Atheism and the Popular Theology, pp. 108, 109, 198.

Note VI., p. 73.

The nature of the case implies that the human mind is competent to sit in moral and spiritual judgment on a professed revelation, and to decide (if the case seem to require it) in the following tone. ‘This doctrine attributes to God that which we should all call harsh, cruel, or unjust, in man: it is, therefore, intrinsically inadmissible.’”—Newman, The Soul, p. 58. For an able refutation of this reasoning, see the Defence of the Eclipse of Faith, p. 38.

Note VII., p. 73.

“To suppose the future volitions of moral agents not to be necessary events; or, which is the same thing, events which it is not impossible but that they may not come to pass; and yet to suppose that God certainly foreknows them, and knows all things; is to suppose God’s Knowledge to be inconsistent with itself.”—Edwards, On the Freedom of the Will, part 2 sect. 12.

Note VIII., p. 73.

“Let us suppose a great prince governing a wicked and rebellious people. lie has it in his power to punish: he thinks fit to pardon them. But he orders his only and well-beloved son to be put to death, to expiate their sins, and to satisfy his royal vengeance. Would this proceeding appear to the eye of reason, and in the unprejudiced light of nature, wise, or just, or good?”—Bolingbroke, Fragments or Minutes of Essays (Works, vol. v. p. 289, ed. 1754). Compare Newman, Phases of Faith, p. 92. See also above Lecture I., Note 13.


Note IX., p. 73.

Intellectually, we of necessity hold that the highest human perfection is the best type of the Divine. . . . . Every good man has learnt to forgive, and when the offender is penitent, to forgive freely,—without punishment or retribution: whence the conclusion is inevitable, that God also forgives, as soon as sin is repented of.”—Newman, The Soul, p. 99. “It may be collected from the principles of Natural Religion, that God, on the sincere repentance of offenders, will receive them again into favour, and render them capable of those rewards naturally attendant on right behaviour.”—Warburton, Divine Legation, b. ix., ch. 2. Compare, on the other side, Magee on the Atonement, notes iv. and xxiv. See also above, Lecture I., Note 14.

Note X., p. 73.

“A divine command is pleaded in vain, except it can be shown that the thing supposed to be commanded is not inconsistent with the law of nature; which, if God can dispense with in any one case, he may in all.”—Tindal, Christianity as old as the Creation, p. 272, quoted and answered by Waterland, Scripture Vindicated, on Numbers xxi. 2, 3.

Note XI., p. 74.

Kant, Streit der Facultäten, p. 321, ed. Rosenkranz. Newman, Phases of Faith, p. 150. Parker, Discourse of Matters pertaining to Religion, p. 84.

Note XII., p. 74.

Tindal, apud Waterland l. c. Newman, Phases of Faith, p. 151.

Note XIII., p. 74.

Newman, The Soul, p. 60. Greg, Creed of Christendom, p. 8.

Note XIV., p. 75.

“The Absolute is that which is free from all necessary relation, that is, which is free from every relation as a condition of existence; but it may exist in relation, provided that relation be not a necessary condition of its 253 existence; that is, provided that relation may be removed without affecting its existence.” . . . “The Infinite expresses the entire absence of all limitation, and is applicable to the one Infinite Being in all his attributes.”—Calderwood, Philosophy of the Infinite, pp. 36, 37. The definitions may be accepted, though they lead to conclusions the very opposite of those which the ingenious author has attempted to establish. The Absolute, as above defined, is taken in the first of the two senses distinguished by Sir W. Hamilton, Discussions, p. 14; and in this sense it is the necessary complement of the idea of the Infinite. The other sense, in which the Absolute is contradictory of the Infinite, is irrelevant to the present argument.

Note XV., p. 76.

