It has been remarked that Caesar inaugurated the Modern World on the side of reality, while its spiritual and inward existence was unfolded under Augustus. At the beginning of that empire, whose principle we have recognized as finiteness and particular subjectivity exaggerated to infinitude, the salvation of the World had its birth in the same principle of subjectivity – viz., as a particular person, in abstract subjectivity, but in such a way that conversely, finiteness is only the form of his appearance, while infinity and absolutely independent existence constitute the essence and substantial being which it embodies. The Roman World, as it has been described – in its desperate condition and the pain of abandonment by God – came to an open rupture with reality, and made prominent the general desire for a satisfaction such as can only be attained in “the inner man,” the Soul – thus preparing the ground for a higher Spiritual World. Rome was the Fate that crushed down the gods and all genial life in its hard service, while it was the power that purified the human heart from all speciality. Its entire condition is therefore analogous to a place of birth, and its pain is like the travail-throes of another and higher Spirit, which manifested itself in connection with the Christian Religion. This higher Spirit involves the reconciliation and emancipation of Spirit; while man obtains the consciousness of Spirit in its universality and infinity. The Absolute Object, Truth, is Spirit; and as man himself is Spirit, he is present [is mirrored] to himself in that object, and thus in his Absolute Object has found Essential Being and his own essential being. But in order that the objectivity of Essential Being may be done away with, and Spirit be no longer alien to itself – may be with itself [self- harmonized] – the Naturalness of Spirit – that in virtue of which man is a special, empirical existence – must be removed; so that the alien element may be destroyed, and the reconciliation of Spirit be accomplished.
God is thus recognized as Spirit, only when known as the Triune. This new principle is the axis on which the History of the World turns. This is the goal and the starting point of History. “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent his Son,” is the statement of the Bible. This means nothing else than that self-consciousness had reached the phases of development [Momente], whose resultant constitutes the Idea of Spirit, and had come to feel the necessity of comprehending those phases absolutely. This must now be more fully explained. We said of the Greeks, that the law for their Spirit was: “Man, know thyself.” The Greek Spirit was a consciousness of Spirit, but under a limited form, having the element of Nature as an essential ingredient. Spirit may have had the upper hand, but the unity of the superior and the subordinate was itself still Natural. Spirit appeared as specialized in the idiosyncrasies of the genius of the several Greek nationalities and of their divinities, and was represented by Art, in whose sphere the Sensuous is elevated only to the middle ground of beautiful form and shape, but not to pure Thought. The element of Subjectivity that was wanting to the Greeks, we found among the Romans: but as it was merely formal and in itself indefinite, it took its material from passion and caprice; – even the most shameful degradations could be here connected with a divine dread (vide the declaration of Hispala respecting the Bacchanalia, Livy xxxix. 13). This element of subjectivity ‘s afterwards further realized as Personality of Individuals – a realization which is exactly adequate to the principle, and is equally abstract and formal. As such an Ego [such a personality], I am infinite to myself, and my phenomenal existence consists in the property recognized as mine, and the recognition of my personality. This inner existence goes no further; all the applications of the principle merge in this. Individuals are thereby posited as atoms; but they are at the same time subject to the severe rule of the One, which as monas monadum is a power over private persons [the connection between the ruler and the ruled is not mediated by the claim of Divine or of Constitutional Right, or any general principle, but is direct and individual, the Emperor being the immediate lord of each subject in the Empire]. That Private Right is therefore, ipso facto, a nullity, an ignoring of the personality; and the supposed condition of Right turns out to be an absolute destitution of it. This contradiction is the misery of the Roman World. Each person is, according to the principle of his personality, entitled only to possesion, while the Person of Persons lays claim to the possession of all these individuals, so that the right assumed by the social unit is at once abrogated and robbed of validity. But the misery of this contradiction is the Discipline of the World. “Zucht” (discipline) is derived from “Ziehen” (to draw). This “drawing” must be towards something; there must be some fixed unity in the background in whose direction that drawing takes place, and for which the subject of it is being trained, in order that the standard of attainment may be reached. A renunciation, a disaccustoming, is the means of leading to an absolute basis of existence. That contradiction which afflicts the Roman World is the very state of things which constitutes such a discipline – the discipline of that culture which compels personality to display its nothingness. But it