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Excerpts from Two Sermons by Friedrich August Tholuck: "What is Human Reason Worth?" (c. 1840) and "When is Greater Civic Freedom Fortunate for a People?" (1848)

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we especially fear is this: that precisely because the gaze is now fixed at no other freedom than that from civic constraints, we lose sight all the more of the freedom that the Son of God wishes to give us in the word of His truth. For a great many people, the speaker’s rostrum has already taken the place of the pulpit, popular assemblies have become their religious services, and the state the idol to which they bend their knee. Away with the God above us and the afterlife before us! The people in this state on earth are to be made so comfortable that they no longer need a heaven for salvation. You fools! You sow thistles and seek to harvest figs, you hatch the eggs of basilisks and are surprised when snakes hiss at you? Go on and build your godless state! What is not built by God will come to ruin, though it be built on unshakable foundations. Such a state without the fear of God cannot exist in a healthy way. It lacks humility, and without humility no subordination, and without subordination no order. Where there is no love of God, there is no pure love of humanity, and where there is no love of humanity, there is selfishness. Arrogance and selfishness, wind they have sown, storm they will harvest. Where God’s love does not hold sway in man, there sin holds sway, and he who serves sin is the servant of sin. Kings they have chastised with rods, dictators, and despots – driven by arrogance and their own advantage – will take their place and will scourge them with scorpions. Fools, you believe that if only the civic institutions improve, earth will become paradise? This is the foolishness of the person sick with fever who hopes to rid himself of the fire inside by simply being moved to a cooler place. But even if you were to build yourself here on earth a house completely in accordance with your desires, all earthly states and orders are transitory houses; but the human heart cannot be satisfied and filled in a paradise that is transitory. [ . . . ]

Source: August Tholuck, A. Tholuck's Ausgewählte Predigten [A. Tholuck’s Selected Sermons], ed. Leopold Witte. Gotha: Friedrich Andreas Perthes, 1881, pp. 230-33, 240-43, 273-75, 276-83.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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