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I. THE PROBLEM. This is crisply stated in the writer's opening sentences. “It is impossible for any one, whether he be a student of history

. or no, to fail to notice a difference of both form and content between the Sermon on the Mount and the Nicene Creed. The Sermon on the Mount is the promulgation of a new law of conduct; it assumes beliefs rather than formulates them; the theological conceptions which underlie it belong to the ethical rather than the speculative side of theology ; metaphysics are wholly absent. The Nicene Creed is a statement partly of historical facts and partly of dogmatic inferences; the metaphysical terms which it contains would probably have been unintelligible to the first disciples ; ethics have no place in it. The one belongs to a world of Syrian peasants, the other to a world of Greek philosophers."

The problem at once arises “why an ethical sermon stood in the forefront of the teaching of Jesus Christ, and a metaphysical creed in the forefront of the Christianity of the fourth century.” And this outward and visible change is the expression of another more inward and spiritual, “ the change in the centre of gravity from conduct to belief." The author points out that this change “is coincident with the transference of Christianity from a Semitic to a Greek soil." He adds, anticipating the conclusion of his work, “that the presumption is that it was the result of Greek influence."

Picturesquely and vivedly, therefore, the author places the Sermon on the Mount by the side of the Nicene Creed, and asks how the transition was made. His answer, briefly put, is that it was made under the influence of Greek philosophy operating upon the elements presented to it by primitive Christian teaching.

II. METHOD. Seeking, therefore, to discover "the influence of Greece upon Christianity,”a simple method naturally suggests itself. It is to proceed from antecedents to consequents. The author takes the leading elements in the Greek world of the first three centuries, during which Christianity was growing to its maturity, and endeavours to show how, by their operation, the simple ideas of primitive Christianity became elaborated and transformed into the metaphysical dogmas of Nicene and post-Nicene orthodoxy, the issue of the process being that profound and far-reaching change in the attitude of the Church toward formulated ideas, and in the theory of the Church as to the bond of union among Christians. The aspects of Greek thought and life dealt with are Education, Exegesis, Rhetoric, Philosophy, Ethics, Theology, Worship. Each of these as it came into contact with Christianity changed it, in the author's view, for the worse.

1. Education crushed “uncultivated earnestness,” laid “more stress on the expression of ideas than upon ideas themselves," and so stemmed “ the very forces which had given Christianity its place,” and changed rushing torrent of the river of God into a broad but feeble stream ” (p. 49).

2. Greek Exegesis consisted in allegorizing and spiritualizing the literature of the past, so that Homer, for instance, was made the vehicle of theories of man and the universe, sufficiently remote from the heroic

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narrative, which is all that an ordinary reader would discern in his poems. This style of interpretation, spite of some protests and reactions, passed over entire into Christianity, and was employed upon the sacred books. At first innocent and beautiful, it was soon employed as an instrument in effecting the great and destructive change which was leading Christianity from life to dogma, and ultimately became “ the slave of dogmatism, and the tyrant of souls" (p. 83).

3. Greek Rhetoric had a most damaging effect, in replacing the simple earnest prophets of the first years of Christianity's conquest by a “race of eloquent talkers.” Our author believes that “the hope of Christianity is that the class which was artificially created may ultimately disappear, and that the sophistical element in Christian preaching will melt, as a transient mist, before the preaching of the prophets of the ages to come, who, like the prophets of the ages that are long gone by, will speak only as the Spirit gives then utterance'” (p. 114).

4. Greek Philosophy is the strongest and most important of the elements of Greek influence in Christianity. Dr. Hatch sums up its influence in a threefold tendency : (1) The tendency to analyse and define what had been held simply and without reflection. (2) The tendency to create speculative systems whose test is logical consistency and completeness ; whereas the primitive Christians had been supremely indifferent to logic, and had held contradictory notions without any uneasiness. (3) The tendency to attach importance to the systems thus created; whereas the primitive Christians had cared nothing at all for opinions of any kind. Dr. Hatch is never more serious than when denouncing the philosophy-begotten theology, which now passes for orthodoxy. It is “ built upon a quicksand. There is no more reason to suppose that God has revealed metaphysics than that He has revealed chemistry.

