But it is not Nature, it is liberty itself, that occasions the most numerous and the most fearful disorders among our kind. The direst enemy of man is man.
* * * * *
It is the destination of our race to unite in one body, thoroughly acquainted with itself in all its parts, and uniformly cultivated in all. Nature, and even the passions and vices of mankind, have, from the beginning, drifted toward this goal. A large part of the road which leads to it is already put behind us, and we may count with certainty that this goal, which is the condition of further, united progress, will be reached in due season. Do not ask History whether mankind, on the whole, have grown more purely moral! They have grown to extended, comprehensive, forceful acts of arbitrary will; but it was almost a necessity of their condition that they should direct that will exclusively to evil.
Neither ask History whether the esthetic education and the rationalistic culture of the understanding, of the fore-world, concentrated upon a few single points, may not have far exceeded, in degree, that of modern times. It might be that the answer would put us to shame, and that the human race in growing older would appear, in this regard, not to have advanced, but to have lost ground.
But ask History in what period the existing culture was most widely diffused and distributed among the greatest number of individuals. Undoubtedly it will be found that, from the beginning of history down to our own day, the few light-points of culture have extended their rays farther and farther from their centres, have seized one individual after another, and one people after another; and that this diffusion of culture is still going on before our eyes.
And this was the first goal of Humanity, on its infinite path. Until this is attained, until the existing culture of an age is diffused over the whole habitable globe, and our race is made capable of the most unlimited communication with itself, one nation, one quarter of the globe, must await the other, on their common path, and each must bring its centuries of apparent standing still or retrogradation, as a sacrifice to the common bond, for the sake of which, alone, they themselves exist.
When this first goal shall be attained, when everything useful that has been discovered at one end of the earth shall immediately be made known and imparted to all, then Humanity, without interruption, without cessation, and without retrocession, with united force, and with one step shall raise itself up to a degree of culture which we lack power to conceive.
* * * * *
By the institution of this one true State and the firm establishment of internal peace, external war also, at least between true States, will be rendered impossible. Even for the sake of its own advantage—in order that no thought of injustice, plunder and violence may spring up in its own subjects, and no possible opportunity be afforded them for any gain, except by labor and industry, in the sphere assigned by law—every State must forbid as strictly, must hinder as carefully, must compensate as exactly, and punish as severely, an injury done to the citizen of a neighbor-State, as if it were inflicted upon a fellow-citizen. This law respecting the security of its neighbors is necessary to every State which is not a community of robbers. And herewith the possibility of every just complaint of one State against another, and every case of legitimate defense, are done away.
There are no necessarily and continuously direct relations between States, as such, that could engender warfare. As a general rule, it is only through the relations of single citizens of one State with the citizens of another—it is only in the person of one of its members, that a State can be injured. But this injury will be instantly redressed, and the offended State satisfied.
* * * * *
That a whole nation should determine, for the sake of plunder, to attack a neighboring country with war, is impossible, since in a State in which all are equal the plunder would not become the booty of a few, but must be divided equally among all, and, so divided, the portion of each individual would never repay him for the trouble of a war. Only, then, when the advantage to be gained falls to the lot of a few oppressors, but the disadvantages, the trouble, the cost fall upon a countless army of slaves—only then is a war of plunder possible or conceivable. Accordingly, these States have no war to fear from States like themselves, but only from savages or barbarians, tempted to prey by want of skill to enrich themselves by industry; or from nations of slaves, who are driven by their masters to procure plunder, of which they are to enjoy no part themselves. As to the former, each single State is undoubtedly superior to them in strength, by virtue of the arts of culture. As to the latter, the common advantage of all the States will lead them to strengthen themselves by union with one another. No free State can reasonably tolerate, in its immediate vicinity, polities whose rulers find their advantage in subjecting neighboring nations, and which, therefore, by their mere existence, perpetually threaten their neighbors' peace. Care for their own security will oblige all free States to convert all around them into free States like themselves, and thus, for the sake of their own safety, to extend the dominion of culture to the savages, and that of liberty to the slave nations round about them. And so, when once a few free States have been formed, the empire of culture, of liberty, and, with that, of universal peace, will gradually embrace the globe.
* * * * *
In this only true State, all temptation to evil in general, and even the possibility of deliberately determining upon an evil act, will be cut off, and man be persuaded as powerfully as he can be to direct his will toward good. There is no man who loves evil because it is evil. He loves in it only the advantages and enjoyments which it promises, and which, in the present state of Humanity, it, for the most part, actually affords. As long as this state continues, as long as a price is set upon vice, a thorough reformation of mankind, in the whole, is scarcely to be hoped for. But in such a civil Polity as should exist, such as reason demands, and such as the thinker easily describes, although as yet he nowhere finds it, and such as will necessarily shape itself with the first nation that is truly disenthralled—in such a Polity evil will offer no advantages, but, on the contrary, the most certain disadvantages; and the aberration of self-love into acts of injustice will be suppressed by self-love itself. According to infallible regulations, in such a State, all taking advantage of and oppressing others, every act of self-aggrandizement at another's expense is not only sure to be in vain—labor lost—but it reacts upon the author, and he himself inevitably incurs the evil which he would inflict upon others. Within his own State and outside of it, on the whole face of the earth, he finds no one whom he can injure with impunity. It is not, however, to be expected that any one will resolve upon evil merely for evil's sake, notwithstanding he cannot accomplish it and nothing but his own injury can result from the attempt. The use of liberty for evil ends is done away. Man must either resolve to renounce his liberty entirely—to become, with patience, a passive wheel in the great machine of the whole—or he must apply his liberty to that which is good.
And thus, then, in a soil so prepared, the good will easily flourish. When selfish aims no longer divide mankind, and their powers can no longer be exercised in destroying one another in battle, nothing will remain to them but to turn their united force against the common and only adversary which yet remains—resisting, uncultivated Nature. No longer separated by private ends, they will necessarily unite in one common end, and there will grow up a body everywhere animated by one spirit and one love. Every disadvantage of the individual, since it can no longer be a benefit to any one, becomes an injury to the whole and to each particular member of the same, and is felt in each member with equal pain, and with equal activity redressed. Every advance which one man makes, human nature, in its entirety, makes with him.
Here, where the petty, narrow self of the person is already annihilated by the Polity, every one loves every other one as truly as himself, as a component part of that great Self which alone remains for him to love, and of which he is nothing but a component part, which only through the Whole can gain or lose. Here the conflict of evil with good is done away, for no evil can any longer spring up. The contest of the good among themselves, even concerning the good, vanishes, now that it has become easy to them to love the good for its own sake, and not for their sakes, as the authors of it—now that the only interest they can have is that it come to pass, that truth be discovered, that the good deed be executed—not by whom it is accomplished. Here every one is always prepared to join his power to that of his neighbor, and to subordinate it to that of his neighbor. Whoever, in the judgment of all, shall accomplish the best, in the best way, him all will support and partake with equal joy in his success.
This is the aim of earthly existence which Reason sets before us, and for the sure attainment of which Reason vouches. It is not a goal for which we are to strive merely that our faculties may be exercised on something great, but which we must relinquish all hope of realizing. It shall and must be realized. At some time or other this goal must be attained, as surely as there is a world of the senses, and a race of reasonable beings in time, for whom no serious and rational object can be imagined but this, and whose existence is made intelligible by this alone. Unless the whole life of man is to be considered as the sport of an evil Spirit, who implanted this ineradicable striving after the imperishable in the breasts of poor wretches merely that he might enjoy their ceaseless struggle after that which unceasingly flees from them, their still repeated grasping after that which still eludes their grasp, their restless driving about in an ever-returning circle—and laugh at their earnestness in this senseless sport—unless the wise man, who must soon see through this game and be tired of his own part in it, is to throw away his life, and the moment of awakening reason is to be the moment of earthly death—that goal must be attained. O it is attainable in life and by means of life; for Reason commands me to live. It is attainable, for I am.
But now, when it is attained, when Humanity shall stand at the goal—what then? There is no higher condition on earth than that. The generation which first attains it can do nothing further than to persist in it, maintain it with all their powers, and die and leave descendants who shall do the same that they have done, and who, in their turn, shall leave descendants that shall do the same. Humanity would then stand still in its course. Therefore its earthly goal cannot be its highest goal, for this earthly goal is intelligible, and attainable, and finite. Though we consider the preceding generations as means of developing the last and perfected, still we cannot escape the inquiry of earnest Reason: "Wherefore then these last?" Given a human race on the earth, its existence must indeed be in accordance with Reason, and not contrary to it. It must become all that it can become on earth. But why should it exist at all—this human race? Why might it not as well have remained in the womb of the Nothing? Reason is not for the sake of existence, but existence for the sake of Reason. An existence which does not, in itself, satisfy Reason and solve all her questions, cannot possibly be the true one.
