the transition from stoicism to neo-platoistism.
Ik the preceding lectures I have tried to indicate the general scope of the ideas of the Stoics—ideas which are very important for the history of theology both in themselves and because of their influence upon Christian thought. Let me gather up the main points in a few words.
In the first place, the Stoic philosophy did a great work negatively, in so far as it lifted moral and religious ideas out of the national or racial setting to which they had hitherto been confined. It completed the work of Socrates in emancipating the individual from tradition and throwing him back upon himself—teaching him at the same time to regard this emancipation as one in which every human being has an equal share. The fact that the two greatest of the later Stoics were a slave and an emperor is itself a kind of illustration of the levelling tendency of their doctrine. Everyone from the highest to the lowest was taught by them to regard himself as a law and an end to himself, and to recognise the same universal right and the same universal duty as belonging to all men in virtue of their common humanity. It was this idea, under the name of the 4 law of nature/ which inspired and guided generations of Roman lawyers, and which gradually transformed the narrow legal system of a Latin town into the great code of Justinian, that body of legislation upon which the jurisprudence of all civilised peoples, is based. At the same time, the levelling and universalising influence of Stoic ideas was felt in all the literature of the later Empire, and did much to complete the humanising work which was begun by the spread of Greek culture, and to prepare a universal language of thought in which East and West could freely communicate to each other their philosophical and religious conceptions. The idea of God as a Xoyo? cnrepfiaTocos— a germinative principle of reason which manifests itself in the universe, and, above all, in the spirits of men as the actual or possible members of a world community—was in itself somewhat vague and abstract ; but, it needed only to be vitalised by some more direct and concrete vision of truth to produce a reorganisation of the whole
/ life of man. It could not supply the place of a universal religion, but it prepared the soil upon which a universal religion could grow. Above all, it is to be noted that by the Stoic philosophy the individual was brought into direct and immediate relation with the divine, in a way that could only find its parallel in the later prophetic teaching of Israel.
This last statement suggests an interesting comparison. The religion of Israel, after the captivity, had ceased to be a national religion in any exclusive sense. At least the special claim put forward by the later prophets was only that the Jews were to be the divinely commissioned interpreters of Monotheism to all other nations, that "through them all the families of the earth should be blessed." And though the Jewish people generally never gave up their exclusive national aspirations, yet actually they were dispersed through the Empire, and even in their own land they did not constitute an independent State. Their unity was rather like the unity of a Church. The highest utterances of their devotional spirit were individualistic in character, expressing the sorrows and joys, the aspirations and experiences, of the individual soul in its relation to God: and as the sacrificial ritual was confined to Jerusalem, the worship of the synagogue was almost completely dissociated from it, and had become a purely spiritual service—a service of teaching, prayer, and praise, and not of ceremonial observance. In this way the religious ideas of the Jews, like those of the Greeks, had become universalised and liberated from that which was national and peculiar; and the time had come when it was possible for them to be amalgamated, if not yet organically united, with each - other.
Of this amalgamation I shall speak presently. But in the first instance I should like to refer to the way in which the two systems came to approximate so closely to one another. You will remember how the Stoics repudiated the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle because of its dualism, and asserted in the most emphatic way that there is no division of principles in the universe. Their so-called materialism sprang out of a deep conviction of the unity of the world, expressing itself in a denial of the distinction between matter and mind, which they treated as different aspects of the same thing. Tet they were quite unable to work out the consequences of such a unity, or to show how the one principle could manifest itself under such different forms. The result was, therefore, either a confusion of the two aspects or an alternation between them. The Stoics could not show tow matter involves mind or mind matter. Hence in their theory of knowledge they were driven to explain ¿fee relation of imnd to its object by the metaphor ?ia fee word * impression'; and they were quite unable to meet the sceptic objection that, if this analogy be taken strictly, the mind can know nothing but its own states. Again, on the same hypothesis, the individual must be conceived as confined to his own inner life, and incapable of direct communion with any one else. It was, therefore, only as each individual was identified with the universal principle of all intelligence, that he could be conceived as" entering into any but external relations with other individuals. And this meant that each of them was alone in his inner life, and could escape from himself only as he found God within him. The result was that despair of the world without, and that certitude of meeting the absolute Being in their own souls, which is so characteristic especially of the later Stoics. Thus the deep principle of subjective religion, which was to find its highest expression in the Confessions of St. Augustine, is already present in the Meditations of the Stoic Emperor, who in almost every page declares his hopelessness in regard to everything that presents itself in outward experience, and then turns away to find everything restored in those convictions that are for him bound up with his inmost consciousness of self. Yet this restoration remains, like Plato's city in heaven, purely ideal. That in which Marcus Aurelius finds support and consolation, is just the idea of a rational order realised in that world in which empirically he finds nothing but disorder, and the idea of a perfect communion of those very human spirits who, except in very rare instances, seem to be hopelessly divided from each other.