is reserved for us of a later period to regard this as a training; to those who are thus trained [traines, dragged], it seems a blind destiny, to which they submit in the stupor of suffering. The higher condition, in which the soul itself feels pain and longing – in which man is not only “drawn,” but feels that the drawing is into himself [into his own inmost nature] – is still absent. What has been reflection on our part must arise in the mind of the subject of this discipline in the form of a consciousness that in himself he is miserable and null. Outward suffering must, as already said, be merged in a sorrow of the inner man. He must feel himself as the negation of himself; he must see that his misery is the misery of his nature – that he is in himself a divided and discordant being. This state of mind, this self-chastening, this pain occasioned by our individual nothingness – the wretchedness of our [isolated] self, and the longing to transcend this condition of soul – must be looked for elsewhere than in the properly Roman World. It is this which gives to the Jewish People their World-Historical importance and weight; for from this state of mind arose that higher phase in which Spirit came to absolute self-consciousness – passing from that alien form of being which is its discord and pain, and mirroring itself in its own essence. The state of feeling in question we find expressed most purely and beautifully in the Psalms of David, and in the Prophets; the chief burden of whose utterances is the thirst of the soul after God, its profound sorrow for its transgressions, and the desire for righteousness and holiness. Of this Spirit we have the mythical representation at the very beginning of the Jewish canonical books, in the account of the Fall. Man, created in the image of God, lost, it is said, his state of absolute contentment, by eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Sin consists here only in Knowledge: this is the sinful element, and by it man is stated to have trifled away his Natural happiness. This is a deep truth, that evil lies in consciousness: for the brutes are neither evil nor good; the merely Natural Man quite as little. Consciousness occasions the separation of the Ego, in its boundless freedom as arbitrary choice, from the pure essence of the Will – i.e., from the Good. Knowledge, as the disannulling of the unity of mere Nature, is the “Fall,” which is no casual conception, but the eternal history of Spirit. For the state of innocence, the paradisaical condition, is that of the brute. Paradise is a park, where only brutes, not men, can remain. For the brute is one with God only implicitly [not consciously]. Only Man’s Spirit (that is) has a self-cognizant existence. This existence for self, this consciousness, is at the same time separation from the Universal and Divine Spirit. If I hold to my abstract Freedom, in contraposition to the Good, I adopt the standpoint of Evil. The Fall is therefore the eternal Mythus of Man – in fact, the very transition by which he becomes man. Persistence in this standpoint is, however, Evil, and the feeling of pain at such a condition, and of longing to transcend it, we find in David, when he says: “Lord, create for me a pure heart, a new steadfast Spirit.” This feeling we observe even in the account of the Fall; though an announcement of Reconciliation is not made there, but rather one of continuance in misery. Yet we have in this narrative the prediction of reconciliation in the sentence, “The serpent’s head shall be bruised”; but still more profoundly expressed where it is stated that when God saw that Adam had eaten of that tree, he said, “Behold Adam is become as one of us, knowing Good and Evil.” God confirms the words of the Serpent. Implicitly and explicitly, then, we have the truth, that man through Spirit – through cognition of the Universal and the Particular – comprehends God Himself. But it is only God that declares this – not man: the latter remains, on the contrary, in a state of internal discord. The joy of reconciliation is still distant from humanity; the absolute and final repose of his whole being is not yet discovered to man. It exists, in the first instance, only for God. As far as the present is concerned, the feeling of pain at his condition is regarded as a final award. The satisfaction which man enjoys at first, consists in the finite and temporal blessings conferred on the Chosen Family and the possession of the Land of Canaan. His repose is not found in God. Sacrifices are, it is true, offered to Him in the Temple, and atonement made by outward offerings and inward penitence. But that mundane satisfaction in the Chosen Family, and its possession of Canaan, was taken from the Jewish people in the chastisement inflicted by the Roman Empire. The Syrian kings did indeed oppress it, but it was left for the Romans to annul its individuality. The Temple of Zion is destroyed; the God-serving nation is scattered to the winds. Here every source of satisfaction is taken away, and the nation is driven back to the standpoint of that primeval mythus – the standpoint of that painful feeling which humanity experiences when thrown upon itself. Opposed to the universal Fatum of the Roman World, we have here the consciousness of Evil and the direction of the mind Godwards. All that remains to be done, is that this fundamental idea should be expanded to an objective universal sense, and be taken as the concrete existence of man – as the completion of his nature. Formerly the