The belief that metaphysical theology is more than this ”—i.e., personal convictions, dogmas in the original sense of the word—" is the chief bequest of Greece to religious thought; and it has been a damnosa hereditas. It has given to later Christianity that part of it which is doomed to perish, and which yet, while it lives, holds the key of the prison-house of many souls."

" 5. Greek Ethics, in like manner, have had practical effects of the most disastrous kind. The primitive Christian society was a strictly puritan community, whose members held their place in it on condition of personal holiness. The later and the modern Church is a corpus permixtum, where morality is held to be of subordinate importance compared with belief. This has produced, or the one hand, an extreme puritan reaction, devoted to an ascetic mode of life; and, on the other, a general deterioration “in the average moral conceptions of the Christian Churches ” (p. 168). The Sermon on the Mount is no longer the vade mecum of the Christian; and any attempt to reproduce it in common practice would " meet with no less opposition within than without the Christian societies ” (p. 170).

6. Greek Theology, and its share in creating Christian theology, are dealt

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with in three most important chapters, which it is impossible to sketch in

The mind of the Greek educated world had been tending toward the conception of the unity of God. In endeavouring to make clear this idea, various difficulties at once emerged, viz., the relation of & spiritual being to extended matter; the relation of a being, at once almighty and good, to moral evil; the relation of the infinite and absolute to the finite and limited. Christianity entered the Greek world with no theory about God, but with a simple faith, learned from Jesus, in His Fatherhood. Christianity, however, had no sooner been accepted by Greek thought, than it was forced to face these speculative questions, and, as it had in itself no metaphysical apparatus, it was compelled to employ that presented to it by Greek philosophy. It entered, accordingly, upon centuries of wearisome speculations, and most embittered controversies, till, in the end, the opinions of the majority were stiffened into a system of dogma, and imposed on the Catholic Church. Then, indeed, speculation was forbidden, and philosophy, which had created theology, was frowned down as its rival. Dr. Hatch is indifferent whether men speculate or no; but he insists on its being recognized that all speculation proceeds on assumptions that are no part of Christianity. Hitherto, theology has been resting on the assumptions of Greek thought; but he suggests that "the time may have come when—in face of the large knowledge of His ways which has come to us through both thought and research -we may be destined to transcend the assumptions of Greek speculations by new assumptions, which will lead us at once to a diviner knowledge and the sense of a diviner life” (p. 282).

7. We need not stay to consider the influence of the Greek mysteries upon Church usages, or follow our author as he derives the solemn pageants of the Roman and Greek Churches from the dramatic representations of heathen worship.

III. RESULTS. Dr. Hatch has not lived to follow out the conclusions to which this method of study would lead. But the following paragraph embodies what seems to me the necessary issue of Dr. Hatch's argument. Christianity was, to begin with, very simple and almost structureless. Jesus Christ taught both religion and morality. His religion had but one article of belief, viz., the Fatherhood of God, and this He taught not as a philosophy, but as the impulse of a life of daily trust. His morality was of a very lofty and lovely type, and was intended to be the creator and upholder of human society. The primitive Christians started with this religion and this morality. They knew the facts of their Founder's life, but they had no theory of His person. His life was their standard, His memory their inspiration. Thus equipped, they began their mission in the world. They won their way solely by their pure and beautiful lives, and by their gospel of the love of God. They had no system to propagate, no organization to maintain. There was nothing in their society but the simple spontaneity of love and faith. Soon however, and by slow degrees, whose advance it is impossible to trace in detail, a

NO. IV.- VOL. I.—THE THINKER.

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vast change was wrought. Greece laid the grasp of its intellect upon Christianity and utterly transformed it. The first step in this down grade was the creation of dogma. Christianity ceased to be a matter of faith only. It was made to think, and to have thoughts upon a vast number of subjects which had never presented themselves to the earliest Christians, who had found their energies sufficiently occupied in the attempt to live as Jesus directed them to do. These thoughts were dogmas. The second step was the erecting of dogma into the symbol and basis of union. For the maintenance of the Christian society, and as conditions of membership therein, it had hitherto been held sufficient to believe in God, and do what Jesus said. Now the attention of Christians was directed to these dogmas, and by-and-bye the influence of majorities made it possible to ordain that the holding of the dogmas of the majority was essential to membership in the Church, and, indeed, to the final salvation of the soul. In this position the Christian Churches now are, holding the speculations of the Nicene and post-Nicene Fathers to be the essence of Christianity, and making the acceptance of these speculations the condition of entrance into the Church now, or acceptance with God hereafter.

