Decline Of Rationalism In The German Universities1 -- By: Joseph Cook

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 032:128 (Oct 1875)
Article: Decline Of Rationalism In The German Universities1
Author: Joseph Cook


Decline Of Rationalism In The German Universities1

Joseph Cook

I. God In German History

Strauss is in his grave; Baur’s doubts are solved in the unseen; Schleiermacher and Neander are asleep on the hill slope south of Berlin; Fichte and Hegel lie at rest beneath the lindens in a cemetery in the same city; Kant has a peaceful tomb at Königsberg; Richter, at Baireuth, among his native Fichtelgebirge; De Wette at Basle, at the edge of the Alps; Goethe, Schiller, and Herder, no disquiet wakes at Weimar; Tholuck and Julius Müller, each laden with more than threescore years and ten, draw near the end of their victorious journey; Austria has been humbled, Sedan fought, German unity accomplished.

The formation of the new German empire marks broadly the close of a great period in German history, extending from Frederick the Great to Bismarck, from Voltaire to Strauss, from the French Revolution to Sedan.

Curiously enough, the measurable political peace, coming after terrific struggle to the whole nation, coincides with the measurable intellectual peace coming after terrific struggle to the most cultivated classes. There have been deluges of unrest; but conclusions are being reached as to political unity, and also as to Christianity. The greatest questions in the mental and in the political life of Germany are approaching repose in the same period, and that our own.

It is an exceedingly suggestive sign of the times that, in

proportion to population, Great Britain has but one student in a course of higher university education where Germany has five.2 In this age it is from Germany that decisions in momentous intellectual questions proceed. Every day the world grows more international. There are now no foreign lands. It has been said that in England one is never quite outside of London, because the city inflames the whole island. So, in science, one is never quite outside of the German universities, for they inflame the whole field of culture.

Suppose that there were to be lifted from the waste of some ocean a new continent, peopled by a class of men equal to the Greeks in intellectual power, and their superiors in candor and learning. Let moral culture abound in the family life of the nation, but let church life be weak; let political causes choke the church; let wars storm over the territory; let public discussion be free only in philosophy, theology, and art; let system after system of metaphysical speculation arise, reign briefly, and be superseded; let the universities of the nation lead the world in modern science; let ...

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