But what was here achieved had its dark side as well. If we ask what the Reformation cost us, and to what extent it made its principles prevail, we shall see this dark side very clearly.
We get nothing from history without paying for it, and for a violent movement we have to pay double. What did the Reformation cost us? I will not speak of the fact that the unity of Western civilisation was destroyed, since it was after all only over a part of Western Europe that the Reformation prevailed, for the freedom and many-sided character of the resulting development brought us a greater gain. But the necessity of establishing the new Churches as State-Churches was attended by serious disadvantages. The system of an ecclesiastical State is, of course, worse, and its adherents have truly no cause to praise it in contrast with the State-Churches. But still the latter—which are not solely the outcome of the breach with ecclesiastical authority, but were already prepared for in the fifteenth century—have been the cause of much stunted growth. They have weakened the feeling of responsibility, and diminished the activity, of the evangelical communities; and, in addition, they have aroused the not unfounded suspicion that the Church is an institution set up by the State, and accordingly to be adjusted to the State. Much has happened, indeed, in the last few decades to check that suspicion by the greater independence which the Churches have obtained; but further progress in this direction is necessary, especially in regard to the freedom of individual communities. The connexion with the State must not be violently severed, for the Churches have derived much advantage from it; but steps must be taken to further the development upon which we have entered. If this results in multifarious organisations in the Church, it will do no harm; on the contrary, it will remind us, in a forcible way, that these forms are all arbitrary.