The desire of this author, which in him amounts to a noble passion, is the revival of primitive Christianity, which will be accomplished by seeing the purely speculative, and therefore non-essential, character of Nicene orthodoxy, and returning to the simple faith and life of the earliest Christians. · For," he says,

“ though you may believe that I am but a dreamer of dreams, I seem to see, though it be on the far horizon—the horizon beyond the fields which either we or our children will tread—a Christianity which is not new, but old; which is not old, but new; a Christianity in which the moral and spiritual elements will again hold their place; in which men will be bound together by the bond of mutual service, which is the bond of the laws of God; a Christianity which will actually realize the brotherhood of men, the ideal of its first communities (p. 303).

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B.- ESTIMATE.

The book, which I have thus very roughly summarized, will fill some readers with fear and others with hope. The former class will be apt to content themselves with crying anathema. The latter class will be apt to give the reins to a too speedy exultation at the prospect of getting quit of dogma once for all. The former will do well to learn, even from one whom they are tempted to regard as an enemy, or still worse, a traitor, within the camp. The latter should be careful, lest, in their exuberant dismissal of dogma, they lose the essence of Christianity, as well as its transient forms, and so, in German phrase, "empty out the child with the bath.” I wish to speak briefly of three points: (1) Tho presuppositions upon which the book proceeds. (2) The statement which Dr. Hatch gives of the problem. (3) The relation of Christian experience to Greek forms of thought.

I. THE PRESUPPOSITIONS. These seem to me to be mainly two.

1. The first may be described as a determination to admit no presuppositions, to be confined to bare historical fact. This sounds very fair; and it is the claim of the critical method, which has been applied with such startling results to every department of Biblical research. That the inquirer should strip himself of his whole mental vesture, that he should begin by discarding every idea with which his birth and development have endowed him, and proceed to his work with his mind a complete tabula rasa, seems an heroic and noble demand. But the question arises, Is it possible? Is it possible for an inquirer to approach his subject in a state of total mental destitution ? A mind that has never thought is an impossibility. An inquirer who has no attitude whatever to his subject, save the negation of everything that has ever been held concerning it, is not likely ever to attain any positive result. Presuppositions are, in fact, essential to all scientific and historical study. Advance is made by applying them to the material presented in experience, before whose fulness narrow and inadequate presuppositions will successively exhibit themselves as self-condemned. But in truth the claim of critics to have excluded presuppositions breaks down as we examine their work. We find that, deeply embedded in their minds, the norm and rule of their investigations, and the criterion of their results, is the category of law, as the ultimate and only permissible form of thought. This, of course, may be correct; but it is none the less a pure presupposition, not in itself more valid than that which looks upon nature and history as the revelation of personal mind, the sphere of the realization of personal purpose. The question of its supremacy is precisely that which is at stake, and cannot be assumed in the outset of the study. Strictly correlative with the presuppositionless mind of the inquirer is the bare historical fact to be investigated. Here also it is evident that there is before the mind of the critic the ideal of a fact, gaunt, naked, isolated, cut off from all that preceded and all that followed, a "thing-in-itself” foursquare, self-sufficient. It would be flippant to ask what would be the good of such a thing, if it could ever be discovered. It is more important to observe that the ideal is a mere dream. The fact which the student of history seeks is the product of its past, and has had consequences in which it still persists. What is Christianity as an historical fact? Is it a something which has to be painfully dug up, like a mummy, from beneath the sands of speculation that have buried it out of sight for eighteen centuries? Or is it a reality of the living present, the experience of multitudes, who by it achieve the fulness of human life, which else were waste and barren? It is vain to ignore the present in the attempt to determine the supposed facts of the past. The whole fact of history is made up of the present experience, and the process through which that experience has grown. To isolate these, in the interests of one or the other, is to do both injustice, and to reach not fact, but fiction.

2. The second presupposition may be described as the critical rage against metaphysics. The critics seem persuaded that philosophy is a device

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