Then, too, are the actions commanded by the voice of Conscience, whose dictates I must not speculate about, but obey in silence—are they actually the means, and the only means, of accomplishing the earthly aim of mankind? That I cannot refer them to any other object but this, that I can have no other intent with them, is unquestionable. But is this, my intent, fulfilled in every case? Is nothing more needed but to will the best, in order that it may be accomplished? Alas! most of our good purposes are, for this world, entirely lost, and some of them seem even to have an entirely opposite effect to that which was proposed. On the other hand, the most despicable passions of men, their vices and their misdeeds, seem often to bring about the good more surely than the labors of the just man, who never consents to do evil that good may come. It would seem that the highest good of the world grows and thrives quite independently of all human virtues or vices, according to laws of its own, by some invisible and unknown power, just as the heavenly bodies run through their appointed course, independently of all human effort; and that this power absorbs into its own higher plan all human designs, whether good or ill, and, by its superior strength, appropriates what was intended for other purposes to its own ends.
If, therefore, the attainment of that earthly goal could be the design of our existence, and if no further question concerning it remained to Reason, that aim, at least, would not be ours, but the aim of that unknown Power. We know not at any moment what may promote it. Nothing would be left us but to supply to that Power, by our actions, so much material, no matter what, to work up in its own way, for its own ends. Our highest wisdom would be, not to trouble ourselves about things in which we have no concern, but to live, in each case, as the fancy takes us, and quietly leave the consequences to that Power. The moral law within us would be idle and superfluous, and wholly unsuited to a being that had no higher capacity and no higher destination. In order to be at one with ourselves, we should refuse obedience to the voice of that law and suppress it as a perverse and mad enthusiasm.
* * * * *
If the whole design of our existence were to bring about a purely earthly condition of our race, all that would be required would be some infallible mechanism to direct our action; and we need be nothing more than wheels well fitted to the whole machine. Freedom would then not only be useless, but even contrary to the purpose of existence; and good-will would be quite superfluous. The world, in that case, would be very clumsily contrived—would proceed to its goal with waste of power and by circuitous paths. Rather, mighty World-Spirit, hadst thou taken from us this freedom, which, only with difficulty and by a different arrangement, thou canst fit to thy plans, and compelled us at once to act as those plans required! Thou wouldst then arrive at thy goal by the shortest road, as the meanest of the inhabitants of thy worlds can tell thee.
But I am free, and therefore such a concatenation of cause and effect, in which freedom is absolutely superfluous and useless, cannot exhaust my whole destination. I must be free; for not the mechanical act, but the free determination of free-will, for the sake of the command alone and absolutely for no other purpose (so says the inward voice of conscience)—this alone determines our true worth. The band with which the law binds me is a band for living spirits. It scorns to rule over dead mechanism, and applies itself alone to the living and self-acting. Such obedience it demands. This obedience cannot be superfluous.
And, herewith, the eternal world rises more brightly before me, and the fundamental law of its order stands clear before the eye of my mind. In that world the will, purely and only, as it lies, locked up from all eyes, in the secret dark of my soul, is the first link in a chain of consequences which runs through the whole invisible world of spirits; so in the earthly world the deed, a certain movement of matter, becomes the first link in a material chain which extends through the whole system of matter. The will is the working and living principle in the world of Reason, as motion is the working and living principle in the world of the senses. I stand in the centre of two opposite worlds, a visible in which the deed, and an invisible, altogether incomprehensible, in which the will, decides. I am one of the original forces for both these worlds. My will is that which embraces both. This will is in and of itself a constituent portion of the supersensuous world. When I put it in motion by a resolution, I move and change something in that world, and my activity flows on over the whole and produces something new and ever-during which then exists and needs not to be made anew. This will breaks forth into a material act, and this act belongs to the world of the senses, and effects, in that, what it can.
I have not to wait until after I am divorced from the connection of the earthly world to gain admission into that which is above the earth. I am and live in it already, far more truly than in the earthly. Even now it is my only firm standing-ground, and the eternal life, which I have long since taken possession of, is the only reason why I am willing still to prolong the earthly. That which they denominate Heaven lies not beyond the grave. It is already here, diffused around our Nature, and its light arises in every pure heart. My will is mine, and it is the only thing that is entirely mine and depends entirely upon myself. By it I am already a citizen of the kingdom of liberty and of self-active Reason. My conscience, the tie by which that world holds me unceasingly and binds me to itself, tells me at every moment what determination of my will (the only thing by which, here in the dust, I can lay hold of that kingdom) is most consonant with its order; and it depends entirely upon myself to give myself the destination enjoined upon me. I cultivate myself then for this world, and, accordingly, work in it and for it, while cultivating one of its members. I pursue in it, and in it alone, without vacillation or doubt, according to fixed rules, my aim—sure of success, since there is no foreign power that opposes my intent.
* * * * *
That our good-will, in and for and through itself, must have consequences, we know, even in this life; for Reason cannot require anything without a purpose. But what these consequences are—nay, how it is possible that a mere will can effect anything—is a question to which we cannot even imagine a solution, so long as we are entangled with this material world, and it is the part of wisdom not to undertake an inquiry concerning which, we know beforehand, it must be unsuccessful.
* * * * *
This then is my whole sublime destination, my true essence. I am a member of two systems—a purely spiritual one, in which I rule by pure will alone; and a sensuous one, in which I work by my deed.
* * * * *
These two systems, the purely spiritual and the sensuous—which last may consist of an immeasurable series of particular lives—exist in me from the moment in which my active reason is developed, and pursue their parallel courses. The latter system is only an appearance, for me and for those who share with me the same life. The former alone gives to the latter meaning, and purpose, and value. I am immortal, imperishable, eternal, so soon as I form the resolution to obey the law of Reason; and do not first have to become so. The supersensuous world is not a future world; it is present. It never can be more present at any one point of finite existence than at any other point. After an existence of myriad lives, it cannot be more present than at this moment. Other conditions of my sensuous existence are to come; but these are no more the true life than the present condition. By means of that resolution I lay hold on eternity, and strip off this life in the dust and all other sensuous lives that may await me, and raise myself far above them. I become to myself the sole fountain of all my being and of all my phenomena; and have henceforth, unconditioned by aught without me, life in myself. My will, which I myself, and no stranger, fit to the order of that world, is this fountain of true life and of eternity.
But only my will is this fountain; and only when I acknowledge this will to be the true seat of moral excellence, and actually elevate it to this excellence, do I attain to the certainty and the possession of that supersensuous world.
* * * * *
The sense by which we lay hold on eternal life we acquire only by renouncing and offering up sense, and the aims of sense, to the law which claims our will alone, and not our acts—by renouncing it with the conviction that to do so is reasonable and alone reasonable. With this renunciation of the earthly, the belief in the eternal first enters our soul and stands isolated there, as the only stay by which we can still sustain ourselves when we have relinquished everything else, as the only animating principle that still uplifts our hearts and still inspires our life. Well was it said, in the metaphors of a sacred doctrine, that man must first die to the world and be born again, in order to enter into the kingdom of God.
I see, oh, I see now, clear before mine eyes, the cause of my former heedlessness and blindness concerning spiritual things! Filled with earthly aims, and lost in them with all my scheming and striving; put in motion and impelled only by the idea of a result, which is to be actualized without us, by the desire of such a result and pleasure in it—insensible and dead to the pure impulse of that Reason which gives the law to itself, which sets before us a purely spiritual aim, the immortal Psyche remains chained to the earth; her wings are bound. Our philosophy becomes the history of our own heart and life. As we find ourselves, so we imagine man in general and his destination. Never impelled by any other motive than the desire of that which can be realized in this world, there is no true liberty for us, no liberty which has the reason for its destination absolutely and entirely in itself. Our liberty, at the utmost, is that of the self-forming plant, no higher in its essence, only more curious in its result, not producing a form of matter with roots, leaves and blossoms, but a form of mind with impulses, thoughts, actions. Of the true liberty we are positively unable to comprehend anything, because we are not in possession of it. Whenever we hear it spoken of, we draw the words down to our own meaning, or briefly dismiss it with a sneer, as nonsense. With the knowledge of liberty, the sense of another world is also lost to us. Everything of this sort floats by like words which are not addressed to us; like an ash-gray shadow without color or meaning, which we cannot by any end take hold of and retain. Without the least interest, we let everything go as it is stated. Or if ever a robuster zeal impels us to consider it seriously, we see clearly and can demonstrate that all those ideas are untenable, hollow visions, which a man of sense casts from him. And, according to the premises from which we set out and which are taken from our own innermost experience, we are quite right, and are alike unanswerable and unteachable, so long as we remain what we are. The excellent doctrines which are current among the people, fortified with special authority, concerning freedom, duty and eternal life, change themselves for us into grotesque fables, like those of Tartarus and the Elysian fields, although we do not disclose the true opinion of our hearts, because we think it more advisable to keep the people in outward decency by means of these images. Or if we are less reflective, and ourselves fettered by the bands of authority, then we sink, ourselves, to the true plebeian level, by believing that which, so understood, would be foolish fable; and by finding, in those purely spiritual indications, nothing but the promise of a continuance, to all eternity, of the same miserable existence which we lead here below.