Land of Canaan and themselves as the people of God had been regarded by the Jews as that concrete and complete existence. But this basis of satisfaction is now lost, and thence arises the sense of misery and failure of hope in God, with whom that happy reality had been essentially connected. Here, then, misery is not the stupid immersion in a blind Fate, but a boundless energy of longing. Stoicism taught only that the Negative is not – that pain must not be recognized as a veritable existence; but Jewish feeling persists in acknowledging Reality and desires harmony and reconciliation within its sphere; for that feeling is based on the Oriental Unity of Nature – i.e., the unity of Reality, of Subjectivity, with the substance of the One Essential Being. Through the loss of mere outward reality Spirit is driven back within itself; the side of reality is thus refined to Universality, through the reference of it to the One. The Oriental antithesis of Light and Darkness is transferred to Spirit, and the Darkness becomes Sin. For the abnegation of reality there is no compensation but Subjectivity itself – the Human Will as intrinsically universal; and thereby alone does reconciliation become possible. Sin is the discerning of Good and Evil as separation; but this discerning likewise heals the ancient hurt, and is the fountain of infinite reconciliation. The discerning in question brings with it the destruction of that which is external and alien in consciousness, and is consequently the return of Subjectivity into itself. This, then, adopted into the actual self-consciousness of the World is theReconciliation [atonement] of the World. From that unrest of infinite sorrow – in which the two sides of the antithesis stand related to each other – is developed the unity of God with Reality (which latter had been posited as negative i.e., with Subjectivity which had been separated from Him. The infinite loss is counterbalanced only by its infinity, and thereby becomes infinite gain. The recognition of the identity of the Subject and God was introduced into the World when the fulness of Time was come: the consciousness of this identity is the recognition of God in his true essence. The material of Truth is Spirit itself – inherent vital movement. The nature of God as pure Spirit, is manifested to man in the Christian Religion.
But what is Spirit? It is the one immutably homogeneous infinite – pure Identity – which in its second phase separates itself from itself and makes this second aspect Its own polar opposite, viz. as existence for and in self as contrasted with the Universal. But this separation is annulled by the fact that atomistic Subjectivity, as simple relation to itself [as occupied with self alone] is itself the Universal, the Identical with self. If Spirit be defined as absolute reflection within itself in virtue of its absolute duality – Love on the one hand as comprehending the Emotional [Empfindung], Knowledge on the other hand as Spirit [including the penetrative and active faculties, as opposed to the receptive] – it is recognized as Triune: the “Father” and the “Son,” and that duality which essentially characterizes it as “Spirit.” It must further be observed, that in this truth, the relation of man to this truth is also posited. For Spirit makes itself its own [polar] opposite – and is the return from this opposite into itself. Comprehended in pure ideality, that antithetic form of Spirit is the Son of God; reduced to limited and particular conceptions, it is the World-Nature and Finite Spirit: Finite Spirit itself therefore is posited as a constituent element [Moment] in the Divine Being. Man himself therefore is comprehended in the Idea of God, and this comprehension may be thus expressed – that the unity of Man with God is posited in the Christian Religion. But this unity must not be superficially conceived, as if God were only Man, and Man, without further condition, were God. Man, on the contrary, is God only in so far as he annuls the merely Natural and Limited in his Spirit and elevates himself to God. That is to say, it is obligatory on him who is a partaker of the truth, and knows that he himself is a constituent [Moment] of the Divine Idea, to give up his merely natural being: for the Natural is the Unspiritual. In this Idea of God, then, is to be found also the Reconciliation that heals the pain and inward suffering of man. For Suffering itself is henceforth recognized as an instrument necessary for producing the unity of man with God. This implicit unity exists in the first place only for the thinking speculative consciousness; but it must also exist for the sensuous, representative consciousness – it must become an object for the World – it must appear, and that in the sensuous form appropriate to Spirit, which is the human. Christ has appeared – a Man who is God – God who is Man; and thereby peace and reconciliation have accrued to the World. Our thoughts naturally revert to the Greek anthropomorphism, of which we affirmed that it did not go far enough. For that natural elation of soul which characterized the Greeks did not rise to the Subjective Freedom of the Ego itself – to the inwardness that belongs to the Christian Religion – to the recognition of Spirit as a definite positive being. – The appearance of the Christian God involves further its being unique in its kind; it can occur only once, for God is realized as Subject, and as manifested Subjectivity is exclusively One Individual. The Lamas are ever and anon chosen