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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 Atonement

By Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831)

  • From the ‘Philosophy of History’
  • [The Persian idea of good and evil (Ormuzd and Ahriman) is not much deeper than that of light and darkness, but in the Old Testament it becomes the distinction between holiness and sin. Hegel points out the infinite depth of subjectivity or personal self-realization that is involved in consciousness of sin. He shows how “that unrest of infinite sorrow” passes over into a consciousness of the infinite gain of reconciliation with the Divine when “The fullness of time was come.”]

  • THE ORIENTAL antithesis of Light and Darkness is transferred to Spirit, and the Darkness becomes Sin. For the abnegation of reality there is no compensation but Subjectivity itself—the Human Will as intrinsically universal; and thereby alone does reconciliation become possible. Sin is the discerning of Good and Evil as separation; but this discerning likewise heals the ancient hurt, and is the fountain of infinite reconciliation. The discerning in question brings with it the destruction of that which is external and alien in consciousness, and is consequently the return of subjectivity into itself. This, then, adopted into the actual self-consciousness of the World, is the Reconciliation [atonement] of the World. From that unrest of infinite sorrow—in which the two sides of the antithesis stand related to each other—is developed the unity of God with Reality [which latter had been posited as negative],—i.e., with Subjectivity which had been separated from Him. The infinite loss is counterbalanced only by its infinity, and thereby becomes infinite gain. The recognition of the identity of the Subject and God was introduced into the World when the fullness of Time was come: the consciousness of this identity is the recognition of God in his true essence. The material of Truth is Spirit itself—inherent vital movement. The nature of God as pure Spirit is manifested to man in the Christian Religion.