Christianity and Greek Philosophy: Or, the Relation between Spontaneous and Reflective Thought in Greece and the Positive Teaching of Christ and His Apostles

By B. F. Cocker | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION.

"All things which I behold bear witness to your carefulness in religion (δειόιδαιμουεότέρονς. -- ST. PAUL.

AS a prelude and preparation for the study of the religion of the Athenians, it may be well to consider religion in its more abstract and universal form; and inquire in what does religion essentially consist; how far is it grounded in the nature of man; and especially, what is there in the mental constitution of man, or in his exterior conditions, which determines him to a mode of life which may be denominated religious? As a preliminary inquiry, this may materially aid us in understanding the nature, and estimating the value of the religious conceptions and sentiments which were developed by the Greek mind.

Religion, in its most generic conception, may be defined as a form of thought, feeling, and action, which has the Divine for its object, basis, and end. Or, in other words, it is a mode of life determined by the recognition of some relation to, and consciousness of dependence upon, a Supreme Being. This general conception of religion underlies all the specific forms of religion which have appeared in the. world, whether heathen, Jewish, Mohammedan, or Christian.

That a religious destination appertains to man as man, whether he has been raised to a full religious consciousness, or is simply considered as capable of being so raised, can not be denied. In all ages man has revealed an instinctive tendency, or natural aptitude for religion, and he has developed feelings and emotions which have always characterized him as a religious being. Religious ideas and sentiments have prevailed among all nations, and have exerted a powerful influence on

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