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THEOLOGICAL TRANSLATION LIBRARY



VOL. XXV
HAERING'S THE ETHICS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE



Ubcolooical ^Translation

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Descriptive Prospectus on Application.



THE ETHICS OF
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE



BY

DR THEODOR VON HAER1NG

PROFESSOR OF DOGMATICS AND ETHICS IN THE UNIVERSITY OF TUBINGEN



Translated from the Second German Edition by

JAMES S. HILL, B.D.

RECTOR OF STOWEY, SOMERSET

With an Introduction by
REV. W. D. MORRISON, LL.D.



RECTOR OF MARYLEBONE



WILLIAMS AND NORGATE

14 HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN, LONDON

NEW YORK: G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS

1909



LIBKAHY

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
SAiYCA BARBARA



TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.

BOOKS on ethics abound, but scarcely books on Christian ethics.
When the qualifying word is added the supply is not so great.
It is commonly thought that ethics is a science that may be
examined and treated like any other science, apart from all
presuppositions that transcend the present life. Psychology
may pursue its w^y untrammelled by the hypothesis of a soul.
It seeks to explore mind by careful observation of mental processes
and physical experiments and inductive reasoning, and to reduce
the region of spiritual mystery to an exact science. Cannot
ethics proceed in an analogous way ? Whether this may be so
or not, certain it is that there is no accepted theory of ethics.
Ethics is based in metaphysics, and the metaphysical basis will
determine the character of the theory. This is shown in the
first part of the present work, and English students who desire
more information and instruction will find it in such works as
the Methods of Ethics of the late Professor Sidgwick, the Types
of Ethical Theory of the eloquent James Martineau. Mill's
utilitarianism will represent the hedonistic or eudaemonistic
point of view, while the evolutionist's theories are treated in
Spencer's Data of Ethics, Stephen's Science and Ethics, and
Alexander's Moral Order and Progress. Bradley's Ethical
Studies represent Hegelianism as conceived by him in an English
dress. There are many useful works of an introductory kind
which may be recommended, as Mackenzie's Manual of Ethics,
clearly written and useful, and Muirhead's Elements of Ethics,
with Sidgwick's History of Ethics.

In all such works, and many others easy to mention, old and
recent, the practical part is usually limited in range, if treated
at all. Dr Haering's work differs from all such treatises in that



vi TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE

it professes to be distinctively a work on Christian practice. It
assumes, as every Christian must, the existence of God, and the
unique character of Christ and the Christian religion. If
Christianity is a unique religion, and has its system of morality,
then the investigation of this system cannot but be a work of
both theoretical and practical importance.

Of especial importance must such a treatise be to the clergy-
man and Christian minister. It is not possible for him to fulfil
either his pastoral or preaching functions without dealing with
ethical problems. To do this effectively he must do it on
system. On what system ? There are large numbers of those
who hold the clerical office who have no acquaintance, or but
a limited acquaintance, with psychology, so needful for every
teacher. The subject is one more or less compulsory on the
secular teacher, and (one would suppose) needful for the spiritual
guide. Much more necessary is it to possess a coherent know-
ledge of ethics. Psychology may show us how to teach ; ethics,
what to teach.

It is true that the subjects with which the Christian minister
has to deal soar above the moral into the spiritual atmosphere,
and that, as commonly conceived, there are doctrines of pure
revelation on which he must dwell ; but it is also true that the
preacher, especially the ' practical ' preacher, can scarcely select
a text in which there is not some moral duty that needs to be
enforced. In the ordinary course of his studies and pastoral
practice it will go hard if he has not to think out the bearings
of duty and thus slowly accumulate useful ethical knowledge.
But such knowledge is apt to be miscellaneous, incoherent,
guided by no principle, and lame accordingly ; or it is made up
of scraps which, when duly traced home, belong to different
and inconsistent systems, an incongruous mixture of Paley and
Butler and others. For all such students a systematised treatise
like the present will prove invaluable ; if not one with which it
is possible always to agree, yet one that will guide and stimulate,
and help to systematise thought.