To say all in a word: Only through a radical reformation of my will does a new light arise upon my being and destination. Without this, however much I may reflect, and however distinguished my mental endowments, there is nothing but darkness in me and around me. The reformation of the heart alone conducts to true wisdom. So then, let my whole life be directed unrestrainedly toward this one end!
My lawful will, simply as such, in and through itself, must have consequences, certain and without exception. Every dutiful determination of my will, although no act should flow from it, must operate in another, to me incomprehensible, world; and, except this dutiful determination of the will, nothing can take effect in that world. What do I suppose when I suppose this? What do I take for granted?
Evidently, a law, a rule absolutely and without exception valid, according to which the dutiful will must have consequences. Just as in the earthly world which environs me, I assume a law according to which this ball, when impelled by my hand with this given force, in this given direction, must necessarily move in such a direction, with a determinate measure of rapidity, perhaps impel another ball with this given degree of force by which the other ball moves on with a determinate rapidity; and so on indefinitely. As in this case, with the mere direction and movement of my hand, I know and comprehend all the directions and movements which shall follow it, as certainly as if they were already present and perceived by me; even so I comprise, in my dutiful will, a series of necessary and infallible consequences in the spiritual world, as if they were already present, only that I cannot, as in the material world, determine them—i.e., I merely know that they shall be, not how they shall be. I suppose a law of the spiritual world, in which my mere will is one of the moving forces, just as my hand is one of the moving forces in the material world. That firmness of my confidence and the thought of this law of a spiritual world are one and the same thing—not two thoughts of which one is the consequence of the other, but precisely the same thought, just as the certainty with which I count upon a certain motion, and the thought of a mechanical law of Nature, are the same. The idea of Law expresses generally nothing else but the fixed, immovable reliance of Reason on a proposition, and the impossibility of supposing the contrary.
I assume such a law of a spiritual world, which my own will did not enact, nor the will of any finite being, nor the will of all finite beings together, but to which my will and the will of all finite beings is subject.
* * * * *
Agreeably to what has now been advanced, the law of the supersensuous world should be a Will.
A Will which acts purely and simply as will, by its own agency, entirely without any instrument or sensuous medium of its efficacy; which is absolutely, in itself, at once action and result; which wills and it is done, which commands and it stands fast; in which, accordingly, the demand of Reason to be absolutely free and self-active is represented. A Will which is law in itself; which determines itself, not according to humor and caprice, not after previous deliberation, vacillation and doubt, but which is forever and unchangeably determined, and upon which one may reckon with infallible security, as the mortal reckons securely on the laws of his world. A Will in which the lawful will of finite beings has inevitable consequences, but only their will, which is immovable to everything else, and for which everything else is as though it were not.
That sublime Will, therefore, does not pursue its course for itself, apart from the rest of Reason's world. There is between it and all finite, rational beings, a spiritual tie, and that Will itself is this spiritual tie of Reason's world. I will, purely and decidedly, my duty, and it then wills that I shall succeed, at least in the world of spirits. Every lawful resolve of the finite will enters into it, and moves and determines it—to speak after our fashion—not in consequence of a momentary good pleasure, but in consequence of the eternal law of its being.
With astounding clearness it now stands before my soul, the thought which hitherto had been wrapped in darkness—the thought that my will, merely as such, and of itself, has consequences. It has consequences because it is infallibly and immediately taken knowledge of by another related Will, which is itself an act and the only life-principle of the spiritual world. In that Will it has its first consequence, and only through that, in the rest of the spiritual world which, in all its parts, is but the product of that infinite Will.
Thus I flow—the mortal must use the language of mortals—thus I flow in upon that Will; and the voice of conscience in my inmost being, which, in every situation of my life, instructs me what I have to do in that situation, is that by means of which it, in turn, flows in upon me. That voice is the oracle from the eternal world, made sensible by my environment, and translated, by my reception of it, into my language; which announces to me how I must fit myself to my part in the order of the spiritual world, or to the infinite Will, which itself is the order of that spiritual world. I cannot oversee or see through this spiritual order; nor need I. I am only a link in its chain, and can no more judge of the whole than a single tone in a song can judge of the harmony of the whole. But what I myself should be, in the harmony of Spirits, I must know; for only I myself can make myself that, and it is immediately revealed to me by a voice which sounds over to me from that world. Thus I stand in connection with the only being that exists, and partake of its being. There is nothing truly real, permanent, imperishable in me, but these two—the voice of my conscience and my free obedience. By means of the first, the spiritual world bows down to me and embraces me, as one of its members. By means of the second, I raise myself into this world, lay hold of it, and work in it. But that infinite Will is the mediator between it and me; for, of it and me, that Will is the primal fountain. This is the only true and imperishable reality, toward which my soul moves from its inmost depth. All else is only phenomenon, and vanishes and returns again, with new seeming.
This Will connects me with itself. The same connects me with all finite beings of my species, and is the universal mediator between us all. That is the great mystery of the invisible world, and its fundamental law, so far as it is a world or system of several individual wills: Union and direct reciprocal action of several self-subsisting and independent wills among one another—a mystery which, even in the present life, lies clear before all eyes, without any one's noticing it or thinking it worthy his admiration! The voice of Conscience, which enjoins upon each one his proper duty, is the ray by which we proceed from the Infinite and are set forth as individual particular beings. It defines the boundaries of our personality; it is, therefore, our true original constituent, the foundation and the stuff of all the life which we live.
* * * * *
That eternal Will, then, is indeed world-creator, as he alone can be—in the finite reason (the only creation which is needed). They who suppose him to build a world out of eternal inert matter, which world, in that case, could be nothing else but inert and lifeless, like implements fashioned by human hands and not an eternal process of self-development, or who think they can imagine the going forth of a material something out of nothing, know neither the world nor him. If matter only is something, then there is nowhere anything, and nowhere, in all eternity, can anything be. Only Reason is: the infinite reason in itself, and the finite in and through the infinite. Only in our minds does he create the world, or, at least, that from which we unfold it, and that whereby we unfold it—the call to duty, and the feelings, perceptions and laws of thought agreeing therewith. It is his light whereby we see light and all that appears to us in that light. In our minds he is continually fashioning this world, and interposing in it by interposing in our minds with the call of duty, whenever another free agent effects a change therein. In our minds he maintains this world, and, therewith, our finite existence, of which alone we are capable, in that he causes to arise out of our states new states continually. After he has proved us sufficiently for our next destination, according to his higher aim, and when we shall have cultivated ourselves for the same, he will annihilate this world for us by what we call death, and introduce us into a new one, the product of our dutiful action in this. All our life is his life. We are in his hand, and remain in it, and no one can pluck us out of it. We are eternal because he is eternal.
Sublime, living Will, whom no name can name, and whom no conception can grasp!—well may I raise my mind to thee, for thou and I are not divided. Thy voice sounds in me, and mine sounds back in thee; and all my thoughts, if only they are true and good, are thought in thee. In thee, the Incomprehensible, I become comprehensible to myself, and entirely comprehend the world. All the riddles of my existence are solved, and the most perfect harmony arises in my mind.
Thou art best apprehended by childlike simplicity, devoted to thee. To it thou art the heart-searcher who lookest through its innermost thoughts; the all-present, faithful witness of its sentiments, who alone knowest that it meaneth well, and who alone understandest it, when misunderstood by all the world. Thou art to it a Father, whose purposes toward it are ever kind, and who will order everything for its best good. It submitteth itself wholly, with body and soul, to thy beneficent decrees. Do with me as thou wilt, it saith, I know that it shall be good, so surely as it is thou that dost it. The speculative understanding, which has only heard of thee but has never seen thee, would teach us to know thy being in itself, and sets before us an inconsistent monster which it gives out for thine image, ridiculous to the merely knowing, hateful and detestable to the wise and good.
