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Title: An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant
Author: Moore, Edward Caldwell, 1857-1943
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant" ***








It is hoped that this book may serve as an outline for a larger work, in
which the Judgments here expressed may be supported in detail.
Especially, the author desires to treat the literature of the social
question and of the modernist movement with a fulness which has not been
possible within the limits of this sketch. The philosophy of religion
and the history of religions should have place, as also that estimate of
the essence of Christianity which is suggested by the contact of
Christianity with the living religions of the Orient.

_July_ 28, 1911.



  DEISM. 23.
  PIETISM. 30.


KANT. 39.
HEGEL. 66.




BAUR. 118.


   EVOLUTION. 170.
   MIRACLES. 175.


   THE POETS. 195.
   COLERIDGE. 197.
   MAURICE. 204.
   CHANNING. 205.
   BUSHNELL. 207.
   NEWMAN. 214.
   MODERNISM. 221.
   ROBERTSON. 223.
   CARLYLE. 228.
   EMERSON. 230.
   ARNOLD. 232.
   MARTINEAU. 234.
   JAMES. 238.




The Protestant Reformation marked an era both in life and thought for
the modern world. It ushered in a revolution in Europe. It established
distinctions and initiated tendencies which are still significant. These
distinctions have been significant not for Europe alone. They have had
influence also upon those continents which since the Reformation have
come under the dominion of Europeans. Yet few would now regard the
Reformation as epoch-making in the sense in which that pre-eminence has
been claimed. No one now esteems that it separates the modern from the
mediæval and ancient world in the manner once supposed. The perspective
of history makes it evident that large areas of life and thought
remained then untouched by the new spirit. Assumptions which had their
origin in feudal or even in classical culture continued unquestioned.
More than this, impulses in rational life and in the interpretation of
religion, which showed themselves with clearness in one and another of
the reformers themselves, were lost sight of, if not actually
repudiated, by their successors. It is possible to view many things in
the intellectual and religious life of the nineteenth century, even some
which Protestants have passionately reprobated, as but the taking up
again of clues which the reformers had let fall, the carrying out of
purposes of their movement which were partly hidden from themselves.

Men have asserted that the Renaissance inaugurated a period of paganism.
They have gloried that there supervened upon this paganism the religious
revival which the Reformation was. Even these men will, however, not
deny that it was the intellectual rejuvenation which made the religious
reformation possible or, at all events, effective. Nor can it be denied
that after the Revolution, in the Protestant communities the
intellectual element was thrust into the background. The practical and
devotional prevailed. Humanism was for a time shut out. There was more
room for it in the Roman Church than among Protestants. Again, the
Renaissance itself had been not so much an era of discovery of a new
intellectual and spiritual world. It had been, rather, the rediscovery
of valid principles of life in an ancient culture and civilisation. That
thorough-going review of the principles at the basis of all relations of
the life of man, which once seemed possible to Renaissance and
Reformation, was postponed to a much later date. When it did take place,
it was under far different auspices.

There is a remarkable unity in the history of Protestant thought in the
period from the Reformation to the end of the eighteenth century. There
is a still more surprising unity of Protestant thought in this period
with the thought of the mediæval and ancient Church. The basis and
methods are the same. Upon many points the conclusions are identical.
There was nothing of which the Protestant scholastics were more proud
than of their agreement with the Fathers of the early Church. They did
not perceive in how large degree they were at one with Christian
thinkers of the Roman communion as well. Few seem to have realised how
largely Catholic in principle Protestant thought has been. The
fundamental principles at the basis of the reasoning have been the same.
The notions of revelation and inspiration were identical. The idea of
authority was common to both, only the instance in which that authority
is lodged was different. The thoughts of God and man, of the world, of
creation, of providence and prayer, of the nature and means of
salvation, are similar. Newman was right in discovering that from the
first he had thought, only and always, in what he called Catholic terms.
It was veiled from him that many of those who ardently opposed him
thought in those same terms.

It is impossible to write upon the theme which this book sets itself
without using the terms Catholic and Protestant in the conventional
sense. The words stand for certain historic magnitudes. It is equally
impossible to conceal from ourselves how misleading the language often
is. The line between that which has been happily called the religion of
authority and the religion of the spirit does not run between Catholic
and Protestant. It runs through the middle of many Protestant bodies,
through the border only of some, and who will say that the Roman Church
knows nothing of this contrast? The sole use of recurrence here to the
historic distinction is to emphasise the fact that this distinction
stands for less than has commonly been supposed. In a large way the
history of Christian thought, from earliest times to the end of the
eighteenth century, presents a very striking unity.

In contrast with this, that modern reflection which has taken the
phenomenon known as religion and, specifically, that historic form of
religion known as Christianity, as its object, has indeed also slowly
revealed the fact that it is in possession of certain principles.
Furthermore, these principles, as they have emerged, have been felt to
be new and distinctive principles. They are essentially modern
principles. They are the principles which, taken together, differentiate
the thinker of the nineteenth century from all who have ever been before
him. They are principles which unite all thinkers at the end of the
nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, in practically
every portion of the world, as they think of all subjects except
religion. It comes more and more to be felt that these principles must
be reckoned with in our thought concerning religion as well.

One of these principles is, for example, that of dealing in true
critical fashion with problems of history and literature. Long before
the end of the age of rationalism, this principle had been applied to
literature and history, other than those called sacred. The thorough
going application of this scientific method to the literatures and
history of the Old and New Testaments is almost wholly an achievement of
the nineteenth century. It has completely altered the view of revelation
and inspiration. The altered view of the nature of the documents of
revelation has had immeasurable consequences for dogma.