“The absolutely infinite is what contains everything, or every perfection, which can exist or be conceived; that you are wont to call infinite in perfection. Infinite, e. g. predicated of extension, means what embraces all existing or conceivable extension.”—Werenfels, DeFinibus Mundi Dialogus (Dissertationes, 1716, vol. ii., p. 192). In the latter sense, Clarke speaks of the error of “imagining all Infinites to be equal, when in things disparate they manifestly are not so; an infinite Line being not only not equal to, but infinitely less than an infinite Surface, and an infinite Surface than Space infinite in all Dimensions.”134134   Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God, Prop. I. This remark assumes that an infinite extension is a possible object of conception at all; whereas, in fact, the attempt to conceive it involves the same fundamental contradictions which accompany the notion of the Infinite in every other aspect. This is ingeniously shown by Werenfels, in the above Dialogue, p. 218. “D. But do you then think, that an infinite line cannot be conceived at all without contradiction? Ph. I do, indeed; and I cannot be drawn from this opinion, unless some one of you have a conclusive answer to this demonstration; but this, unless you lack the patience to listen, I will briefly propose anew. You see this line b___a___c. Let us suppose it to be infinite, and to be extended ad infinitum beyond the termini b and c. Let this line be divided at the point a. It is manifest that these parts are equal to one another, because each begins at the point a and is extended ad infinitum. Now, I ask you, Dædalus, are these two parts finite, or infinite? D. Finite. Ph. So an infinite would be composed of two finites; which is a contradiction. D. I confess my mistake. They are infinite, Ph. Now you fall into Scylla Thus parts would be equal to 254 a whole; for infinite is equal to infinite. Besides, you see, that each part is terminated at the point a; it is, therefore, not without ends and bounds. What say you to this, Polymathes? Po. I have an answer. Each of these parts is on the one side finite,—namely, at the point a,—on the other, infinite, because it is extended beyond b and c ad infinitum. Ph. Ingeniously, acutely, nothing more so. But I ask you, whether there is on either section of the infinite line an infinite number of such parts as the line ab and the line ac? Po. Yes. Ph. But is that number infinite, to which an equal can be added, and the double of which is not only conceivable, but really existent? If you answer yes, then an infinite number does not contain all units, but there can besides be conceived and added to it, as many units as it may not have. But if this be not a contradiction, then what is there, that is a contradiction? Po. But, what if either section of the given line consist of a finite number of parts of such magnitude as the line ab? Ph. Then the given line is finite; because two finite numbers added together, make a finite number; which was the thing to be proved.” The contradictions thus involved in the notion of infinite magnitudes in space, are not solved by maintaining, with Spinoza and Clarke, that infinite quantity is not composed of parts;135135   See Spinoza, Epist. XXIX, Ethica, P. I. Prop. xv.; and Clarke, Demonstration, Prop. 1. A curious psychological discrepancy may be observed in relation to this controversy. Spinoza maintains that quantity as represented in the imagination is finite, but that as conceived by the intellect it is infinite. Werenfels, on the contrary, asserts that the imagined quantity is infinite, the conceived finite. The truth is, that in relation to Space, which is not a general notion containing individuals under it, conception and imagination are identical; and the notions of an ultimate limit of extension and of an unlimited extension, are both equally self-contradictory from every point of view. for space with no parts is as inconceivable as space composed of an infinite number of parts. These contradictions sufficiently show that relative infinity, no less than absolute, is not a positive object of thought at all; the so-called infinites and infinitesimals of the mathematicians being in fact only negative expressions, denoting magnitudes which bear no relation to any assignable quantity, however great or small. They are thus apprehended only by reference to their inconceivability; being merely the expression of our inability to represent in thought a first or last unit of space or time.—See Leibnitz, Théodicée Discours, § 70. “We are embarrassed in the series of numbers, progressing ad infinitum. We conceive of a last term, of an infinite or an infinitesimal; but these are only fictions. Every number is finite and assignable, and the infinites and the infinitesimals signify nothing but magnitudes, which we may take as large or as small as we please, etc.”—Compare Pascal, Pensées, Partie I. Art. II. “In short, 255 whatever be the motion, number, space, time, there is always a greater and a less; so that they all stand between nothing and infinity, being always infinitely removed from these extremes.” Some ingenious reasoning on this question will be found in a Note by Mosheim on Cudworth’s Intellectcual System, b I. ch. V., translated in Harrison’s edition of Cudworth, vol. II. p. 541; though the entire discussion is by no means satisfactory.

Note XVI., p. 76.

“By the Deity I understand a Being absolutely infinite, i. e., a substance consisting of infinite attributes, each one of which expresses an eternal and infinite essence. I say infinite absolutely, but not in its kind, for whatever is infinite in its kind only, of that we cannot affirm infinite attributes; but to the essence of that which is absolutely infinite, there pertains whatever expresses essence and involves no negation.”—Spinoza, Ethica, P. I. Def. VI.

Note XVII., p. 76.

See Spinoza l. c.; Wolf, Theologia Naturalis, P. II. § 15; Kant, Kritik der reinen Vernunft, p. 450. ed. Rosenkranz; Vorlesungen über die Metaphysik, ed. Poelitz, p. 276; Schelling, Vom Ich, § 10. The assumption ultimately annihilates itself; for if any object of conception exhausts the universe of reality, it follows that the mind which conceives it has no existence. The older form of this representation is criticized by Hegel, Encyclopädie, § 36. His own conception of God, however, virtually amounts to the same thing. A similar view is implied in his criticism of Aristotle, whom he censures for regarding God as one object out of many. See Geschichte der Philosophie, Werke, XIV. p. 283.

Note XVIII., p. 76.

Geschichte der Philosophie, Werke, XV. p. 275. See also, Philosophie der Religion, Werke, XI. p. 24. Encyklopädie, § 19, 20, 21. Compare Schelling, Philosophie und Religion, p. 35, quoted by Willm, Histoire de la Philosophie Allemande, vol. iii. p. 301. Schleiermacher (Christliche Glaube, § 89) is compelled in like manner to assert that God must be in some manner the author of evil; an opinion which is also maintained by Mr. Parker, Theism, Atheism, and the Popular Theology, p. 119.


Note XIX., p. 76.

“A thing is said to be finite in its kind, which can be limited by another of the same nature; e. g. a body is called finite, because we always conceive of one greater.”—Spinoza, Ethica, P. I. Def. II.

Note XX., p. 76.

See Aquinas, Summa, P. I. Qu. II. Art. 3; Qu. IX. Art. 1. “Actus simplicissimus,” says Hobbes contemptuously, “signifieth nothing.”136136   Questions concerning Liberty, Necessity and Chance, Animadversions, No. XXIV. See, on the other side, Bramhall, Works, vol. IV. p. 524. And Clarke in like manner observes, “Either the words signify nothing, or else they express only the perfection of his power.”137137   Demonstration, Prop IV. See, on the other side, Hegel, Geschichte der Philosophie, Werke, XIV. p. 290.

Note XXI., p. 76.

See Plato, Republic, II. p. 381; Aristotle, Metaph. VIII. 8, 15; Augustine, Enarrattio in Ps. IX. ii. De Trinitate, XV. c. 15; Hooker, E. P. b. I. c. 5; Descartes, Meditatio Tertia, p. 22. ed. 1685; Spinoza, Ethica, P. I. Prop. xvii. Schol.; Hartley, Observations on Man, Prop. cxv.; Herder, Gott, Werke, VIII. p. 180; Schleiermacher, Christliche Glaube, § 54; Hegel, Werke, XIV. p. 290; Marheineke, Grundlehren der Christlichen Dogmatik, § 195. The conclusion, that God actually does all that he can do; and, consequently, that there is no possibility of free action in any finite being, can only bhe avoided by the admission, which is ultimately forced upon us, that our human conception of the infinite is not the true one. Müller (Christliclhe Lehre von der Sünde, II. p. 251, third edit. ) endeavors to meet this conclusion by a counter-argument. Hr shows that it is equally a limitation of the divine Nature to suppose that God is compelled of necessity to realize in act everything which he has the power to accomplish. This argument completes the dilemma, and brings into full view the counter-impotences of human thought in relation to the infinite. We cannot conceive an Infinite Being as capable of becoming that which he is not; nor, on the other hand, can we conceive him as actually being all that he can be.

