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the more correct views which had been struck out by philosophizing reason, ever to come into general circulation, even among the Greeks and Romans. Hence they always remained the property of the few who had been initiated into the secrets of science. The great mass of the people not only continued in total ignorance, but were induced to hold fast their unbelief with the more obstinacy and confidence, from seeing philosophers publicly profess the name.

And what shall we say of the Jews? They were free indeed in the times of Christ from the errors of Polytheism and idolatry, but they had changed the worship of the only true God into slavish ceremonies as much opposed to genuine religion, and as prejudicial to morality, as idolatry itself. The Jews used to look upon God as a despot, whose commands are arbitrary, and who is governed in all he does, by passionate self-will. They proudly conceived themselves to be the chosen people of God, and preferred by him to all others. By a false and fanciful interpretation of the Mosaic law, they had been seduced into the erroneous belief, that the most meritorious services a man can perform, and the very essence of religion, consist of corporeal exercises and sacred ceremonies. They trembled before even the God whose favorites they thought themselves, with boundless arrogance, despised the heathen, and fancied themselves holy, if, notwithstanding the grossest vices, and the wildest extravagances, they fasted diligently, offered sacrifice, and yielded obedience to the foolish superstitions of their fathers. So corrupt therefore were the moral habits of the people, so wretched was their entire condition, and so hateful and odious were they in the eyes of other nations, that they sincerely felt their need of extraordinary aid, and hence were most anxiously looking out for the Messiah from whom they expected it. Under such circumstances we shall not go too far in saying, that the spirit of true religion had vanished from the world in which Jesus made his appearance ;-that the pernicious influence of superstition controlled every thing; —and that a mighty body of priests, whose welfare and

authority depended upon this influence, was incessantly engaged in preserving and strengthening it.*

$20. One of the principal objects contemplated in the plan of Jesus, was, to provide a remedy for these evils, destroy every kind of superstition, and, by the extension of religious truth, make the world acquainted with a rational worship of God. For this purpose he declared the great doctrine of one only true God, to be the foundation of all religion, and represented himself as God's delegate, commissioned to unite all men in his worship and thereby render them happy, John 17: 1-3. Matt. 28: 18, 19. By the general promulgation of this fundamental truth, all kinds of heathenish superstition were to be forever extirpated, and a conviction, which had hitherto been the exclusive property of the Jews and of enlightened philosophers among the heathen, to become the faith of the whole human family, the prevailing popular belief. In order to prepare this great doctrine still farther for universal promulgation, and make it more influential upon mankind, Jesus represented the only true God as a father;

-not in the sense in which this phrase had sometimes been employed among the Jews and heathen, who by it designated the author, the creator and the lord ;t but to

*

[With reference to these points, consult Hess, Lehre, Thaten, and Schichsale unsers Herrn, I. nr. 1. and 6; and introductions to the history of the Christian church, particularly Neander's Allg. Gesch. der christl. Relig. I. 1. S. 1-90; "The general condition of the Romano-Greek and Jewish world in a religious point of view, at the time of the first appearance and the farther extension of Christianity."]

† This appellation is met with as early as Deut. 32: 6, and with reference to this passage, the prophets, vid. Isa. 63: 16. 64: 8. Jer. 3: 19. and Mal. 1: 6.2 9, 10, make use of the same. The passage, Ps. 103: 13, approaches the nearest to the representation which Jesus afterwards connected with this word; where, however, God is not called a father, but compared to a father. Among the Greeks, the word father frequently meant the author, the inventor, the creator of a thing; comp. Casaubonus, Zum Athenäus Deipnos. 1. I. c. 1. p. 3 seq. der Leipz. Ausg., and in this sense Plato calls God the Father of all," in Timaeo, p. 303. der Zweybr. Ausg. [Tom. IX.] Equally common was it for the Greeks to employ this word to designate the ruler, the governor, the most celebrated, the chief, and hence in Ho

express the disposition and feeling of God towards mankind, and declare in the most intelligent and impressive manner, that God had not only given men their existence, but that he stood in the relation to them of an educator and benefactor, loved them, took care of them, and was seeking to conform them to his image and make them eternally happy, Matt. 5: 44-49. 6: 9-13, 25-33, and