Another of these elements is the new view of nature and of man's
relation to nature. Certain notable discoveries in physics and astronomy
had proved possible of combination with traditional religion, as in the
case of Newton. Or again, they had proved impossible of combination with
any religion, as in the case of Laplace. The review of the religious and
Christian problem in the light of the ever increasing volume of
scientific discoveries--this is the new thing in the period which we
have undertaken to describe. A theory of nature as a totality, in which
man, not merely as physical, but even also as social and moral and
religious being, has place in a series which suggests no break, has
affected the doctrines of God and of man in a way which neither those
who revered nor those who repudiated religion at the beginning of the
nineteenth century could have imagined.

Another leading principle grows out of Kant's distinction of two worlds
and two orders of reason. That distinction issued in a new theory of
knowledge. It laid a new foundation for an idealistic construing of the
universe. In one way it was the answer of a profoundly religious nature
to the triviality and effrontery into which the great rationalistic
movement had run out. By it the philosopher gave standing forever to
much that prophets and mystics in every age had felt to be true, yet had
never been able to prove by any method which the ordered reasoning of
man had provided. Religion as feeling regained its place. Ethics was set
once more in the light of the eternal. The soul of man became the object
of a scientific study.

There have been thus indicated three, at least, of the larger factors
which enter into an interpretation of Christianity which may fairly be
said to be new in the nineteenth century. They are new in a sense in
which the intellectual elements entering into the reconsideration of
Christianity in the age of the Reformation were not new. They are
characteristic of the nineteenth century. They would naturally issue in
an interpretation of Christianity in the general context of the life and
thought of that century. The philosophical revolution inaugurated by
Kant, with the general drift toward monism in the interpretation of the
universe, separates from their forebears men who have lived since Kant,
by a greater interval than that which divided Kant from Plato. The
evolutionary view of nature, as developed from Schelling and Comte
through Darwin to Bergson, divides men now living from the
contemporaries of Kant in his youthful studies of nature, as those men
were not divided from the followers of Aristotle.

Of purpose, the phrase Christian thought has been interpreted as thought
concerning Christianity. The problem which this book essays is that of
an outline of the history of the thought which has been devoted, during
this period of marvellous progress, to that particular object in
consciousness and history which is known as Christianity. Christianity,
as object of the philosophical, critical, and scientific reflection of
the age--this it is which we propose to consider. Our religion as
affected in its interpretation by principles of thought which are
already widespread, and bid fair to become universal among educated
men--this it is which in this little volume we aim to discuss. The term
religious thought has not always had this significance. Philosophy of
religion has signified, often, a philosophising of which religion was,
so to say, the atmosphere. We cannot wonder if, in these circumstances,
to the minds of some, the atmosphere has seemed to hinder clearness of
vision. The whole subject of the philosophy of religion has within the
last few decades undergone a revival, since it has been accepted that
the aim is not to philosophise upon things in general in a religious
spirit. On the contrary, the aim is to consider religion itself, with
the best aid which current philosophy and science afford. In this sense
only can we give the study of religion and Christianity a place among
the sciences.

It remains true, now as always, that the majority, at all events, of
those who have thought profoundly concerning Christianity will be found
to have been Christian men. Religion is a form of consciousness. It will
be those who have had experience to which that consciousness
corresponds, whose judgments can be supposed to have weight. That remark
is true, for example, of æsthetic matters as well. To be a good judge of
music one must have musical feeling and experience. To speak with any
deeper reasonableness concerning faith, one must have faith. To think
profoundly concerning Christianity one needs to have had the Christian
experience. But this is very different from saying that to speak
worthily of the Christian religion, one must needs have made his own the
statements of religion which men of a former generation may have found
serviceable. The distinction between religion itself, on the one hand,
and the expression of religion in doctrines and rites, or the
application of religion through institutions, on the other hand, is in
itself one of the great achievements of the nineteenth century. It is
one which separates us from Christian men in previous centuries as
markedly as it does any other. It is a simple implication of the Kantian
theory of knowledge. The evidence for its validity has come through the
application of historical criticism to all the creeds. Mystics of all
ages have seen the truth from far. The fact that we may assume the
prevalence of this distinction among Christian men, and lay it at the
base of the discussion we propose, is assuredly one of the gains which
the nineteenth century has to record.

It follows that not all of the thinkers with whom we have to deal will
have been, in their own time, of the number of avowedly Christian men.
Some who have greatly furthered movements which in the end proved
fruitful for Christian thought, have been men who in their own time
alienated from professed and official religion. In the retrospect we
must often feel that their opposition to that which they took to be
religion was justifiable. Yet their identification of that with religion
itself, and their frank declaration of what they called their own
irreligion, was often a mistake. It was a mistake to which both they and
their opponents in due proportion contributed. A still larger class of
those with whom we have to do have indeed asserted for themselves a
personal adherence to Christianity. But their identification with
Christianity, or with a particular Christian Church, has been often
bitterly denied by those who bore official responsibility in the Church.
The heresy of one generation is the orthodoxy of the next. There is
something perverse in Gottfried Arnold's maxim, that the true Church, in
any age, is to be found with those who have just been excommunicated
from the actual Church. However, the maxim points in the direction of a
truth. By far the larger part of those with whom we have to do have had
acknowledged relation to the Christian tradition and institution. They
were Christians and, at the same time, true children of the intellectual
life of their own age. They esteemed it not merely their privilege, but
also their duty, to endeavour to ponder anew the religious and Christian
problem, and to state that which they thought in a manner congruous with
the thoughts which the men of the age would naturally have concerning
other themes.