Note XXII., p. 77.

“Now it is sufficiently manifest, that a thing existing absolutely (i. e. not under relation), and a thing existing absolutely as a cause, are contrydictory. 257 The former is the absolute negation of all relation; the latter is the absolute affirmation of a particular relation. A cause is a relative, and what exists absolutely as a cause, exists absolutely under relation.—”Sir W. Hamilton, Discussions, p. 34.

Note XXIII., p. 77.

That a belief in creation is incompatible with a philosophy of the Absolute, was clearly seen by Fichte, who consistently denounces it, as a Jewish and Heathenish notion and the fundamental error of all false Metaphysics. He even goes so far as to maintain that St. John, the only teacher of true Christianity, did not believe in the Creation, and that the beginning of his Gospel was designed to contradict the Mosaic narrative. See his Anweisung zum seligen Leben (Werke, v. p. 479). Compare Schelling, Bruno, p. 60, who regards the finite as necessarily coeternal with the infinite. So also Rothe, Theologische Ethik, § 40, asserts that the doctrine of a creation in time is inconsistent with the essential nature of God, as unchangeable and necessarily creative. Spinoza’s attempted demonstration that one substance cannot be produced from another,138138   Ethica, P. I. Prop. vi. though in itself a mere juggle of equivocal terms, yet testifies in like manner to his conviction, that to deny the possibility of creation is an indispensable step to a philosophy of the Absolute. Cognate to these theories are the speculations of Hermogenes, mentioned by Tertullian, Adv. Herm. c. 2; and of Origen, De Princ. I. 2. 10. Of the latter, Neander well observes: “Here, therefore, there occurred to him those reasons against a beginning of creation generally, which must ever suggest themselves to the reflecting mind, which cannot rest satisfied with simple faith in that which to itself is incomprehensible. Supposing that to create is agreeable to the divine essence, how is it conceivable that what is thus conformable to God’s nature should at any time have been wanting? Why should not those attributes which belong to the very essence of the Deity, His almighty power and goodness, be always active? A transition from the state of not-creating to the act of creation is inconceivable without a change, which is incompatible with the being of God.”139139   Church History, English translation, Vol. II. p. 281, Bohn’s edition.

Note XXIV., p. 78.

Arist. Metaph. XIV. 9. [Ed. Gul. Duval, Paris, 1629.] “If it have aught as the object of intelligence, and something other than itself be thus superior 258 to it, it will not be the Best (for then it will be intelligence only potentially, not essentially); since it is in the act of intelligence that the excellence lies. . . . . Itself, therefore, it has as the object of intelligence, if indeed it is the Supreme; and the intelligence is intelligence of intelligence.” Plotinus, on the other hand, shows that even self-consciousness, as involving a logical distinction between the subject and object, is incompatible with the notion of the Absolute. See Enn. V. 1. VI. c. 2.

Note XXV., p. 78.

Plotinns, Enn., III. 1. IX. c. 3. “The Intelligence is now twofold, and objectifies itself; and it is wanting in somewhat because it has ‘the Well’ (τὸ εὖ) in the act of intelligence, not in the substance.” Enn. V. 1. VI. c. 2. “Being a duality it will not be the first, . . . . . in itself it will properly be neither the intelligent nor the intelligible; for what is intelligible is so relatively to another.” Enn. V. 1. VI. c. 6. “Therefore there will again be a duality in the conscious intelligence; but that (the first or the Absolute) is nowise a duality.” Cf. Porphyr. Sent. XV. “But if there be plurality in the intelligible, since there is a plurality, not unity, in the objects of the conscious intelligence, then of necessity there must be plurality in the essence of the intelligence. But unity (the One) is prior to plurality, so that of necessity it is prior to the intelligence.” “The Absolute, as absolutely universal, is absolutely one; absolute unity is convertible with the absolute negation of plurality and difference; the Absolute, and the Knowledge of the Absolute, are therefore identical. But knowledge, or intelligence, supposes a plurality of terms—the plurality of subject and object. Intelligence, whose essence is plurality, cannot therefore be identified with the Absolute, whose essence is unity; and if known, the Absolute, as known, must be different from the Absolute, as existing; that is, there must be two Absolutes—an Absolute in knowledge and an Absolute in existence: which is contradictory.”—Sir W. Hamilton, Discussions, p. 32.

Note XXVI., p. 78.

Clem. Alex. Strom. V. 12. p. 587. “Nor, indeed, would any one rightly call it a whole, for the whole is predicated of magnitude . . . . . nor can it be said to have parts, for the One is indivisible.” Plotinus, Enn. V. 1. VI. c. 5. “For of a thing that is absolutely one, how can you predicate the coming to itself, or the want of consciousness?” On this point, the earlier and later forms of Pantheism are divided against each other. Spinoza (Eth. P. I. Def. 6) defines the Deity as composed of an infinite 259 number of attributes. “By the Deity I understand a Being absolutely infinite, i. e., a substance consisting of infinite attributes, every one of which expresses eternal and infinite essence.” Hegel, on the contrary, in his Lectures on the proofs of the existence of God, regards a plurality of attributes as incompatible with the idea of the Infinite. “Here (i. e. in the absolute unity of God) the plurality of predicates—which only subjectively are bound in unity, but in themselves would be distinguished, and so would come into opposition and into contradiction—shows itself as something false, and the plurality of determinations (in the notion of God) as an impertinent category.”140140   Werke, XII. p. 419. See also Encyklopädie, § 28 (Werke, VI. p. 62). The lesson to be learnt from both is the same. No human form of thought can represent the Infinite:—a truth which Spinoza attempts to evade by multiplying such forms to infinity, and Hegel by renouncing human thought altogether.

