Imágenes de páginas

and Schelling, who, at several periods of their lives, and in the various books they wrote, are found dealing with different phases of the philosophical problem, and setting forth independent, and not always consistent systems. Hegel, however, was always working at the same root principles, and essaying to give more clearness to the old circle of ideas which was his universe, and in which he lived and moved and had his intellectual being. It is the same with Principal Caird. This 'Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion' is, in reality, an exposition of philosophy, and the philosophy expounded is that of Hegel. And it is expounded thus far in Hegel's own way, that the circle of ideas to which the writer confines himself, though vast enough to comprise the universe, are few in number, and are pressed upon us with an iteration and an assiduity that, but for their vastness and the richness of their content, would be weariome. One of the cardinal parts of Dr. Caird's work, for example, is his exposition of the Infinite, the distinction he establishes between the true and the false Infinites-the merely negative and quantitative and the positive and qualitative, which, so far from being the caput mortuum of a barren negation of the Finite, takes that up into itself, and becomes its explanation because seen to be one with it in nature and contents. This vastly important idea, or series of ideas, which appear and reappear throughout Hegel's works, is worked into fulness and clearness, and is over and over again illustrated with much graceful eloquence in the volume before us.

Principal Caird, then, has in this book come forward as an English, or Scottish, Hegelian; but a thinker all the same of thorough independence and originality, who has assimilated the Hegelian philosophy, and transmuted it into his own graceful and poetical English. Those familiar with the Hegelian dialectic will soon recognize the threefold movement of the Notion-affirmation, negation, and synthesis-which is the essence of thought and the very nisus of things. Almost more prominent still are the old familiar sounds about the universal and particular, the necessity which philosophy leads forth into light, and which it reconciles with freedom, and the reconciling functions exercised by philosophic thought in overcoming the antagonisms and antinomies of the rationalizing understanding, and retracing the very rhythm of the universe, reconstructing creation as it was in the mind of the Creator. As an interpreter of Hegel, Dr. Caird, it need hardly be said, may claim a very high place. He has not the subtle insight into the hidden links, the nooks and crannies and obscure places, of the philosopher's thought which Dr. Hutchison Stirling possesses in a more eminent degree than any other English thinker; but the smoothness and finish of his style are in marked contrast with the rugged energy of the author of 'The Secret of Hegel.' Principal Caird is more a Hegelian of the order of Mr. Green than of Dr. Stirling, but with finer artistic sense than the editor of Hume, and a much better mastery of the English language.

The appearance of such a work from such a pen at the present time raises, however, wider and broader questions than any regarding the re

Even if the

spective merits of the different interpreters of Hegel among us. We have the leading outlines of the Hegelian thought presented to us by one of the champions of the Church as in some sense a foundation for the defence of religion and for the vindication of Christianity. Now we know that, though a section of the philosopher's disciples broke wholly away from orthodoxy after his death, and plunged, under the leading of Strauss and Rüge, into the abyss of crass Materialism, another section has always maintained that the philosophy of the master, rightly understood, was, in the highest and best sense of the term, conservative of what was most precious in religion and theology. Hegel was a Lutheran, who deemed himself orthodox, and some of his works have profound value in vindication of the spiritual interests of humanity. All this, however, does not avail against the fact that Hegelianism has not been able to prove itself the effective ally of Christianity and the contents of the Christian consciousness, or even perhaps of the higher truths of natural religion, which Hegel may himself have believed it was. And when Dr. Caird offers us this volume ostensibly in the interest of religion, we are impelled to put the question whether he has surmounted any of the real difficulties which the Hegelian philosophy left unmastered and unresolved? rhythm of the Notion could be demonstrated to be of the essence of thought, and we could find it in all the movements of natural process and human life and history, until we were led to acquiesce in the idea that the Notion is the veritable 'secret' of things as well as thought, and that in its threefold movement of affirmation, negation, and re-affirmation we have life and truth in organism and in nature and spirit, would it really explain or account for the contents of experience? Do we not find there are elements in nature and life which all the acuteness and ingenuity of the Hegelian dialectic are unable to press into the alembic which, we are promised, is to transmute everything into thought? It was the boast of Hegel, and is the boast of Dr. Caird, his interpreter, that the necessary process of thought sub specie æterno, which is the course of the philosophic thought that unifies opposites and reconciles necessity and freedom, gives us the very essence of reality, revives for us the process of creation as it was conceived in the Infinite Mind. We go so far with Hegel and his disciples as to declare inapplicable, if not even inept, the charge brought against his philosophy that it only deals with abstractions, and discards and disregards the realities of experience. So far from that, we believe the most legitimate triumphs of Hegel were his successes in philosophically accounting-both in his 'Philosophy of History' and his Philosophy of Religion' for the highest realities with which human experience deals. Nevertheless, there are indispensable elements of reality that lie wholly outside his philosophy, and which by no pressure can be brought within the movement of the Notion. The categories, not as mere abstractions from generalization, but as descriptive of the actual procedure of thought, can only apply to what has affinity with them. Neither they nor the wider triple movement which includes them can sublate under them the extra-logical elements of reality. All that is rational may be

