Изображения страниц

It now remains for us to reply to an objection that has been made to the inspiration and divine authority of the Holy Scriptures ; namely, that their contents do not harmonize with the recent results of natural science. We must say, first of all, that there must be no disregard of the manner and place where this conflict should take place. The natural sciences have to do with the investigation of the laws by which nature moves in its regular course. The Bible, on the contrary, has nothing to do with the establishment of those laws. It has to do with the divine control of human destiny, with the revelation of God's nature, and of God's deeds and purpose for our salvation. It nowhere lays claim to being a book of instruction on the natural sciences; and it even has no absolute point of contact with them. There is only one passage to my knowledge in the Holy Scriptures where there is any thing said on the order of nature, (Gen. viii, 22,) “While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease.” What natural science would declare this a false piece of instruction ?

“ But," it is said, “contradictions occur. The Bible does not propose to give any instruction on natural laws, but it speaks of events in nature, for example, at creation, in a manner which does not harmonize with the results of natural science at the present day.” But it must be here asked, What results are meant? Shall the Bible harmonize with the Neptunists, or with the Plutonists; or with which of the different theories of development by which the natural science of the present day has bridged over this obsolete opposition? Should it entertain materialistic fundamental views on the nature of life, with Moleschott, or realistic ones with Harless, or idealistic ones with Carus ?* All these fragmentary theories spring up just as soon as natural science leaves its sphere as a science of rules,

authority. If the Holy Scriptures be established on the historical connection of God's doings and words—to declare which the holy men were led by the Spirit to behold those deeds——then it is of high importance to search for the dates and authors of the Holy Scriptures; and the Holy Scriptures themselves lead us to this inquiry, for in some of the books, for example, Kings and the Epistle to the Hebrews, the author is not mentioned. The task and limits of biblical criticism arise of themselves from the principle which cannot be ethically refuted, that biblical criticism is the application of conscience to the sacred historical records.

Comp. Virchow, in F. W. Schultz's "Schöpfungsgeschichte, p. 127. 1865.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

and arrogates to itself a right to speak on the origin and
ground of things known only to God. This is the department
of revelation, and in the presence of the contradictions
in which natural science becomes involved by its arbitrary
usurpation, Augustine's admonition is still of application :
“Let us leave those who tell us that they will give us certain
information, but who only require of us an uncertain faith;
and let us turn to those who require us to believe at the outset
that which we do not yet understand, in order that we may
be strengthened in spirit by faith to be worthy of knowing
what we believe.” Or, how would we feel if we were to open
the Bible and did not read, “In the beginning God created the
heaven and the earth," but that doctrine for which Alexander
von Humboldt “had only a smile," namely, that at the begin-
ning there was mud, and that this, dead as it was, has brought
forth life from itself. How would we feel if to this there should
perhaps be united the whole Darwinian theory, that the first
imperfect creatures, utterly helpless as they were, gradually
ejected from themselves increasingly better types; and if,
finally, we did not read of the highest stage, the creation of
man, “I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully
made,” (Psalın cxxxix, 14,) but Czolbe's maxim, that man is
nothing more than a Mosaical picture, mechanically combined
from the most diverse atoms? It is plain that a writing in
which these and many such “results” of modern natural sci-
ence are brought together must not only kill every peculiarly
religious feeling, but even require more faith of its readers than
the most narrow-minded monk has required of his fanatical

And, in conclusion, it is clear that the most of these objections which have been urged against the Holy Scriptures on the score of their opposition to the natural science of our days is founded on a want of historical perception. A respect for history requires of every one who is acquainted with it to deduce from what is perceived and communicated the rules and laws of what has happened,* but not, by a self-constituted system, supported only by some experiences of to-day or yesterday, to wish to play the master over what has happened, whether it be possible or not. According to Bacon's maxim, we have “to

Comp. Hase, “Neue Propheten," second ed., I, p. 81. 1861.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

extend our mind to the breadth and depth of the mysteries of what has occurred, and not to mutilate what has occurred by the limited measure of our mind.” The greater the wonderful powers of God are in nature, for the discovery of which science daily proposes new problems, so much the greater should, in truth, become the modesty of learned people, and their confession that their knowledge even now is only at the very beginning of the fragmentary work. But it is just those sciences which have most to say on experience being the only measure of all things that are frequently the most despotic tyrants over all experience.