Note XXVII., p. 78.

That the Absolute cannot be conceived as composed of a plurality of attributes, but only as the one substance conceived apart from all plurality, is shown by Plotinus, Enn. V. 1. VI., c. 3. “If it be said that nothing hinders this same (i. e. the First) being the Many, the answer must be, that these Many have an underlying One (One Subject, ὑποκείμενον); for the Many cannot exist, except there exist the One from which the Many must be derived, and in which the Many must exist . . . . . . and this One must be taken as in itself the only One.”. . . . Compare Proclus, Inst. Theol. c. 1. “All plurality in some way partakes of Unity (or the One), for if not, then neither will the whole be One, nor each one of the many which make up the plurality; but of certain entities each will be a plurality, and this on to an infinite, and of these infinites each again will be an infinite plurality.” To the same effect is the reasoning of Augustine, De Trinitate, vi. c. 6. 7. “In every body magnitude is one thing, color another, figure another. For the magnitude diminished, the color may remain the same, and the figure the same; and the figure changed, the body may be just as large and of just the same color; and whatever other things are predicated of the body, may exist together, and may be changed without change on the part of the rest. And thus the nature of the body is proved to be manifold, but in nowise simple. . . . . . But also in the soul since it is one thing to be ingenious, another to be dull, another to be acute, another to have a good memory; since desire is one thing, fear another, joy another, sorrow another; and since there can be found in the nature of the soul 260 some things without others, and some more, and some less, and these to a number beyond all computation;—it is manifest that the nature of the soul is not simple but manifold, for nothing simple is changeable; but every created being is changeable. But God indeed is said to be in various ways great, good, wise, happy, true, and whatever else is not unworthily predicable of Him; but his greatness is the same as his wisdom; for he is great, not in quantity, but in quality; and his goodness is the same as his wisdom and greatness, and his truth the same as all these; and with Him the being happy is not different from being great, or wise, or true, or good, or from being Himself.” See also Aquinas, Summa, P. I. Qu. III. Art. 5, 6, 7. Schleiermacher, Christliche Glaube, § 50.

Note XXVIII., p. 79.

See Plato, Republic, II. p. 380, VI. p. 511, VII. p. 517; Timæus, p. 31. Aristotle, Metaph. XI. 8, 18: 10, 14; Eth. Nic. VII. 14, 8. Cicero, Tusc. Quæst. I. 29; De Nat. Deor. II. 11. Plotinus, Enn. II. 9, 1, III. 9, 3. V. 4. 1, VI. 5, 1: 9, 6. Proclus, Inst. Theol. c. i. xxli. lix. cxxxiii. Clemens Alex., Strom. V. p. 587. Origen, De Princ. I. 1, 6. Augustine, De Civ. Dei, VIII. 6: De Trinitate, VI. 6, VII. 1, XV. 5, 13. Aquinas, Summa, P. I. Qu. III. Art. 7, Qu. VII. Art. 2. Qu. XI. Art. 3. Leibnitz, Monadologie, § 39, 40, 47. Clarke, Demonstration, Prop. vi. vii. Schelling, Vom Ich, § 9; Bruno, p. 185. Rothe, Theol. Ethik, § 8.

Note XXIX., p. 79.

“Hence, therefore, it is evident, that nothing is called one or unique, except after some other has been conceived, which agrees with it. But since the existence of God belongs to his own essence, and of his essence we cannot form a universal idea, it is certain that he who calls God one or unique, can have no idea of God, or speaks improperly of Him.”—Spinoza, Epist. L. Compare Schleiermacher, Christliche Glaube, § 56.

Note XXX., p. 80.

“For the expression, ‘if it be possible,’ referred not merely to the power of God, but also to his justice; for, as to the power of God, all things are possible, whether just or unjust; but as to his justice, He being not only powerful, but just, not all things are possible, but only those which are just.”—Origen in St. Matt. xxvi. 42; compare c. Celsum, Ill. 70. Origen speaks still more strongly in a remarkable fragment of the De Principiis, 261 which has been preserved in the original: “In that beginning (i. e., at the creation) God determined (to create) as great a number of intelligent beings as might be sufficient; for we must say that the divine power was limited, nor under pretence of praise take away all limitation of it; for if the divine power were unlimited, then, necessarily, it did not have a consciousness of itself.” The language of Hooker (E. P. b. I. ch. 2. § 3) is more cautious and reverent, but contains the same acknowledgment of what, from a human point of view, is limitation. “If, therefore, it be demanded why, God having power and ability infinite, the effects notwithstanding of that power are all so limited as we see they are; the reason hereof is the end which he hath proposed, and the law whereby his wisdom hath stinted the effects of his power in such sort, that it doth not work infinitely, but correspondently unto that end for which it worketh.” Some excellent remarks on the limitation of man’s faculties with regard to the Divine Attributes, will be found in Mr. Meyrick’s sermon, God’s Revelation and Man’s Moral Sense considered in reference to the Sacrifice of the Cross, p. 14. See the Collection of Sermons on Christian Faith and the Atonement, Oxford, 1856.

Note XXXI., p. 80.

