Hegel 1830

Address on the Tercentenary of the Submission of the Augsburg Confession[1]

Written: 25 June 1830;
Trranslated: H. B. Nisbet, 1999;
Transcribed: Kwame Genov (youtube.com/kwamegenovv), 2017.

Most excellent, illustrious, reverend men, most learned and congenial colleagues, most honorable companions in study, most esteemed listeners of every rank!

The most venerable Senate has instructed me to comment on the occasion and cause of the celebration with which the King has authorized this university to mark today’s festival. Since that immortal act which we now commemorate concerned the profession and establishment of religious doctrine, it appears fitting that our admirable Theological Faculty should play the lading part in this festivity. Its estimable Dean will accordingly give us a fitting and learned account of the event in question and profoundly impress its significance upon us. But what happened at Augsburg was not enacted by an assembly of Doctors of Theology and leaders of the Church; nor did they embark on a learned disputation in order to determine the truth and to require the lay community to accept it as certain and observe it with dutiful obedience.[2] On the contrary, the main significance of that day was that the princes of the [German] states and the burgomasters of the Imperial Cities publicly declared that the Protestant [evangelicam] doctrine,[3] freed at last from a mass of superstitions, errors, lies, and all kinds of injustices and abuses, was now finally perfected and elevated above the uncertain outcome of disputations, above the arbitrary will, and above all worldly authority, and that they [i.e. the princes and burgomasters] had now taken up the cause of religion.[4 ]They thereby let it be known that those who had formerly been [classed as] laymen were not permitted to express opinions on religion, and they claimed this inestimable freedom on our behalf. Thus, if I am to say a few words on this matter by way of introduction to our festivity, I must [on the one hand] apologize for my lack of skill as a speaker[5] and crave the indulgence of my esteemed audience; but [on the other hand,] I would betray the cause of that liberty which was secured for us on that day which we now celebrate if I were consequently to apologize for speaking as a so-called layman on religious matters. It would rather appear that I was entrusted with this aspect of the celebration – and I gladly accepted the task – so that we might make use of the opportunity we had been given and publicly declare and testify that we possess it. And for this reason I have considered it my duty to say something about that freedom which those of us who are not theologians acquires [as a result of the Augsburg Confession].[6]

For before that time, the state of Christendom was such that it was divided into two classes, one of which had appropriated the rights and administration of that freedom which was conferred on us all by Christ, while the other, reduced to servitude, as the property of [those who employed] this same freedom. But we understand Christian freedom to imply that everyone is declared worthy of it who turns to God as the object of his knowledge, prayers, and worship, that everyone determines his own relationship with God and that of God with man, and that God himself consummates this relationship within the human mind.[7 ]We are not dealing here with a God who is subject to the influences of nature,[8] but with one who is the truth, eternal reason, and the mind and consciousness of this reason. But it was the will of God that man should be endowed with this same rational consciousness, and that he should therefore be distinct form the unthinking animals; it was likewise his will that man should be in God’s own image, and that the human mind, which is surely a spark of the eternal light, should be accessibly to this light. Furthermore, since man is made in the image of God, God thereby revealed to the human race that the archetype [idea] of human nature is truly to be found in God himself; he also willed and permitted that human beings should love him, and he granted them the infinite capacity and confidence to approach him. Subsequently, this highest good which God was able to give to man was again taken away from him, for the innermost sanctuary of the soul, the only possible basis and channel for that holy communion [with God], was polluted by terrors and fictions and obscured by foul superstitions, and human contact with God was cut off as if by a wall of brass. These obstacles, interposed between God and the [human] soul which burned with desire to approach him,[9] were the source of origin and servitude; for divine love is a free and infinite relationship [commercium], and if limits are imposed on it, it is reduced to the kind of relationship [consortio] which is customary between mortals. Thus, sacred things are reduced to the condition of common objects which can be physically possessed, controlled by force of arms, or even bought and sold.[10] In an association of this kind, domination and arbitrariness have their place; it produces all those qualities which we encounter in souls which are alienated from divine freedom, such as ambition, lust for power, avarice, hatred, and every kind of tyranny and stupidity. Thus, in the very lap of freedom, the Christian community was split up into masters and slaves,[11] an arrangement which seemed to have rendered the rule of impiety permanent and utterly invincible.