I veil my face before thee and lay my hand upon my mouth. How thou art in thyself, and how thou appearest to thyself, I can never know, as surely as I can never be thou. After thousand times thousand spirit-lives lived through, I shall no more be able to comprehend thee than now, in this hut of earth. That which I comprehend becomes, by my comprehension of it, finite; and this can never, by an endless process of magnifying and exalting, be changed into infinite. Thou differest from the finite, not only in degree but in kind. By that magnifying process they make thee only a greater and still greater man, but never God, the Infinite, incapable of measure.
* * * * *
I will not attempt that which is denied to me by my finite nature, and which could avail me nothing. I desire not to know how thou art in thyself. But thy relations and connections with me, the finite, and with all finite beings, lie open to mine eye, when I become what I should be. They encompass me with a more luminous clearness than the consciousness of my own being. Thou workest in me the knowledge of my duty, of my destination in the series of rational beings. How? I know not, and need not to know. Thou knowest and perceivest what I think and will. How thou canst know it—by what act thou bringest this consciousness to pass—on that point I comprehend nothing. Yea, I know very well that the idea of an act, of a special act of consciousness, applies only to me but not to thee, the Infinite. Thou willest, because thou willest, that my free obedience shall have consequences in all eternity. The act of thy will I cannot comprehend; I only know that it is not like to mine. Thou doest, and thy will itself is deed. But thy method of action is directly contrary to that of which, alone, I can form a conception. Thou livest and art, for thou knowest, and willest, and workest, omnipresent to finite Reason. But thou art not such as through all eternity I shall alone be able to conceive of Being.
In the contemplation of these thy relations to me, the finite, I will be calm and blessed. I know immediately, only what I must do. This will I perform undisturbed and joyful, and without philosophizing. For it is thy voice which commands me, it is the ordination of the spiritual world-plan concerning me, and the power by which I perform it is thy power. Whatsoever is commanded me by that voice, whatsoever is accomplished by this power, is surely and truly good in relation to that plan. I am calm in all the events of this world, for they occur in thy world. Nothing can deceive, or surprise, or make me afraid, so surely as thou livest and I behold thy life. For in thee and through thee, O infinite One, I behold even my present world in another light! Nature and natural consequences in the destinies and actions of free beings, in view of thee, are empty, unmeaning words. There is no Nature more. Thou, thou alone, art.
It no longer appears to me the aim of the present world that the above-mentioned state of universal peace among men, and of their unconditioned empire over the mechanism of Nature, should be brought about merely that it may exist, but that it should be brought about by man himself, and, since it is calculated for all, then it should be brought about by all, as one great, free, moral community. Nothing new and better for the individual, except through his dutiful will, nothing new and better for the community, except through their united, dutiful will, is the fundamental law of the great moral kingdom of which the present life is a part.
The reason why the good-will of the individual is so often lost for this world, is that it is only the will of the individual, and that the will of the majority does not coincide with it; therefore it has no consequences but those which belong to a future world. Hence, even the passions and vices of men appear to cooeperate in the promotion of a better state, not in and for themselves—in this sense good can never come out of evil—but by furnishing a counter-poise to opposite vices, and finally annihilating those vices and themselves by their preponderance. Oppression could never have gained the upper hand unless cowardice, and baseness, and mutual distrust had prepared the way for it. It will continue to increase until it eradicates cowardice and the slavish mind; and despair re-awakens the courage that was lost. Then the two antagonistic vices will have destroyed each other, and the noblest in all human relations, permanent freedom, will have come forth from them.
The actions of free beings have, strictly speaking, no other consequences than those which affect other free beings. For only in such, and for such, does a world exist; and that, wherein all agree, is the world. But they have consequences in free agents only by means of the infinite Will, by which all individuals exist. A call, a revelation of that Will to us, is always a requirement to perform some particular duty. Hence, even that which we call evil in the world, the consequence of the abuse of freedom, exists only through him; and it exists for all, for whom it exists, only so far as it imposes duties upon them. Did it not fall within the eternal plan of our moral education and the education of our whole race that precisely these duties should be laid upon us, they would not have been imposed; and that whereby they are imposed, and which we call evil, would never have been. In this view, everything which takes place is good, and absolutely accordant with the best ends. There is but one world possible—a thoroughly good one. Everything that occurs in this world conduces to the reformation and education of man, and, by means of that, to the furtherance of his earthly destination.
It is this higher world-plan that we call Nature, when we say Nature leads men through want to industry, through the evils of general disorder to a righteous polity, through the miseries of their perpetual wars to final, ever-during peace. Thy will, O Infinite, thy providence alone, is this higher Nature! This too is best understood by artless simplicity, which regards this life as a place of discipline and education, as a school for eternity; which, in all the fortunes it experiences, the most trivial as well as the most momentous, beholds thy ordinations designed for good; and which firmly believes that all things will work together for good to those who love their duty and know thee.
O truly have I spent the former days of my life in darkness! Truly have I heaped errors upon errors, and thought myself wise! Now only out of thy mouth, wondrous Spirit, I fully understand the doctrine which seemed so strange to me! although my understanding had nothing to oppose to it. For now only I overlook it, in its whole extent, in its deepest meaning, and in all its consequences.
Man is not a product of the world of the senses; and the end of his existence can never be attained in that world. His destination lies beyond time and space and all that pertains to the senses. He must know what he is and what he is to make himself. As his destination is sublime, so his thought must be able to lift itself above all the bounds of the senses. This must be his calling. Where his being is indigenous, there his thought must be indigenous also; and the most truly human view, that which alone befits him, that in which his whole power of thought is represented, is the view by which he lifts himself above those limits, by which all that is of the senses is changed for him into pure nothing, a mere reflection in mortal eyes of the alone enduring, non-sensuous.
Many have been elevated to this view without scientific thought, simply by their great heart and their pure moral instinct; because they lived especially with the heart, and in the sentiments. They denied, by their conduct, the efficacy and reality of the world of the senses; and in the shaping of their purposes and measures, they esteemed as nothing that concerning which they had not yet learned by thinking that it is nothing, even to thought. They who could say, "our citizenship is in heaven; we have here no permanent place, but seek one to come;" they whose first principle was, to die to the world and to be born anew, and, even here, to enter into another life—they, truly, placed not the slightest value upon all the objects of sense, and were, to use the language of the School, practical transcendental Idealists.
Others who, in addition to the sensuous activity which is native to us all, have, by their thought, confirmed themselves in the sensuous, become implicated, and, as it were, grown together with it; they can raise themselves permanently and perfectly above the sensuous only by continuing and carrying out their thought. Otherwise, with the purest moral intentions, they will still be drawn down again by their understanding, and their whole being will remain a continued and insoluble contradiction. For such, that philosophy, which I now first entirely understand, is the power by which Psyche first strips off her chrysalis, unfolds the wings on which she then hovers above herself, and casts one glance on the slough she has dropped, thenceforth to live and work in higher spheres.
Blessed be the hour in which I resolved to meditate on myself and my destination! All my questions are solved. I know what I can know, and I am without anxiety concerning that which I cannot know. I am satisfied. There is perfect harmony and clearness in my spirit, and a new and more glorious existence for that spirit begins.
My whole, complete destination, I do not comprehend. What I am called to be and shall be, surpasses all my thought. A part of this destination is yet hidden to me, visible only to him, the Father of Spirits, to whom it is committed. I know only that it is secured to me, and that it is eternal and glorious as himself. But that portion of it which is committed to me, I know. I know it entirely, and it is the root of all my other knowledge. I know, in every moment of my life, with certainty, what I am to do in that moment. And this is my whole destination, so far as it depends upon me. From this, since my knowledge goes no farther, I must not depart. I must not desire to know anything beyond it. I must stand fast in this one centre, and take root in it. All my scheming and striving, and all my faculty, must be directed to that. My whole existence must inweave itself with it.
* * * * *
I raise myself to this viewpoint, and am a new creature. My whole relation to the existing world is changed. The threads by which my mind was heretofore bound to this world, and by whose mysterious traction it followed all the movements of this world, are forever severed, and I stand free—myself, my own world, peaceful and unmoved. No longer with the heart, with the eye alone, I seize the objects about me, and, through the eye alone, am connected with them. And this eye itself, made clearer by freedom, looks through error and deformity to the true and the beautiful; as, on the unmoved surface of the water, forms mirror themselves pure and with a softened light.