Thus Spinoza (Ethica, P. I. Prop. 26) says, “A thing which was determined to the doing of somewhat, was necessarily so determined by God;” and, carrying the same theory to its inevitable consequence, he consistently maintains (P. IV. Prop. 61) that the notion of evil only exists in consequence of the inadequacy of our ideas. Hegel in like manner (Encykl. § 35) reduces evil to a mere negation, which may be identified with good in the absolute. See also above, Note 18, p. 231.

Note XXXII., p. 80.

Plato, Rep. II. p. 381. “Does He, then, change Himself into something better and nobler, or into something worse and baser than Himself? Necessarily, said he, into something better, for we cannot say that God is wanting in any good or noble quality. Exactly so; and that being the case, does it seem to you, that any one, whether God or man, would voluntarily make himself worse in any respect?” Compare Augustine, In Joannis Evangelium, Tract. XXIII. 9. “You do not find in God any changeableness, anything which is different now, from what it was a little while ago. For where you find difference, there has taken place a kind of death; for that is death, the not being what (one) was. Whatever therefore, 262 undergoes this sort of death, whether from the better to the worse, or from the worse to the better,—that is not God.” And so Jacobi (Von den göttlichen Dingen, Werke, III. p. 391) says of the system of Schelling: “Consider that the one only living and true God (Nature) cannot become greater or less, higher or lower; but that this God, equivalent to Nature or the Universe, remains, from eternity to eternity, ever one and the same, in quality and in quantity. It would, therefore, be absolutely impossible for Him to bring about any change in Himself, without being changeableness, temporalness, change itself. This changeableness, however, is, we are told, in its root, an Unchangeable, namely, the holy, ever-creating original force of the world; in its fruit, on the contrary, in the real world, an absolutely changeable, so that in each single determined momentum the All of beings is nothing. Accordingly, the creative word of the naturalistic God is incontestibly, Let there be Nothing! He calls forth Not-Being from Being; as the God of theism calls forth Being from Not-Being.” Compare Sir W. Hamilton’s criticism of Cousin, Discussions, p. 36; and see also above, Note 23, p. 233.

Note XXXIII., p. 81.

“What,” says Sir W. Hamilton, “is our thought of creation? It is not a thought of the mere springing of nothing into something. On the contrary, creation is conceived, and is by us conceivable, only as the evolution of existence from possibility into actuality, by the fiat of the Deity. . . . . And what is true of our concept of creation, holds of our concept of annihilation. We can think no real annihilation,—no absolute sinking of something into nothing. But as creation is cogitable by us, only as a putting forth of Divine power, so is annihilation by us only conceivable, as a withdrawal of that same power. All that is now actually existent in the universe, this we think and must think, as having, prior to creation, virtually existed in the Creator; and in imagining the universe to be annihilated, we can only conceive this, as the retractation by the Deity of an overt energy into latent power. In short, it is impossible for the human mind to think what it thinks existent, lapsing into absolute non-existence, either in time past or in time future.”141141   Discussions, p 620. Compare a remarkable passage in Herder’s Gott (Werke VIII. p. 241) where the author maintains a similar view of the impossibility of conceiving creation from or reduction to notling. But Herder is speaking as a professed defender of Spinoza. Sir W. Hamilton’s system is in all its essential features the direct antagonist of Spinoza; and even in the present passage the apparently pantheistic hypothesis is represented as the result not of thought, but of an inability to think. Still it is to be regretted that the distinguished author should have used language liable to be misunderstood in this respect, especially as it scarcely accords with the general principles of his own system. With all deference to this great 263 philosopher, I cannot help thinking that a different representation would have been more in harmony with the main principles of his own system. We cannot conceive creation at all, neither as a springing of nothing into something, nor as an evolution of the relative from the absolute; for the simple reason that the first terms of both hypotheses, nothing and the absolute, are equally beyond the reach of human conception. But while creation, as a process in the act of being accomplished, is equally inconceivable on every hypothesis, creation, as a result already completed, presents no insurmountable difficulty to human thought if we consent to abandon the attempt to apprehend the absolute. There is no difficulty in conceiving that the amount of existence in the universe may at one time be represented by A, and at another by A + B: though we are equally unable to conceive how B can come out of nothing, and how A, or any part of A, can become B while A remains undiminished. But the result, no less than the process, becomes self-contradictory, when we attempt to conceive A as absolute and infinite; for in that case A + B must be something greater than infinity.

Note XXXIV., p. 83.

“Pantheism teaches that all is good, for all is only one; and that every appearance of what we call wrong is only an empty delusion. Hence its disturbing influence upon the life; for here,—turn about language as we may, and attach ourselves as we will to the faith that everywhere comes forth through the voice of conscience,—yet at bottom, if we remain true to the destructive principle of the pantheistic doctrine, we must do away with and declare null and void, the eternal distinction between good and evil, between right and wrong.”—F. Schlegel, Ueber die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier, b. III. c. 2. (Werke, VIII. p. 324). “If it is God who thinks in me, my thought is absolute; not only am I unable to think otherwise than I do think, . . . but I can make no choice in my conceptions, approve or search after some, reject and shun others, all being necessary and perfect, all being divine; in fine, I become a machine for thinking, an intelligent machine, but irresponsiblle.”—Bartholmèss, Histoire des doctrines religieuses de la philosophie moderne, Introduction, p. xxxvii. These necessary consequences of Pantheism are fully exhibited by Spinoza, Ethica, P. I. Prop. 26; P. II. Props. 32, 33, 34, 35; P. IV. Prop. 64. Hegel (Werke, XI. pp. 95, 208, 390) endeavors, not very successfully, to defend his own philosophy from the charge of Pantheism and its consequences. His defence amounts to no more than the assertion that God cannot be identified with the universe of finite objects, in a system in which finite objects have no real existence. Thus explained, the system is identical with Pantheism 264 in the strictest sense of the term. All that is proved is, that it cannot with equal propriety be called Pantatheism.