The author is a Protestant of the ' Evangelical Church ' of
Germany, a State Church, under those peculiar conditions
which it is not easy for the English Churchman to understand.



TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE vii

Roughly speaking, it is as if in England some of the communions
outside the Church of England were ' levelled up ' into
4 Establishment 'and State recognition. The numerous Kirchen-
rechtlichen Abhandlungen show the complicacy and variety of
the conditions arising. From this it follows that the author
may be expected to deal with his subject from the strictest
Protestant point of view, and also, as he does towards the end,
touch on questions that are not of immediate interest to the
English Churchman. It may not thus be possible always to
agree with the author's statements or feel deep interest in his
particular problems, save as they serve to show how, under
varied conditions of Church life, ethical problems are constantly
arising everywhere and need the proper ethical equipment for
dealing with them. The whole work, therefore, is interesting
to the English reader, and the translator has done his best to
present it in as fair a form as a style occasionally difficult to
follow admits.

JAMES S. HILL.

STOWEY RECTORY,

August 1908.



INTRODUCTION.

As The Ethics of the Christian Life is the first volume of Pro-
fessor Haering's which has appeared before the English-speaking
public in a translation, it may be of interest to introduce it
with a few words as to the personality of its author. Dr
Haering was born in Stuttgart in 1848, and after completing
his academic education at the Universities of Tubingen and
Berlin, he returned to Tubingen for a short time, but soon
afterwards entered upon parochial work at Calw and Stuttgart.
In 1886 he was called to the Chair of Theology at Zurich,
where he succeeded Biedermann, one of Hegel's most eminent
disciples. In 1889 Dr Haering left Switzerland for Gottingen,
taking the Chair left vacant by the death of Ritschl. Here
he remained till 1895, when he returned to Tubingen. Like
most of the younger school of German theologians, Professor
Haering has felt the influence of Ritschl, and has adopted
many of his theological methods, even when arriving at con-
clusions of his own. His principal works are the present
volume and a volume which he published two years ago on
the Christian Faith. In both of these works he has the
same object in view to interpret the Gospel in the language
of the age and according to the needs of the age.

W. D. M.



CONTENTS.

INTRODUCTION.

PAGE

1. The Term Ethics . 1

2. The Problem of Ethics ...... 2

3. Philosophical and Theological Ethics .... 3

4. Division of the Subject ...... 4

PART I.
CHRISTIAN ETHICS AND ITS OPPONENTS.

CHAPTER I.
FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS OF ETHICS.

1. Concerning Action ....... 7

2. Concerning Moral Action ... . 10

Its Value ... . . 11

Its Contents . . . . . . . . 13

Its Form (the Moral Law) ... . 13

Its Origin and Validity . . . . . . 18

CHAPTER II.
THE OPPONENTS OF CHRISTIAN ETHICS.

1. The Opponents of all Morality as hitherto conceived . 24

The Devaluation of all Values . 25



xii CONTENTS

PAGE

2. The Opponents of Definite Christian Ethics-
Utilitarian Ethics (Hedonism) . 24
Evolutionary Ethics (Evolution) .... 39

Positivism ........ 48

Pessimism . . . . . . . 4-9

Mixed Systems .... . . 52

CHAPTER III.
THE TRUTH OF CHRISTIAN ETHICS.

1. Reason of the Aversion to Christian Ethics . . 57

Course of the Argument ..... 63

2. Conscience and Freedom ...... 64

3. Conscience Theories tested by Facts .... 64

The Problem presented by the Facts ... 72

4. Freedom ......... 76

(1) Connection between Responsibility and Free-

dom ........ 77

(2) Moral Freedom 79

(3) Objections to Freedom as defined ... 84

Arising from Facts ...... 85

Arising from the Idea of Causality ... 89

(4) The Meaning of Freedom .... 92

5. Morality and Religion ...... 95

(1) Morality without Religion .... 97

(2) Christian Morality and Christian Faith . . 100

(3) The Truth of the Christian Faith . . . 103

(4) The Unsurpassed Superiority of Christian Ethics 1 04



CONTENTS xiii

PART II.
CHRISTIAN ETHICS AS A COHERENT SYSTEM.

