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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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But precisely because we are given a savior like Christ, we must not and cannot hold with those who would give man a healthy eye through his own reason and power. In the end, everyone must admit, no matter what party they follow, that no mortal is born with a healthy inner eye, with healthy reason. O, we only have to picture the inner eye, what it is supposed to be: a star in the night of lie, without rising or setting, with no change from light to dark; and who would not admit that this reason, in which all whims, weaknesses, and frailties of a sick heart are mirrored and reflected, cannot, after all, be a healthy eye of the soul. Would this reason, which can be toppled from its throne by every strong breeze of passion, be an absolute queen? Just try then, you foolish children of the times, as many of you have begun to do, to preach to the people that this reason is sound and [that it is] an absolute queen who needs no further word from God to govern, and you shall soon discover how this queen will serve the basest passions. The people will confuse the voice of their passion with the voice of their reason, their carnal desires will adorn themselves with noble names, if it even gets that far, brutishness will be called boldness, carnal lust the enjoyment of human rights, apostasy from God independence, and lack of restraint freedom. I have already heard an outwardly honorable citizen of Halle preach in the middle of the street these days: God is finished, we are standing on our own feet! Our blood still curdles when we recall the days when such blasphemy was preached from the rooftops of the French capital. O that the German people should ever reach that point! But no, no, you afterborn generation, you young men standing here with your loins girded and your lamps burning, you young men who recognize that your nobility and human dignity lie in bending your knee to the living God, you are the ones called by God, you will help to deflect that disgrace from the heads of our nation! We who shall depart place in you our hopes for the grave days that lie ahead, and which our eyes shall no longer see. – But all, at least those who are prudent, agree that human reason must first be educated, that the inner eye must first be purified. But who, then, shall enlighten and purify it? Who is so bold as to dare stand before his brothers to become their physician and savior purely and solely by the power of his own reason? Who is so bold as to dare proclaim: my inner eye is the star in the night of life, with no rising or setting, no change of light and darkness? No, Christians, when we preachers speak to you here from the pulpit, it is not us, us you demand to hear, but someone higher than us; Him you want to hear speaking from our mouth who must brighten our eyes also with His eternal word, so that we shall see light by his light! And if even His word were false, then we would descend from this place, where we stood above the community – after all, it was only His word that placed us on this high place! – and come down among you, no better and no worse than all mortals who, with Christ having become a liar, wander through life in the uncertain twilight of their own reason. Man’s eye of the soul can be made healthy only by Him who himself had a perfectly healthy eye of the soul. And why is He the only one among all who had a perfectly sound eye of the soul? Because He was the only one who could ask: Who shall accuse me of a sin? Do you remember how He made

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