Note XXXV., p. 83.

“The dialectic intellect, by the exertion of its own powers exclusively, can lead us to a general affirmation of the supreme reality of an absolute being. But here it stops. It is utterly incapable of communicating insight or conviction concerning the existence or possibility of the world, as different from Deity. It finds itself constrained to identify, more truly to confound, the Creator with the aggregate of his creatures, and, cutting the knot which it cannot untwist, to deny altogether the reality of all finite existence, and then to shelter itself from its own dissatisfaction, its own importunate queries, in the wretched evasion that of nothings no solution can be required: till pain haply, and anguish, and remorse, with bitter scoff and moody laughter inquire,—Are we then indeed nothings?—till through every organ of sense nature herself asks,—How and whence did this sterile and pertinacious nothing acquire its plural number?—Unde, quæso, hæc nihili in nihila tam portentosa transnihilatio?—and lastly:—What is that inward mirror, in and for which these nothings have at least relative existence? “—Coleridge, The Friend, vol. III. p. 213.

Note XXXVI., p. 83.

The limitation, speculative Atheism, is necessary; for the denial of the Infinite does not in every case constitute practical Atheisin. For it is not under the form of the Infinite that the idea of God is distinctly presented in worship; and it is possible to adore a superior Being, without positively asking how far that superiority extends. It is only when we are able to investigate the problem of the relation between the infinite and the finite, and to perceive that the latter cannot be regarded as expressing the true idea of the Deity, that the denial of the infinite becomes atheism in speculation. On the alternative between Christianity and Atheism, some excellent remarks will be found in the Restoration of Belief, p. 248.

Note XXXVII., p. 84.

“Much stress is wont to be laid upon the limits of thought, and it is asserted that the limit cannot be transcended. In this assertion lies the unconsciousness, that even in fixing somewhat as limit, it has already been transcended. For a determination, a bound, is determined as limit, only 265 in opposition to its Other (alterum), its Unlimited; the Other (the correlate), of a limit is something beyond it.”—Hegel, Logik (Werke, III. p. 136). Compare Encyklopädie, § 60 (Werke, VI., p. 121). In maintaining that a limit as such always implies something beyond, and, consequently, that the notion of a limited universe is self-contradictory, Hegel is unquestionably right; but he is wrong in attempting to infer from thence the non-limitation of thought. For that which is limited is not necessarily limited by something of the same kind;—nay, the very conception of kinds is itself a limitation. Hence the consciousness that thought is limited by something beyond itself, by no means implies that thought itself transcends that limit. A prisoner chained up feels that his motion is limited, by his inability to move into the space which he sees or imagines beyond the length of his chain. On Hegel’s principles, he ought to know his inability by actually moving into it.

Note XXXVIII., p. 84.

These opposite limitations fall under the general law of the Conditioned enunciated by Sir W. Hamilton. “The mind is astricted to think in certain forms; and, under these, thought is possible only in the conditioned interval between two unconditioned contradictory extremes or poles, each of which is altogether inconceivable, but of which, on the principle of Excluded Middle, the one or the other is necessarily true.”142142   Discussions, p. 618. The lamented author has left us only a few fragmentary specimens of the application of this canon to the vexed questions of metaphysical speculation, and the principal one of these, in some of its details, may be open to objections; but the truth of the principle itself is unquestionable; and its value, rightly applied, in confining the inquiries of philosophy within their legitimate boundaries, can hardly be estimated too highly.

Note XXXIX., p. 84.

“Every finite is, by virtue of its notion, bounded by its opposite; and absolute finiteness is a self-contradictory notion.”—Fichte, Grundlage der gesamnmten Wissenschaftslehre (Werke, I., p. 185).

Note XL., p. 87.

Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der blossen Vernunft, p. 98, 122, 137. For the influence of Kant on the rationalist theology, see Rosenkranz, Geschichte 266 der Kant’schen Philosophie, b. III. cap. 2. Amand Saintes, Histoire du Rationalisme en Allemagne, 1. II. ch. 11. Kahnis, History of German Protestantism, translated by Meyer, p. 167.

Note XLI., p. 87.

Paulus, in the preface to his Leben Jesu, expressly adopts, though without naming the author, Kant’s theory, that miracles are indifferent to religion, and that the whole essence of Christianity consists in morality. Consistently with these principles, he maintains (§ 2) that the historical inquirer can admit no event as credible which cannot be explained by natural causes. The entire details of the evangelical narrative are explained by this method. The miracles of healing were performed by medical skill, which Christ imparted to his disciples, and thus was enabled to heal, not by a word, but by deputy. Thus he coolly translates the words of the centurion, Matt. viii. 8, “If He would only give an order to one of His (disciples), to provide in His name for the healing.” The feeding of the five thousand consisted merely in persuading the richer travellers to share their provisions with the poorer. The stilling of the tempest was effected by steering round a point which cut off the wind. Lazarus, and the widow’s son of Nain, were both cases of premature interment. Our Lord’s own death was merely a swoon, from which he was restored by the warmth of the sepulchre and the stimulating effect of the spices. Such are a few specimens of historical inquiry. The various explanations of Paulus are examined in detail, and completely refuted by Strauss. The natural hypothesis had to be annihilated, to make way for the mythical.

Note XLII., p. 87.

