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ness of conduct, and from dissatisfaction with what proceeds either from the gods, or from men; for, indeed, what comes from the gods deserves reverence, owing to their excellence,—and what proceeds from man should be regarded with tenderness, on account of our common kindred; though there are occasions when the workings of man become, in a certain sense, objects of pity, owing to the ignorance of good and evil, which they betray-an ignorance no less lamentable than the blindness itself which takes away the power to distinguish between white and black.'
*My study of the Gospels, which, in spite of much that is not Christianity, contains undoubtedly the true outline of the character of Jesus and his doctrine, has convinced me that he intended to establish the religion I hare described, the purely spiritual religion of the conscience, the Logos, the light of God in man. One of my principal grounds for this assertion is his never recommending any one of those things which, at all times, have been considered essential to the establishment of a religious sect. The religion of Jesus (to judge by an admirable sentence which cannot be spurious *) has no temple; its worship consists in the cultivation of our intellectual nature, that faculty which is capable of knowing and it comes to the same thing; for the Aaluy and the Man are identified during life, and whatever pollutes our conscience pollutes the altar and throne of the divine Guide. In the same sense does St. Paul speak of grieving the Holy Spirit.'
* John iv. 23, 24,"
delighting in truth, not logical truth alone but all the truth implied in the relation of man to the Supreme source of reason and, of course, of moral truth, which is nothing but practical reason. Jesus leaves the government of his disciples, not to a Priesthood, but to the SPIRIT which is in them. This is another emblem of the conscience. The truth of this Christianity, every sincere man will find in himself; the power of it will be fully felt by every one who truly, i.e. practically, embraces it. In this manner, I trust in God I am a Christian. The writings of the Old and the New Testament are historical documents, which I treat exactly like other remnants of antiquity: I approve in them what I find worthy of approval, and reject what I see no reason to believe or follow. This is to follow the Spirit, the guide of the Christian.
“St. Paul shows a thorough acquaintance with the practical tendencies of true Christianity. For many years, whenever I have wished to repose myself in the burning desert of theology, I have found a refreshing oasis in that sentence, within which Paul himself seems to have taken refuge when bewildered by his fiery, but indistinct thoughts. 'Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.* Had not the
. "Phil. iv. 8, 9."
writer of this passage been under a strong, though not perfectly unmixed conviction that what he wished to propagate was the religion of the conscience, the religion of the Spirit, or Christ, or Logos, which dwells in the soul of man, he would have been obliged to write a whole treatise on Morals, instead of this simple enumeration of names. He was well aware, (and this shows the natural quickness of his mind, as well as the substantial purity of his intention,) he knew by his own experience, that the internal monitor and no other can teach whatever is pure, just, and holy.
“ This true Christianity embraces and claims as its own, every thing that has spiritual worth. Hence the common fallacy of pleading this, its glorious property, in favour of the mixed Church systems which usurp its name. I absolutely reject those systems because they discredit genuine Christianity among the mass of men who think with independence. I know, however, that the beautiful conception, which I have every reason to attribute to Jesus, lies perfect under the monstrous excrescences which now surround it -in Creeds, Articles, and Catechisms. To use an illustration suggested by some lines of Michael Angelo, containing a thought of Plato, we have only to strike off the redundancy, and the Godly image will be found within the shapeless block. It lies however very deep within the hard pudding-stone mass of the doctrines both of England and Rome, and we must not spare our hammers. “Ever yours affectionately,
“ J. B. W."
"PostscriPt. I have thought it a duty to exert myself to the utmost of my present power, in order to save you the labour and perplexity which my irregular journals and common-place books are likely to occasion to you after my death. For this purpose I have looked over some of the latter, which are still with me, leaving to you those that are in your possession. From the common-place books of 1837 and 1838, I have cut out a few thoughts containing matter directly connected with, and illustrative of, the mere hints which I have been able to compile in the preceding letter. A few of the last leaves affixed to this manuscript, contain extracts from a German work of Suabedissen, in 1831, Professor of Philosophy at Marburg. The title of the Work is Die Grundzüge der philosophischen Religionslehre, a thin 8vo., which would be read by many with pleasure and advantage, if it were translated in England, which I fear it will never be. England cares not for German philosophy, and much less when combined with German theology. I read this work last year, and found it a source of comfort amidst my acute sufferings : it raised my mind to God, and inspired the cheerfulness of hope into my dejected soul. How many German works have this power over me! The reason is, that they gene
rally abound in the views and principles of divine phi, losophy, and forget the jargon of the Church theology.
But I will not here dwell on this point. My wish is only to inform the reader who this Suabedissen is. I have another excellent work of his—indeed I think it superior to the one just mentioned, though it was written before it. Its title is Die Grundzüge der Lehre von dem Menschen, or Elements of Anthropology. There is an interesting, though short biographical article on Suabedissen, in the ConversationsLexicon der neuesten Zeit und Literatur, by which it appears that this distinguished writer was born in 1773, from parents who could scarcely afford to give him a learned education. In spite however of difficulties, his talent and application procured him means to go through the usual University studies. He was tutor in various families, and rose to be instructor of the Prince Frederick William, of Hesse. Most of his early writings were upon Education. He obtained two philosophical prizes from the Academy of Sciences of Copenhagen; the 1st is entitled, Results of the philosophical investigations concerning the nature of human knowledge, from Plato to Kant: the 2nd, ‘Internal Perception. I have to thank Fichte, the son of the celebrated Philosopher, successor of Kant, for my acquaintance with the two works of Suabedissen above mentioned. How miserably narrow does the system of the English Universities appear the moment one sees even a few specimens of what the Universities of Germany produce !— But German speculation is very dangerous. True: to wealthy Church establishments founded upon the misty twilight of the dark ages.” *