The investigation of the reason ends in “reverential
doubt”: I neither accept revelation nor
reject it, but I reject the obligation to accept it.
My heart, however, judges otherwise than the reflection
of my intellect; for this the sacred majesty and exalted
simplicity of the Scriptures are a most cogent proof
that they are more than human, and that He whose history
they contain is more than man. The touching grace
and profound wisdom of his words, the gentleness of
his conduct, the loftiness of his maxims, his mastery
over his passions, abundantly prove that he was neither
an enthusiast nor an ambitious sectary. Socrates
lived and died like a philosopher, Jesus like a God.
The virtues of justice, patriotism, and moderation
taught by Socrates, had been exercised by the great
men of Greece before he inculcated them. But
whence could Jesus derive in his time and country
that lofty morality which he alone taught and exemplified?
Things of this sort are not invented. The inventor
of such deeds would be more wonderful than the doer
of them. Thus again, in the question of revealed
religion, the voice of the heart triumphs over the
doubts of the reason, as, in the question of natural
religion, it had done over the objections of opponents.
It is true, however, that this enthusiasm is paid
not to the current Christianity of the priests, but
to I the real Christianity of the gospel.
Rousseau was the conscience of France, which rebelled
against the negations and the bald emptiness of the
materialistic and atheistic doctrines. By vindicating
with fervid eloquence the participation of the whole
man in the highest questions, in opposition to the
one-sided illumination of the understanding, he became
a pre-Kantian defender of the faith of practical reason.
His emphatic summons aroused a loud and lasting echo,
especially in Germany, in the hearts of Goethe, Kant,
In the contemporaries Spinoza and Locke, the two schools
of modern philosophy, the Continental, starting from
Descartes, and the English, which followed Bacon,
had reached the extreme of divergence and opposition,
Spinoza was a rationalistic pantheist, Locke, an empirical
individualist. With Leibnitz a twofold approximation
begins. As a rationalist he sides with Spinoza
against Locke, as an individualist with Locke against
Spinoza. But he not only separated rationalism
from pantheism, but also qualified it by the recognition
(which his historical tendencies had of themselves
suggested to him) of a relative justification for empiricism,
since he distinguished the factual truths of experience
from the necessary truths of reason, gave to the former
a noetical principle of their own, the principle of
sufficient reason, and made sensation an indispensable
step to thought.