My mind is forever closed against embarrassment and confusion, against doubt and anxiety; my heart is forever closed against sorrow, and remorse, and desire. There is but one thing that I care to know: What I must do; and this I know, infallibly, always. Concerning all besides I know nothing, and I know that I know nothing; and I root myself fast in this my ignorance, and forbear to conjecture, to opine, to quarrel with myself concerning that of which I know nothing. No event in this world can move me to joy, and none to sorrow. Cold and unmoved I look down upon them all; for I know that I cannot interpret one of them, nor discern its connection with that which is my only concern. Everything which takes place belongs to the plan of the eternal world, and is good in relation to that plan; so much I know. But what, in that plan, is pure gain, and what is only meant to remove existing evil, accordingly what I should most or least rejoice in, I know not. In his world everything succeeds. This suffices me, and in this faith I stand firm as a rock. But what in his world is only germ, what blossom, what the fruit itself, I know not. The only thing which can interest me is the progress of reason and morality in the kingdom of rational beings—and that purely for its own sake, for the sake of the progress. Whether I am the instrument of this progress or another, whether it is my act which succeeds or is thwarted, or whether it is the act of another, is altogether indifferent to me. I regard myself in every case but as one of the instruments of a rational design, and I honor and love myself, and am interested in myself, only as such; and I wish the success of my act only so far as it goes to accomplish that end. Therefore I regard all the events of this world in the same manner and only with exclusive reference to this one end—whether they proceed from me or from another, whether they relate to me immediately, or to others. My breast is closed against all vexation on account of personal mortifications and affronts, against all exaltation on account of personal merits; for my entire personality has long since vanished and been swallowed up in the contemplation of the end.
* * * * *
Bodily sufferings, pain and sickness, should such befal me, I cannot avoid to feel, for they are events of my nature, and I am and remain nature here below. But they shall not trouble me. They affect only the Nature with which I am, in some strange way, connected; not myself, the being which is elevated above all Nature. The sure end of all pain, and of all susceptibility of pain, is death; and of all which the natural man is accustomed to regard as evil, this is the least so to me. Indeed, I shall not die for myself, but only for others, for those that remain behind, from whose connection I am severed. For myself, the hour of death is the hour of birth to a new and more glorious life.
Since my heart is thus closed to all desire for the earthly, since, in fact, I have no longer any heart for the perishable, the universe appears to my eye in a transfigured form. The dead inert mass which but choked up space has vanished; and, instead thereof, flows, and waves, and rushes the eternal stream of life, and power, and deed—of the original life, of thy life, O Infinite! For all life is thy life, and only the religious eye pierces to the kingdom of veritable beauty.
I am related to thee, and all that I behold around me is related to me. All is quick, all is soul, and gazes upon me with bright spirit-eyes, and speaks in spirit-tones to my heart. Most diversely sundered and severed, I behold, in all the forms without me, myself again, and beam upon myself from them, as the morning sun, in thousand dew-drops diversely refracted, glitters back toward itself.
Thy life, as the finite being can apprehend it, is volition which shapes and represents itself by means of itself alone. This life, made sensible in various ways to mortal eyes, flows through me and from me downward, through the immeasurable whole of Nature. Here it streams, as self-creating, self-fashioning matter, through my veins and muscles, and deposits its fulness outside of me, in the tree, in the plant, in the grass. As one connected stream, drop by drop, the forming life flows in all shapes and on all sides, wherever my eye can follow it, and looks upon me, from every point of the universe, with a different aspect, as the same force which fashions my own body in darkness and in secret. Yonder it waves free, and leaps and dances as self-forming motion in the brute; and, in every new body, represents itself as another separate, self-subsisting world—the same power which, invisible to me, stirs and moves in my own members. All that lives follows this universal current, this one principle of all movement, which transmits the harmonious concussion from one end of the universe to the other. The brute follows it without freedom. I, from whom, in the visible world, the movement proceeds (without, therefore, originating in me), follow it freely.
But, pure and holy, and near to thine own essence as aught, to mortal apprehension, can be, this thy life flows forth as a band which binds spirits with spirits in one, as air and ether of the one world of Reason, inconceivable and incomprehensible, and yet lying plainly revealed to the spiritual eye. Conducted by this light-stream, thought floats unrestrained and the same from soul to soul, and returns purer and transfigured from the kindred breast. Through this mystery the individual finds, and understands, and loves himself, only in another; and every spirit detaches itself only from other spirits; and there is no man, but only a Humanity; no isolated thinking, and loving, and hating, but only a thinking, and loving, and hating in and through one another. Through this mystery the affinity of spirits, in the invisible world, streams forth into their corporeal nature, and represents itself in two sexes, which, though every spiritual band could be severed, are still constrained, as natural beings, to love each other. It flows forth into the affection of parents and children, of brothers and sisters, as if the souls were sprung from one blood as well as the bodies—as if the minds were branches and blossoms of the same stem; and from thence it embraces, in narrower or wider circles, the whole sentient world. Even the hatred of spirits is grounded in thirst for love; and no enmity springs up, except from friendship denied.
Mine eye discerns this eternal life and motion, in all the veins of sensuous and spiritual Nature, through what seems to others a dead mass. And it sees this life forever ascend, and grow, and transfigure itself into a more spiritual expression of its own nature. The universe is no longer, to me, that circle which returns into itself, that game which repeats itself without ceasing, that monster which devours itself in order to reproduce itself as it was before. It is spiritualized to my contemplation, and bears the peculiar impress of the spirit—continual progress toward perfection, in a straight line which stretches into infinity.
The sun rises and sets, the stars vanish and return again, and all the spheres hold their cycle-dance. But they never return precisely such as they disappeared; and in the shining fountains of life there is also life and progress. Every hour which they bring, every morning and every evening, sinks down with new blessings on the world. New life and new love drop from the spheres, as dew-drops from the cloud, and embrace Nature, as the cool night embraces the earth.
All death in Nature is birth; and precisely in dying the sublimation of life appears most conspicuous. There is no death-bringing principle in Nature, for Nature is only life, throughout. Not death kills, but the more living life, which, hidden behind the old, begins and unfolds itself. Death and birth are only the struggle of life with itself to manifest itself in ever more transfigured form, more like itself.
And my death—can that be anything different from this?—I, who am not a mere representation and copy of life, but who bear within myself the original, the alone true and essential life! It is not a possible thought that Nature should annihilate a life which did not spring from her—Nature, which exists only for my sake, not I for hers.
But even my natural life, even this mere representation of an inward invisible life to mortal eyes, Nature cannot annihilate; otherwise she must be able to annihilate herself—she who exists only for me and for my sake, and who ceases to exist, if I am not. Even because she puts me to death she must quicken me anew. It can be only my higher life, unfolding itself in her, before which my present life disappears; and that which mortals call death is the visible appearing of a second vivification. Did no rational being, who has once beheld its light, perish from the earth, there would be no reason to expect a new heaven and a new earth. The only possible aim of Nature, that of representing and maintaining Reason, would have been already fulfilled here below, and her circle would be complete. But the act by which she puts to death a free, self-subsisting being, is her solemn—to all Reason apparent—transcending of that act, and of the entire sphere which she thereby closes. The apparition of death is the conductor by which my spiritual eye passes over to the new life of myself, and of a Nature for me.
Every one of my kind who passes from earthly connections, and who cannot, to my spirit, seem annihilated, because he is one of my kind, draws my thought over with him. He still is, and to him belongs a place.
While we, here below, sorrow for him with such sorrow as would be felt, if possible, in the dull kingdom of unconsciousness, when a human being withdraws himself from thence to the light of earth's sun—while we so mourn, on yonder side there is joy because a man is born into their world; as we citizens of earth receive with joy our own. When I, some time, shall follow them, there will be for me only joy; for sorrow remains behind, in the sphere which I quit.
It vanishes and sinks before my gaze—the world which I so lately admired. With all the fulness of life, of order, of increase, which I behold in it, it is but the curtain by which an infinitely more perfect world is concealed from me. It is but the germ out of which that infinitely more perfect shall unfold itself. My faith enters behind this curtain, and warms and quickens this germ. It sees nothing definite, but expects more than it can grasp here below, than it will ever be able to grasp in time.
So I live and so I am; and so I am unchangeable, firm and complete for all eternity. For this being is not one which I have received from without; it is my own only true being and essence.
ADDRESSES TO THE GERMAN NATION
(1807 to 1808)
TRANSLATED BY LOUIS H. GRAY, PH.D.
The Definition of a Nation in the Higher Sense of the Word, and of Patriotism
The last four addresses have answered the question, What is the German as contrasted with other nations of Teutonic origin? The argument will be complete if we further add the examination of the question, What is a nation? The latter question is identical with another, and, at the same time, the other question, which has often been propounded and has been answered in very different ways, helps in the solution. This question is, What is patriotism, or, as it would be more correctly expressed, What is the love of the individual for his nation?
If we have thus far proceeded aright in the course of our investigation, it must become obvious therefrom that only the German—the primitive man, not he who has become petrified by arbitrary laws and institutions—really has a nation and is entitled to count on one, and that only he is capable of real and rational love for his nation.