It has been to most of these men axiomatic that doctrine has only
relative truth. Doctrine is but a composite of the content of the
religious consciousness with materials which the intellect of a given
man or age or nation in the total view of life affords. As such,
doctrine is necessary and inevitable for all those who in any measure
live the life of the mind. But the condition of doctrine is its mobile,
its fluid and changing character. It is the combination of a more or
less stable and characteristic experience, with a reflection which,
exactly in proportion as it is genuine, is transformed from age to age,
is modified by qualities of race and, in the last analysis, differs with
individual men. Dogma is that portion of doctrine which has been
elevated by decree of ecclesiastical authority, or even only by common
consent, into an absoluteness which is altogether foreign to its nature.
It is that part of doctrine concerning which men have forgotten that it
had a history, and have decided that it shall have no more. In its very
notion dogma confounds a statement of truth, which must of necessity be
human, with the truth itself, which is divine. In its identification of
statement and truth it demands credence instead of faith. Men have
confounded doctrine and dogma; they have been taught so to do. They have
felt the history of Christian doctrine to be an unfruitful and
uninteresting theme. But the history of Christian thought would seek to
set forth the series of interpretations put, by successive generations,
upon the greatest of all human experiences, the experience of the
communion of men with God. These interpretations ray out at all edges
into the general intellectual life of the age. They draw one whole set
of their formative impulses from the general intellectual life of the
age. It is this relation of the progress of doctrine to the general
history of thought in the nineteenth century, which the writer designed
to emphasise in choosing the title of this work.

As was indicated in the closing paragraphs of the preceding volume of
this series, the issue of the age of rationalism had been for the cause
of religion on the whole a distressing one. The majority of those who
were resolved to follow reason were agreed in abjuring religion. That
they had, as it seems to us, but a meagre understanding of what religion
is, made little difference in their conclusion. Bishop Butler complains
in his _Analogy_ that religion was in his time hardly considered a
subject for discussion among reasonable men. Schleiermacher in the very
title of his _Discourses_ makes it plain that in Germany the situation
was not different. If the reasonable eschewed religious protests in
Germany, evangelicals in England, the men of the great revivals in
America, many of them, took up a corresponding position as towards the
life of reason, especially toward the use of reason in religion. The
sinister cast which the word rationalism bears in much of the popular
speech is evidence of this fact. To many minds it appeared as if one
could not be an adherent both of reason and of faith. That was a
contradiction which Kant, first of all in his own experience, and then
through his system of thought, did much to transcend. The deliverance
which he wrought has been compared to the deliverance which Luther in
his time achieved for those who had been in bondage to scholasticism in
the Roman Church. Although Kant has been dead a hundred years, both the
defence of religion and the assertion of the right of reason are still,
with many, on the ancient lines. There is no such strife between
rationality and belief as has been supposed. But the confidence of that
fact is still far from being shared by all Christians at the beginning
of the twentieth century. The course in reinterpretation and
readjustment of Christianity, which that calm conviction would imply, is
still far from being the one taken by all of those who bear the
Christian name. If it is permissible in the writing of a book like this
to have an aim besides that of the most objective delineation, the
author may perhaps be permitted to say that he writes with the earnest
hope that in some measure he may contribute also to the establishment of
an understanding upon which so much both for the Church and the world

We should say a word at this point as to the general relation of
religion and philosophy. We realise the evil which Kant first in
clearness pointed out. It was the evil of an apprehension which made the
study of religion a department of metaphysics. The tendency of that
apprehension was to do but scant justice to the historical content of
Christianity. Religion is an historical phenomenon. Especially is this
true of Christianity. It is a fact, or rather, a vast complex of facts.
It is a positive religion. It is connected with personalities, above all
with one transcendent personality, that of Jesus. It sprang out of
another religion which had already emerged into the light of
world-history. It has been associated for two thousand years with
portions of the race which have made achievements in culture and left
record of those achievements. It is the function of speculation to
interpret this phenomenon. When speculation is tempted to spin by its
own processes something which it would set beside this historic
magnitude or put in place of it, and still call that Christianity, we
must disallow the claim. It was the licence of its speculative
endeavour, and the identification of these endeavours with Christianity,
which finally discredited Hegelianism with religious men. Nor can it be
denied that theologians themselves have been sinners in this respect.
The disposition to regard Christianity as a revealed and divinely
authoritative metaphysic began early and continued long. When the
theologians also set out to interpret Christianity and end in offering
us a substitute, which, if it were acknowledged as absolute truth, would
do away with Christianity as historic fact, as little can we allow the

Again, Christianity exists not merely as a matter of history. It exists
also as a fact in living consciousness. It is the function of psychology
to investigate that consciousness. We must say that, accurately
speaking, there is no such thing as Christian philosophy. There are
philosophies, good or bad, current or obsolete. These are Christian only
in being applied to the history of Christianity and the content of the
Christian consciousness. There is, strictly speaking, no such thing as
Christian consciousness. There is the human consciousness, operating
with and operated upon by the impulse of Christianity. It is the great
human experience from which we single out for investigation that part
which is concerned with religion, and call that the religious
experience. It is essential, therefore, that those general
investigations of human consciousness and experience, as such, which are
being carried on all about us should be reckoned with, if our Christian
life and thought are not altogether to fall out of touch with advancing
knowledge. For this reason we have misgiving about the position of some
followers of Ritschl. Their opinion, pushed to the limit, seems to mean
that we have nothing to do with philosophy, or with the advance of
science. Religion is a feeling of which he alone who possesses it can
give account. He alone who has it can appreciate such an account when
given. We acknowledge that religion is in part a feeling. But that
feeling must have rational justification. It must also have rational
guidance if it is to be saved from degenerating into fanaticism.