CHAPTER IV.
PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS.

PAGE

1. Evangelical and Roman Catholic Ethics . . . Ill

2. Evangelical Ethics in agreement with Scripture . . 116

Division of this Section . . . . . . 123

CHAPTER V.
THE NATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN GOOD.

(Christ the Principle of Christian Ethics.) . 125

1. The Highest Good the Kingdom of God in Christ . 127

2. The Fundamental Notion of the Kingdom of God . ._ 131

Love and Law . . . . . . . 138

3. Detailed Explanation, particularly in contrast to the

Kingdom of Sin 138-148

4. The Great Commandment of Love to God and our

Neighbour after the Example of Christ . . 156

(1) Meaning of the Law . . . . . 158

(2) Form of the Law ...... 160

(3) Contents of the Law 1 63

(4) The Example of Christ 174

5. The Deepest Spring of Action, the Love of God in Christ

as Incentive and Motive Power (Faith and Works) 178

(1) Faith and Works 179

(2) Faith and Repentance 188

(3) Grace and Freedom . . . . . 189

(4) The Reproach of Hedonism . . . . 190



PAGE



xiv CONTENTS

CHAPTER VI.

THE NEW LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN, OR
CHRISTIAN PERSONALITY.

(Individual Ethics.)
Terminology and Division of Subject . . . . ] 96

1. The Commencement of the New Life . . . . 198

2. The Development of the New Life .... 208

(1) Duty and Vocation ..... 209

(2) Fundamental Notions . . . . 210

(3) Conflict of Duties .... . 223

(4) Supererogatory Duties .... 231

(5) The Permissible . . . . . . . 236

3. Virtue and Character ....... 245

Sense of these notions, /;. 246 And the Keynote
of the Christian Character, p. 250 Blessedness,
p. 253 Freedom, p. 255 Honour, p. 256
Humility, p. 262 The Christian in conflict
with Sin (Temptation), p. 264 Means of
Virtue, Asceticism, p. 272 Vows, p. 277
Fasting, p. 280 Prayer and Meditation, p.
280 Sin in the Christian Life, p. 292 Sin
and Assurance of Salvation, p. 297 Christian
Perfection, p. 303

Certain Duties and Virtues . . . . 307

CHAPTER VII.

CHRISTIAN LIFE IN SOCIETY.
(Social Ethics.)

(1) Relation to Individual Ethics and Division . 315

(2) The Notion of Civilised Society and Custom . 320

1 . Marriage and the Family ...... 322

(1) The Christian Idea of Marriage and its Justi-
fication . 325



CONTENTS xv



PAGE



(2) Consequences and various Questions . . 335

(a) Chastity 335

(b) Family Life 337

(c) Legal Questions, Divorce, etc. . . . 341

(d) The Status of Woman .... 342

3. Friendship .........

Remarks introductory to the following notices of
different forms of society, and in particular the

