Page:Essence of Christianity (1854).djvu/72

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even without love is something by himself, an unloving monster, a diabolical being, whose personality, separable and actually separated from love, delights in the blood of heretics and unbelievers,—the phantom of religious fanaticism. Nevertheless the essential idea of the Incarnation, though enveloped in the night of the religious consciousness, is love. Love determined God to the renunciation of his divinity.[1] Not because of his Godhead as such, according to which he is the subject in the proposition—God is love, but because of his love, of the predicate, is it that he renounced his Godhead; thus love is a higher power and truth than Deity. Love conquers God. It was love to which God sacrificed his divine majesty. And what sort of love was that? another than ours? than that to which we sacrifice life and fortune? Was it the love of himself? of himself as God? No! it was love to man. But is not love to man human love? Can I love man without loving him humanly, without loving him as he himself loves, if he truly loves? Would not love be otherwise a devilish love? The devil too loves man, but not for man’s sake—for his own; thus he loves man out of egotism, to aggrandize himself, to extend his power. But God loves man for man’s sake, i.e., that he may make him good, happy, blessed. Does he not then love man, as the true man loves his fellow? Has love a plural? Is it not everywhere like itself? What then is the true unfalsified import of the Incarnation, but absolute, pure love, without adjunct, without a distinction between divine and human love? For though there is also a self-interested love among men, still the true human love, which is alone worthy of this name, is that which impels the sacrifice of self to another. Who then is our Saviour and Redeemer? God or Love? Love; for God as God has not saved us, but Love, which

  1. It was in this sense that the old uncompromising enthusiastic faith celebrated the Incarnation. Amor triumphal de Deo, says St. Bernard. And only in the sense of a real self-renunciation, self-negation of the Godhead, lies the reality, the vis of the Incarnation; although this self-negation is in itself merely a conception of the imagination, for, looked at in broad daylight, God does not negative himself in the Incarnation, but he shows himself as that which he is, as a human being. The fabrications which modern rationalistic orthodoxy and pietistic rationalism have advanced concerning the Incarnation, in opposition to the rapturous conceptions and expressions of ancient faith, do not deserve to be mentioned, still less controverted.