To say that we have nothing to do with philosophy ends in our having to
do with a bad philosophy. In that case we have a philosophy with which
we operate without having investigated it, instead of having one with
which we operate because we have investigated it. The philosophy of
which we are aware we have. The philosophy of which we are not aware has
us. No doubt, we may have religion without philosophy, but we cannot
formulate it even in the rudest way to ourselves, we cannot communicate
it in any way whatsoever to others, except in the terms of a philosophy.
In the general sense in which every man has a philosophy, this is merely
the deposit of the regnant notions of the time. It may be amended or
superseded, and our theology with it. Yet while it lasts it is our one
possible vehicle of expression. It is the interpreter and the critique
of what we have experienced. It is not open to a man to retreat within
himself and say, I am a Christian, I feel thus, I think so, these
thoughts are the content of Christianity. The consequence of that
position is that we make the religious experience to be no part of the
normal human experience. If we contend that the being a Christian is the
great human experience, that the religious life is the true human life,
we must pursue the opposite course. We must make the religious life
coherent with all the other phases and elements of life. If we would
contend that religious thought is the truest and deepest thought, we
must begin at this very point. We must make it conform absolutely to the
laws of all other thought. To contend for its isolation, as an area by
itself and a process subject only to its own laws, is to court the
judgment of men, that in its zeal to be Christian it has ceased to be

Our most profitable mode of procedure would seem to be this. We shall
seek to follow, as we may, those few main movements of thought marking
the nineteenth century which have immediate bearing upon our theme. We
shall try to register the effect which these movements have had upon
religious conceptions. It will not be possible at any point to do more
than to select typical examples. Perhaps the true method is that we
should go back to the beginnings of each one of these movements. We
should mark the emergence of a few great ideas. It is the emergence of
an idea which is dramatically interesting. It is the moment of emergence
in which that which is characteristic appears. Our subject is far too
complicated to permit that the ramifications of these influences should
be followed in detail. Modifications, subtractions, additions, the
reader must make for himself.

These main movements of thought are, as has been said, three in number.
We shall take them in their chronological order. There is first the
philosophical revolution which is commonly associated with the name of
Kant. If we were to seek with arbitrary exactitude to fix a date for the
beginning of this movement, this might be the year of the publication of
his first great work, _Kritik der reinen Vernunft_, in 1781.[1] Kant was
indeed himself, both intellectually and spiritually, the product of
tendencies which had long been gathering strength. He was the exponent
of ideas which in fragmentary way had been expressed by others, but he
gathered into himself in amazing fashion the impulses of his age. Out
from some portion of his works lead almost all the paths which
philosophical thinkers since his time have trod. One cannot say even of
his work, _Der Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der blossen Vernunft_,
1793, that it is the sole source, or even the greatest source, of his
influence upon religious thinking. But from the body of his work as a
whole, there came a new theory of knowledge which has changed completely
the notion of revelation. There came also a view of the universe as an
ideal unity which, especially as elaborated by Fichte, Schelling and
Hegel, has radically altered the traditional ideas of God, of man, of
nature and of their relations, the one to the other.

[Footnote 1: In the text the titles of books which are discussed are
given for the first time in the language in which they are written.
Books which are merely alluded to are mentioned in English.]

We shall have then, secondly, to note the historical and critical
movement. It is the effort to apply consistently and without fear the
maxims of historical and literary criticism to the documents of the Old
and New Testaments. With still greater arbitrariness, and yet with
appreciation of the significance of Strauss' endeavour, we might set as
the date of the full impact of this movement upon cherished religious
convictions, that of the publication of his _Leben Jesu_, 1835. This
movement has supported with abundant evidence the insight of the
philosophers as to the nature of revelation. It has shown that that
which we actually have in the Scriptures is just that which Kant, with
his reverence for the freedom of the human mind, had indicated that we
must have, if revelation is to be believed in at all. With this changed
view has come an altered attitude toward many statements which devout
men had held that they must accept as true, because these were found in
Scripture. With this changed view the whole history, whether of the
Jewish people or of Jesus and the origins of the Christian Church, has
been set in a new light.

In the third place, we shall have to deal with the influence of the
sciences of nature and of society, as these have been developed
throughout the whole course of the nineteenth century. If one must have
a date for an outstanding event in this portion of the history, perhaps
that of the publication of Darwin's _Origin of Species_, 1859, would
serve as well as any other. The principles of these sciences have come
to underlie in a great measure all the reflection of cultivated men in
our time. In amazing degree they have percolated, through elementary
instruction, through popular literature, and through the newspapers, to
the masses of mankind. They are recognised as the basis of a triumphant
material civilisation, which has made everything pertaining to the inner
and spiritual life seem remote. Through the social sciences there has
come an impulse to the transfer of emphasis from the individual to
society, the disposition to see everything in its social bearing, to do
everything in the light of its social antecedents and of its social
consequences. Here again we have to note the profoundest influence upon
religious conceptions. The very notion connected with the words
redemption and salvation appears to have been changed.

