The Relation Of The Grecian To Christian Ethics -- By: George P. Fisher
BSac 10:39 (July 1853) p. 476
The Relation Of The Grecian To Christian Ethics
[The Article, of which the following is a translation, was one of the last productions of its venerated author. It was published in 1850, in the “Zeitschrift für christliche Wissenchaft und christliches Leben,” and has since reappeared in a small volume, containing a collection of his essays. The discussion is regarded as an able and satisfactory one, and as forming a contribution to Christian science, of permanent value. The subject of which it treats has engaged the attention of many thinkers, from the time when Grecian learning began to exert an influence upon the church, until the present day. What relation do those great masters of thought who, though standing on heathen soil, have succeeded, age after age, in winning the love and reverence of the choicest minds in the Christian church — what relation do they sustain to the author and to the doctrines of our holy religion? This question leads to a more comprehensive inquiry. If the Gospel be true, any philosophy that would claim to be Christian, must make the appearance and life of Jesus Christ the centre of history and interpret, or seek to interpret, all the events and epochs of the past, with reference to his advent, doctrine and work. Such an interpretation must be sought as well for the great eras in thought and speculation, as for the migration of nations and the conquest or decay of kingdoms. And the question recurs, — in the chain of History whose links are not fortuitously joined, but are set by Divine Providence, what place has that wonderful phenomenon, the age of Greek Philosophy? Judaism we can understand; the office which Rome, the conqueror and lawgiver, was called to fulfil, is easier to be discerned; but what of the Greek?
It is often said, in reply, that it is well that the futility of the unaided efforts of man to relieve his spiritual wants, should be demonstrated by an experiment, made under the most favorable conditions; and that such an experiment with its sorrowful failure is spread before us in the history of ancient philosophy. 80, it is added, may mankind be persuaded of the need and the value of the redemption
BSac 10:39 (July 1853) p. 477
of which Jesus is the author. The profound truth which this reply contains, is fully acknowledged in the essay before us. The view of Neander maintains that the ethical systems of antiquity furnish abundant proof of the insufficiency of human reason to cure the disease of human nature. This reply is defective rather than erroneous. In the first place, it is hard to believe that Divine Providence introduced into the order of history this era of philosophic thought merely for the negative purpose of showing the inability of man to repair the fatal...
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