real, but all that is real is not rational. As nearest to us, and as (in some sense) the root of reality, at least for us, take the idea of personalitythe Ego. In the Hegelian philosophy (and with Dr. Caird) the Ego is universal; and the universal is the Eternal. But the essence of personality is that to a universal it unites a particular, and this particular e dark background of our lives-refuses to be resolved into any logical or rational vapour. It is rather non-logical, or at all events ausser, or extralogical, as being beyond the grasp of thought. Yet it is present, and is the necessary condition of all experience. If there is no place in the Hegelian philosophy for the human personality, still less is there for the Divine, because, as we have seen, the universal alone can be Eternal.

If we endeavour to follow in detail the application of the Hegelian thought to Christianity and revelation we find the same fatal flaws. There is no room in it for the supernatural. Everything is in necessary process, and Christianity, like other 'positive' religions, is developed in regular historical sequence out of the pre-existing materials from which it emerges. No answer, or none at all events that can satisfy a believer, is forthcoming from Hegel to the question-what in the historical form (the sensuous envelope and mere time-element, as it would be rcpresented) of Christianity is real and what not? The person of Christ is not only an unsolved enigma, it must be a monstrosity to Hegelian thought. For the universal realized in time, the Infinite revealed in a finite personality, and the fulness of the Godhead presented bodily' may be an incogitability and a contradiction. We do not for a moment say it is so to Dr. Caird. We do not doubt the sincere use he makes of Scripture, or that he is in thorough earnestness when he speaks of the 'human life' which is the expression of the nature and life of God.' But we do say that to the Hegelian philosophy the particular and individual manifested in time must always be short of the universal; and therefore the fundamental truths of Christianity-the Incarnation in the historical Jesus-must be 'foolishness' to it. Not only so, but we see, even from Dr. Caird's language (p. 323), that the worship of God as a Divine personality is thought of as the same in nature as the worship of God under polytheistic forms. Both are movements in the development of the religious principle, and both therefore must be equally real or equally the reverse.

More fatal to the Hegelian philosophy is the absolute necessity laid upon it to regard sin or moral evil as the shadow of good. Without sin in this sense no process, no development were possible. Therefore sin is a necessary moment in human life, and indeed in all finite existence. But we have not left ourselves space to press this point. We have said enough however, we think, to show the strong objections that must be taken to the Hegelian philosophy, even when expounded by Dr. Caird in aid and vindication of the permanence and truth of the religious principle in man. British philosophy has derived much stimulus from Hegel, and there is much yet to be learned from his works. We welcome a volume from the cultured and graceful pen of Dr. Caird in exposition of the reli

gious side of the Hegelian philosophy. Nevertheless, in the interest of truth and of the Christian faith, we protest against the system, as not merely insufficient, but as gravely misleading. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why it seems to beget a spirit of arrogance in those who become its champions. Even Dr. Caird has in this book succumbed more than once to its influence.

Studies for Religion under German Masters. By J. FREDERICK SMITH. Williams and Norgate.

The German Masters' whom Mr. Smith has put under contribution are Franck, Lessing, Herder, Goethe, and Lang. Though he intimates that he does not now, as formerly, sit at their feet, but has passed on to a higher phase of independent conviction in which he no longer needs their stimulus and aid, he believes that from the study of their views on religion and theology many may derive encouragement and some warning. And in a closing chapter, called 'Estimate of Results,' Mr. Smith endeavours to present in brief the result of his researches, from that higher point of view to which he has attained, and from which he feels entitled to sit in judgment on those whom in his separate studies of them he called masters. There is, of course, nothing new in the position that the five thinkers and writers named have exercised a profound influence on the religious thought of modern times. Mr. Smith does not claim that it has always been a beneficent influence, for he has independence enough to apply the higher standard he has attained to each of them. But that Lessing's humanism, his bright unsectarian hope in God, and wide charity towards man, Herder's loving faith in nature and her wise purposes, Lang's recognition of the moral order of the universe, and Goethe's artistic naturalism, widened and broadened current ideas regarding Divine things, need not, and indeed cannot be questioned. Not to these alone do we owe it that the theistic idea is now more comprehensive and of higher dignity than when in the eighteenth century God was thought of as a mere mechanical designer, sitting outside His universe and seeing it go; but we willingly allow that they have greatly helped in the process; and therefore religious thought itself owes them a debt of gratitude. For while the illustrious five named failed in much, in regard to Christian thought and faith-Goethe, for example, failed in that faith in a personal God, and in the infinite value of every human soul, which as Mr. Smith says, 'could have enabled him not only to worship in the fair temples of beauty and sorrow, but to pray and work in the waste places of want, ugliness, and sin '-they all in their spirit and work alike protested against mere scepticism and indifference as to the great questions of theology. Yet, on the other hand, they all bore emphatic and continuous testimony to the necessity of settling such high questions only after ample thought and the application to them of the most searching tests of reason, criticism, and experience. It is well that these lessons should be brought home to the present generation; and as Mr. Smith has done that in an effective

manner, and with due regard to their claims and merits, his book deserves a place on the bookshelves of the student of nineteenth century thought.

Old Testament Prophecy: its Witness as a Record of Divine Foreknowledge. The Warburtonian Lectures at Lincoln's Inn. By the Rev. STANLEY LEATHES, D.D. Hodder and Stoughton.

The merit of Dr. Leathes' Lectures is their careful restraint and eminent fairness. They are substantially a testing of the indiscriminate denials of supernaturalism in Hebrew Prophecy by Kuenen, in his work on the 'Prophets and Prophecy in Israel,' recently translated. Kuenen's aim is to deliver us from subjection to the religious or supernatural authority of the Hebrew prophets. In genius, in ethical monotheism, in religious earnestness, they are worthy of all admiration, but they are not depositories of a superhuman and Divine truth. Dr. Leathes tests this theory by the ideas found in them: forbearing any theoretic claims on their behalf, and accepting their writings simply as Jewish literature, whose antiquity cannot be questioned, he adduces such an idea as the promise made to Abraham-in its twofold elements, the promise of Canaan and the promise of the Messiah. He traces the presence and the power of these elements, the latter especially, in Jewish literature and history, and shows how the Messianic hope of the promise to Abraham wrought in the heart of Psalmist and prophet-Moses, Samuel, David, and Isaiah-inspiring anticipations and predictions which nothing else can explain, until it found its perfect and supreme fulfilment in Christ.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

In like manner he deals with the prediction of Amos, two centuries after David and eight centuries before Christ, concerning the rebuilding of the Tabernacle of David from its ruins (Amos ix. 11), Amos being a prophet of the northern kingdom, Jeroboam being king of Israel, and Uzziah king of Judah. The implications of this remarkable prediction-its citation by the Apostle James, and its fulfilment in Christ; The Sure Mercies of David;' Christ as The Heir of David's Throne' (Acts ii. 29–31); The Threatened Captivity (Amos v. 25-27); 'The Approaching Doom' (Micah iii. 12); The Promised Reliever' (Jer. xxix. 10-14); The Fulfilment of the Time;' 'The Seventy Weeks;' 'The Spirit of Prophecy'-are other topics dealt with in like manner. These are treated simply as elements of literature, and as living ideas of national life; and with singular candour, and therefore cogency. The denial of the supernatural in Hebrew literature, like the denial of the supernatural in nature, reduces it to a hopeless enigma. Its phenomena demand the supernatural. Dr. Leathes' book is as conclusive as it is able; instead of affirming generalities, he makes good individual instances, which if established carry the whole contention.

« AnteriorContinuar »