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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Meaning of Christianity
By Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831)
 
        
From the ‘Philosophy of History’
  
  [After treating Rome as a kingdom and a republic, Hegel takes up, in the chapter on the Roman Empire, the subject of the introduction of Christianity, making one of his profoundest (and obscurest) analyses in his discussion of the doctrine of Christianity as related to the previous standpoints in the world history. There is no passage in all his writings more worthy of study than this discussion of the elements of Christianity. It contains one of his best statements of the superiority of those forms of the State, religion, or philosophy, which give the individual independent subsistence, and do not make him a transient wave to be swallowed up by the ocean of being. Hegel has unfolded in the ‘Philosophy of Right,’ the ‘Philosophy of Religion,’ and the ‘Phenomenology of Spirit,’ this insight into the substantial and permanent character of the individual man, who possesses personal immortality. Here he treats of it as the essential element in Christianity, which recognizes individual personality in the absolute, and the reflection of that permanent individuality in human beings. In fact, Hegel sees in the doctrine of the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, the adequate religious statement of this final doctrine of the creation of the individual for immortality and reconciliation with God. It is the doctrine of the divine-human. “The Absolute Object, Truth, is Spirit;” that is to say, the object of God’s thinking is man in the highest institutional form, called in revelation the “invisible Church” or the “City of God.” This, however, is not only the object of God’s consciousness, but also of man’s as a member of the invisible Church; and thus, as Hegel goes on to say, man realizes that the essential being of the world is his own essential being, and thus he removes its mere objectivity, its existence as an alien being outside of himself, which he adopts merely on external authority, and thus comes to make it internal, subjective, seeing its truth by his own insight and not on mere hearsay.]

IT has been remarked that Cæsar 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 specialty. 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.  1
 
 
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