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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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Only the free in whose conscience the love of God reigns supreme are truly free. That is what the saying means: he who sins is the servant of sin. Freedom that makes men truly free and happy exists only to the degree that sin dies, and sin can truly die off only where God’s love gains power. To serve God is the highest freedom, in the words of the church father Augustine you have uncovered the secret of true freedom. For when is a person free? Must you not say: if nothing hinders him from reaching his true destiny? And if that is freedom in the highest sense – regardless of what political freedom can grant humanity, the deepest reason why we remain servants is not found in this. It is true and obvious that there are also barriers of civic life, wrong institutions and laws of society that bind the powers granted by God instead of unshackling them, that oppress humanity instead of lifting it up. That is why we call it fortunate to win freedom from such civic fetters. If those who are reviled as Pietists – simply because they are Christians – have a correct understanding of the Gospel, truly they are not despisers of freedom; don’t you know what Paul told the Corinthians: “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” For a civic community has the task of promoting the fulfillment of human destiny in every way. To that end humans have established states; states are bodies, and in a body each part serves every other part for its existence, its effectiveness, its well-being. Thus a civic sense of community shall help – I say only ‘help,’ for the good will of each individual is part of it – to provide a livelihood for every person who wants to work, for where the body must suffer privations and languish, the spirit cannot flourish. And the body shall be provided with its necessities, so that the spirit may develop the impulses and powers that God has placed in it, and this too the civic institutions shall promote as best they can. And, finally, since the highest of all impulses planted in us by God is the urge toward God, and all human destiny attains its height in being a man of God, a state can recognize no higher task and no higher goal for itself than to cultivate and plant religion among its citizens. Of course the slogans of freedom of these times which are passed on from mouth to mouth include that about the separation of church and state, and we know that some of the hearts that beat most warmly for Christ ask for it. Now, if it means nothing other than the independence of the church from secular government, we should certainly welcome such a separation, especially the more a church is already strong enough to build itself in the spirit of God. But where it means the indifference of the state toward the expression of the noblest of human instinct, toward religion, it is a betrayal of its noblest tasks. Good citizens should literally fight for this, that the state, which cultivates agriculture and shipping, the arts and sciences, does not forget to cultivate the good that is higher than all of them – religion. And so – let me simply say – the attainment of civic freedom is in fact a good thing where civic institutions are such that they limit and constrain man from achieving his true freedom. But if the height of all human destiny lies in becoming a man of God, O tell me, how shall our true freedom be attained simply by eliminating all external barriers and impediments? What

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