We smooth our way to a solution of our proposed task by means of the following remark, which appears, at first sight, to lie outside the context of our previous discussion.
As we have already observed in our third address, religion is able absolutely to transport us above all time and above the whole of present and perceptual life without doing the least injury to the justice, morality, and holiness of the life influenced by this belief. Even with the certain conviction that all our activity on this earth will not leave the least trace behind it and will not produce the slightest results, and even with the belief that the divine may actually be perverse and may be used as a tool of evil and of still deeper moral corruption, it is, nevertheless, possible to continue in this activity simply in order to maintain the divine life that has come forth within us and that stands in relation to a higher governance of things in a future world where nothing perishes that has been done in God. Thus, for instance, the apostles and the first Christians generally, even while living, were wholly transported above the earth because of their belief in heaven; and affairs terrestrial—state, fatherland, and nation—were so entirely renounced that they no longer deemed such trivial concerns worthy even of their consideration. However possible this may be, however easy, moreover, for faith, and however joyfully we may resign ourselves to the conviction, since it is unalterably the will of God, that we have no more an earthly country but are exiles and slaves here below—nevertheless, this is not the natural condition and the rule governing the course of the world, but is a rare exception. Moreover, it is a very perverse use of religion (and, among others, Christianity has frequently been guilty of it) when, as a question of principle and without regard to the existent circumstances, it proceeds to commend this withdrawal from the affairs of the state and of the nation as a truly religious sentiment. Under such conditions, if they are true and real and not perhaps induced merely by religious fanaticism, temporal life loses all its independence and becomes simply a fore-court of the true life and a hard trial to be borne only by obedience and submission to the will of God; in this view it becomes true that, as has been claimed by many, immortal souls have been plunged into earthly bodies, as into prisons, simply as a punishment. In the regular order of things, however, earthly life should itself truly be life in which we may rejoice and which we may thankfully enjoy, even though in expectation of a higher life; and although it is true that religion is also the comfort of the slave illegally oppressed, yet, above all things, the essence of religion is to oppose slavery and to prevent, so far as possible, its deterioration to a mere consolation of the captive. It is doubtless to the interest of the tyrant to preach religious resignation and to refer to heaven those to whom he will not grant a tiny place on earth; we must, however, be less hasty to adopt the view of religion recommended by the tyrant, for, if we can, we must forestall the making of earth into hell in order to arouse a still greater longing for heaven.
The natural impulse of man, to be surrendered only in case of real necessity, is to find heaven already on this earth and to amalgamate into his earthly work day by day that which lasts forever; to plant and to cultivate the imperishable in the temporal itself—not merely in an unconceivable way, connected with the eternal solely by the gulf which mortal eyes may not pass, but in a manner which is visible to the mortal eye itself.
That I may begin with this generally intelligible example—what noble-minded man does not wish and aspire to repeat his own life in better wise in his children and, again, in their children, and still to continue to live upon this earth, ennobled and perfected in their lives, long after he is dead; to wrest from mortality the spirit, the mind, and the character with which in his day he perchance put perversity and corruption to flight, established uprightness, aroused sluggishness, and uplifted dejection, and to deposit these, as his best legacy to posterity, in the spirits of his survivors, in order that, in their turn, they may again bequeath them equally adorned and augmented? What noble-minded man does not wish, by act or thought, to sow a seed for the infinite and eternal perfecting of his race; to cast into Time something new and hitherto non-existent, which may abide there and become the unfailing source of new creations; to repay, for his place on this earth and for the short span of life vouchsafed him, something that shall last forever even here on earth—to the end that he as an individual, even though unnamed by history (since thirst for fame is contemptible vanity), may leave behind in his own consciousness and in his own belief manifest tokens that he himself existed? What noble-minded man does not wish this, I asked; yet the world is to be considered as organized only in accordance with the requirements of those who thus view themselves as the norm of how all men should be. It is for their sakes alone that the world exists! They are indeed its kernel; and those who think otherwise must be regarded as merely a part of the transitory world so long as they reason on so low a plane, for they exist merely for the sake of the noble-minded and must accommodate themselves to the latter until they have risen to their height.
What, now, could it be that might give solid foundation to this challenge and to this belief of the noble in the eternity and the imperishability of his work? Obviously, only an order of things which he could recognize as eternal in itself and as capable of receiving eternal elements within itself. Such an order is, however, the special, spiritual nature of human surroundings, which can, it is true, be comprised in no concept, but which is, nevertheless, truly present—the surroundings from which he has himself come forth with all his thought and activity and with his faith in their eternity—the nation from which he is descended, amid which he was educated and grew up to what he now is. For however undoubtedly true it may be that his work, if he rightly lays claim to its eternity, is in no wise the mere result of the spiritual, natural law of his nation, simply merging into this result—no, it must be thought of as an element greater than that—a something which flows immediately from the primitive and divine life. Nevertheless, it is equally true that this something more, immediately after its formation as a visible phenomenon, has subordinated itself to that special spiritual law of nature, has acquired a perceptual expression only in accordance with that law. Under this same natural law, so long as this nation endures, all further revelations of the divine will also appear and be formed within it. Yet, through the fact that the man existed and so labored, this law itself is further determined, and his activity has become a permanent component of it; everything subsequent will likewise be compelled to adapt itself accordingly and to conform to the law in question. And thus he is made certain that the culture which he has achieved remains with his nation for all time and becomes a permanent basis of determination for all its further development.
In the higher conception of the word considered in general from the viewpoint of an insight into a spiritual world, a nation is this: The totality of human beings living together in society and constantly perpetuating themselves both bodily and spiritually; and this totality stands altogether under a certain specific law through which the divine develops itself. The universality of this specific law is what binds this multitude into a natural totality, inter-penetrated by itself, in the eternal world, and, for that very reason, in the temporal world as well. The law itself, in its essence, can be generally comprehended as we have applied it to the case of the Germans as a primal nation; through consideration of the phenomena of such a nation it may be even more exactly grasped in many of its further determinations; yet it can never be entirely understood by any one who, unknown to himself, personally remains continually under its influence; it may in general, however, be clearly perceived that such a law exists. This law is a surplus of the figurative which amalgamates directly with the surplus of the unfigurative primitiveness in the phenomenon, and thus, precisely in the phenomenon, both are then no longer separable. That law absolutely determines and completes what has been called the national character of a people—the law, namely, of the development of the primitive and of the divine. From the latter it is clear that men who do not in the least believe in a primitive being and in a further development of it, but simply in an eternal circle of visible life, and who, through their belief, become what they believe, are no nation whatsoever in the higher sense; and since they do not, strictly speaking, actually exist, they are equally powerless to possess a national character.
The belief of the noble-minded man in the eternal continuance of his activity, even upon this earth, is based, accordingly, on the hope for the eternal continuance of the nation from which he has himself developed, and of its individuality in accordance with that hidden law, without intermixture and corruption by any alien element and by what does not appertain to the totality of this legislation. This individuality is the permanent element to which he intrusts the eternity of himself and of his continued action—the eternal order of things in which he lays his perpetuity. He must desire its continuance, for it is alone the releasing agency whereby the brief span of his life here is extended to a continuous life upon the earth. His belief and his endeavor to plant what shall not pass away, and the concept in which he comprehends his own life as an eternal life, constitute the bond which most intimately associates with himself, first, his own nation and, through that, the entire human race—which brings the needs of them all, to the end of time, into his broadened heart. This is his love for his nation, and through it, first, he respects, trusts, rejoices in it, and takes pride in his descent from it; the Divine has appeared in it, and has deigned to make it his covering and his means of direct communication with the world; the Divine, therefore, will continue to break forth from it. Therefore man is, secondly, active, efficacious, and self-sacrificing for his nation. Life, simply as life, as a continuance of changing existence, has certainly never possessed value for him apart from this—he has desired it merely as the source of the permanent. This permanence, however, alone promises him the independent continuance of the existence of his nation; and to save this he must even be willing to die that it may live, and that in it he may live the only life that has ever been possible to him.
Thus it is. Love, to be really love, and not merely a transitory desire, never clings to the perishable, but is awakened and kindled by, and based upon, the eternal only. Man is not even able to love himself unless he consider himself as eternal; moreover, he cannot even esteem and approve himself. Still less can he love anything outside himself, except, that is, that he receive it within the eternity of his belief and of his soul, and connect it with this eternity. He who does not, first of all, regard himself as eternal, has no love whatever, nor can he, moreover, love a fatherland, since nothing of the sort exists for him. It is true that he who, perchance, regards his invisible life as eternal, but who does not, therefore, esteem his visible life as eternal in the same sense, may perhaps have a heaven, and in this his fatherland, but here on earth he has no fatherland; for this also is seen only under the metaphor of eternity and, indeed, of visible eternity, rendered perceptible to the senses; moreover, he cannot, therefore, love his fatherland. If such a man has none, he is to be pitied; but he to whom one has been given, and in whose soul heaven and earth, the invisible and the visible, interpenetrate, and thus for the first time create a true and worthy heaven, fights to the last drop of his blood again to transmit the precious possession undiminished to posterity.