anew; because God is known in the East as Substance, whose infinity of form is recognized merely in an unlimited multeity of outward and particular manifestations. But subjectivity as infinite relation to self, has its form in itself, and as manifested, must be a unity excluding all others. – Moreover the sensuous existence in which Spirit is embodied is only a transitional phase. Christ dies; only as dead, is he exalted to Heaven and sits at the right hand of God; only thus is he Spirit. He himself says: “When I am no longer with you, the Spirit will guide you into all truth.” Not till the Feast of Pentecost were the Apostles filled with the Holy Ghost. To the Apostles, Christ as living, was not that which he was to them subsequently as the Spirit of the Church, in which he became to them for the first time an object for their truly spiritual consciousness. On the same principle, we do not adopt the right point of view in thinking of Christ only as a historical bygone personality. So regarded, the question is asked, What are we to make of his birth, his Father and Mother, his early domestic relations, his miracles, etc.? – i.e., What is he unspiritually regarded? Considered only in respect of his talents, character and morality – as a Teacher and so forth – we place him in the same category with Socrates and others, though his morality may be ranked higher. But excellence of character, morality, etc. – all this is not the ne plus ultra in the requirements of Spirit – does not enable man to gain the speculative idea of Spirit for his conceptive faculty. If Christ is to be looked upon only as an excellent, even impeccable individual, and nothing more, the conception of the Speculative Idea, of Absolute Truth is ignored. But this is the desideratum, the point from which we have to start. Make of Christ what you will, exegetically, critically, historically – demonstrate as you please, how the doctrines of the Church were and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For he that doeth the will of my Father in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister and mother.” Yes, it is even said: “Think not that I am come to send peace on the Earth. I am not come to send peace but the sword. For I am come to set a man against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law.” Here then is an abstraction from all that belongs to reality, even from moral ties. We may say that nowhere are to be found such revolutionary utterances as in the Gospels; for everything that had been respected, is treated as a matter of indifference – as worthy of no regard.
The next point is the development of this principle; and the whole sequel of History is the history of its development. Its first realization is the formation by the friends of Christ, of a Society – a Church. It has been already remarked that only after the death of Christ could the Spirit come upon his friends; that only then were they able to conceive the true idea of God, viz., that in Christ man is redeemed and reconciled: for in him the idea of eternal truth is recognized, the essence of man acknowledged to be Spirit, and the fact proclaimed that only by stripping himself of his finiteness and surrendering himself to pure self-consciousness, does he attain the truth. Christ – man as man – in whom the unity of God and man has appeared, has in his death, and his history generally, himself presented the eternal history of Spirit – a history which every man has to accomplish in himself, in order to exist as Spirit, or to become a child of God, a citizen of his kingdom. The followers of Christ, who combine on this principle and live in the spiritual life as their aim, form the Church, which is the Kingdom of God. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name” (i.e., “in the character of partakers in my being”) says Christ, “there am I in the midst of them.” The Church is a real present life in the Spirit of Christ.
It is important that the Christian religion be not limited to the teachings of Christ himself: it is in the Apostles that the completed and developed truth is first exhibited. This complex of thought unfolded itself in the Christian community. That community, in its first experiences, found itself sustaining a double relation – first, a relation to the Roman World, and secondly, to the truth whose development was its aim. We will pursue these different relations separately. The Christian community found itself in the Roman world, and in this world the extension of the Christian religion was to take place. That community must therefore keep itself removed from all activity in the State – constitute itself a separate company, and not react against the decrees, views, and transactions of the state. But as it was secluded from the state, and consequently did not hold the Emperor for its absolute sovereign, it was the object of persecution and hate. Then was manifested that infinite inward liberty which it enjoyed, in the great steadfastness with which sufferings and sorrows were patiently borne for the sake of the highest truth. It was less the miracles of the Apostles that gave to Christianity its outward extension and inward strength, than the substance, the truth of the doctrine itself. Christ himself says: “Many will say to me at that day: Lord, Lord! have we not prophesied in thy name, have we not cast out devils in thy name, have we not in thy name done many wonderful deeds? Then will I profess unto them: I never knew you, depart from me all ye workers of iniquity.”
