Monday, August 01, 2005

Schlegel on Faith, Hope, and Love

The longing after the eternal and divine, which has been already described, is the seeking of God; but this calm inward assent of the will, whenever, with a childlike faith and enduring love and in steadfast hope, it is carried through and maintained with unwavering fidelity throughout life, is the actual finding of Him within us, and a constant adherence to Him when once we have found Him. As the root and principle of all that is best and noblest in man, this divine longing cannot be too highly estimated, and nowhere is it so inimitably described, and its excellence so fully acknowledged, as in Holy Writ itself. A remarkable instance of it is the fact that a prophet who was set apart and called by God Himself to his office, and was for that purpose endued with miraculous gifts, is expressly called in Holy Writ the man of longings. And yet this longing is nothing but the source, the first root, from which springs that triple flower in the lovely symbol of faith, hope, an charity, which afterwards, spreading over every grade and sphere of moral and intellectual existence, expands into the richest and most manifold fruits.

Friedrich von Schlegel, Philosophy of Life, A. J. W. Morrison, tr. Bohn (London: 1847) 111-112.

The 'man of longings' reference is to Daniel 9:23; the Hebrew expression there used is usually translated 'greatly beloved', but (apparently) if taken literally it would be something like 'man of desires'. Such is Schlegel's idea, anyway.

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