In the case of each of these particular movements the church, as the
organ of Christianity, has passed through a period of antagonism to
these influences, of fear of their consequences, of resistance to their
progress. In large portions of the church at the present moment the
protest is renewed. The substance of these modern teachings, which yet
seem to be the very warp and woof of the intellectual life of the modern
man, is repudiated and denounced. It is held to imperil the salvation of
the soul. It is pronounced impossible of combination with belief in a
divinely revealed truth concerning the universe and a saving faith for
men. In other churches, outside the churches, the forms in which men
hold their Christianity have been in large measure adjusted to the
results of these great movements of thought. They have, as these men
themselves believe, been immensely strengthened and made sure by those
very influences which were once considered dangerous.

In connection with this indication of the nature of our materials, we
have sought to say something of the time of emergence of the salient
elements. It may be in point also to give some intimation of the place
of their origins, that is to say, of the participation of the various
nationalities in this common task of the modern Christian world. That
international quality of scholarship which seems to us natural, is a
thing of very recent date. That a discovery should within a reasonable
interval become the property of all educated men, that scholars of one
nation should profit by that which the learned of another land have
done, appears to us a thing to be assumed. It has not always been so,
especially not in matters of religious faith. The Roman Church and the
Latin language gave to medieval Christian thought a certain
international character. Again the Renaissance and Reformation had a
certain world wide quality. The relations of the English Church in the
reigns of the last Tudors to Germany, Switzerland, and France are not to
be forgotten. But the life of the Protestant national churches in the
eighteenth century shows little of this trait. The barriers of language
counted for something. The provincialism of national churches and
denominational predilections counted for more.

In the philosophical movement we must begin with the Germans. The
movement of English thought known as deism was a distinct forerunner of
the rationalist movement, within the particular area of the discussion
of religion. However, it ran into the sand. The rationalist movement,
considered in its other aspects, never attained in England in the
eighteenth century the proportions which it assumed in France and
Germany. In France that movement ran its full course, both among the
learned and, equally, as a radical and revolutionary influence among the
unlearned. It had momentous practical consequences. In no sphere was it
more radical than in that of religion. Not in vain had Voltaire for
years cried, '_Écrasez l'infâme_,' and Rousseau preached that the youth
would all be wise and pure, if only the kind of education which he had
had in the religious schools were made impossible. There was for many
minds no alternative between clericalism and atheism. Quite logically,
therefore, after the downfall of the Republic and of the Empire there
set in a great reaction. Still it was simply a reversion to the absolute
religion of the Roman Catholic Church as set forth by the Jesuit party.
There was no real transcending of the rationalist movement in France in
the interest of religion. There has been no great constructive movement
in religious thought in France in the nineteenth century. There is
relatively little literature of our subject in the French language until
recent years.

In Germany, on the other hand, the rationalist movement had always had
over against it the great foil and counterpoise of the pietist movement.
Rationalism ran a much soberer course than in France. It was never a
revolutionary and destructive movement as in France. It was not a
dilettante and aristocratic movement as deism had been in England. It
was far more creative and constructive than elsewhere. Here also before
the end of the century it had run its course. Yet here the men who
transcended the rationalist movement and shaped the spiritual revival in
the beginning of the nineteenth century were men who had themselves been
trained in the bosom of the rationalist movement. They had appropriated
the benefits of it. They did not represent a violent reaction against
it, but a natural and inevitable progress within and beyond it. This it
was which gave to the Germans their leadership at the beginning of the
nineteenth century in the sphere of the intellectual life. It is worthy
of note that the great heroes of the intellectual life in Germany, in
the period of which we speak, were most of them deeply interested in the
problem of religion. The first man to bring to England the leaven of
this new spirit, and therewith to transcend the old philosophical
standpoint of Locke and Hume, was Coleridge with his _Aids to
Reflection_, published in 1825. But even after this impulse of Coleridge
the movement remained in England a sporadic and uncertain one. It had
nothing of the volume and conservativeness which belonged to it in

Coleridge left among his literary remains a work published in 1840 under
the title of _Confessions of an Enquiring Spirit_. What is here written
is largely upon the basis of intuition and forecast like that of Remarus
and Lessing a half-century earlier in Germany. Strauss and others were
already at work in Germany upon the problem of the New Testament, Vatke
and Reuss upon that of the Old. This was a different kind of labour, and
destined to have immeasurably greater significance. George Eliot's
maiden literary labour was the translation into English of Strauss'
first edition. But the results of that criticism were only slowly
appropriated by the English. The ostensible results were at first
radical and subversive in the extreme. They were fiercely repudiated in
Strauss' own country. Yet in the main there was acknowledgement of the
correctness of the principle for which Strauss had stood. Hardly before
the decade of the sixties was that method accepted in England in any
wider way, and hardly before the decade of the seventies in America.
Ronan was the first to set forth, in 1863, the historical and critical
problem in the new spirit, in a way that the wide public which read
French understood.