As regards its other relation, viz., that to the Truth, it is especially important to remark that the Dogma – the Theoretical – was already matured within the Roman World, while we find the development of the State from that principle, a much later growth. The Fathers of the Church and the Councils constituted the dogma; but a chief element in this constitution was supplied by the previous development of philosophy. Let us examine more closely how the philosophy of the time stood related to religion. It has already been remarked that the Roman inwardness and subjectivity, which presented itself only abstractly, as soulless personality in the exclusive position assumed by the Ego, was refined by the philosophy of Stoicism and Scepticism to the form of Universality. The ground of Thought was thereby reached, and God was known in Thought as the One Infinite. The Universal stands here only as an unimportant predicate – not itself a Subject, but requiring a concrete particular application to make it such. But the One and Universal, the Illimitable conceived by fancy, is essentially Oriental; for measureless conceptions, carrying all limited existence beyond its .proper bounds, are indigenous to the East. Presented in the domain of Thought itself, the Oriental One is the invisible and non-sensuous God of the Israelitish people, but whom they also make an object of conception as a person. This principle became World-Historical with Christianity. – In the Roman World, the union of the East and West had taken place in the first instance by means of conquest: it took place now inwardly, psychologically, also; – the Spirit of the East spreading over the West. The worship of Isis and that of Mithra had been extended through the whole Roman World; Spirit, lost in the outward and in limited aims, yearned after an Infinite. But the West desired a deeper, purely inward Universality – an Infinite possessed at the same time of positive qualities. Again, it was in Egypt – in Alexandria, viz., the centre of communication between the East and the West – that the problem of the age was proposed for Thought; and the solution now found was – Spirit. There the two principles came into scientific contact, and were scientifically worked out. It is especially remarkable to observe there, learned Jews such as Philo, connecting abstract forms of the concrete, which they derived from Plato and Aristotle, with their conception of the Infinite, and recognizing God according to the more concrete idea of Spirit, under the definition of the Logos. So, also, did the profound thinkers of Alexandria comprehend the unity of the Platonic and Aristotelian Philosophy; and their speculative thinking attained those abstract ideas which are likewise the fundamental purport of the Christian religion. The application, by way of postulate, to the pagan religion, of ideas recognized as true, was a direction which philosophy had already taken among the heathen. Plato had altogether repudiated the current mythology, and, with his followers, was accused of Atheism. The Alexandrians, on the contrary, endeavored to demonstrate a speculative truth in the Greek conceptions of the gods: and the Emperor Julian the Apostate resumed the attempt, asserting that the pagan ceremonials had a strict connection with rationality. The heathen felt, as it were, obliged to give to their divinities the semblance of something higher than sensuous conceptions; they therefore attempted to spiritualize them. Thus much is also certain, that the Greek religion contains a degree of Reason; for the substance of Spirit is Reason, and its product must be something Rational. It makes a difference, however, whether Reason is explicitly developed in Religion, or merely adumbrated by it, as constituting its hidden basis. And while the Greeks thus spiritualized their sensuous divinities, the Christians also, on their side, sought for a profounder sense in the historical part of their religion. Just as Philo found a deeper import shadowed forth in the Mosaic record, and idealized what he considered the bare shell of the narrative, so also did the Christians treat their records – partly with a polemic view, but still more largely from a free and spontaneous interest in the process. But the instrumentality of philosophy in introducing these dogmas into the Christian Religion, is no sufficient ground for asserting that they were foreign to Christianity and had nothing to do with it. It is a matter of perfect indifference where a thing originated; the only question is: “Is it true in and for itself?” Many think that by pronouncing the doctrine to be Neo- Platonic, they have ipso facto banished it from Christianity. Whether a Christian doctrine stands exactly thus or thus in the Bible – the point to which the exegetical scholars of modern times devote all their attention – is not the only question. The Letter kills, the Spirit makes alive: this they say themselves, yet pervert the sentiment by taking the Understanding for the Spirit. It was the Church that recognized and established the doctrines in question – i.e. the Spirit of the Church; and it is itself an Article of Doctrine: “I believe in a Holy Church;" as Christ himself also said: “The Spirit will guide you into all truth.” In the Nicene Council (A.D. 325), was ultimately established a fixed confession of faith, to which we still adhere: this confession had not, indeed, a speculative form, but the profoundly speculative is most intimately inwoven with the manifestation of Christ himself. Even in John (en arch hn o logos, ka o logos hn pros ton qewn un o logos) we see the commencement of a profounder comprehension. The profoundest thought is connected with the personality of Christ – with the historical and external; and it is the very grandeur of the Christian religion that, with all this profundity, it is easy of comprehension by our consciousness in its outward aspect, while, at the same time, it summons us to penetrate deeper. It is thus adapted to every grade of culture, and yet satisfies the highest requirements.
