differs widely from that which is ordinarily
defended by modern Christians. For I hold that
is of all things the cause immanent, as the phrase is, not transient.
I say that all things are in
God and move in
thus agreeing with Paul, [N1] and, perhaps, with all the ancient
philosophers, though the phraseology may be
different; I will even venture to affirm that I agree with all the
ancient Hebrews, in so far as one may judge from their
traditions, though these are in many ways corrupted. The supposition
of some, that I endeavour to prove in the
Tractatus Theologico-Politicus the unity of
God and Nature (meaning
by the latter a certain mass or corporeal
matter), is wholly erroneous.
God can only be established by the wisdom of the doctrine, not by miracles, or in other words by ignorance. This I have shown at sufficient length in Chapter VI [TPT06]. concerning miracles. I will here only add, that I make this chief distinction between religion and superstition, that the latter is founded on ignorance, the former on knowledge; this, I take it, is the reason why Christians are distinguished from the rest of the world, not by faith, nor by charity, nor by the other fruits of the Holy Spirit, but solely by their opinions, inasmuch as they defend their cause, like everyone else, by miracles, that is by ignorance, which is the source of all malice; thus they turn a faith, which may be true, into superstition. Lastly, in order to disclose my opinions on the third point, I will tell you that I do not think it necessary for salvation to know Christ according to the flesh: but with regard to the Eternal Son of God, that is the Eternal Wisdom of God, which has manifested itself in all things and especially in the human mind, and above all in Christ Jesus, the case is far otherwise. For without this no one can come to a state of blessedness, inasmuch as it alone teaches, what is true or false, good or evil. And, inasmuch as this wisdom was made especially manifest through Christ Jesus, as I have said, His disciples preached it, in so far as it was revealed to them through Him, and thus showed that they could rejoice in that spirit of Christ more than the rest of mankind. The doctrines added by certain churches, such as that God took upon Himself human nature, I have expressly said that I do not understand; in fact, to speak the truth, they seem to me no less absurd than would a statement, that a circle had taken upon itself the nature of a square. This I think will be sufficient explanation of my opinions concerning the three points mentioned. Whether it will be satisfactory to Christians you will know better than I. Farewell.
[Note N1]: See Acts 17:28. Cf. 1 Cor. 3:16, 12:6; Eph. 1:23.