Now the later Judaism passes through a process of thought which is the same in essence, though the outward form of it shows all the difference between the intuitive and unspeculative mind of the Jew and the discursive and philosophical genius of the Greek. In Judaea as in Greece, the ethical. and religious consciousness was at first closely united with the idea of nationality; and in Judaea as in Greece, the time came when the extinction of the political life of the nation made it necessary for that consciousness, if it were to survive at all, to attach itself to something more general. As the ruin of the City-State was the beginning of a cosmopolitan philosophy, so the subjection of the Jewish nation made it necessary for the prophets to seek for the realisation of the hopes of Israel in something wider than the Davidic kingdom—in a Messianic empire of a higher kind, which should embrace not onlf the Jews but all the races of mankind. But, as no such empire was in the way of being realised around them, the consciousness of it had to remain, like the Stoic .ideal of a "world-city,' a faith which found no support in experience, but maintained iteelf simply by its agreement with the higher self-*<^nseiousnes& of the time. What, however, the Greek sought in an ideal, which he believed to be one with the ultimate reality of things, the Jew sought in the picture of a future, in which the whole state of the world would be changed. The insight of the Jews expressed itself as foresight; their intuitive apprehension of truth took the form of a prophecy of a reign of the Messiah, in which all evils should be redressed and all sorrows healed. But the result was very similar in both cases. The difference was only that the practical Jewish mind could not reconcile itself to a world in which the ideal was not realised, but dwelt persistently on the hope of better things in the future. If the world were for the present given over to the control of the power of evil—and it was the general belief that it was so—yet this could be only for a time, and only to try the spirits of men. Nevertheless, as the blessing was still in prospect, and not in fruition, religion had to take the form of an inner spirit of devotion which had no outward manifestation, or which was manifested, not in the setting up of the kingdom of God on earth, but only in the private union of a number of individuals who sympathised with each other in longing for it and "waiting for the consolation of Israel." The whole life of religion was thus driven inward, and became, not a worship of God as the bond of union in an actual society, but the immediate relation of the isolated soul to him. Thus the era of ritual and sacrifice, of symbol and ceremony, by which, not as separate individuals but as members of a community, men were lifted above themselves to a sense of the principle of their common life, had come to an end; and the era of subjective religion, of the lonely struggles of the soul as it seeks for its good, and of its lonely joys as it finds that good, had begun. "What do you wish to know?" says St. Augustine to himself in his Soliloquies, and the answer is: "God and the soul." "Nothing more than this ?" " This and this only." But this kind of subjective religion was initiated long before St. Augustine's time, and even before the advent of Christianity. It was independently originated both among the Jews and among the Greeks, and it was its existence which made the rapid success of Christianity possible. It 'came to its own' and ' its own received it.7 It came to men who had turned in disappointment from the world and had Mien back upon themselves and upon God; and it quickened to life their vague certitude that in spite of all, the ideal must somehow and somewhere be Realised.
We have thus, as the general result in both cases, religious consciousness which is subjective, but which, as it is universal, cannot be content to remain Bubjec^tiva We have a religion which brings the individual jy^r direct relations with God, and withdraws him from all special connexion with the world and with his fellow-men. The keen interest in knowledge for its own sake which was characteristic of the age of Plato and Aristotle is lost, and even the practical interest of realising a society corresponding to man's moral requirements has all but disappeared. The old conception of the political life has been forgotten, and the State is now regarded, not as the highest organ of man's ethical life, but rather as a purely legal and administrative institution for the preservation of the rights of person and property. And though the Jew still looks forward with obstinate hopefulness to a Messianic kingdom, and the Stoic strives to believe that the world, though it seems in the concrete to be full of folly and wickedness, is yet in some ideal way capable of being regarded as an ordered system in which reason is the only ruler ; yet in both cases this ideal remains an aspiration, a faith or hope which derives no support from experience. The Jew did not believe that the Messianic kingdom could come by any natural development out of the actual state of things, but only by a sudden and miraculous interference from above; and the Stoic could scarcely be said to hope for anything, but rather to be content, as Plato in the Republic tried to make himself content, to treat the bare idea in the soul as if it were its own realisation. The wise man lives by the laws of a city in the heavens which is not and cannot be realised anywhere on earth—a city which, in Tennyson's language,
To music, therefore never built at all, And therefore built for ever. "
We have now to trace the connexion between the attitude of thought we have been describing, and that to which it gave place in the last age of Greek philosophy. Stoicism contained a principle of dissolution in itself. It rested on the immediate identification of the individual subject with universal reason. The individual, in other words, was conceived to be strong in himself, just because, as rational, he was lifted above his own existence as this individual. He had a proud consciousness of his own liberty, just because he refused to identify himself with anything finite or transitory in himself or in the world. This, in the main, is the point of view of the earlier Stoics, and it is that which must be most prominent in our minds when we try to characterise the moral attitude of Stoicism. But there is another aspect of the Stoic doctrine which, if it were emphasised, would turn the strength of the Stoic into weakness and his pride into humility. The individual subject cannot be identified with divine reason, exeept by a process in which he is éfÎ^ï^j&at. belongs to him as this particular Àdi^ - Se can only live to God as he dies
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