idea of work . . . . . . . 348

4. The Industrial Life Work ..... 352

(!) Theories of Political Economy . . . 356

(2) The Social Question of the Day . . . 36 1

(a) The Grievance ...... 363

(b) The Indictment 364

(c) The Cosmic Theory at the Base . . 371

5. Judgment of Christian Ethics on Economic Theories . 374

Application to the Questions of the Day . . 380

6. Science and Art ...... . 385

(1) The Intellectual Life Science . . 386

Definitions 387

Value of Knowledge .... 387

(2) The ^Esthetic Life 391

Nature of the Beautiful : Productivity and

Receptivity in Art ..... 392

(3) Christian Judgment : Art and Religion . . 396

(4) Companionship . . . . . . 400

7. The State 402

(1) Notion of 403

(2) Meaning of . . . . . . . 406

(3) The Christian State in particular . . . 411

Sunday . . . . . . 413

Oaths 414

The School 417

Patriotism . . 418



xvi CONTENTS

I'AGE

(4) Certain Aspects of the State

(fl) Constitutional Law . . 419

(b) Revolution . 423

(c) Punishment (Capital) ... 425

(d) International Law (War) . . . 430

(e) Politics .... . . 433

8. The Church . . 435

(1) Nature of the Church 436

Need of a special Religious Community . 439

Closer Definition of its Work . . . 440

(2) General Meaning of Law for the Church . . 442

(3) Important separate Questions connected with

Law 443

(a) Multiplicity of ' the Churches ' . . 444

(b) The Clerical Office 448

(c) The Constitution of the Church . . 451

(d) Church and State (the National Church) . 452

(4) Special Questions affecting the Life of the

Church 455

The Effect of single Smaller Congregations

() For closer Pastoi-al Oversight . . . 455

(b) Home Missions, Special Missions, Societies

for these ..... 456

(c) The Supply of an Efficient Ministry . . 458

A Believing Ministry . . . 459

The Question of the Faith . . . 460

(d) Foreign Missions . . . . . 460

CONCLUSION : From Social to Individual Ethics . 46 1



The Ethics of the Christian Life



INTRODUCTION.

THE term 'Moral 1 Philosophy is a translation of a Latin
word, and this in turn of a Greek word which properly
means the science of habits. The word is, however, now
usually taken to mean the science of morals, i.e. a body of
doctrine not on the way in which men are actually accustomed
to act, but what it is they ought to do and how they ought
to act. Ethics therefore defines the nature, meaning, and laws
of this important part of human life, t>mi j gl nf m^pls. a "d
critically compares the various ideals.

In what then do the nature, meaning, and laws of Christian
Ethics consist? How ought we to regulate our lives as
Christians ? It would be strange to speak of the seriousness
of the question. It concerns all. It concerns youth, acutely
aware of life, and living as though it had a thousand existences
happy is he who early recognises its purpose! It is for him
who is near its goal, while he who is at life's zenith can only
make a right use of it who clearly realises what it is intended
for. And as the seriousness of the question is clear it would
be strange to dwell longer on its difficulty. For although
Christians do not doubt that they ought to order their lives
according to the will of God as revealed in Christ, yet in the
New Testament they are often exhorted to prove what that
will is ; which they can only learn in many a circuitous way.
And why has the doing of the will of God such significance at

1



2 THE ETHICS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

all ? Why, alongside the question, What must we believe ?
is there that other, What ought we to do? alongside the
Christian Faith the Christian Life ?

Especially serious and difficult for our day is the question as
to the Christian life. Everything is in a state of flux ; nothing
seems to stand firm, even among those who desire to take the
Gospel in earnest. For instance, they judge very variously as to
the relation of the Christian to the world. Ancient as the subject
is in itself, these varying judgments are connected with the fact
that old problems present themselves to us in wholly new
shapes, complicacy and urgency, and demand their solution on
the basis of Christian ideas. How does the Christian stand in
regard to the industrial battle ? How to a law which touches
the boundary of art ? How to the trial of a cleric on a
question of mere doctrine? Must or can all those points
remain unsettled because every one has enough to do to save
his own soul? Surely, if it is only a matter of diversity of
opinion in respect of a truth which in its kernel is not con-
troverted. Now the question, How are we to order our life ? is
by no means answered only in the Christian sense. There are
foes all around us. One class of opponents will indeed for
the most part allow that to be considered good or evil which
Christians regard as such ; but it must be set free from any
belief in God. Now, can that be the same thing? Others
suppose they can give us an ethic better suited in moral
content to the needs of actual life than that of an obsolete
Christianity with its law of love. Lastly, the opinions are
increasing in number of those who deny any distinction what-
ever between good and evil ; or, more precisely, of those who
call evil that which has hitherto been regarded as good, and
call that good which has so far passed as evil. Consequently
the battle is not merely concerning the Christian faith on which
rests the Christian life, but about the regulation of the life on
Christian principles ; and the historical epoch in which we live
has grown in many respects similar to that in which the ancient
world was in conflict with the purer life of the early Christian
Church, and the Church brought forward the silencing argu-
ment of fact. Facts can only render modest services in this



INTRODUCTION 3

argument ; nevertheless, they are not contemptible. The
argument further must have close regard to the special situa-
tion which has just been pointed out. We may not present
Christian Ethics as if no other system were in existence.

