Page:Popular Works of Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1889) Vol 2.djvu/274

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conscious principle, and in this connexion we have called by the name of Religion, not that which men put forth in public professions, but that which has become their very inmost Life,—the root and spring of all their speech and action. To-day we have to consider this Religion as it reveals itself in clear consciousness; for the independent existence of Religion is no outward matter, and reveals itself in no outward manner, but is an inward consciousness, and indeed a wholly self-sufficing and self-comprehending consciousness.

In this sense the word Religion is also employed in the common judgment which the Age passes upon itself with reference to its religious condition,—in the well-known and almost universal lamentations over the decay of Religion, especially among the people. It might well be imagined that the mere existence of such lamentations was itself a refutation of the complaint,—for do not the complainers, in the very act of lamentation, manifest their respect and love for Religion?—were it not that their complaints are accompanied by certain suspicious assumptions, from which it appears to follow that it is not their own Irreligion which they deplore, and that it is not for themselves, but for others, and especially for the people, that they desire a revival of Religion: behind which desire there may perhaps lurk some interested purpose. Be this as it may, let us examine these complaints, and with this examination carry forward our own inquiry.

Without anticipating the results of your own observation, we may lay it down as certain, that whatever necessarily follows in regard to Public Religion from the principles of the Age will unquestionably be found truly represented and manifest in the phenomena of the time. Now, we have shown in passing, in our previous lecture, that the principles from which the Public Religion of an Age proceeds, are to be found in the Scientific, and particularly in the Philosophical character of the pre-