But the true consciousness of God and his infinite love broke these fetters asunder, and free access to God was restored to man. Indeed, what the leaders of Germany proclaimed at the Diet of Augsburg, in their own name and in that of the people, was that they disowned servitude and renounced their status as laymen, just as the theologians had renounces their clerical status, so that [both] these orders were completely abolished.[12 ]Thus, that unseemly division was removed [sublatum] which, since it was not [just] a conflict over the fortuitous authority of particular individuals, had disrupted and even subverted not only the Church, but religion itself. Admittedly, [secular] princes had also been present at [ecclesiastical] councils before that time, as at the famous Council of Constance. But they were not there to express, as it were, their own opinions, but in an administrative capacity in order to sign the decrees of the doctors [of the Church], and they subsequently served as executioners to translate the bloody significance of these decrees into reality by killing [those whom the Church had condemned]. But the Emperor who presided at the Diet of Augsburg did not act with equal right or equal freedom, i.e. he did not act with divine authority. Charles V, whose realms were so extensive that it was said that the sun never set on them, that same Emperor who, a few years earlier, had delivered up the city of Rome and the Papal See to his army to conquer, pillage, put to the torch, and destroy, with all manner of outrage and mockery directed at the Pope himself, now presented himself at Augsburg as a protector and patron of the Church – i.e. as a guardian of the Pope – and declared that his intention was to restore peace to the Church, and with it the threat of servitude as before. He was content with the spoils which ambition, bloodthirstiness, and licentiousness has brought back to him from the world at large, from Rome, and even from the captive pope. But he left to others the immortal glory of defeating that tyranny which had usurped control of religion; and in his deafness, he was unable to perceive that God had risen up, and that it was his trumpet which now proclaimed the wondrous sound of Christian freedom.[13] He was not equal to the sacred inspiration [ingenium] of his age.

But those who did hear that sound and who now considered themselves emancipated were only freedmen [liberi] and not genuinely free [liberti], and the reason for this appears to be that the territorial princes and burgomasters of the Imperial Cities had taken control of affairs.[14] For it is impossible for minds which have only just escaped from the shackles of superstition not to remain tied to those legal and political principles [ratio] which correspond to the precepts of the old religion. For religion cannot be shut away in the recesses of the mind and cut off from the principles of action or the organization of life.[15] So great is its power and authority that all that pertains to human life is embraced and governed by it.[16] It is therefore essential that, if religion is reformed, the political, legal, and ethical system [ratio civitatis et legum morumque] should also be reformed. Thus, the things which our Luther set in motion were truly new. But sicne it was the princes and civil magistrates who solemnly concluded the business at Augsburg, the thereby testified that this was accomplished by public debate and volition, not through the pressure of the multitude, and that them majesty and authority of the laws and of the princes had not been contravened, but rather than the latter held sway over law-governed states [civitates] and obedient peoples.[17]

It is true that some are more critical in this respect, arguing that one must distinguish between the way in which something begins and the shape which it finally assumes; for even if the outcome and end [of the Reformation] gave it legitimacy, these critics maintain that it was none the less culpable [in its initial phase]; indeed, they deny that Luther’s enterprise was concerned solely with doctrine, claiming rather that it was directed against the laws which had hitherto been in force. Indeed, they declare that it is close to sedition if we try to excuse such conduct and feign an appearance of justice by deferring judgment until the final outcome, treating the losing party as guilty and the victor as justified. Thus, even if the cause which triumphed was pleasing to God, it will plainly be displeasing to such Catos as this, because the defeated cause had once been legitimate. The doctrine they here put forward undoubtedly carries much weight – namely that nothing should be more sacred to the citizens than the obedience which they must show towards the laws, and the respect and fidelity which they owe to their ruler. May I nevertheless be allowed in this context to quote what Cicero said of Socrates and Aristippus: ‘By no means,’ he says, ‘should any individual fall into the error of supposing that, if these men acted and spoke against custom [morem] and civil convention, he may do the same himself; for they acquired the right to do so by virtue of their great and divine gifts.'[18] But how much greater and more divine are those benefits in whose acquisition we here rejoice than those gifts which Cicero describes as great and divine! And consequently, how must juster and more legitimate was that license with which Luther and his friends – and not only they, but with them the princes and magistrates – transformed and renewed many things which were formerly considered just and legitimate in civil law! Those who condemn the Reformation of the evangelical religion in the manner described above should take heed lest, in denouncing Luther’s sedition, they glory in their own obedience and zeal towards the laws and civil authorities merely because they deny divine truth altogether and ascribe all religious doctrine to human invention and opinion.