This problem is not an isolated one, but to a considerable
degree touches the question as to the relation between philo-
sophical and theological ethics. It is therefore a matter of
prime consequence for the friends of the latter to remember that
it damages its own cause if it allows the fruits of philosophical
investigation to remain unused ; as, e.g., what human reflection
has worked out on the basal relations of ethics in regard to
Rule, Motive, Purpose of moral action. Theological Ethics
does thereby damage its own clearness as well as its capability of
being intelligible to others. The same thing is true if it decline
to carefully examine the varied conceptions with regard to its
fundamental concepts presented by history, or will not penetrate
into the rich history of moral ideals. It is only in this way that
Christian Ethics can comprehend its own ideal. Only, in both
these investigations it must be on its guard against unwittingly
appropriating or giving recognition to ideas at variance with
those grown on Gospel soil. In particular, its advocates must
not allow themselves to be swayed by the prejudice of their
opponents that philosophical knowledge stands on a surer founda-
tion than theirs because drawn from reason only. As if it must
not be decided what then, closely taken, reason is, and what
intrinsic right it has to decide the question : What is the Good ?
Thus from this point Christian Ethics sees itself referred to the
need of critical comparison and contrast with non-Christian
systems. In the absence of this the best treatment will find no
firm basis.

Therefore, in what follows we distinguish, as in architecture,
between a plan and its elaboration. Or, in other words, even
Christian Ethics stands in need of some defence (Apologetics)
against its foes ; mindful, of course, that the best defence is a
victorious attack. Such defence is naturally only possible if the
nature of the subject to be defended is accurately known. Now,
Doctrine (Dogmatics) and Morals (Ethics) are the two main
constituents of Christian teaching. On external grounds of



4 THE ETHICS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

convenience they are separately treated, but they form one whole.
Doctrine shows us how the kingdom of God becomes to us an
assured personal possession, as God's gift by faith in Christ ;
Ethics how this faith is our incentive and motive power to
co-operation in the task, implicate in the gift, of realising the
' kingdom of God ' more and more for ourselves, so that it may
' come ' here in time and there in eternity. Or, Doctrine shows
us how our assured faith of salvation and divine adoption into
the kingdom of God is the work of God's love : Ethics how this
assured faith of salvation manifests its activity in love to God
and our neighbours. Thus Ethics rests entirely on Dogmatics,
and yet the latter is not complete in the former precisely because
the great gift of God has the special peculiarity of shaping itself
into a task. This must be more fully entered into later. Here
we only point out that Faith arid Love form an indissoluble
unity, and it is as a whole that it must be brought into com-
parison and contrast with every opposing system of Faith and
Practice. For this battle Dogmatics and Ethics, in which the
Christian system is brought out in all its aspects, give us the
right weapon. The victory of the Christian system must be
grounded on its intrinsic superiority. But for our purpose
Apologetics must in inverse order be the foundation of Dogmatics
and Ethics, for it is only by comparison with opposing systems
that we can become acquainted with that superioritv which is
grounded in its nature. And if, as here is the case, Ethics is
separately treated, it is still impossible to dispense with the
Apologetic foundation. If this Apologetic basis were treated
independently as common to Dogmatics and Ethics, and prefaced
to both, then Ethics would immediately follow Dogmatics ; the
conclusion of Dogmatics would be the certainty of salvation by
faith, and this certainty the beginning of Ethics ; while that which
is usually treated as a final section of Dogmatics, Eschatology,
would form the conclusion of a complete presentation of the
Christian Faith and the Christian Life.



Part I
Christian Ethics and its Opponents

THIS part falls into three sections. The first is on the indispensable
fundamental concepts of Ethics generally. The second is on the
most important opponents of Christian Ethics. The third is on
the truth of Christian Ethics in contrast with opposing systems.



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