Thus has it been from time immemorial, though it has not been expressed from time immemorial with this generality and with this clearness. What inspired the noble spirits among the Romans, whose sentiments and mode of thought still live and breathe among us in their monuments, to struggle and to sacrifice, to endure and be patient, for their fatherland? They themselves state it frequently and clearly. It was their firm belief in the eternal continuance of their Rome, and their confident expectation of themselves continuing to live in this eternity. In so far as this conviction had foundation, and in so far as they themselves would have grasped it if they had been perfectly clear within themselves, it never deceived them.
Unto this day what was really eternal in their eternal Rome lives on and they with it in our midst, and it will continue to live, in its results, until the end of time.
In this sense—as the vehicle and the pledge of earthly eternity, and the interpretation of the eternal here—nation and fatherland far transcend the State in the ordinary sense of the term social organization, as this is conceived in its simple, clear connotation, and as it is founded and maintained in accordance with this conception—a conception which demands sure justice and internal peace, and requires that every one through his efforts obtain his support and the prolongation of his sentient existence so long as God will grant it to him. All this is only a means, a condition, and a scaffolding of what patriotism really means—the development of the eternal and the divine in the world, which is ever to become purer, more perfect in infinite progression. For that very reason this patriotism must, first of all, rule the State itself as absolutely the highest, ultimate, and independent authority, by limiting it in the choice of means for its immediate purpose—inner peace. To reach this goal, the natural freedom of the individual must be limited in many ways, it is true; and if this were absolutely the only consideration and intention regarding them, it would be well to restrict this liberty as closely as possible, in order to bring all their movements under one uniform rule, and to keep them under constant supervision. Granted that such severity be necessary, it could at least do no harm for this single end; only the higher concept of the human race and of the nations widens this limited view. Even in the manifestations of external life freedom is the soil in which the higher culture germinates; a legislation which keeps this later aim in view will give the broadest possible scope to freedom, even at the risk that a less degree of uniform quiet and calm may result, and that government may become a little more difficult and laborious.
To elucidate this by an example—it has been known to happen that nations have been told to their faces that they did not require as much freedom as many other nations do. This statement might, indeed, be dictated by forbearance and a desire to palliate, the true meaning being that they were utterly unable to endure so great freedom and that only a high degree of rigidity could prevent them from destroying one another. If, however, the words are taken as they are spoken, they are true under the presupposition that such a nation is entirely incapable of the natural life and of the impulse toward it. Such a nation—in case such a one, in which some few of the nobler sort did not make an exception to the general rule, were possible—would indeed require no freedom whatever, since this is only for the higher ends which transcend the State; it requires simply taming and training in order that the individuals may live peaceably side by side, and that the whole may be made an efficient means for arbitrary ends which lie outside its proper sphere. We need not decide whether this may truthfully be said of any nation whatever; but this much is clear, that a primitive nation requires freedom, that this freedom is the pledge of its persistence as a primitive people, and that, as it continues, it bears, without any danger, an ever ascending degree of freedom. And this is the first example of the necessity of patriotism governing the state itself.
It must, then, be patriotism which governs the state in that it sets for it itself a higher end than the ordinary one of the maintenance of the internal peace, of the property, of the personal freedom, of the life, and of the well-being of all. Solely for this higher end, and with no other intention, the state assembles an armed force. When the problem of the application of this armed force arises, when it is a question of hazarding all the aims of the state in the abstract-property, personal freedom, life, welfare, and the continuance of the state itself—when, answerable to God alone, they are called upon to decide without a clear and rational conception of the sure attainment of the end in view, which in matters of this sort it is never possible to gain—then only the true primitive life holds the rudder of the state, and here for the first time enters the true sovereign right of the government, like God, to imperil the lower life for the sake of the higher. In the maintenance of the traditional organization, of the laws, and of civic welfare, there is absolutely no genuine life and no primitive decision. Circumstances and situations, legislators who have perhaps long been dead, have created those things; succeeding ages go trustingly forward in the road they have entered, and thus, as a matter of fact, they do not live a public life of their own, but merely repeat a former. In such periods there is no need of a real government. If, however, this uniform progress is imperiled, and the problem arises of deciding with reference to new cases, then a life is required which has its roots in itself. What spirit is it, now, which in such cases may take its place at the helm, which is able to decide with individual certainty and without uneasy wavering, and which has an indubitable right authoritatively to lay demands upon every one who may be concerned, whether he will or not, and to compel the recalcitrant to imperil everything, even to his life? Not the spirit of calm civilian love for the constitution and the laws, but the burning flame of the higher patriotism which regards the nation as the veil of the eternal, for which the noble joyfully sacrifices himself, and for which the ignoble, who exists only for the sake of the noble, should also sacrifice himself! It is not that civilian love for the constitution, for this is absolutely incapable of such action if it is founded on reason only.
Whatever may be the outcome, since governance is not unrewarded, some one will always be found to take charge of it. Let the new ruler even favor slavery (and in what does slavery consist except in contempt and suppression of the individuality of a primitive people?), since advantage may be derived from the life of slaves, from their number, and even from their welfare, then slavery will be endurable under him provided he is a calculator to any extent. They will at least always find life and support. Why, then, should they thus struggle? According to both of them, it is peace which transcends everything in their opinion, but this is disturbed only by the continuance of the struggle. The slave, therefore, puts forth every effort to end it quickly; he will yield and submit—and why should he not? He never had a higher purpose, and he has never expected anything more from life than the continuance of his existence under endurable conditions. The promise of a life lasting, even here, beyond the duration of earthly life—this alone is what can inspire him to death for the fatherland.
Thus it has always been. Wheresoever real government has existed, where serious struggles have been fought out, where victory has been won against mighty resistance, it has been the promise of eternal life that governed and fought and conquered. The German Protestants, formerly mentioned in these addresses, fought with faith in this promise. Did they not perhaps know that nations might also be governed with the old faith and be held in legal order, and that a good livelihood might be found under this faith also? Why, then, did their princes thus determine upon armed resistance, and why did their peoples lend themselves to it with enthusiasm? It was heaven and eternal happiness for which they gladly shed their blood. Yet what earthly power could then have penetrated into the inmost sanctuary of their souls and have been able to eradicate the faith which had now once sprung up within them, and on which alone they based their hope of salvation? It was not, therefore, their own happiness for which they struggled—of that they were already assured; it was the happiness of their children, of their grandchildren still unborn, and of all posterity. These, too, should be brought up in the same doctrine which alone seemed to them to bring salvation; they, too, should share in the salvation which had dawned for them. It was this hope alone that was threatened by the foe; for that hope, for an order of things which should bloom above their graves long after they were dead, they shed their blood thus joyfully. If we grant that they were not entirely clear to themselves, that in their designation of the noblest they verbally mistook what was within them, and with their mouths did injustice to their souls; if we willingly acknowledge that their confession of faith was not the sole and exclusive means of attaining heaven beyond the grave—yet, this, at least, is eternally true that more heaven on this side of the grave, a more courageous and more joyous lifting of the gaze above the earth, and a freer impulse of spirit have come through their sacrifice into all the life of succeeding ages; and the descendants of their opponents, as well as we ourselves, their own descendants, enjoy the fruits of their labors unto this day.
In this belief our oldest common ancestors, the parent nation of civilization, the Teutons whom the Romans called Germans, boldly opposed the advancing world-dominion of the Romans. Did they not then see before their eyes the higher bloom of the Roman provinces near them, the more refined enjoyments in them, and, in addition, laws, judgment-seats, rods, and axes in superabundance? Were not the Romans willing enough to allow them to share in all these blessings? Did they not experience, in the case of several of their own princes who had allowed themselves to be persuaded that war against such benefactors of humanity was rebellion, proofs of the lauded Roman clemency, since Rome adorned these submissive lords with kingly titles, with generalships in their armies, and with Roman fillets, and gave them, if, perchance, they had been driven out by their compatriots, maintenance and a place of refuge in their colonies? Had they no feeling for the advantages of Roman culture, as, for example, for the better organization of their armies, in which even an Arminius did not disdain to learn the trade of war? None of all these ignorances or negligences is to be charged against them. Their descendents even adopted the culture of the Romans as soon as they could do it without loss of their freedom and in so far as it was possible without impairment of their individuality. Why did they, then, thus struggle for several generations in sanguinary war, ever renewed with the same virulence? A Roman author makes their leaders ask "whether anything was then left for them except either to assert their freedom or to die before they became slaves?" Freedom meant to them that they remained Germans, that they continued to decide their affairs independently, in conformity with their national genius, and, likewise in conformity with this spirit, that they continued to go forward in their development and transmitted this independence to their posterity; slavery meant to them all the blessings which the Romans offered them, because in that case they must be something else than Germans—they might be half Romans. It is self-evident, they presuppose, that every one would rather die than become thus, and that a true German can wish to live only that he may be and remain forever a German and may train all that belong to him to be Germans also.
