One of the marked features of present Christian thinking is the refreshing and new expression which it is finding in the revival of the Greek theology over against the Latin: and of this movement John Smith was a notable forerunner. Theology has descended through the Latin branch of the church and in some directions had become so Latinized, Augustinized, and Calvinized, that it was in sore need of being re-Chris-tianized.
No século XVII um grupo pensadores de Cambridge foram atraídos em conjunto em direção a Platão, e, desde então, ficaram conhecidos pelo nome de Platonistas de Cambridge. Mas eles de fato não retornaram inteiramente até Platão, pararam em Alexandria, encontrando aí uma rica veia de pensamento que os satisfez. Eram vistos como eclesiásticos de "mente aberta" em seu tempo, e sua influência percorreu vários pequenos canais além daquele de sua corrente principal, embora de novo se atenuasse no século XVIII, até que fosse revivida por Coleridge.
Such as men themselves are, such will God Himself seem to be. It is the maxim of most wicked men, that the Deity is some way or other like themselves; their souls do more than whisper it, though their lips speak it not; and though their tongues be silent, yet their lives cry it upon the house-tops and in the public streets.
To seek our divinity merely in books and writings, is to seek the living among the dead: we do but in vain seek God many times in these, where His truth too often is not so much enshrined as entombed: — no; intra te quaere Deum, seek for God within thine own soul; He is best discerned noera epaphe as Plotinus phraseth it, — by an intellectual touch of Him — we must see with our eyes, and hear with our ears, and our hands must handle the word of life, that I may express it in St. John's words.
It hath been long since well observed, that every art and science hath some certain principles upon which the whole frame and body of it must depend; and he that will fully acquaint himself with the mysteries thereof, must come furnished with some Praecognita, or prolepsis that I may speak in the language of the Stoics.
In the discourse here printed John Smith gives in a few broad strokes the general method of this group; the paper was designed by him as "a necessary introduction" to his other discourses, his friend John Worthington says. As this looks at religion from the point of view of how man is to know God, we add the chapter from his fine discourse on the Excellency and Nobleness of True Religion, in which he speaks of knowledge as given by God to man.