Having spoken of the relation of the Christian community to the Roman world on the one side, and to the truth contained in its doctrines on the other side, we come to the third point – in which both doctrine and the external world are concerned – the Church. The Christian community is the Kingdom of Christ – its influencing present Spirit being Christ: for this kingdom has an actual existence, not a merely future one. This spiritual actuality has, therefore, also a phenomenal existence; and that, not only as contrasted with heathenism, but with secular existence generally. For the Church, as presenting this outward existence, is not merely a religion as opposed to another religion, but is at the same time a particular form of secular existence, occupying a place side by side with other secular existence. The religious existence of the Church is governed by Christ; the secular side of its government is left to the free choice of the members themselves. Into this kingdom of God an organization must be introduced. In the first instance, all the members know themselves filled with the Spirit; the whole community perceives the truth and gives expression to it; yet, together with this common participation of spiritual influence, arises the necessity of a presidency of guidance and teaching – a body distinct from the community at large. Those are chosen as presidents who are distinguished for talents, character, fervor of piety, a holy life, learning, and culture generally. The presidents – those who have a superior acquaintance with that substantial Life of which all are partakers, and who are instructors in that Life – those who establish what is truth, and those who dispense its enjoyment – are distinguished from the community at large, as persons endowed with knowledge and governing power are from the governed. To the intelligent presiding body, the Spirit comes in a fully revealed and explicit form; in the mass of the community that Spirit is only implicit. While, therefore, in the presiding body, the Spirit exists as self-appreciating and self-cognizant, it becomes an authority in spiritual as well as in secular matters – an authority for the truth and for the relation of each individual to the truth, determining how he should conduct himself so as to act in accordance with the Truth. This distinction occasions the rise of an Ecclesiastical Kingdom in the Kingdom of God. Such a distinction is inevitable ; but the existence of an authoritative government for the Spiritual, when closely examined, shows that human subjectivity in its proper form has not yet developed itself. In the heart, indeed, the evil will is surrendered, but the will, as human, is not yet interpenetrated by the Deity; the human will is emancipated only abstractly – not in its concrete reality – for the whole sequel of History is occupied with the realization of this concrete Freedom. Up to this point, finite Freedom has been only annulled, to make way for infinite Freedom. The latter has not yet penetrated secular existence with its rays. Subjective Freedom has not yet attained validity as such: Insight [speculative conviction] does not yet rest on a basis of its own, but is content to inhere in the spirit of an extrinsic authority. That Spiritual [geistig] kingdom has, therefore, assumed the shape of an Ecclesiastical [geistlich] one, as the relation of the substantial being and essence of Spirit to human Freedom. Besides the interior organization already mentioned, we find the Christian community assuming also a definite external position, and becoming the possessor of property of its own. As property belonging to the spiritual world, it is presumed to enjoy special protection; and the immediate inference from this is, that the Church has no dues to pay to the state, and that ecclesiastical persons are not amenable to the jurisdiction of the secular courts. This entails the government by the Church itself of ecclesiastical property and ecclesiastical persons. Thus there originates with the Church the contrasted spectacle of a body consisting only of private persons and the power of the Emperor on the secular side; – on the other side, the perfect democracy of the spiritual community, choosing its own president. Priestly consecration, however, soon changes this democracy into aristocracy; – though the further development of the Church does not belong to the period now under consideration, but must be referred to the world of a later date. It was then through the Christian Religion that the Absolute Idea of God, in its true conception, attained consciousness. Here Man, too, finds himself comprehended in his true nature, given in the specific conception of “the Son.” Man, finite when regarded for himself, is yet at the same time the Image of God and a fountain of infinity in himself. He is the object of his own existence – has in himself an infinite value, an eternal destiny. Consequently he has his true home in a super-sensuous world – an infinite subjectivity, gained only by a rupture with mere Natural existence and volition, and by his labor to break their power within him. This is religious self- consciousness. But