Transcendentalism a name given to some forms of recent German philosophy. Fichte taught a subjective idealism, Schelling an objective idealism, and Hegel an absolute idealism-regarding thought and being as identical. Nature is God coming into self-consciousness, for he is ever striving after self-realization: "In order to philosophize aright, we must lose our own personality in God, who is chiefly revealed in the acts of the human mind. In the infinite developments of divinity, anti the infinite progress towards self- consciousness, the greatest success is reached in the exertions of human reason. In men's minds, therefore, is the highest manifestation of God. God recognizes himself best in human reason, which is a consciousness of God. And it is by human reason that the world (hitherto without thought, and so without existence, mere negation) comes into consciousness; thus God is revealed in the world. After arriving at an ideal God, we learn that philosophy and religion draw us away from our little selves, so that our separate consciousness is dissolved in that of God. Philosophy is religion; and true religion frees man from all that is low, and from himself, from clinging to I-hood (Ichheit) and subjectivity, and helps him to life in God as the truth, and thereby to true life. In this ablation of personal identity, we must not claim property even in our own thoughts. Hegel teaches that it is God who thinks in us; nay, that it is precisely that which thinks in us which is God. The pure and primal substance manifests itself as the subject; and true knowledge of the absolute is the absolute itself. There is but a step to take and we arrive at the tenet that the universe and God are one. The Hegelians attempt to distinguish this from the doctrine of Spinoza, but their distinctions are inappreciable; their scheme is pantheism. And as God is revealed by all the phenomena of the world's history, he is partly revealed by moral action, and consequently by sin, no less than by holiness. Sin is, therefore, a part of the necessary evolution of the divine principle; or, rather, in any sense, which can affect the conscience, there is no evil in sin there is no sin. It was reserved for Hegel to abandon all the scruples of six thousand years, and publish the discovery certainly the most wonderful in the history of human research that something and nothing are the same! In declaring it he almost apologizes, for he says that this proposition appears so paradoxical that it may readily be supposed that it is not seriously maintained. Yet he is far from being ambiguous. Something and nothing are the same. The absolute of which so much is vaunted is nothing. But the conclusion, which is, perhaps, already anticipated by the reader's mind, and which leaves us incapacitated for comment, is this-we shudder while we record it-that after the exhaustive abstraction is carried to infinity in search of God, we arrive at nothing. God himself is nothing!" (Princeton Essays).
These systems of philosophy in Germany, "that nation of thinkers and critics," have, each in its turn, influenced the science of Biblical philology; and whether it be the moralism of Kant, or the idealism of Fichte, or the deeper transcendentalism of Hegel, it makes Scripture speak its own dogmas, and consecrates the apostles the coryphaei of its system. When Strauss wrote his Leben Jesu, Germany was thrilled by the publication — all classes of her divines and philosophers, historians and scholars. When, as in this work of Strauss, all historical reality is denied to the gospels, and they are declared to be composed, not of facts, but ideas, and are affirmed to describe, not a personal God or a historical Christ, but a cluster of notions intensely prevalent in Judaea; and when it is argued that the names and events occurring in the evangelical narrations are but symbols of inward emotions, and the blasphemies of pantheism are reasoned for from the union of deity and humanity in Jesus, as shadowing forth the identity of the forms vulgarly named Creator and creature, it is easily seen that the author uses the philosophy of Hegel as the great organ of perverting and desecrating the records of the evangelists, especially of polluting the finer and more experimental portions of the work of the beloved disciple. Weisse, the producer of a similar mixture of boldness and impiety, declares it impossible for any one to understand his theology unless he have mastered his philosophy. No one can comprehend the systems of Daub, Schwartz, or Schleiermacher till he has mastered the philosophy which Schelling propounded in his early and adventurous youth. "A life beyond the grave," says. Strauss, "is the last foe which speculative criticism has to encounter, and, if it can, to extirpate." So, to find a place for such theories, this author commenced a series of wild and unjustifiable attacks on the gospels, finding discrepancies where there are none, creating exaggerations where the narrative is easy and simple, denying the possibility of miracles, and involving the whole narrative in confusion and mystery, in order to destroy its historical character, and render its interpretation possible only on the supposition of its being a useless and disconnected mythology. Whatever sophistry and perverted logic could supply, whatever perplexity a shrewd and malicious criticism could suggest, whatever reasoning a clever and fascinating philosophy could produce, were used to create and garnish the new hypothesis. The whole system is a sad memorial of the proud and unhallowed wisdom of this world, impugning the revelation already given, delighting in every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and exalting in withdrawing every thought from the obedience of Christ. Well might Eschenmayer speak of the "Ischariotismus" of Hegelianism. While it kissed, it betrayed, and at length proceeded to the trial and condemnation of its victim (Old and New, Aug. 1870, p, 186). SEE DEISM; SEE PANTHEISM; SEE RATIONALISM,