The Moral Condition Of Germany, With Some Reference To That Of Other Countries -- By: Hugh Macdonald Scott

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 042:165 (Jan 1885)
Article: The Moral Condition Of Germany, With Some Reference To That Of Other Countries
Author: Hugh Macdonald Scott


The Moral Condition Of Germany, With Some Reference To That Of Other Countries

Hugh M. Scott

A recent study of the theological and ecclesiastical relations in Germany1 has led, very naturally, to an investigation of the moral state of the nation in which such strange theories abound and such able champions of orthodoxy and heterodoxy fight their battles.

Various circumstances just now conspire to give peculiar interest to an inquiry into the national life of Germany. The great military success of the present generation and the national unity attained thereby have given a great stimulus to every form of social and political life. The unsettling of former relations between church and school, and the attempt to secularize the latter; the new laws which made marriage and baptism and ecclesiastical functions largely voluntary in the mode of their execution; the restive imperial consciousness which unwisely waged war with the Pope,—all these have stirred up conservatives against liberals, clergy against laity, Protestant against Romanist, and in the torrent of fierce logic and invective brought the unhealthy elements in the nation to the surface, and startled all earnest men by the spectacle of corruption hitherto unknown and crime increasing beyond all precedent.

A further element of intense interest in this parallel of contemporary phenomena is the appearance, on the one hand, of religious decline, neglect of the ideal and spirit-

ual in the national thought; and, on the other, a growing materialism, a science which ignores the unseen, and a theory of life which is essentially and practically Epicurean. Whether it be a legitimate case of post hoc ergo propter hoc, we need not now discuss. It is sufficient to point out that never before in German life was the prevalent spirit of the people so mercantile, greedy, and of the earth earthy as now; that never was the learning of the nation so devoted to physical science and so ready to draw the coarsest conclusions for morals and society from fixed laws and atoms; and also that never before has the land had so many criminals, or such aggravated offences against common decency, or so many men crying “Down with the priests,” as well as “Down with all order, for the time of the proletariat has come,” as during the present generation. In 1876 the eminent economist and liberal, Schulze-Delitzsch, said: “Any man, who is not in the deepest valley of ignorance of German affairs, will admit that the whole social and moral condition of things has reached a point where they threaten to dash into an abyss of ruin.” Socialists and sober theologians agree in ...

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