When we come to speak of the scientific movement it is not easy to say
where the leadership lay. Many Englishmen were in the first rank of
investigators and accumulators of material. The first attempt at a
systematisation of the results of the modern sciences was that of
Auguste Comte in his _Philosophie Positive_. This philosophy, however,
under its name of Positivism, exerted a far greater influence, both in
Comte's time and subsequently, in England than it did in France. Herbert
Spencer, after the middle of the decade of the sixties, essayed to do
something of the sort which Comte had attempted. He had far greater
advantages for the solution of the problem. Comte's foil in all of his
discussions of religion was the Catholicism of the south of France. None
the less, the religion which in his later years he created, bears
striking resemblance to that which in his earlier years he had sought to
destroy. Spencer's attitude toward religion was in his earlier work one
of more pronounced antagonism or, at least, of more complete agnosticism
than in later days he found requisite to the maintenance of his
scientific freedom and conscientiousness. Both of these men represent
the effort to construe the world, including man, from the point of view
of the natural and also of the social sciences, and to define the place
of religion in that view of the world which is thus set forth. The fact
that there had been no such philosophical readjustment in Great Britain
as in Germany, made the acceptance of the evolutionary theory of the
universe, which more and more the sciences enforced, slower and more
difficult. The period of resistance on the part of those interested in
religion extended far into the decade of the seventies.

A word may be added concerning America. The early settlers had been
proud of their connection with the English universities. An
extraordinary number of them, in Massachusetts at least, had been
Cambridge men. Yet a tradition of learning was later developed, which
was not without the traits of isolation natural in the circumstances.
The residence, for a time, even of a man like Berkeley in this country,
altered that but little. The clergy remained in singular degree the
educated and highly influential class. The churches had developed, in
consonance with their Puritan character, a theology and philosophy so
portentous in their conclusions, that we can without difficulty
understand the reaction which was brought about. Wesleyanism had
modified it in some portions of the country, but intensified it in
others. Deism apparently had had no great influence. When the
rationalist movement of the old world began to make itself felt, it was
at first largely through the influence of France. The religious life of
the country at the beginning of the nineteenth century was at a low ebb.
Men like Belaham and Priestley were known as apostles of a freer spirit
in the treatment of the problem of religion. Priestley came to
Pennsylvania in his exile. In the large, however, one may say that the
New England liberal movement, which came by and by to be called
Unitarian, was as truly American as was the orthodoxy to which it was
opposed. Channing reminds one often of Schleiermacher. There is no
evidence that he had learned from Schleiermacher. The liberal movement
by its very impetuosity gave a new lease of life to an orthodoxy which,
without that antagonism, would sooner have waned. The great revivals,
which were a benediction to the life of the country, were thought to
have closer relation to the theology of those who participated in them
than they had. The breach between the liberal and conservative
tendencies of religious thought in this country came at a time when the
philosophical reconstruction was already well under way in Europe. The
debate continued until long after the biblical-critical movement was in
progress. The controversy was conducted upon both sides in practically
total ignorance of these facts. There are traces upon both sides of that
insight which makes the mystic a discoverer in religion, before the
logic known to him will sustain the conclusion which he draws. There
will always be interest in the literature of a discussion conducted by
reverent and, in their own way, learned and original men. Yet there is a
pathos about the sturdy originality of good men expended upon a problem
which had been already solved. The men in either camp proceeded from
assumptions which are now impossible to the men of both. It was not
until after the Civil War that American students of theology began in
numbers to study in Germany. It is a much more recent thing that one may
assume the immediate reading of foreign books, or boast of current
contribution from American scholars to the labour of the world's thought
upon these themes.

We should make a great mistake if we supposed that the progress has been
an unceasing forward movement. Quite the contrary, in every aspect of it
the life of the early part of the nineteenth century presents the
spectacle of a great reaction. The resurgence of old ideas and forces
seems almost incredible. In the political world we are wont to attribute
this fact to the disillusionment which the French Revolution had
wrought, and the suffering which the Napoleonic Empire had entailed. The
reaction in the world of thought, and particularly of religious thought,
was, moreover, as marked as that in the world of deeds. The Roman Church
profited by this swing of the pendulum in the minds of men as much as
did the absolute State. Almost the first act of Pius VII. after his
return to Rome in 1814, was the revival of the Society of Jesus, which
had been after long agony in 1773 dissolved by the papacy itself. 'Altar
and throne' became the watchword of an ardent attempt at restoration of
all of that which millions had given their lives to do away. All too
easily, one who writes in sympathy with that which is conventionally
called progress may give the impression that our period is one in which
movement has been all in one direction. That is far from being true. One
whose very ideal of progress is that of movement in directions opposite
to those we have described may well say that the nineteenth century has
had its gifts for him as well. The life of mankind is too complex that
one should write of it with one exclusive standard as to loss and gain.
And whatever be one's standard the facts cannot be ignored.

The France of the thirties and the forties saw a liberal movement within
the Roman Church. The names of Lamennais, of Lacordaire, of Montalembert
and Ozanam, the title _l'Avenir_ occur to men's minds at once. Perhaps
there has never been in France a party more truly Catholic, more devout,
refined and tolerant, more fitted to heal the breach between the
cultivated and the Church. However, before the Second Empire, an end had
been made of that. It cannot be said that the French Church exactly
favoured the infallibility. It certainly did not stand against the
decree as in the old days it would have done. The decree of
infallibility is itself the greatest witness of the steady progress of
reaction in the Roman Church. That action, theoretically at least, does
away with even that measure of popular constitution in the Church to
which the end of the Middle Age had held fast without wavering, which
the mightiest of popes had not been able to abolish and the council of
Trent had not dared earnestly to debate. Whether the decree of 1870 is
viewed in the light of the _Syllabus of Errors_ of 1864, and again of
the _Encyclical_ of 1907, or whether the encyclicals are viewed in the
light of the decree, the fact remains that a power has been given to the
Curia against what has come to be called Modernism such as Innocent
never wielded against the heresies of his day. Meantime, so hostile are
exactly those peoples among whom Roman Catholicism has had full sway,
that it would almost appear that the hope of the Roman Church is in
those countries in which, in the sequence of the Reformation, a
religious tolerance obtains, which the Roman Church would have done
everything in its power to prevent.

