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And thus, in this struggle belween the old household deities of the
Such is the slate in which the ancient world leaves the mind of lioneffect.
man. On a sudden a new era commences; a rapid yet gradual reChristi- volution takes place in the opinions, sentiments, and principles of anity.
mankind; the void is filled; the connection between religion and
The doctrine of the immortality of the soul partook in the same ily of the change wilh the notion of the Deity; it became at once popular,
simple, and spiritual. It was disseminated throughout all orders
Propertius may be considered in one sense the mapuva, the inglorious vulgar, from the seats most religious poet of this period : his verses of bliss, where Achilles and Diomed pursued teem with mythological allusion, but it is poeti- their warlike amusements. It was not proper to cal ornament rather than the natural language appear poor before Odin; and it is very doubtsul of piety; it has much of the artificial school of whether a poor man was thought worthy of any the Alexandrian Callimachus, his avowed model, place in his dwellings, unless he came from the nothing of the simplicity of faith which breathed field of battle in the bloody train of some great in Pindar and Sophocles.
chieftain. Slaves at least were distinctly ex. (1) It is curious to see, in another mythology, cluded, and after deathe turned away from the the same martial aristocratic spirit which, in doors of Valhalla. Geijer, Hist. of Sweden, Gerin, the earlier religions, excluded the pevnya Transl. i. 103,
absorbed into the Divine Essence. It announced the resurrection
To the more complete development of this fact we shall descend Design in the course of our history, which will endeavour to trace all the
History. modifications of Christianity, by which it accommodated itself to the spirit of successive ages; and by this apparently almost skilful, but in fact necessary condescension to the predominant state of moral culture, of which itself formed a constituent element, maintained its uninterrupted dominion. It is the author's object, the difficulty of which he himself fully appreciates, to portray the genius of the Christianity of each successive age, in connection with that of the age itself; entirely lo discard all polemic views; to mark the origin and progress of all the subordinate diversities of belief; their origin in the circumstances of the place or time at which they appeared; their progress from their adaptation to the prevailing state of opinion or sentiment : rather than directly to confute error or to establish truth; in short, to exhibit the reciprocal influence of civilisation on Christianity, of Christianity on civilisation. To the accomplishment of such a scheme he is well aware, that besides the usual high qualifications of a faithful historian, is requisite, in an especial manner, the union of true philosophy with perfect charity, if indeed they are not one and the same. This calm, imparlial, and dispassionale tone he will constantly endeavour, ho
dares scarcely hope, with such warnings on every side of involun-
laity; the former at first an aristocracy, afterwards a despotic inoChristian. narchy: as Europe sank back into barbarism, the imaginative state ity differ- of lhe human mind, the formation of a new poetic faith, a mythology, form in and a complete system of symbolic worship; the interworking of periods of Christianity with barbarism, till they slowly grew into a kind of
semi-barbarous heroic period, that of Christian chivalry; the gradual
(1) By the accounts of Bruce, Salt, and re- among the South Sea islanders, it will of course cently of Pearce, the Christianity of Abyssinia be reinembered, were effected, and are still sumay be adduced as an instance of the state to perintended by strangers in a very different which it inay he degraded among a people at a
stage of civilisation. very low state of barbarism. The conversions
sign of its divine original : it will advance with the advancement of
While, however, Christianity necessarily submitted to all these Christianmodifications, I strongly protest against the opinion, that the origin sell.deve
ity not of the religion can be allributed, according to a theory adopted by loped. many foreign writers, to the gradual and spontaneous development of the human mind (1). Christ is as much beyond his own age, as bis own age is beyond the darkest barbarism. The time, though fitled to receive, could not by any combination of prevalent opinions, or by any conceivable course of moral improvement, have produced Christianity. The conception of the human character of Jesus, 'and the simple principles of the new religion, as they were in direct opposition to the predominant opinions and lemper of his own countrymen, so they stand completely alone in the history of our race; and, as imaginary no less than as real, altogether transcend the powers of man's moral conception. Supposing the gospels purely ficlilious, or that, like the “Cyropædia” of Xenophon, they embody on a groundwork of fact the highest moral and religious nolions to which man had atlained, and show the utmost ideal perfection of the divine and huinan nalure, they can be accounted for, according to my judgment, on none of the ordinary principles of human nature (2). When we behold Christ standing in the midst of the wreck of old religious institutions, and building, or rather at one word commanding to arise, the simple and harmonious structure of the new saith, which seems equally adapted for all ages –a temple to which nations in the highest degree of civilisalion may bring their offerings of pure hearts, virtuous dispositions, universal charily; -our natural emotion is the recognition of the Divine goodness, in the promulgation of this beneficent code of religion; and adoration of that Being in whom that Divine goodness is thus embodied and made comprehensible lo the facullies of man. In the language of the apostle, “ God is in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself (3).”
(1) This theory is sketched by no means with sus-Christ. Au fond c'est reculer la difficulté
frappans, si parfaitement inimitables, que l'in-
LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST.-STATE OF JUDEA. -THE BELIEF IN THE MESSIAH.
Life of Christ ne
The history of Christianity without the life of its Divine Author cessary to appears imperfect and incomplete, particularly considering the close a history connection of that life, not only with the more mysterious doctrines, anity. but with the practical, and even political influence of the religion;
for even ils apparently most unimportant incidents have, in many
Yet to write the life of Christ, though at first sight it may appear culty. the most easy, is perhaps the most difficult lask which an historian
can undertake.. Many Lives have been composed with a devotional,
(1) See Appendix I., on the recent Lives of Christ.