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mer, Il. I. 544. III. 276. 365, &c., Jupiter is almost always called "the father of gods and men,' and Plato substitutes the word king in its stead, Epist. II. p. 69. [Tom. XI.,] with which compare Callimachus, in Iov, v. 7. and 94. With respect to the last passage, Spanheim is also to be consulted. The Romans imitated this, and not only called the supreme God, father, vid. Horace, Odar. 1. I., od. 2. v. 2, and Virgil, Georg. 1. I. 283, but made this the common appellation of every other divinity, in doing which they were influenced by reverence. Vid. Serv. on Virg. Geo. 1. II.4., From this appellation, Lanctantius, Insti. Divinar. 1. IV. c. 3, draws conclusions in opposition to Polytheism, and the illustrations wh he gives in thi respect, deserve to be examined by every one, who would obtain a right apprehension of the meaning that the ancients attached to the word father, when applied to Deity. [Garve, indeed, in his Vermischte Aufsätze, II. 342 ff., has expressed a doubt whether the idea of God as a father of mankind, was first promulgated by Christianity, but without bringing forward any definite testimony to the contrary. If we pass over the word, however, and treat merely of the idea itself, Christianity will unquestionably appear to deserve the credit of having revealed God as a father, in a sense, in which he was neither known to the heathen world nor to the Old Testament. Among the ancient poets, we discover no intimations of a deep moral element in this appellation, and even in the writings of the philosophers, who made the nearest approach in this respect to the Christian notion, as Plutarch, for instance, Vita Alexandri, c. 27. Opp. ed. Reisk. IV. 67; De Superstit., VI. 639, we search in vain for a complete developement of it. In other places on the other hand, the word occurs in a merely physical sense, as in Plutarch's Apophthegm. Opp. VI. 686., and also Arrian's Dissert. Epictet. ed. Schweighaeus. I. 3, 9, &c. And though Niemeyer in his Briefe an christl. Relig. Lehrer, Saml. 2. S. 63 ff. (1ste Ausg,) asserts that the Christian idea attached to the word is clearly to be met with in the Old Testament, yet it cannot be proved. There God is not merely called the father of the Israelitish nation, but called so expressly as the deliverer of this nation, and the founder of its politico-religious constitution. In the New Testament, on the other hand, God is represented as a father, who gives his Holy Spirit to them that ask him, Luke 11: 13. comp. Rom. 8: 14. Heb. 12: 7 seqq. As this Spirit was not poured out until the gospel began to exert its influence, so the complete sense of the paternal name of God was not made manifest until then.]

that they must strive to become his children, by imitating him in holiness and perfection, Matt. 5: 19, 45. John 1:

12.

21. By the representation which Jesus in this way gave of the doctrine of one only and supreme Goda representation which was peculiar to him, and which with a striking uniformity pervades all his discourses, very important objects were to be accomplished. He intended to exhibit it with such clearness and simplicity that those of the weakest capacities, even children, might comprehend it. Instead therefore of remaining a subject of fruitless speculation, a problem for the examination of reason, it was to be made an animating and efficient truth, exerting a practical influence upon the heart and life. The touching representation which Jesus gave of God by calling him father, was at the same time to do away those frightful images under which both Jews and gentiles had contemplated the Deity, and substitute a childlike confidence, a heartfelt love, instead of that slavish mortification and the service extorted by fear, which had usually been thought necessary for appeasing him and retaining his favor. In particular, the priests, those promoters and protectors of superstition, who had hitherto claimed for themselves the authority of an indispensable mediatorship between God and man, and thus rendered themselves of very great importance, were to be deprived of their influence forever; for he, who knows God to be a condescending and affectionate father, can apply to him directly, and needs not a prior introduction from such mediators and confidents.

As a necessary result of the views,* which Jesus thus inculcated upon the people respecting God, he required them to worship him in spirit and in truth, John 4: 23, and made true religion to consist purely in efforts to become like him, Matt. 5: 48, and obedience to the moral law, Matt. 7: 21-23. Here then all sacrificial services fell at once to the ground, for the supreme Father of all neither needs nor requires any such presents of his children. All

*

[For similar remarks, vid. Niemeyer, Briefe anchrist. Religionlehrer, Saml. 1. Brief 9. S. 85 ff.]

the other exercises, ceremonies, and regulations, to which in every religion so much importance had been attached, were in like manner deprived of their value. Ceremonies could neither be retained nor tolerated, any farther than they might serve as the means of advancing true morality, Mark 7: 5-23. Matth. 6: 1-18. For the same reason, the worship of God could no longer be confined to any particular place. The Father of all is not partial to single regions or particular classes of men. the world therefore was to become his temple, and the whole human race his family, John 4: 20-24. Matth. 5: 43-48. And finally, all those distinctions were to cease which had originated in numberless forms of superstition and idolatry, and filled the nations of the earth with aversion to each other, and often with mutual hatred and contempt, John 10: 16.

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$22. Of especial importance, however, were the results, which Jesus deduced from the fundamental representation that God is the Father of men, in order to show the relations existing between him and his rational creatures. A father possessed of genuine paternal affections, naturally exercises a very tender care over his children ;a care which extends to all the wants, circumstances, and events of their lives. Jesus exhibited God as exercising a similar care over mankind. The notions that he inculcated upon this subject, were, that without the will of God, not a sparrow, as it is expressed, not a hair of our head, can fall to the ground, Matt. 10: 29-32; that God never ceases to exert the most effectual influence in all the occurrences of life, John 5: 17; to do good to every thing that exists, and hold man as an object of his attention in particular esteem, Matt. 6: 24-34. 5: 45. The view which Jesus in this way gave of the superintending care of God, together with the childlike confidence which he sought to instil into men towards their heavenly Father, left no room for those doubts, so common in the schools of the philosophers, respecting the reality, universality, and beneficence of a divine Providence, or those cheerless representations, so prevalent among the great mass of un

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