Again, we should deceive ourselves if we supposed that the reaction had
been felt only in Roman Catholic lands. A minister of Prussia forbade
Kant to speak concerning religion. The Prussia of Frederick William III.
and of Frederick William IV. was almost as reactionary as if Metternich
had ruled in Berlin as well as in Vienna. The history of the censorship
of the press and of the repression of free thought in Germany until the
year 1848 is a sad chapter. The ruling influences in the Lutheran Church
in that era, practically throughout Germany, were reactionary. The
universities did indeed in large measure retain their ancient freedom.
But the church in which Hengstenberg could be a leader, and in which
staunch seventeenth-century Lutheranism could be effectively sustained,
was almost doomed to further that alienation between the life of piety
and the life of learning which is so much to be deplored. In the Church
the conservatives have to this moment largely triumphed. In the
theological faculties of the universities the liberals in the main have
held their own. The fact that both Church and faculties are
functionaries of the State is often cited as sure in the end to bring
about a solution of this unhappy state of things. For such a solution,
it must be owned, we wait.

The England of the period after 1815 had indeed no such cause for
reaction as obtained in France or even in Germany. The nation having had
its Revolution in the seventeenth century escaped that of the
eighteenth. Still the country was exhausted in the conflict against
Napoleon. Commercial, industrial and social problems agitated it. The
Church slumbered. For a time the liberal thought of England found
utterance mainly through the poets. By the decade of the thirties
movement had begun. The opinions of the Noetics in Oriel College,
Oxford, now seem distinctly mild. They were sufficient to awaken Newman
and Pusey, Froude, Keble, and the rest. Then followed the most
significant ecclesiastical movement which the Church of England in the
nineteenth century has seen, the Oxford or Tractarian movement, as it
has been called. There was conscious recurrence of a mind like that of
Newman to the Catholic position. He had never been able to conceive
religion in any other terms than those of dogma, or the Christian
assurance on any other basis than that of external authority. Nothing
could be franker than the antagonism of the movement, from its
inception, to the liberal spirit of the age. By inner logic Newman found
himself at last in the Roman Church. Yet the Anglo-Catholic movement is
to-day overwhelmingly in the ascendant in the English Church. The Broad
Churchmen of the middle of the century have had few successors. It is
the High Church which stands over against the great mass of the
dissenting churches which, taken in the large, can hardly be said to be
theologically more liberal than itself. It is the High Church which has
showed Franciscanlike devotion in the problems of social readjustment
which England to-day presents. It has shown in some part of its
constituency a power of assimilation of new philosophical, critical and
scientific views, which makes all comparison of it with the Roman Church
misleading. And yet it remains in its own consciousness Catholic to the

In America also the vigour of onset of the liberalising forces at the
beginning of this century tended to provoke reaction. The alarm with
which the defection of so considerable a portion of the Puritan Church
was viewed gave coherence to the opposition. There were those who
devoutly held that the hope of religion lay in its further
liberalisation. Equally there were those who deeply felt that the
deliverance lay in resistance to liberalisation. One of the concrete
effects of the division of the churches was the separation of the
education of the clergy from the universities, the entrusting it to
isolated theological schools under denominational control. The system
has done less harm than might have been expected. Yet at present there
would appear to be a general movement of recurrence to the elder
tradition. The maintenance of the religious life is to some extent a
matter of nurture and observances, of religious habit and practice. This
truth is one which liberals, in their emphasis upon liberty and the
individual, are always in danger of overlooking. The great revivals of
religion in this century, like those of the century previous, have been
connected with a form of religious thought pronouncedly pietistic. The
building up of religious institutions in the new regions of the West,
and the participation of the churches of the country in missions, wear
predominantly this cast. Antecedently, one might have said that the lack
of ecclesiastical cohesion among the Christians of the land, the ease
with which a small group might split off for the furtherance of its own
particular view, would tend to liberalisation. It is doubtful whether
this is true. Isolation is not necessarily a condition of progress. The
emphasis upon trivial differences becomes rather a condition of their
permanence. The middle of the nineteenth century in the United States
was a period of intense denominationalism. That is synonymous with a
period of the stagnation of Christian thought. The religion of a people
absorbed in the practical is likely to be one which they at least
suppose to be a practical religion. In one age the most practical thing
will appear to men to be to escape hell, in another to further
socialism. The need of adjustment of religion to the great intellectual
life of the world comes with contact with that life. What strikes one in
the survey of the religious thought of the country, by and large, for a
century and a quarter, is not so much that it has been reactionary, as
that it has been stationary. Almost every other aspect of the life of
our country, including even that of religious life as distinguished from
religious thought, has gone ahead by leaps and bounds. This it is which
in a measure has created the tension which we feel.