For the same reason, the same people deplore the fact that a profession of faith was drawn up at the Diet of Augsburg; for they maintain that those who declared themselves free were merely changing their fetters. They accordingly consider that there are no true [general] principles – unless one chooses to regards one’s own opinions as certain – and that freedom consists essentially in dissenting from whatever doctrine is generally accepted.[19] But anyone who accuses those who introduced that Magna Charta by which the Evangelical Church proclaimed its foundation and constitution of thereby imposing fetters on it overlook the fact that it was the very community which this charter established that gave birth to that tireless endeavor,[20] by physical and intellectual means, to explore the nature of all things divine and human as thoroughly as possible; and that, as a result of this endeavor, nothing was left untried or untouched by the human understanding [ingenium], and all areas of learning, of liberal arts and letters, were restored to humanity – and not merely restored, but strengthened and augmented by a new and infinite ardor. Day by day, they grow and expand with constant vigor; and at the same time, they are freely accessible to all, and everyone is necessarily invited, urged, and encouraged from all quarters to investigate for himself what is just, true, and divine. – But I shall say no more of those fetters which allegedly attach to all public doctrines, both because the difficulty of this topic would distract me for too long from my theme and because, in view of the multiple suspicious and odium already referred to, it would be too melancholy a subject, inappropriate to today’s joyful occasion. It may suffice to point out that so superabundant a harvest could in no wise have arisen from servile origins. But already at the time when this process began, and certainly in our own day, it became obvious how great a potential the restored doctrines of religion possess for improving civil laws and institutions. Let us now look more closely at the nature of that evangelical doctrine which relates to the theme I was asked to discuss.

First of all, we note that the schism which brought discord into the innermost sanctuary of the soul and split the commonwealth [respublica] into two civil powers was abolished; we now understand that the commonwealth, by divine authority,[21] should be internally one, and that the laws [iura] pertaining to the state [civitas] and citizens and the precepts of virtue are divinely sanctioned. Princely power has been reconciled with the Church, and while the former is now at one with the divine will, the latter renounces all unjust authority. What strikes me as most noteworthy here is the fact that this was not some fortuitous and external agreement between princes and theologians; on the contrary, the precepts of religion and of the state [civitas] itself and the most fundamental principles [ratoines] of truth came together in a genuine peace. The foundation which was then laid down developed more fully over the course of time until finally – for this can happen only very slowly – it penetrated and informed every area of human life and the rules which govern all human duties [omnium officiorum].

May I therefore invite my esteemed audience to recall what the duties of human life are, and how they were attacked and indeed corrupted by the doctrine of the older Church.[22] The duties in qusetion are familiar to everyone: firstly, there are those which relate to the family, such as conjugal love and the mutual love of parents and children, then justice, equity, and benevolence towards others, diligence and honesty in administering property, and finally the love of one’s country and its rulers, which even requires us to lay down our lives in their defense. The immortal examples of these virtues which the Greeks and Romans left behind for us to admire and imitate were described by the Church Fathers as ‘splendid vices.’ The Roman Church accordingly set up another principle [ratio] of living, in opposition and preference to these virtues and rules of justice and honesty – namely sanctity. And we must surely concede from the outset that Christian virtue, if it is based on the love of God, is far more excellent and holier than anything which does not come from this source. But we maintain and believe that those duties which relate to the family, to the commerce between human beings, and to one’s country and its ruler are indeed based on the will of God, and that he corresponding virtues are certainly confirmed by Christian piety, i.e. by love of the divine will, and should in no way be looked down on, despised or dismissed by it. But these duties and virtues are weakened and destroyed by those which the Roman Church set up as rules of sanctity and imposed on its members; and in case these should appear vague and empty words, we shall now describe the rules in question specifically.

The [Roman] Church accordingly claimed that the unmarried states and childlessness are holier in terms of love and piety than matrimony itself.[23 ]We are indeed impelled to this [matrimonial] union by nature, but only mindless animals cling to what they are drawn to by nature, whereas it is characteristic of human beings to transform this impulse into a bond of love and piety. Surely the ancients, in supposing that Vesta or the Lares and Penates presided over the family, had a truer sense that there was something divine in it than did the Church, which discerned a special sanctity in contempt for marriage. We need not mention what moral abuses this rules of celibacy gave rise to, for it is well enough known that most of those clerics who were committed to sanctity of this kind, including those of the highest rank and authority, were the most licentious and openly dissolute of men. It is admittedly argued that such vices cannot be attributed to the law itself, but should be ascribed to human lust and depravity. But those duties which God imposed on men and wished them to regard as sacred apply to everyone, and he wishes to reveal himself in equal measure to those of every class [ordo] who love him. But if it follows from that law of righteousness – and this is surely absurd – that the entire human race could be forbidden to marry, the basis of all honesty and moral discipline would certainly be destroyed, for this is plainly to be found in family piety.

Then the [Roman] Church had taught that poverty is a sacred virtue. It consequently haw a low opinion of industriousness and probity in the care and administration of property, and of diligence in the acquisition of [material] goods, which are not only necessary to sustain life but also serve to help others; it thereby rates idleness above work, stupidity above ingenuity, and carelessness above foresight and probity. As a result of the vow (or rather pretense) of poverty, the clergy was given leave to indulge in avarice and luxury; for it is plain that the possession and acquisition of wealth were condemned in order that he clergy alone might be rich and owners of all the wealth which others had acquired through folly or even wickedness.

To these two precepts, the [Roman] Church added a third to crown them all, namely blind obedience and mental servitude. This ensures that the love of God will not lead us into liberty, but will thrust us down into servitude, both in minor things which are subject to contingency and to the arbitrary will of the individual, and in major things, i.e. in the knowledge of what is just, honorable, and righteous and in the arrangement and conduct of our lives – plainly in order that those who present themselves as servants (or even as servants of servants)[101] may rule over private life and domestic affairs and be masters of the commonwealth [respublica] and its rulers.

No one who is mildly and benevolently disposed towards those of different religious views, and who wishes that the religious hatred which agitated the nations [populos] so long and so violently should finally be laid to rest and never again awakened, will deny that those rules which, as I said, are taught by the Roman Church embrace the entire basis [ratio] of human life, and that they confuse and confound all justice and honor within it. Consequently, the declaration of the German rulers [civitatum rectores] at Augsburg abolished not only that Holiness from which the Roman Pope borrowed his title, but also the much more oppressive, indeed pernicious rules of sanctity; it thereby proclaims that the state [civitas] was reconciled with God, and God with the state.[24 ]Only then was the contradiction [dissidium] resolves whereby just and honest laws were supposed to be pleasing to human beings and something else to be pleasing to God, and only then was that ambiguity and duplicity removed [sublata] whereby the wicked could ask for indulgences for their crimes and offenses, whereas the upright might either be led into revolt against authority and other misdeeds, or into folly and inactivity; only then did consciousness of the divine will cease to be different from consciousness of truth and justice.

Human beings can have no firm trust in the laws unless they are persuaded not only that the latter are not at variance with religion, but also that they have their source in it. There are indeed many highly placed and talented individuals in our time who believe that true wisdom consists in the separation of religion and the state [civitas]; but they are gravely mistaken.[25 ]For it is manifest that the supreme and most firmly based principle in ours minds and the sole source of all our duties in the notion [notio] of God. Consequently, whatever does not depend on this and is not sanctioned by the idea [species] of the divine will can be regarded as contingent, as a product of the arbitrary will or of coercion, and no one can be truly bound or obligated by it. Thus, one cannot sufficiently censure the foolishness of those who believe that the institutions and laws of the state can be reformed without restoring the true religion to which the former correspond. The fruit of regained divine liberty, and of it alone, is civil liberty and justice. We may recall how the error of those who failed to comprehend the nature of this matter was forcibly refuted by that terrible teacher, the course of events [eventus rerum]. For in all those Catholic dominions in which those of higher station [nobiliores cives] had gained a truer knowledge of what is just and honorable, attempts were made to reform the laws and customs [mores] of society [civitatis]; but while some rulers assented to this and others dissented, religion remained opposed, so that all such attempts were vitiated from the state. They were subsequently overwhelmed by every kind of crime and evil, until they finally came to grief, to the most acute but ineffectual shame of their instigators.[26]

In our case, however, divine providence ensured that the precepts of the religion we profess are in accord with what the state regards as just.[27] This as accomplished three hundred years ago by the princes and peoples of Germany. But both they themselves and their successors then had to expiate the immense and ancient guilt of the perversion of Christianity by suffering the prolonged misfortunes and miseries of war, until they could at last secure what they passed on to us as our most precious heritage – namely the free concord of the state and religion, and particularly that evangelical religion of which, as already mentioned, this concord is characteristic. This concord gave rise to what we rejoice in as the main contribution to the common welfare of our times, so that all those propitious and useful steps could be taken which human ingenuity devised and inherent necessity required in order to increase freedom, to improve the laws, and to develop the institutions of the state in a more fruitful and liberal manner. All these things were accomplished peacefully, without internal convulsions and crimes, through the discernment and goodwill of those in whom supreme power is invested.[28] Most important of all, let me add that, if our princes are pious, we need not fear their piety like that ill-starred and terrible piety of the French kings, which drove them to frenzied action – even with their own hands – against their Protestant subjects, nobility and commoners alike, with carnage, plunder, and every kind of atrocity. They defiled the name of piety by such infamy, which was sanctioned by the religion of those who committed it. Thus the Protestant [evangelici] princes know that they are acting piously, if they shape and administer the commonwealth [respublica] in accordance with the eternal rule of justice, and guarantee the security of the people; and they neither know nor recognize any kind of sanctity but this.

Thus, the piety of our princes fills us with confidence and security and assures them of our love. And whereas on the birthday of our most gracious King Frederick William,[29 ]we turn our eyes every year to the image of his virtues and remind ourselves of the benefits which he so richly bestows on this his university, let us today joyfully praise his exceptional piety, which is the source of all his virtues.[30] And since this directly concerns his subjects, let us cherish it, venerate it, and rejoice in it. Our joy and reverence gain considerable extra significance from the fact that the whole Protestant [evangelicus] world, both within Germany and beyond its frontiers, knows that our cause is an important one, and the admiration, trust, and pious wishes of all those good people who rejoice in this freedom join with us in turning to that person whom they recognize as the sure defender of the evangelical doctrine and of the freedom which goes with it. We have prayed, pray now, and shall not cease to pray to almighty God that he may favor our most gracious King and his whole illustrious [Augustae][b ]house by preserving and increasing those blessings with which he eternally rewards piety, justice, and mercy.


1. Hegel had been elected Rector of the University of Berlin in October 1829. He also held the position of ‘State Plenipotentiary for the Control of the University.’ This combination of official posts has prompted comments from scholars about how Hegel ‘personified a veritable synthesis’ of culture and politics in Prussian-German history (Safranski 1990: pp. 297-8). As Rector, he was invited by Altenstein to speak on the occasion of the tercentenary of the Augsburg Confession. On this august occasion, the oration was delivered in Latin. Although a German translation of Hegel’s Latin has been available for some time, the address has never until now been translated into English.

2. Hegel always opposed ‘lay’ communities to communities controlled by ‘priests.’ He associated the former with protestant openness (i.e. publicity) and the latter with Catholic closedness (i.e. secrecy). In some of his letters of the 1810s, he indicates that his philosophy is meant for the ‘laity’ rather than for the ‘monks’ (Hegel 1984b: pp. 326-9). His understanding of the laity is important because, throughout this address, it has a bearing not only on the secular implications of Reformation theology but also on the evolution of religious consciousness among Protestants. His conception of modern freedom is organized around this interplay.

3. The use of the term evangelicam here, and later in the address, is interesting for two reasons. First, it was a term used by Lutherans to describe themselves before, but not after, 1580. And, as it turned out, the Augsburg Confession later proved decisive in dividing Protestantism into Lutheran and Calvinist branches. Second, in Hegel’s day, the term was associated with the King of Prussia’s (often heavy-handed) attempts to created a unified Protestant (i.e. evangelica) Church in Prussia. That effort was central to the project of the ‘Restoration’ in Prussia.

4. In many interpretations of German history, the taking up of the religious ‘cause’ by secular authorities marks the point at which Lutheranism and Calvinism go their separate ways as political ideologies. The latter develops ‘against’ the state; the former develops ‘through’ the state.

5. Largely because of his Swabian accent, Hegel had a reputation as a poor public speaker.

6. As is evident in our extract from the Philosophy of History (see pp. 197-224), Hegel believed that modern freedom began with the religious sanction which Luther won for subjectivity (i.e. the rights of private conscience) in the course of the Reformation. But speaking three hundred years later, he also believe that Luther’s subjective freedom had to be extended from matters of religious ‘doctrine’ (Lehre) to all areas of ‘life’ (Leben) – to all of ‘lay’ culture, as it were.

7. Later in the address, Hegel links the idea of God’s presence ‘within the human mind’ to the collateral idea that ‘man is made in the image of God.’ In the history of Christian thinking, the latter reference is generally to Genesis 1:26. This passage, in turn, provides biblical support for a doctrine of Christian perfectibility (i.e. the doctrine of homoiosis) that humanists and reformers periodically invoked to make Christianity a socially more responsible religion in an ethical sense. In this context, it is important to remember that Hegel had been talking in this way about religion since the 1790s, and that in doing so on this public occasion, he was committing himself to religious views which were not popular either in the Prussian court or in orthodox Lutheran and neo-Pietist religious circles.

8. Hegel’s reference to God’s relationship to nature is consistent with the negative views he held on pantheism throughout the 1820s.

9. Catholicism, in other words, put ‘obstacles’ in the way of religious perfectibility (i.e. homoiosis) and hence in the way of further development of human freedom, especially among the laity.

10. Hegel surely has Luther’s objections to the Catholic policy of indulgences in mind here. He is explicit on this point later in the address.

11. The reference to ‘masters and slaves’ echos the famous section on that subject in the Phenomenology. In this context, however, the Catholic-versus-Protestant dimension of the relationship becomes fully evident.

12.In abolishing the status of priests, Christianity becomes for Hegel a lay religion.

13. Luther, of course, is the ‘trumpet.’

14. The distinction between liberi and liberti is all-important. In note 4 above, we noted how freedom was realized through the state. Hegel here addresses that point more fully and from a more critical political perspective. He is arguing that an alliance between throne and altar had formed in Germany in the sixteenth century. Although essential to the survival of Protestantism, the alliance proved to be detrimental in the long run to the development of human freedom among Protestants. As J. Ritter (1982: p. 185) has observed, the Reformation in Hegel’s thinking is a ‘moment’ in the evolution of human freedom. What Ritter does not stress – although W. Jaeschke does (1983: pp. 37-8) – is that, for Hegel, Luther’s is the first of two Reformations, the second of which Hegel was calling for in his own day. On these grounds, the term liberi stands to the first Reformation as liberti stands to the second. For Hegel’s views on the need for a second Reformation, see the extract from the Philosophy of History (pp. 197-224).

15. We have here an absolutely clear statement of Hegel’s commitment to social religiosity, to making religion more worldly.

16. Hegel means that the ‘power and authority’ of religion should extend from ‘doctrine’ (Lehre) to ‘life’ (Leben). This was a move which he had called for as early as 1793 (Hegel 1984a: p. 55). Even before that time, the terms ‘doctrine’ and ‘life’ had long been associated with Protestant calls for a second Reformation: see the discussions of this topic especially by P. Munsch and W. Neuser, in H. Schilling (1986), and Martin Schmidt (1965: pp. 1898-1906).

17. Hegel’s apology here for Lutheranism as a political ideology is carefully constructed, for it is limited to the events surrounding the first Reformation. He signals this by contesting the claim that Luther’s enterprise initially involved more than ‘doctrine.’ Hegel’s strategy, however, had the consequence of de-politicizing the first Reformation, making it only a Reformation of doctrine, of abstract or theoretical freedom. Accordingly, it remained for a second Reformation to translate doctrine into life, into the actual practice of piety in the world. From this paragraph, it is difficult to tell just whom Hegel means to confront with the argument that Lutheranism was not a doctrine of political sedition.

18. The reference is to Cicero, De Offciis, I, 148.

19. In the 1790s, Hegel had implied that, with the emergence of Protestant orthodoxy in the sixteenth century, Protestants had exchanged Catholic fetters for one of their own making. The reference to ‘dissenting’ suggests that he has Dissenters in mind. But the opening sentence of the paragraph indicates that these are ‘the same people’ whom he had been talking about in the previous paragraph. Can this be squared with the argument about ‘obedience’ in that paragraph?

20. As the rest of the paragraph shows, the ‘tireless endeavor’ refers to developments in the realms of learning and culture. At the same time, Hegel relates these developments to the secular ‘potential’ inherent in Protestantism’s willingness to allow for free inquiry by individuals into the truths of the Christian religion. By proceeding in this way, Hegel becomes part of an old tradition of Protestant thinking which sees the Reformation as much as an event in the history of knowledge as in the history of religion. The tradition begins in the seventeenth century with Thomas Sprat’s History of the Royal Society (1958: Part III, esp. p. 372), and then runs through English Latitudinarianism (e.g. Edmund Law 1745: pp. 49-199), to Charles Villers’ famous book of 1804 on how Luther’s liberation of private judgment in religion eventually carried over into critical thinking in science and the arts throughout Europe (Villers 1807: esp. pp. 229-35). Hegel draws upon that argument here and, in so doing, also expands its scope to include advances in key institutions of civil society. Throughout the Berlin period, he tries to explain how the need for the development of Sittlichkeit in civil society entails fulfilling the ‘doctrine’ of the Reformation in actual ‘life’ (i.e. in the social and political institutions of the world).

21. When Hegel says that ‘the commonwealth, by divine authority, should be internally one,’ he is referring back to the ‘potential’ Protestantism has for social religiosity. That is what is being sanctioned here, not the authority of the state itself. To underscore the point, he makes it clear that this argument is not meant to sanction the exercise of ‘unjust authority,’

22. The ‘older Church’ is the Catholic Church. The charges Hegel levels against it in this paragraph allow us to see quiet clearly the connection that existed in his mind between, on the one hand, the argument he had developed in the Philosophy of Right about family, civil society, and the state, and, on the other hand, the Protestant principles for political lief that he develops here (The connection is most clearly developed in changes he made in the 1827 and 1830 editions of the Encyclopedia; see, for example, Hegel (1971: no 552, pp. 282ff).) Whereas Catholicism separates God from civil institutions – from what Hegel calls Sittlichkeit in the Philosophy of Right – he wants Protestantism, in the re-figured form he was now giving it, to embrace Sittlichkeit, becomes the perfection of those institutions is consistent with his understanding of God’s plan for the redemption of human beings in history. In this respect, the pursuit of Sittlichkeit and the practice of ‘Christian piety’ are for him one and the same thing.

23. In this paragraph, Hegel begins to historicize the institutional themes he associates with Sittlichkeit. He starts by setting Catholicism and Protestantism off against each other. In subsequent paragraphs, he contrasts celibacy and the family, idleness and industriousness (i.e. he picks up the theme of civil society here), and political slavery with the liberty of ‘the commonwealth.’

101. Translator’s note: servus servorum Dei (’servant of the servants of God’) was a title adopted by the Popes.

24. Given the context, the reconciliation of ‘God with the state’ reaches well beyond simply giving the state a religious sanction.

25. The mistake, of course, is not to realize that the ‘true wisdom’ of Christian piety leads to Sittlichkeit.

26. In this sentence, we learn much about Hegel’s view of the French Revolution. He is arguing, as he does elsewhere (see the except from the Philosophy of History, pp. 197-224), that the French Revolution went off course because of a mind-set peculiar to the religious circumstances in Catholic France. Throughout the 1820s, he increasingly discusses politics in terms of a Catholic-versus-Protestant opposition (see Jaeschke 1983: p. 38).

27. What the state regards as just is not, however, a decision left to the state alone. It is a decision that follows from the initiative of ‘divine providence’ on the one hand, and from that of a Protestant people in their capacity as free human beings on the other. This is consistent with Hegel’s view of God’s covenant with Protestant peoples, for the covenant runs from God, through them, to their rulers, and not – as in the doctrine of the divine right of kings – the other way round.

28. Since Hegel’s address was delivered before the outbreak of revolution in France in 1830, he is referring here to the events leading up to 1789, not to 1830.

29. The King’s birthday would be celebrated a few weeks later. Toews (1980: p. 217) describes the political tone of the celebration as it was shaped by German perceptions of the revolution that had occurred in July in France.

30. The King, Frederick William III, was by most accounts a pious prince. His piety, however, was governed by considerations very different from those that informed Hegel’s thinking. Thus, two sentences later, when Hegel reminds the King of the Protestant ‘cause,’ he is asking the King to live up to his (i.e. Hegel’s) standard of Christian piety – not to the orthodox one championed by leaders of the Restoration in Prussia. There are, in short, two Protestant agendas here, not one. Jaeschke (1983) has appreciated this well.

102. Translator’s note: Hegel seems to be playing here on the similarity between the Latin name for Augsburg (Augusta Vindelicorum, usually shortened to Augusta) and the adjective augusta ('illustrious’) to emphasize, at the conclusion of his address, the close relationship between the Prussian monarchy and the Protestant cause which he sees embodied in the Augsburg Confession. (The Prussian monarchs were in fact not themselves Lutherans, but Calvinists.)