They have not all died; they have not seen slavery; they have bequeathed liberty to their children. All the modern world owes it to their stubborn resistance that it exists as it does. If the Romans had succeeded in subjugating them also and, as the Roman everywhere did, in eradicating them as a nation, then the entire future development of mankind would have taken a direction that we cannot imagine would have been more pleasant. We, the immediate heirs of their land, their language, and their thought, owe it to them that we be still Germans, that the stream of primitive and independent life still bear us on; to them we owe everything that we have since become as a nation; and, unless we have now perhaps come to an end, and unless the last drop of blood inherited from them is dried up in our veins, we shall owe to them all that we shall be in the future. Even the other Teutonic races, among whom are our brethren, and who have now become foreigners to us, owe to them their existence; when they conquered eternal Rome, no one of all these nations yet existed; at that time the possibility of their future origin was simultaneously won in the struggle.
These, and all others in universal history who have been of their type of thought, have conquered because the eternal inspired them, and thus this inspiration ever and of necessity prevails over him who is not inspired. It is not the might of arms nor the fitness of weapons that wins victories, but the power of the soul. He who sets himself a limited goal for his sacrifices, and who can dare no further than a certain point, surrenders resistance as soon as the danger reaches a crisis where he cannot yield or dodge. He who has set himself no limit whatsoever, but who hazards everything, even life—the highest boon that can be lost on earth—never ceases to resist, and, if his opponent has a more limited goal, he indubitably conquers. A people that is capable, though it be only in its highest representatives and leaders, of keeping firmly before its vision independence, the face from the spirit world, and of being inspired with love for it, as were our remotest forefathers, surely conquers a people that, like the Roman armies, is used merely as a tool for foreign dominion and for the subjugation of independent nations; for the former have everything to lose, the latter have merely something to gain. But even a whim can prevail over the mental attitude which regards war as a game of hazard for temporal gain or loss, and which, even before the game starts, has fixed the limit of the stake. Think, for example, of a Mohammed—not the real Mohammed of history, concerning whom I confess that I have no judgment, but the Mohammed of a distinguished French poet—who had once become firmly convinced that he was one of the extraordinary natures who are called to guide the obscure and common folk of earth, and to whom, in consequence of this first presupposition, all his whims, however meagre and limited they may really be, must necessarily appear to be great, exalted and inspiring ideas because they are his own, while everything that opposes them must seem obscure, common folk, enemies of their own weal, evil-minded, and hateful. Such a man, in order to justify this self-conceit to himself as a divine vocation, and entirely absorbed in this thought, must stake everything upon it, nor can he rest until he has trampled under foot all that will not think as highly of him as he does himself, or until his own belief in his divine mission is reflected from the whole contemporary world. I shall not say what would be his fortunes in case a spiritual vision that is true and clear within itself should actually come against him on the field of battle, but he certainly wins from those limited gamblers, for he hazards everything against those who do not so hazard; no spirit inspires them, but he is altogether inspired by a fanatical spirit—that of his mighty and powerful self-conceit.
It follows from all this that the state, as mere governance of human life proceeding in its normal peaceable course, is not a primal thing and one existing for itself, but that it is simply the means to the higher end of the eternally uniform development of the purely human in this nation; that it is only the vision and the love of this eternal development which is continually to guide the higher outlook upon the administration of the state, even in periods of calm, and which alone can save the independence of the nation when this is endangered. In the case of the Germans, among whom, as being a primitive people, this love of country was possible and, as we firmly believe, has actually existed hitherto, such patriotism could, up to our own time, count with a high degree of certainty upon the safety of its most important interests. As was the case only among the Greeks in antiquity, among the Germans the State and the nation were actually severed from each other, and each was represented separately; the former in the individual German kingdoms and principalities; the latter visibly in the Federation of the Empire, and invisibly—valid not in consequence of written law but as a sequence of a law living in the hearts of all, and in its results striking the eyes at every turn—in a multitude of customs and institutions. As far as the German language extended, every one who saw the light within its domain could regard himself as a citizen in a two-fold sense, partly of his natal city, to whose immediate protection he was recommended; and partly of the entire common fatherland of the German nation. Throughout the whole extent of this fatherland each man might seek for himself that culture which was most akin to his spirit, or he might search for the sphere of activity most suited for it; and talent did not grow into its place, like a tree, but he was permitted to search for that place. He who became estranged from his immediate surroundings through the direction taken by his culture, easily found welcome reception elsewhere; he found new friends instead of those whom he had lost; he found time and quiet in which to explain himself more accurately and perhaps to win over and to reconcile the wrathful themselves, and thus to unite the whole. No German-born prince could ever bring himself to mark off the fatherland of his subjects within the mountains or rivers where he ruled, and to regard them as bound to the soil. A truth which could not be uttered in one place might be proclaimed in another, where, perhaps, on the contrary, those truths were forbidden which were allowable in the former district; and thus, despite many instances of partiality and narrow-mindedness in the individual states, in Germany, taken as a whole, was found the utmost freedom of investigation and of communication that ever a nation possessed. Higher culture was, and remained on every hand, the result of the reciprocity of the citizens of all German states, and this higher culture then gradually descended in this form to the greater masses, who, consequently, have always, on the whole, continued to educate themselves. As has been said, no German with a German heart, placed at the head of a government, has ever diminished this essential pledge of the continuance of a German nation; and even though, in view of other primitive decisions, what the higher German patriotism must desire was not invariably to be effected, yet at least there was no direct opposition to its interests; no effort was made to undermine that love, to eradicate it, and to replace it by an antagonistic love.
But if, now, the original guidance both of that higher culture and of the national power—which should be used only in behalf of that culture and to further its continuance—the employment of German wealth and German blood is to pass from the supremacy of the German spirit to that of another, what would then necessarily result?
Here is the place where there is special need of applying the policy which we outlined in our first address, namely, to be unwilling to be deceived in regard to our own interest, and to have the courage willingly to see the truth and acknowledge it. Moreover, it is still permissible, so far as I know, to talk with one another in German about our fatherland, or at least to sigh in German, and, I believe, we should not do well if we ourselves precipitated such an interdiction and wished to lay the fetters of individual timidity on the courage which, no doubt, will already have considered the risk of the venture.
Well then, picture to yourself the presupposed new regime to be as kind and as benevolent as you will; make it good as God; will you also be able to invest it with divine understanding? Even though it may, in all earnestness, desire the highest happiness and welfare of all, will the best welfare that it can comprehend also be the welfare of Germany? I accordingly hope that I shall be perfectly understood in reference to the main point that I have presented to you today; I hope that in the course of my remarks many have thought and felt that I merely express clearly in words what has always lain within their hearts; I hope the same will be the case with the other Germans who will some day read this address. Several Germans have said approximately the same things before me, and that sentiment has lain obscurely at the basis of the opposition continually manifested against a merely mechanical establishment and estimate of the State. And now I challenge all who are acquainted with modern foreign literature to prove to me what later sage, poet, or lawgiver among them has ever given birth to a prophetic thought similar to this, which regarded the human race as being in continual progress, and which correlated all its temporal activity only with this progress; whether any one of them, even in the period when they soared most boldly to political creation, demanded from the state more than equality, internal peace, external national fame, and, when their demands reached the extreme limit, domestic happiness? If this is their highest conception, as must be deduced from all that has been said, they can attribute to us likewise no higher needs and no higher demands upon life, and—always presupposing those beneficent sentiments toward us and an absence of all selfishness and of all desire to be more than we—they believe that they have made admirable provision for us when they give us all that they alone recognize as desirable. On the other hand, that for which alone the nobler soul among us can live is then eradicated from public life, and the people, who have always shown themselves receptive toward the impulses of higher things, and the majority of whom, it might be hoped, could even be raised to that nobility, are—in so far as it is treated as they wish it to be treated—abased beneath its rank, dishonored, and blotted out, since it coalesces with the populace of the baser sort.