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 V. THE UNKNOWN GOD.

"As I passed by, and beheld your sacred objects, I found an altar with this inscription, To the Unknown God." -- ST. PAUL.

"That which can be known of God is manifested in their hearts, God himself having shown it to them" [the heathen nations]. -- ST. PAUL.

HAVING now reached our first landing-place, from whence we may survey the fields that we have traversed, it may be well to set down in definite propositions the results we have attained. We may then carry them forward, as torches, to illuminate the path of future and still profounder inquiries.

The principles we have assumed as the only adequate and legitimate interpretation of the facts of religious history, and which an extended study of the most fully-developed religious system of the ancient world confirms, may be thus announced:

I. A religious nature and destination appertain to man, so that the purposes of his existence and the perfection of his being can only be secured in and through religion.

II. The idea of God as the unconditioned Cause, the infinite Mind, the personal Lord and Lawgiver, and the consciousness of dependence upon and obligation to God, are the fundamental principles of all religion.

III. Inasmuch as man is a religious being, the instincts and emotions of his nature constraining him to worship, there must also be implanted in his rational nature some original à priori ideas or laws of thought which furnish the necessary cognition of the object of worship; that is, some native, spontaneous cognition of God.

A mere blind impulse would not be adequate to guide man to the true end and perfection of his being without rational ideas; a tendency or appetency, without a revealed object,

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