Wegscheider, though he expressly rejects Kant’s allegorizing interpretations of Scripture (see Institutiones Theologiæ, § 25), agrees with him in maintaining the supreme authority of reason in all religious questions, and in accommodating all religious doctrines to Ethical precepts (Præf. p. viii. ix.). Accordingly, in the place of the allegory, he adopts the convenient theory of adaptation to the prejudices of the age; by which a critic is enabled at once to set aside all doctrines which do not harmonize with his theory. Among the doctrines thus rejected, as powerless for the true end of religion, and useless or even prejudicial to piety, are those of the Trinity, the Atonement, the Corruption of human nature, Justification, and the Resurrection of the body. See § 51.


Note XLIII., p. 87.

See his Grund-und-Glaubens-Sätze der Evangelisch-Protestantischen Kirche, p. 70 (2nd edition). This work of Röhr was principally directed against the Lutheran Symbolical books; but the Catholic Creeds are also included in his sweeping condemnations. Of the Apostles’ Creed he observes: “Our age needs a more logically correct, and a more comprehensive survey of the pure evangelical faith than is afforded by the so-called Apostles’ Creed, which is good for its immediate and ordinary purpose, but too short, too aphoristic, and too historical for that which is here proposed.” (p. 49.) Of the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds he remarks in a note: “The Niceno-Constantinopolitan and the pseudo-Athanasian Creeds, with their decidedly anti-scriptural dogmas, are here altogether out of the question, however much they were admitted by the reformers, in all honesty and faith, as truly scriptural.” Röhr agrees with Kant in separating the historical facts of Christianity from the religion itself (p. 157), and in maintaining that morality is the only mode of honoring God (p. 56). His proposed creed, from which everything “historical” is studiously excluded, runs as follows:

“There is one true God, proclaimed to us by his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. To this God, as the most perfect of all Beings, as the Creator, Sustainer, and Governor of the world, and as the Father and Instructor of men and of all rational spirits, the deepest veneration is due. This veneration is best rendered by active striving after virtue and righteousness, by zealous control of the inclinations and passions of our sensual and evilly-disposed nature, and by honest, entire fulfilment of our duty, according to the exalted example of Jesus, whereby we may assure ourselves of the aid of his divine Spirit. In the consciousness of the filial relation into which we thereby enter with him, we may, in earthly need, reckon with confidence on his fatherly help, in the feeling of our moral weakness and unworthiness, upon his grace and mercy assured to us through Christ, and in the moment of death be assured that we shall continue to exist immortally, and receive a recompense in a better life.”

The celebrated Briefe über den Rationalismus, by the same author, have at least the merit of being an honest and logical exposition of Rationalist principles and their consequences, without disguise or compromise. The commendation, however, to which in this respect the work is partly entitled, cannot be extended to the concluding letter, in which the author endeavors to establish, for himself and his fellow rationalists, the right to discharge the spiritual functions, and subscribe to the confessions, of a church whose doctrines they disbelieve; and even to make use of their position to unsettle the faith of the young committed to their instruction.


Note XLIV., p. 87.

The character of Hegel’s philosophy in this respect is sufficiently shown by Strauss, Streitschriften, Heft III. p. 57, sqq.

Note XLV., p. 87.

Vatke’s Religion des Alten Testamentes, forms the first part of his Biblische Theologie wissenschaftlich dargestellt; Berlin, 1835. In the Introduction (§ 7, 12, 13) the author lays down a law of the development of religion as a process of the infinite spirit in self-revelation, according to the principles of the Hegelian philosophy. As a consequence of this law he maintains that it is impossible for an individual to raise himself, even by the aid of divine revelation, above the spiritual position of his age, or for a nation to rise or fall from its normal stage of religious cultivation (pp. 87, 181). By this canon the entire narrative of Scripture is made to stand or fall. The account of a primitive revelation and subsequent alienation from God, must be rejected, because the human consciousness must attain to perfection through a succession of progressive stages (p. 102). The book of Genesis has no historical value; and we cannot decide whether the patriarchs before Moses had any knowledge of the one true God (pp. 180, 181). Moses himself, as represented in the scriptural account, is altogether inconceivable; for he appears at a period when, according to the laws of historical development, the time was not yet ripe for him (p. 183). Much of the history of Moses must be regarded as a mythus, invented by the priests at a later period (p. 186). The political institutions attributed to him could not possibly have been founded by him (p. 211). The ceremonial laws are such as could neither have been discovered by an individual nor made known by divine revelation (p. 218). The Passover was originally a feast of the sun, in celebration of his entering into the sign Aries; which fully accounts for the offering of a male lamb (p. 492). As regards the decalogue, the second commandment must be considered as an interpolation of a later date; for it implies a hither degree of abstraction than could have been reached in the Mosaic age (p. 234). The lapses into idolatry recorded in the book of Judges, are highly improbable; for a whole people cannot fall back from a higher to a lower state of religious culture (p. 181). The books of Samuel betray their legendary origin by the occurrence of round numbers, and by the significant names of the first three kings (p. 289). The wisdom attributed to Solomon is irreconcilable with his subsequent idolatry; and the account must therefore be regarded as legendary (p. 309). Such are a few of the results of 269 the so-called philosophy of history, exercised on the narrative of Scripture. The book is valuable in one respect, and in one only. It shows the reckless manner in which rationalism finds it necessary to deal with the sacred text, before it can be accommodated to the antisupernatural hypothesis. To those who believe that a record of facts as they are is more trustworthy than a theory of facts as they ought to be on philosophical principles, the very features which the critic is compelled to reject, become additional evidence of the truth of the scripture narrative.

Note XLVI., p. 87.