Thus these sciences ignore the fact that experience can be adduced as such a general and evident proof for the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures that nobody can refute it. All the discoveries of science are accepted by the great multitude with simple-hearted sincerity and confidence; who will calculate where the means and abilities for control are wanting? But, at all events, the practical man will impose that confidence in the learned man if the machine which the latter has constructed for him accomplishes what he has promised. Now, does God's word in the Holy Scriptures accomplish less than it promises? I can say that it accomplishes inore. Of all nations of modern times, only the Anglo-Saxons and the Germans-in whose hands the Reformation has placed the Bible-have produced a classical literature whose clearness and profundity can be compared with that of ancient times, while the writings of all other people are ever declining lower and lower in hopeless disease.* And it is just the Bible nations that have produced a peculiarly Christian philosophy, which towers above that of the ancients in that it, having been fructified by the historiography of prophecy and the Holy Scriptures, has become a philosophy of history. Thus Scripture has, in fact, accomplished more than it has promised; for all its pledges never say that it will grant these blessings.

But it is enough for us here to see the great degree to which Scripture has fulfilled what it has promised. To him who accepts it as God's word it promises peace of soul. Micah vi, 8; Rom. ii, 10. Ask one who believes the Scriptures on this

Comp. Schelling, " Rede über Werth und Bedeutung der Bibelgesellschaften," in his collected works. Part I, vol. ix, p. 247ff. Stuttgart, 1861.

It prom

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

wise if he has no peace; there is none to answer.
ises to bring salvation and blessedness to all men. Psa. i, 2;
Rev. xxii, 7, 14. And where is the book that can so perfectly
satisfy all men as the Holy Scriptures ? It has been lately said
that we must regard the Bible and explain it just as we would
every other human book. And if we do this, it will even then
be plain to us that though the Bible be explained in a perfect-
ly natural way, it must still be a book above all books, a book
for humanity, because it is not like every other book which is
designed for and comprehensible by certain periods of time,
certain nations, and certain stages of civilization, but its streams
of life flow equally to the throne and to the hovel, to old age
and to youth, to the learned and to the unlearned, to the soldier
on the field and to the old widow upon her sick bed; it is not
bound by the measure of the wealth and intellectuality of its
readers, but only by the measure of their faith. What was it
that caused all our people to exult in Luther's translation of
the Bible as in a savior who could remove the want of the
century? Did they rejoice because they received it as only a
new accession to the Oriental sciences, and in having become
acquainted with a new and interesting literature ? No, but
because a book was presented to them which speaks the lan-
guage of humanity, the language which God alone could teach.
Finally, it promises to man, by its power, victory over: death.
That promise has been kept in a bloody way through the cen-
turies of the first persecutions of the Christians, and through
the later centuries, when the Holy Scriptures were in conflict
with the Roman Inquisition. All who have died in joy died
in the faith that the Holy Scriptures are God's word; and be
cause they believed it, the Holy Scriptures helped them to con-
quer death. And there is present in the memory of the present
day the time of the German War of Liberation, whose history
is but another proof that the more submissively a man bows
before God's word, the more unswervingly does he stand in the
presence of the despotisın of tyrants and the misery of his age.
I need only call to mind Stein and York, Arndt and Schenk-
endorf, Perthes and Fichte, Schleiermacher, and Frederic
William III. and Queen Louisa.

The time of new proof may soon come. It will be well for him who has so received the Holy Scriptures into his heart that

they have become to him God's revelation, and the source and power of life, so that their promises may also be fulfilled in him. The Scriptures will never pass away; the word shall stand. But he who has not God's word will pass away, and this judgment is already begun.


INSTRUMENT. In order to exhibit the value of mathematics as an educational instrument, it is necessary to take a preliminary view of the science itself, to consider its scientific bearings and practical applications, and to analyze the methods and mental processes requisite to its successful cultivation.

A strong statement of the value of mathematics is no disparagement of other sciences or of other departments of research. The field of science is vast and greatly diversified; but all of its departments are linked together in mutual dependence and the most perfect harmony. This follows from the nature of truth, the discovery, development, and classification of which is the object of science. Though there are many truths apparently disconnected, yet between them there is no contradiction. All truths exist in harmony. When Paul insisted on faith as a prime element of Christian doctrine, is it to be inferred that he attached no value to works? On the other hand, when James recommended works, are we to understand that he depreciated faith? Since Paul's especial subject was faith, while that of James was works, though each admitted the importance of the truth taught by the other, it is reasonable to expect that their writings should exhibit diversity without inconsistency. Paul says, “ This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These are good and profitable unto men.” James says, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.”

In developing a given subject, it is not to be expected that the writer should turn aside to consider the importance of other subjects not immediately connected with his own. We do not consider the mathematics all of science, nor that they should


[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »