Friday, January 24, 2014

Prayers Written by Philosophers V

Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) is best known for his work in the philosophy of religion, but a good argument can also be made that he is the most important nineteenth-century philosopher of language after Herder and Schlegel. He has certainly been a major influence on hermeneutics and philosophy of translation. A Lutheran, he was widely regarded as excellent at both sermon and lecture, and because of this he arguably had a wider influence in his day than most of his contemporaries. His most important work is The Christian Faith, one of the classics of liberal theology, but his most read work is probably On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers, which is a critical adaptation of some of Spinoza's ideas in light of the German debates about Spinoza that had been started by Jacobi. He was a close friend of a number of Romantic philosophers, especially the Schlegels, with whom he collaborated on a number of projects.

Because Schleiermacher not uncommonly ended his sermons with a prayer, his works are full of prayers. The following is from an Easter sermon:

Oh, for this end, Thou exalted Saviour, help us more and more by the contemplation of Thy glory! As Thou art exalted from the earth, draw us more and more towards Thee! As Thou didst walk in the days of Thy resurrection, so let us more and more live and walk in the bond of love and faith which Thou didst form among Thy people, and be ever receiving more abundantly from Thee nourishment and strength for our spiritual life! And as Thy resurrection was blessed to Thy disciples for the establishing of Thy kingdom on earth, for the encouraging of the faint-hearted, for banishing despondency from men’s hearts, and for making known the deepest mysteries of the Scriptures; oh, thus may our new life be more and more, through the power of Thy Spirit, a proclamation of Thy word and of all the mysteries of Thy grace, a loving support to all that is weak, an effectual call to life for all that is still dead, a quiet, undisturbed enjoyment of Thy love and of the blessed fellowship with Thee in which Thy people stand. Amen.

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