The Hegelian element of Strauss’s Leben Jesu is briefly exhibited at the end of the book (§ 150). The body of the work is mainly occupied with various cavils, some of them of the very minutest philosophy, designed to invalidate the historical character of the Gospel narratives. Among these precious morsels of criticism, we meet with such objections as the following. That the name of the angel Gabriel is of Hebrew origin (§ 17). That the angel, instead of inflicting dumbness on Zacharias, ought to have merely reprimanded him (ibid.). That a real angel would not have proclaimed the advent of the Messiah in language so strictly Jewish (§ 25). That the appearance of the star to the magi would have strengthened the popular belief in the false science of astrology (§ 34). That John the Baptist, being an ascetic, and therefore necessarily prejudiced and narrow-minded, could not have considered himself inferior to one who did not practise similar mortifications (§ 36). That Jesus could not have submitted to the rite of baptism, because that rite symbolized a future Messiah (§ 49). That if there is a personal devil, he cannot take a visible form (§ 54). That it is improbable that Jesus, when he read in the synagogue, should have lighted on an apposite passage of the prophet Isaiah (§ 58). That Jesus could not have known that the woman of Samaria had had five husbands, because it is not probable that each of them had left a distinct image in her mind, and because a minute knowledge of the history of individuals is degrading to the prophetic dignity (§ 60). That it is impossible to understand “how he, whose vocation had reference to the depths of the human heart, should be tempted to occupy himself with the fish-frequented depths of the waters” (§ 71). That Jesus could not have ridden into Jerusalem on an ass whereon never man sat, because unbroken asses are difficult to manage (§ 110). That the resurrection of the dead is impossible, because the inferior principles, whose work is corruption, will not be inclined to surrender back the dominion of the body to its former master, the soul (§ 140). That the ascension of Christ 270 is impossible, because a body which has flesh and bones cannot be qualified for a heavenly abode; because it cannot liberate itself from the laws of gravity; and because it is childish to regard heaven as a definite locality (§ 142).—It is not creditable to the boasted enlightenment of the age, that a work which can seriously urge such petty quibbles as these should have obtained so much reputation and influence. In studying the philosophy which has given birth to such consequences, we see a new verification of the significant remark of Clemens Alexandrinus: “The philosophy, which is according to the divine tradition, establishes and confirms providence; take this away, and the Saviour’s economy appears to be a myth.”143143   Stromata, I. ii. p. 296. “Strauss, the Hegelian theologian,” says Sir W. Hamilton, “sees in Christianity only a mythus. Naturally: for his Hegelian ‘Idea,’ itself a myth, and confessedly finding itself in everything, of course finds in anything a myth.”144144   Discussions, p. 787 [696, ed. 1852]. As the labors of Strauss on the Gospel narratives have been sometimes compared to those of Niebuhr on the history of Rome, it may be instructive to peruse the opinion of the great historian on the cognate theories of a few years’ earlier date. “In my opinion,” writes Niebuhr in 1818, “he is not a Protestant Christian, who does not receive the historical facts of Christ’s earthly life, in their literal acceptation, with all their miracles, as equally authentic with any event recorded in history, and whose belief in them is not as firm and tranquil as his belief in the latter; who has not the utmost faith in the articles of the Apostles’ Creed, taken in their grammatical sense; who does not consider every doctrine and every precept of the New Testament as undoubted divine revelation, in the sense of the Christians of the first century, who knew nothing of a Theopneustia. Moreover, a Christianity after the fashion of the modern philosophers and pantheists, without a personal God, without immortality, without human individuality, without historical faith, is no Christianity at all to me; though it may be very intellectual, very ingenious philosophy. I have often said that I do not know what to do with a metaphysical God, and that I will have none but the God of the Bible, who is heart to heart with us.”145145   Life and Letters of B. G. Niebuhr vol. II. p. 123.

Niebuhr did not live to witness the publication of the Leben Jesu; but the above passage is as appropriate as if it had been part of an actual review of that work.

Note XLVII., p. 87.

With Feuerbach’s Wesen des Christenthums I am only acquainted through the French translation by M. Ewerbeck, which forms the principal 271 portion of the volume entitled Qu’est-ce que la Religion d’après la nouvelle Philosophie Allemande. The following extracts will sufficiently show the character of the work. “The grand mystery, or rather the grand secret of religion, is here: man objectifies his being, and after having objectified it, he makes himself the object of this new subject.” (p. 129.) “God is the notion, the personified idea of personality. He is the apotheosis of the human person, the I without the Thou, the subjectivity separate from the universe; the self-sufficient egoity.” (p. 219.) “God is the notion of kind, but the notion personified and individualized in its turn; He is the notion of kind or its essence, and this essence as universal entity, as comprising all possible perfections, as possessing all human qualities cleared of their limitations.” (p. 271.) “Where religion expresses the relation between man and the human essence, it is good and humanitary. Where it expresses the relation between man and the human essence changed to a supernatural being, it is illogical, false, and carries in it the germ of all those horrors which have been desolating society for sixty centuries.” (p. 340.) “Atheism is the fruit of the contradiction in the existence of God . . . . . . we are told that God exists really and not really at the same time, we have then a perfect right to cut the matter short with such an absurd existence, and to say: there is no God.” (p. 350.) “From the preceding we infer, that the divine personality, of which man avails himself to attribute his own ideas and his own qualities to a superhuman being, is nothing but the human personality externalized to the I. It is this psychological act which has become the basis of the speculative doctrine of Hegel, which teaches, that the consciousness that man has of God is the consciousness that God has of man.” (p. 390.) The occasional notes which the translator has added to this work are, if possible, still more detestable than the text. So much disregard of truth and decency as is shown in some of his remarks on Christianity has probably seldom been compressed into the same compass.

Note XLVIII., p. 89.

“Christ, who taught his disciples, and us in them, how to pray, propounded not the knowledge of God, though without that he could not hear us; neither represented he his power, though without that he cannot help us; but comprehended all in this relation, When ye pray, say, Our Father.”—Pearson on the Creed, article I.

« Prev Notes - Lecture II. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection