Source: MECW Volume 2, p. 191
Written: in early 1842
First published: as an anonymous pamphlet in Berlin in 1842
“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).
This word of the Lord may easily come to mind when one speaks of Schelling; for in him have wonders of God’s mercy been manifested, so that the name of the Lord should be exalted. For He has shown mercy to him as once He showed mercy to Paul, who also, before he was converted, went and made havoc of the churches and breathed out threat and slaughter against the Disciples of the Lord. But as he was on his way to Damascus, suddenly there shone around him a light from heaven and he fell to the earth; but the Lord spake to him and drew him to Him so that he became a believer at that very hour, let himself be baptised and bore the name of the Lord before all nations and became a chosen vessel of the Lord. So also the grace of the Saviour has imposed its hand on Schelling, and when the time had come a great light shone for him. For who could ever have foretold according to human understanding that the man who at the beginning of the century, with his friend of that time, the notorious Hegel, laid the foundations of that vile worldly wisdom which now no longer prowls in the dark but whose darts spoil at midday — that this man would yet take up his cross, and follow Christ? But that is how it has come to pass. The Lord, who guides the hearts of men like runnels of water, had elected him too in His grace and only waited for the right hour to draw him to Him. And now He has done so, He has enlightened him and made him one of His fighters against unbelief and godlessness. There is no longer any doubt; he himself calls from the rostrum to the believers: Come and see, and praise the mercy which the Lord has done to me! Nay, the guardian in Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers, the old God is still alive, in spite of all the mockers, and still gives signs and works wonders for all who want to see. They make a clamour, the godless, and say in their hearts, there is no God, but He who dwells in heaven laughs at them, and the Lord pours scorn on them. He has triumphed over them as long as the world has stood and will triumph over them in all eternity. With His strong arm He has held His regiment and has awakened vessels for Himself in all places to glorify His name. And now He has once more brilliantly triumphed over the philosophers who have been an abomination to Him at all times, since He has raised the best and cleverest of them, the true founder of their doctrine, out of their midst and made him His servant. For that formerly Schelling himself was most pitiably deep in this so-called pantheism, in this deification of the world and of himself, is as clear as daylight from his earlier books. He had not yet seen everything rightly in its connection and did not rightly know where this road would lead. May he thank the Lord that He has taken him from this road and guided him along the narrow path which leads to heaven, and thereby has proved on him most clearly His might over all enemies of faith. Now they can no longer say: Where is your God? What does He do? Where does He roam? Why does He no longer work wonders? For here He is, His arm strikes down like lightning in their own flock and makes fire out of water, white out of black, just out of unjust. Who can still deny that this is God’s hand?
But that is not all. By calling Schelling the Lord has prepared for us another triumph over the ungodly and blasphemous. He has elected none other than Schelling since he, being familiar with the wisdom of this world, was best suited to refute the proud and haughty philosophers, and in His immeasurable grace and love He has opened a way for them by which they can come to Him again. Can one ask more from Him? To those who curse Him, who rage against His existence, who are His most furious, most raving, most impenitent enemies, instead of rooting them out from the earth and casting them into the deepest abyss of hell, He offers again and again a rescuing hand to draw them up to the light out of the abyss of corruption wherein they lie; nay, the grace of God is as wide as the heaven from sunrise to sunset, and there is no end to His mercy. Who could resist such forbearance and love? But their hearts are so impenitent and hardened in sin that even now they reject the hand that wants to save them; so dazzled are they by the lusts of this world and the devil of their own pride. They dig for themselves wells with holes and scorn the source of life which runs in the blood of Christ., They shut their ears against the salvation which comes from above, they lust for that which displeases the Lord.
“The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soull for they have rewarded evil unto themselves” (Isaiah 3:9).
But still the Lord has not ceased to call them to flim, so that they have no excuse. Through Schelling He has shown them how weak and vain is human reason. If they are not converted now, it is their fault alone, and they cannot say that they did not know the Gospel.
Since now God has done such a great thing and has given such a comforting sign to all Christendom that He is close to it and will not abandon it in need or in the struggles of this world, so it must be near to the heart of every believer to announce the glad tidings to his fellow Christians. And since Schelling has now professed his belief in Christ in his lectures, this, on the one hand, became known to only a few, on the other, is couched in such a difficult, artificial, philosophical language that only those can understand it who have occupied themselves with worldly wisdom for a long time; in the third place, however, much is meant for philosophers and other things for believers, so that the simple Christian would have difficulty in finding his way. Hence the writer of these lines, not to stand idle in the Lord’s vineyard, did not think it entirely superfluous to present this in short, simple words, for all those who have neither the time nor the inclination to enter into the fruitless study of worldly wisdom and yet would like to know what there really is to the famous Schelling. May the Lord give His blessing to it so that it may prosper to the benefit and advantage of His kingdom.
But first it must be remarked that for all he has done for true Christianity, Schelling cannot quite get rid of his old, perverse wisdom. He still has various views which make us believe that he cannot entirely suppress the arrogance of his own reason and that he still hesitates a little to face the world and confess his complete conversion in all gladness and gratitude to Christ. We will not blame him too much for this; He who made grace break through in him so splendidly will wash away these stains too; He who began the work will bring it to completion. But let the courageous fighter for truth of whom we speak remember this thorn in his flesh when the devil of pride comes over him and tempts him. May he put away all pride in his former philosophy, which has borne only ungodly children, and only take pride in Him who in His free, immeasurable grace has saved him from this corruption.
The first thing Schelling did here on the rostrum was that he immediately and with open visor attacked philosophy and cut away its ground, reason, from under its feet. With the most striking arguments, taken from its own armouries, he proved that natural reason is incapable of proving the existence of even a blade of grass; that all its demonstrations, arguments and conclusions do not hold water and cannot lead up to the divine, since in its heaviness it always remains prostrate on the earth. Now we have, of course, known this for a long time, but the hardened philosophers have never been told it so well and clearly. This he has done in a whole lengthy system of so-called negative philosophy, where he demonstrates to them as clearly as daylight that their reason can only comprehend possibilities and nothing actual, least of all God and the mysteries of Christianity. The trouble to which he went over such a fruitless subject, the airy phantoms of worldly wisdom, deserves the highest thanks for the sake of the kingdom of God. For so long as these philosophers could still presume on their reason, nothing could be done with them. Now, however, when they have been convinced from their own standpoint that their reason is altogether unfit to cognise truth and can bring to the surface only empty, hollow phantoms, which have no right whatever to exist, it would really need a hardened head, grown grey in sin, to persist in the pagan doctrine, and it is quite possible that with the aid of divine grace one or the other of them will be converted from his evil ways. It is very true and must always be repeated that the darkened reason of man is altogether incapable and lacks the fame it should have before God, for that is the main bulwark of the unbelievers that their reason tells them other things than the word of God. But it is an outrage against the Almighty to want to comprehend Him, the enemy of all sin, with reason that is stained with sin and blinded, nay, to set this reason which is subject to all the lusts of this world, all the temptations of Satan, above God Himself; and yet that is what the worldly wise do when they criticise the word of God with that corrupt reason, throw out whatever does not please them, nay, lay their wicked hands on and deny not only the holiness of the Bible, but even the existence of God Himself so as to make themselves God in His place. These are the natural consequences of setting reason upon the throne of God, like that whore of old in the gory days of the French Revolution, and presuming to criticise the dispositions of the Almighty Lord of the world. Here it is that we must heal, not on the surface, but at the root of the evil. Do men put a piece of new cloth unto an old garment? How does Christ come to terms with Belial? It is not possible, and it is blasphemy to try and grasp by natural reason the Lord’s death of salvation, the resurrection and the ascension. Then let us set to work in earnest with Schelling, and cast reason out of Christianity into paganism, for there it belongs, there it can rise against God and take as divine the world with its lusts and desires which we have renounced, excuse all sins and vices, the abominations of gluttony and lasciviousness as virtues and service to God, and present as models for mankind the suicide of a Cato, the unchastity of a Lais and Aspasia, the parricide of a Brutus, the Stoicism and Christian-persecuting rage of a Marcus Aurelius. Then, of course, it frankly opposes Christianity and everybody knows where he is with it. But it has been a chief stratagem of the adversary to smuggle it into Christianity, where it thereupon has given birth to such choice bastards as Pelagianism and Socinianism, rationalism  and speculative theology.
“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise” (1 Corinthians 1 :27); hence “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him and must be spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2: 14).
So it is a truly Christian endeavour when Schelling, in the pure science of reason, which is, of course, the negative philosophy, deeply humbles and humiliates reason instead of allowing it any measure of presumption, so as to bring it to acknowledge its weakness and sinfulness and make it turn in penance to grace, for only this can sanctify and enlighten it and let it be born again so that it becomes capable of knowing God. To crucify reason is harder, and therefore more, than to crucify the flesh. For the latter is subject to conscience, which has been given even to the pagans to restrain their lusts and be the internal judge of their sin . s; reason, however, raises itself above it and even gets on with it quite well, and it is only given to Christians to submit it to the mild yoke of faith. But that is what Scripture demands of us, and there can be no objections or subterfuges here: either let your reason surrender to faith or go over to the left side, to the goats (for the worst of these self-worshippers call themselves as in mockery: the left side), there you are in your place!
With that Schelling has now cleared the ground for himself. All the survivals of paganism which in our time are being brought out again and are supposed to be the new truth, all the misshapen abortions of unchaste, lascivious reason have been removed, and his hearers are now ready to receive the milk of the Gospel. That is the right way. The pagans could be got hold of by their worldly lusts and desires; but our philosophers pretend, at least today, that they still want to acknowledge Christian morals. Hence, if the apostles demanded of the pagans a penitent, sorrowing, battered and contrite heart, so a penitent, humble, battered reason must be demanded of the proud worldly-wise men of our time before they are ready to enjoy the grace of the Gospel. So also Schelling could only now really judge his former comrade in godlessness, the notorious Hegel. For this Hegel had such a pride in reason that he expressly declared it to be God when he saw that with it he could not come to another true God, higher than man. Hence also Schelling frankly declared that he wanted nothing more to do with this man and his doctrine and no longer bothered with him.
Since reason has now humbled itself and shows the desire to accept salvation, it can be exalted again and enlightened by the spirit of truth. This happens in positive philosophy, where by a free, that is, enlightened, thinking with the aid of divine revelation it is admitted to the grace and favour of Christianity. Now that the understanding of the higher world has been opened up to it, it at once discerns the whole marvellous connection in the history of the kingdom of God, and what formerly was incomprehensible to it is now clear and comprehensible as if it could not be otherwise. For only the eyes which the Lord has enlightened are true Lyes and seeing; but where darkness reigns and the lusts and desires of this world have their way, nobody can see anything. Schelling expresses this effect of grace when he says that this philosophy is only for the willing and the wise, and that it finds its proof in revelation. Hence this philosophy is not for him who does not believe in revelation. In other words, this thing is not a real philosophy at all, and this name has only been chosen for the sake of the worldly wise, as it is written: “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10: 16); for the rest, however, it is a right and real Christianity, as we shall soon see. Schelling has brought back the good old times when reason surrenders to faith, and worldly wisdom, by becoming the handmaid of theology, of divine wisdom, is transfigured into divine wisdom.
“And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23: 12).
Along this road of enlightened thinking the dear man of whom we are speaking comes at once to the true fundamental doctrine of all Christianity, namely, the Trinity of God. The god-fearing reader cannot be expected to accompany him on this road, for he knows and believes that this road only can lead to truth, this is only said for the unbelievers to show them how they can come to truth and how much their reason must be purified and sanctified to be able to discern and comprehend salvation in Christ Jesus. Hence we shall pass over these things which have no value for the discernment of salvation by the faithful. Schelling then describes according to Scripture how God created the world from nothing and how man, seduced by Satan in the shape of the serpent, lost his first way of life and became the slave of. the Prince of Darkness. Thereby he tore the whole world from God and brought it into the power of Satan. All the forces which before were kept together by divine unity now fell apart and came into savage hostility, so that Satan could play havoc in the world to his heart’s delight. One must not be dazzled by the philosophical manner of expression of our theologians. In our ungodly times the worldly wise no longer understand the simple language of Holy Scripture inspired by God Himself; they must be taught in their own way until they are again ripe for the understanding of the Bible, for it is written:
“I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11 : 25).
Hence Schelling calls the “angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation” (jude 6), calls the devil and his godless hosts cosmic powers, which means as much as princes of this world. Now God can, of course, have no further pleasure in the world. In His justice He rejects it, and where He works in it He does so in His wrath and without His full free will. But the Eternally Merciful cannot let go of it; the word through which “all things were made and without which was not any thing made that was made” (John 1: 3), the only begotten Son of God with his immeasurable love and grace remains in the poor, rejected world. His state of suffering begins with the fall of man and not just with his becoming man under Herod, for with the fall he is completely thrust out of mankind, in which he lived still more than the Father. Nay, by placing himself between the angry God and the fallen world, which the former wanted to destroy, and taking its side. he separated himself from the Father and so was in a sense jointly guilty and could not claim any part of the divine splendour so long as the Father was not reconciled. This great work of reconciliation, the struggle against the prince of this world, he now began in this form, neither divine nor human, in this separation from the Father which makes up his suffering and his pain. That this interpretation is founded on Holy Scripture is most clearly shown in Chapter 53 of the Prophet Isaiah, which speaks of a present, not future suffering. This great struggle is now beginning both among the Jews and the pagans. How the Lord subjugates the Jews unto Himself is shown in the history of the people of Israel in the Old Testament, and the splendid guidances by which the Lord led His people are well known to Christians. But among the pagans? Was not the devil precisely the God of the pagans? We shall try to answer this as clearly as possible without deviating from the pronouncements of Holy Scripture.
Everybody will have already heard that among the pagans, too, in the books of the Sibyls “’ and elsewhere, there were prophecies about Christ. Here we see already that they were not quite so forsaken by God as is the usual view, for the prophecies are of divine origin. But now this is not enough. Why should the Lord in His mercy let them go so far astray and fall into the devil’s clutches? He lets rain fall on good and evil alike and the sun shine on the just and the unjust! Nay, if the pagans had been so entirely without God’s protection and guidance in the power of the evil enemy, would their sins not have been greater and more outrageous than they actually were? Would not then all the shameful lusts and unnatural desires, the sins of the flesh and other sins, murder, adultery, fornication, thieving, roguery, unchastity have cried to high heaven so that God would have had to exterminate them without hesitation? Nay, would they themselves not have slain and devoured each other? It already follows from this that God must have had mercy even on the pagans and given them some light from above; and this consists in their having been led gradually and without noticing it through all stages of idolatry to the worship of the true Christ, but without their knowing that their God and that of the Christians was one and the same, and that He who was hidden in paganism was now revealed in Christianity. Now those who failed to realise this when the Gospel was preached to them no longer worshipped the hidden Christ, since they persecuted the revealed one, but their god was now the enemy of Christ, the devil. It is Schelling’s great merit that he is the first to devote himself to tracing the guidance of God among the pagans and so prepares new praise of the love of Christ for sinful men.
Since now the Jews consciously and the pagans without knowing it and in a false form were brought to the knowledge of the true God, when the proud palaces of the Greeks lay in ruins and the iron hand of the Roman Emperor lay upon the whole world, the time was fulfilled and God sent His Son so that all who believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life. This happened in the following manner. Since Christ had subjected paganism unto himself, he was its God, but not the true God, which he could not be without the Father. So he had wrested the world from the devil and could do with it what he wished; he could keep it for himself and rule over it alone in this form of God; but out of free obedience he did not do so, but handed it over to his Father by divesting himself of the form of God and becoming man.
“...Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).
There are many other passages in Holy Scripture which declare this interpretation to be the right one and prove it; moreover, one can in this way take everything quite simply and literally, without need for a lot of subterfuges and erudition.
For what is great in Christ’s obedience is that the Saviour could have possessed the whole world for himself and dissociated himself from the Father, and that he did not want this, but laid the world he had wrested from the devil at his Father’s feet and suffered death for the sake of atonement for many.
Here we also see the meaning of the story of Christ’s temptation. Had it not been in Jesus’ free choice to submit or not to submit himself to the Father, the devil could not have tempted him at all, for he must have known that it would be in vain. Hence the above interpretation by Schelling is certainly correct.
Thus we have heard that Christ is the true God, and now our authority passes on to the second nature of the same Christ, the human. He also is of the firm belief that Christ was truly a true man and not, as many heretics think, a mere apparition or the Spirit of God which had descended on an already existing man.
In representing the world before God, standing surety for it, Christ stepped out of God and confronted Him. So long as the world was not reconciled again with God, Christ was not God, but in a middle state which took the form of God through the conquest of paganism, but was not itself the true state of divinity. To put himself back into this, Christ had to hand over to his Father the world he had wrested from the devil, divest himself of the form of God and submit humbly to the Father, so as to take upon himself the punishment for the iniquity of the world. This humility he showed by becoming man, born of woman, and being obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. No purifications or sacrifices could reconcile God; they were merely preludes to the one great sacrifice in which not only evil was extirpated, but God’s wrath reconciled. The latter could only be reconciled by the greatest, most freely rendered, most humble submission, and that could only be done by the Son, not by a man compelled to submission by fear and the torment of conscience, the threatening wrath of God. Christ could now also represent the people before God, since he had become their Lord, their defender, through the worship they paid him without knowing it. So as now really to bear punishment in place of man, who had deserved it, he became man; the decision to become man is a miracle of the divine spirit. So he who in the beginning was with God, nay, was God Himself, and after the Fall was in the “form of God”, was now born in Bethlehem as man, namely, of Mary through the Holy Ghost without the agency of any man.
Who would have dared hope that in the year 1842 a philosopher, nay, the founder of the new school of blasphemy, would make such a pleasing conversion and acknowledge so gladly the main doctrines of Christianity? That which was always the first to be attacked by doubt, which half-Christians have always rejected and which is nevertheless the corner-stone of the Christian faith, the birth of Christ by Mary without the agency of any man — the fact that this too has been asserted by Schelling as his conviction, is one of the most gratifying signs of the times, and the favourite of God who has had the courage to do this has a claim to the gratitude of every believer. But who does not recognise here the hand of the Lord in this marvellous, wonderful dispensation? Who does not see that He is giving a sign to His Church that He has not forsaken it and remembers it day and night?
On the death of the Lord Schelling pronounces himself in a no less truly Christian and edifying manner. This is said to have been decided from the beginning of the world in the Council of the Guardians and to be a sacrifice demanded by the divine spirit. God is said to be just even to Satan and so fully to have allowed him his rights that He delivered His own Son up to death so that all who believed in Him should not perish but should have eternal fife, so that the devil should not have even the slightest grounds for saying he had been overthrown by the greater might of God, and unjustly. It is the majesty and splendour of the Lord Himself which does not tolerate even the least semblance of such a blemish. For this reason Christ had to become man and had to take upon himself the iniquity of mankind forsaken by God and suffer the death on the cross so that through the death of one many would come to life. For this reason the Lord in his grace and mercy had to sacrifice himself for us, to stand surety for the sinners to his Father and to pay our debt, so that we might again have access to the throne of grace. The other men also, it is true, are one and all delivered over to death, but none has died like the Lord, none has suffered such a death of salvation as Jesus Christ. And so also this crown of faith, the purification from sin in the blood of Christ, is once again marvellously saved from the claws of the old dragon who now roams in the form of worldly wisdom and the odious spirit of the times, and the Lord has once again kept the precious promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church. Further, Schelling says of Christ very beautifully: this death is such a great miracle that we would never dare believe it were we not so certain of it. At his death all mankind was represented; Jews and pagans were present, and they were the two sides of the whole human race. The principle of the pagans, as Christ had become in paganism through his struggle with Satan, had to die the death of the pagans, the death on the cross. His crucifixion is only the resolution of the prolonged tension in which he found himself among the pagans, that is, the extra-divine position of the Lord was resolved and by death he again became one with God, as it is written:
“He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken” (Isaiah 53:8).
But of the Lord’s resurrection Schelling says it was proof that Christ had not taken on his humanity for appearance’s sake but had become man in earnest and forever, and that God had again accepted into grace the human form and the human essence, and indeed not the humanity in Christ alone, but the whole of humanity, of whom Christ had merely been the representative. For not the individual sin displeased God so much that He therefore had to abandon mankind, the worst was rather the whole iniquitous state of all mankind, sold to the evil one, and therefore God finds displeasure in man even before he has sinned, so that before God it was equivalent to a sin to be human. Hence no goodwill pleasing to God, not a single good deed that was just in the eyes of God, could be found in the world before Christ had died, and hence even now only believers can do good works and be of goodwill. But by the resurrection of the Lord the human state is vindicated before God and recognised by God as purified from sin, and so the vindication is completed only by the resurrection. So Christ has been raised up to heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father as true man and true God, representing mankind before the Father.
The resurrection is further a proof to us of the immortality of our own soul and the resurrection of the flesh. Schelling acknowledges this also and adds that if during this life the flesh dominates the spirit, then a second must follow, where the spirit has overcome the flesh, and finally an equalising of both sides is necessary. This accords wholly with the teaching of Scripture, for the last state after the resurrection and the Last Judgment, after the transfiguration of the body, is nothing but what Schelling calls the equilibrium between soul and body. About the condition of the impenitent and damned who have passed away in unbelief, hard-heartedness and sin, Schelling offers a surmise too. He holds the second, eternal death for an eternal dying without ever being able to come to real death. It seems better to refrain from pondering over this and to leave it to the Lord to decide how He wishes to punish and torment His contemners and blasphemers.
Finally, the dear Schelling delivers the following priceless testimony to the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: This resurrection is a stroke of lightning from inner history to outer. Whoever denies such facts, to him the history of the kingdom of God remains a mere series of external, accidental occurrences without any divine content, without the transcendental (which goes beyond reason), which alone is history proper. Without it history is merely a matter of superficial memorising, not true, complete knowledge of the events. — That is a beautiful and Christian word, but the talk of the worldly wise about God being in the history and development of the consciousness of the species is sheer filth and blasphemy. For if these proud seducers of youth have their god in the history of all human sins and crimes, how can God remain outside those sins? These mockers will not understand that the entire history of the world is a jostling succession of all kinds of injustice, malice, murder, adultery, fornication, thieving, blasphemy, profanation, anger and rage and drunkenness; they would without fail hurl themselves into hell and the whole world with them if one did not see everywhere the saving hand of God, which restrains and prevents the evil; and this shameful scene of blasphemy is their heaven, their whole immortality, they have said so frankly themselves. But these are the fine consequences of casting all divine action out of history. God avenges Himself on them by closing their minds against His true essence and letting them make a god for themselves who is even less than a deaf idol of wood and straw, who is a vague phantom of air, a so-called world spirit and spirit of history. We have seen what is the outcome of such a view of history, of which the chief preacher is that Hegel, who is in evil repute with all good Christians; let us hold against that the picture of history outlined by a man of God like Schelling.
Among the Twelve, Schelling says, who were always near the Lord and whom He appointed apostles, there were in particular three whom he favoured before the others at every opportunity, Peter, James and John. In these three the models of the whole Christian Church are given if we substitute as successor for James, who was earlier killed for the sake of Christ, Paul, who was converted at about the same time. Peter, Paul and John are the rulers of three different periods of the Christian Church, as in the Old Testament Moses, Elijah and John the Baptist were the three representatives of three periods. Moses was the lawgiver through whom the Lord laid the foundation; Elijah the fiery spirit who brought the inert,, apostate people back to life and activity; John the Baptist was the accomplisher who led the Old Testament into the New. So also for the Church of the New Testament, Peter was Moses, the founder, through whom the Jewish essence of ‘the times was represented in the, Christian Church; Paul the driving, fiery Elijah who did not let the faithful become lukewarm and fall asleep and who represented the essence of paganism, culture, learning and worldly wisdom — insofar as it submitted to faith; but John will again be the accomplisher, the one who points to the future, for to those whom the Lord loves He gives the task of completing. So John in his lifetime, already pointing to the future, wrote the Revelation. The Church of the apostle Peter is now the Catholic Church, whose ceremonial service as well as its teaching of good works corresponds to the Jewish Law; and it cannot be denied that the word of the Lord: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” refers to the Church he founded. As he thrice denied the Lord, so it can be shown that the Roman Church thrice denied the Lord. First, when it strove for worldly domination, then when it used worldly power for its own purposes, and lastly, when it lent itself to the worldly power as a means to its ends. The second Church, that of the apostle Paul, is now the Protestant Church, in which prevail erudition and all godly wisdom, that is, the essential spirit of those Christians who came over from paganism, and into which, instead of the established permanence of the Catholic Church, there enters the driving, partisan life of the Evangelical Church, split into many sects. Who knows whether the thoughts and aspirations of these pagan Christians will not in the end be more beneficial to the kingdom of God than those of the Jewish Christians!
But neither of these two parties is the true, last Church of the Lord; this will be only the one which from Peter’s foundation will penetrate through Paul to John and so prepare the last times. This last Church is the Church of love, as John was the messenger of love, the consummation of the Church, in whose times will be the great apostasy which has been foretold for the end, to be followed by the Last Judgment. Many churches have been built for all the apostles, but relatively very few for St. John. If I had to build a church I would consecrate it to him; one day, however, a church will be built for all three apostles, and this will be the last, the true Christian pantheon.
These are the words with which the first truly Christian philosopher concluded his lectures, and so we will have followed him to the end. The author of these lines believes that he has sufficiently shown what a chosen vessel the Lord has awakened for His Church in this worthy man. This is the man who will drive out the pagans of the modern world who there pursue their practices in many forms, as men of the world, Young Germans,"” philosophers, and what else they may call themselves. Indeed, when one entered the hall where Schelling was lecturing, and heard these people mock and make fun of the Elect among the worldly wise, one had to think of the apostle Paul when he preached in Athens. It is just as if history were repeating itself, as it is told in The Acts of the Apostles 17 :16 ff. where it says the following:
“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.”
Well might Schelling, too, grow angry, here in Berlin, since he saw the city so wholly given to idolatry. For where is there more worshipping of things of the earth, of Mammon and the honour of this world, of one’s own dear Ego, and where is the true God more thrust aside, than precisely here? Where has the life of the world with its opulence, its luxury and its hollow, vain pomp, with its glittering vices and embellished sins, reached a higher pitch than precisely here? Did not your scholars, your shallow unChristian writers wish to flatter you when they compared your city so often to Athens? Oh, what bitter truth they told you! Yes, Athens, full of pagan, proud culture and civilisation which blinds your eyes to the simple truth of the Gospel; Athens, full of brilliance and glamour and earthly splendour, full of the life of pleasure and comfortable idleness which stretches and yawns on a soft bed of dissoluteness and finds the word of the cross much too boring and penance much too strenuous; Athens, full of voluptuous, wild ecstasy and intoxication of the senses, in which the loud voice of conscience is shouted down and drowned, the inner unrest and pain concealed beneath a bright covering. Yes, indeed, Athens, full of proud worldly-wise men who rack their brains over Being and Nothing and other stale things and have long finished with God and the world but who laugh at the word of humility and poverty of spirit as a folly and curiosity of past times; Athens, full of accomplished scholars who know by heart all the kinds of infusoria and all the chapters of Roman Law but forget the eternal salvation which is the bliss of the soul. There a Schelling might well get angry as once Paul did when he entered such a city. And when he arrived there the worldly wise spoke just as once the Epicureans and Stoics did in Athens of old: What will this babbler say? They already spoke ill of him before he opened his mouth, they reviled him even before he entered their city. But let us see what Holy Scripture reports further:
“And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)”
Now, is that not the Berliners to the very life? Are they not also bent on nothing but to hear and see some new thing? Just go into your coffee-houses and pastry shops and watch the new Athenians running after the newspapers while the Bible lies at home gathering dust, and nobody opens it; listen when they gather together whether their greetings are anything but: What is the news? Nothing new? Always something new, always something that never happened before, otherwise they are bored to death with all their culture, their pomp and their enjoyments. Whom do they think amiable, interesting and notable? Him who is most enlightened by the Holy Ghost?, No, him who always has the most news to tell. What worries them most? Whether a sinner has been converted, at which the angels of God rejoice? No, what scandals have occurred during the night, what has been reported from Berlin in the Leipziger Allgemeine Zeitung! Above all the brood of vipers of politicians and beer-parlour orators is the worst and most obsessed by news. These hypocrites interfere most loudly in the government instead of leaving unto the King what is the King’s and never for a moment do they worry about the salvation of their immortal souls; they want to remove the mote from the eye of the government, and will not notice the beam in their own, unbelieving eye which is blind to the love of Christ. These most especially are like the Athenians of old, who also spent all day lounging around in the market-place and ferreting out news while the old truth was lying untouched in their closets. What did they want of Schelling but to hear something new, and how they turned up their noses when he gave them nothing but the old Gospel! How few were they who were not looking all the time for something new, but only demanded from Schelling the old truth, the word of salvation through Christ Jesus!
And so it is with the whole of history, as there with Paul so here with Schelling. They listened to his sermon with critical faces, now and then gave a superior smile, shook their heads, exchanged meaningful glances and then looked pityingly at Schelling, “and when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked” (The Acts of the Apostles 17: 32). Only a few took his side. For as it was in Athens so it is today: the resurrection of the dead is their chief stumbling-block. Most of them are honest enough not to want to know anything about any immortality; the minority admits a very uncertain, vacillating, nebulous immortality of the soul, but leaves the body to rot forever, and they are all unanimous in scorning the real, definite and open resurrection of the flesh and in holding it to be a matter of impossibility, as if it were not written: for God nothing is impossible.
It still remains for us to make one more remark if we return to the history of the Church of Christ presented to the believing reader as it is typified in the three apostles Peter, Paul and John. It follows from this that it is a most grievous wrong and a sin against the ordinance of God Himself if we, as many do even today, were to despise and disparage the Catholic Church in comparison with ours. For it is preordained in the divine counsel, just as the Protestant Church, and we have much to learn from it. The Catholic Church still has the old Apostolic Church discipline, which with us has been completely lost. We know from the Scriptures that the apostles and the churches expelled from the communion of the Holy Ghost unbelievers, false teachers and sinners who were a cause of offence to the church. Does not Paul say in 1 Corinthians 5: 3-5:
“For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that bath so done this deed, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
Did not Christ say to Peter:
“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall he loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16: 19).
Did he not say after the resurrection to all the disciples:
“Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John 20: 23).
Such passages in Holy Scripture point to strong church discipline, as it flourished in the Apostolic Church and still persists among Catholics, and if the Apostolic Church is our model and Holy Scripture our guide, we also must endeavour to assert again that ancient institution, and considering the fury with which the evil enemy today persecutes and attacks the Church of the Lord, we would do well to be armed not only inwardly with faith and hope, but also outwardly through the strengthening of the community in spirit and the expulsion of false prophets. The wolf must not be allowed to come among the flock without being driven out again. Moreover, the celibacy of Catholic priests is also not to be entirely condemned. It is written in Matthew 19:10-12:
“His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
Again, 1 Corinthians 7 deals from beginning to end with the advantages of the unmarried over the married state, and I will only quote from it a few passages:
7: 1-2. “It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."
7:8. “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I."
7:27. “Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife."
7:32-33. “He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, — how he may please his wife."
7..38 ff. Finally, “he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better. The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.”
These utterances are surely clear enough, and it is difficult to understand how, with such precepts, the single state could come so much into disrepute among Protestants. So we see that the Catholic Church is in many respects closer to the Scriptures than we, and we have no cause to despise it. On the contrary, our brethren in the Catholic Church, insofar as they are believing and god-fearing, are closer to us than the apostate and un-Christian Protestants, and it is time for us to begin to prepare the Church of John by uniting with the Catholics against the common foes who threaten the whole of Christendom. It is no longer the time to quarrel over the differences between the various denominations, we must leave that to the Lord, since we humans have been unable here to reach clarity in three hundred years; we must watch and pray and be prepared always,
“having our loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith we shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17). For the times are evil, and “the adversary ... as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devout” (1 Peter 5:8).a
And if the author may be allowed to express his humble opinion where so many godly and enlightened men could speak, then he is of the opinion that the Church of ‘ John, and with it the last days, are at the door. Who has watched the events of the last years with the Lord in view and has not noticed that great things are approaching and the hand of the Lord commands the affairs of kings and countries! Since the dreadful French Revolution a wholly new, devilish spirit has entered a great part of mankind and godlessness raises its insolent head so impudently and proudly that one is forced to think the prophecies of Scripture are about to be fulfilled. But let us see again what Scripture says about the godlessness of the last times. The Lord Jesus says in Matthew 24:11-14:
“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” And in 24: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” And Paul says, in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 ff.: “that man of sin shall be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; ... after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” And in 1 Timothy 4:1. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”
Is that not as if the Lord and Paul saw our time before their eyes, large as life? The general falling away from the kingdom of God is ever increasing, the godlessness and blasphemy is daily becoming more impudent, as Peter says, 2 Peter 3:3.
“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.”
All enemies of God are coming together and attacking the believers with all possible weapons; the indifferent ones who indulge in the lust of this world and to whom the word of the cross was too boring, pricked by conscience, are uniting with the atheist worldly wise and by their doctrine are trying to lull the worm within to sleep; the latter, for their part, deny with barefaced impudence everything that cannot be seen with the eyes, God and all life after death, and so, of course, it follows that for them this world is supreme, this world with its enjoyments of the flesh, with feasting, boozing and whoring. They are the worst pagans who have made themselves hardened and stiff-necked against the Gospel and of whom the Lord says that the Last Judgment would be more tolerable for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah than for them. It is no longer an indifference and coldness in respect of the Lord, nay, it is open, declared hostility, and instead of all the sects and parties we now have only two: Christians and Anti-Christians. But he who has eyes to see, let him see and not blind them; for now is not the time to sleep and resort to subterfuges; where the signs of the times speak so clearly, there is need to pay heed to them and to search in the words of the prophecy, which has not been given us for nothing. We see the false prophets in our midst,
“and there has been given unto them a mouth to speak great things and blasphemies: and they open their mouths in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it is given unto them to make war with the saints and” (it almost seems) “to overcome them.” Revelation 13:5-7.
All shame and respect and reverence have vanished out of them and the abominable mockeries of a Voltaire are child’s play compared with the horrible earnestness and the deliberate blasphemy of these seducers. They roam about in Germany and want to sneak in everywhere, they preach their satanic doctrines in the market-places and carry the devil’s standard from city to city, enticing the poor youths after them, to cast them into the deepest abyss of hell and death. Temptation abounds as never before, and it cannot be without special purpose that the Lord permits it. Shall it be said even of us:
“O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” Matthew 16:3.
Nay, we must open our eyes and look about us; the times are important and it is meet to watch and pray, so that we enter not into temptation and the Lord, who will come like a thief in the night, may not find us sleeping. Great trouble and temptation will befall us, but the Lord will “not forsake us, for He has said, Revelation 3:5:
“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels.” And in 3:11: “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”