in order to enter the sphere and display the active vitality of that religious life, humanity must become capable of it. This capability is the dunamis for that energeia. What therefore remains to be considered is, those conditions of humanity which are the necessary corollary to the consideration that Man is Absolute Self-consciousness – his Spiritual nature being the starting-point and presupposition. These conditions are themselves not yet of a concrete order, but simply the first abstract principles, which are won by the instrumentality of the Christian Religion for the secular State. First, under Christianity Slavery is impossible; for man is man – in the abstract essence of his nature – is contemplated in God; each unit of mankind is an object of the grace of God and of the Divine purpose: “God will have all men to be saved.” Utterly excluding all speciality, therefore, man, in and for himself – in his simple quality of man – has infinite value; and this infinite value abolishes, ipso facto, all particularity attaching to birth or country. The other, the second principle, regards the subjectivity of man in its bearing on the Fortuitous – on Chance. Humanity has this sphere of free Spirituality in and for itself, and everything else must proceed from it. The place appropriated to the abode and presence of the Divine Spirit – the sphere in question – is Spiritual Subjectivity, and is constituted the place to which all contingency is amenable. It follows thence, that what we observed among the Greeks as a form of Customary Morality, cannot maintain its position in the Christian world. For that morality is spontaneous unreflected Wont; while the Christian principle is independent subjectivity – the soil on which grows the True. Now an unreflected morality cannot continue to hold its ground against the principle of Subjective Freedom. Greek Freedom was that of Hap and “Genius”; it was still conditioned by Slaves and Oracles; but now the principle of absolute Freedom in God makes its appearance. Man now no longer sustains the relation of Dependence, but of Love – in the consciousness that he is a partaker in the Divine existence. In regard to particular aims [such as the Greeks referred to oracular decision], man now forms his own determinations and recognizes himself as plenipotentiary in regard to all finite existence. All that is special retreats into the background before that Spiritual sphere of subjectivity, which takes a secondary position only in presence of the Divine Spirit. The superstition of oracles and auspices is thereby entirely abrogated: Man is recognized as the absolute authority in crises of decision.
It is the two principles just treated of, that now attach to Spirit in this its self-contained phase. The inner shrine of man is designed, on the one hand, to train the citizen of the religious life to bring himself into harmony with the Spirit of God; on the other hand, this is the point du départ for determining secular relations, and its condition is the theme of Christian History. The change which piety effects must not remain concealed in the recesses of the heart, but must become an actual, present world, complying with the conditions prescribed by that Absolute Spirit. Piety of heart does not, per se,involve the submission of the subjective will, in its external relations, to that piety. On the contrary we see all passions increasingly rampant in the sphere of reality, because that sphere is looked down upon with contempt, from the lofty position attained by the world of mind, as one destitute of all claim and value. The problem to be solved is therefore the imbuing of the sphere of [ordinary] unreflected Spiritual existence, with the Idea of Spirit. A general observation here suggests itself. From time immemorial it has been customary to assume an opposition between Reason and Religion, as also between Religion and the World; but on investigation this turns out to be only a distinction. Reason in general is the Positive Existence [Wesen] of Spirit, divine as well as human. The distinction between Religion and the World is only this – that Religion as such, is Reason in the soul and heart – that it is a temple in which Truth and Freedom in God are presented to the conceptive faculty: the State, on the other hand, regulated by the selfsame Reason, is a temple of Human Freedom concerned with the perception and volition of a reality, whose purport may itself be called divine. Thus Freedom in the State is preserved and established by Religion, since moral rectitude in the State is only the carrying out of that which constitutes the fundamental principle of Religion. The process displayed in History is only the manifestation of Religion as Human Reason – the production of the religious principle which dwells in the heart of man, under the form of Secular Freedom. Thus the discord between the inner life of the heart and the actual world is removed. To realize this is, however, the vocation of another people – or other peoples – viz., the German. In ancient Rome itself, Christianity cannot find a ground on which it may become actual, and develop an empire.