In England before the end of the Civil War a movement for the
rationalisation of religion had begun to make itself felt. It was in
full force in the time of the Revolution of 1688. It had not altogether
spent itself by the middle of the eighteenth century. The movement has
borne the name of Deism. In so far as it had one watchword, this came to
be 'natural religion.' The antithesis had in mind was that to revealed
religion, as this had been set forth in the tradition of the Church, and
particularly under the bibliolatry of the Puritans. It is a witness to
the liberty of speech enjoyed by Englishmen in that day and to their
interest in religion, that such a movement could have arisen largely
among laymen who were often men of rank. It is an honour to the English
race that, in the period of the rising might of the rational spirit
throughout the western world, men should have sought at once to utilise
that force for the restatement of religion. Yet one may say quite simply
that this undertaking of the deists was premature. The time was not ripe
for the endeavour. The rationalist movement itself needed greater
breadth and deeper understanding of itself. Above all, it needed the
salutary correction of opposing principles before it could avail for
this delicate and difficult task. Religion is the most conservative of
human interests. Rationalism would be successful in establishing a new
interpretation of religion only after it had been successful in many
other fields. The arguments of the deists were never successfully
refuted. On the contrary, the striking thing is that their opponents,
the militant divines and writings of numberless volumes of 'Evidences
for Christianity,' had come to the same rational basis with the deists.
They referred even the most subtle questions to the pure reason, as no
one now would do. The deistical movement was not really defeated. It
largely compelled its opponents to adopt its methods. It left a deposit
which is more nearly rated at its worth at the present than it was in
its own time. But it ceased to command confidence, or even interest.
Samuel Johnson said, as to the publication of Bolingbroke's work by his
executor, three years after the author's death: 'It was a rusty old
blunderbuss, which he need not have been afraid to discharge himself,
instead of leaving a half-crown to a Scotchman to let it off after his

It is a great mistake, however, in describing the influence of
rationalism upon Christian thought to deal mainly with deism. English
deism made itself felt in France, as one may see in the case of
Voltaire. Kant was at one time deeply moved by some English writers who
would be assigned to this class. In a sense Kant showed traces of the
deistical view to the last. The centre of the rationalistic movement
had, however, long since passed from England to the Continent. The
religious problem was no longer its central problem. We quite fail to
appreciate what the nineteenth century owes to the eighteenth and to the
rationalist movement in general, unless we view this latter in a far
greater way.


In 1784 Kant wrote a tractate entitled, _Was ist Aufklärung?_ He said:
'Aufklärung is the advance of man beyond the stage of voluntary
immaturity. By immaturity is meant a man's inability to use his
understanding except under the guidance of another. The immaturity is
voluntary when the cause is not want of intelligence but of resolution.
_Sapere aude!_ "Dare to use thine own understanding," is therefore the
motto of free thought. If it be asked, "Do we live in a free-thinking
age?" the answer is, "No, but we live in an age of free thought." As
things are at present, men in general are very far from possessing, or
even from being able to acquire, the power of making a sure and right
use of their own understanding without the guidance of others. On the
other hand, we have clear indications that the field now lies,
nevertheless, open before them, to which they can freely make their way
and that the hindrances to general freedom of thought are gradually
becoming less. And again he says: 'If we wish to insure the true use of
the understanding by a method which is universally valid, we must first
critically examine the laws which are involved in the very nature of the
understanding itself. For the knowledge of a truth which is valid for
everyone is possible only when based on laws which are involved in the
nature of the human mind, as such, and have not been imported into it
from without through facts of experience, which must always be
accidental and conditional.'

There speaks, of course, the prophet of the new age which was to
transcend the old rationalist movement. Men had come to harp in
complacency upon reason. They had never inquired into the nature and
laws of action of the reason itself. Kant, though in fullest sympathy
with its fundamental principles, was yet aware of the excesses and
weaknesses in which the rationalist movement was running out. No man was
ever more truly a child of rationalism. No man has ever written, to whom
the human reason was more divine and inviolable. Yet no man ever had
greater reserves within himself which rationalism, as it had been, had
never touched. It was he, therefore, who could lay the foundations for a
new and nobler philosophy for the future. The word _Aufklärung_, which
the speech of the Fatherland furnished him, is a better word than ours.
It is a better word than the French _l'Illuminisme_, the Enlightenment.
Still we are apparently committed to the term Rationalism, although it
is not an altogether fortunate designation which the English-speaking
race has given to a tendency practically universal in the thinking of
Europe, from about 1650 to the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Historically, the rationalistic movement was the necessary preliminary
for the modern period of European civilization as distinguished from the
ecclesiastically and theologically determined culture which had
prevailed up to that time. It marks the great cleft between the ancient
and mediæval world of culture on the one hand and the modern world on
the other. The Reformation had but pushed ajar the door to the modern
world and then seemed in surprise and fear about to close it again. The
thread of the Renaissance was taken up again only in the Enlightenment.
The stream flowed underground which was yet to fertilise the modern

We are here mainly concerned to note the breadth and universality of the
movement. It was a transformation of culture, a change in the principles
underlying civilisation, in all departments of life. It had indeed, as
one of its most general traits, the antagonism to ecclesiastical and
theological authority. Whatever it was doing, it was never without a
sidelong glance at religion. That was because the alleged divine right
of churches and states was the one might which it seemed everywhere
necessary to break. The conflict with ecclesiasticism, however, was
taken up also by Pietism, the other great spiritual force of the age.
This was in spite of the fact that the Pietists' view of religion was
the opposite of the rationalist view. Rationalism was characterised by
thorough-going antagonism to supernaturalism with all its consequences.
This arose from its zeal for the natural and the human, in a day when
all men, defenders and assailants of religion alike, accepted the dictum
that what was human could not be divine, the divine must necessarily be
the opposite of the human. In reality this general trait of opposition
to religion deceives us. It is superficial. In large part the
rationalists were willing to leave the question of religion on one side
if the ecclesiastics would let them alone. This is true in spite of the
fact that the pot-house rationalism of Germany and France in the
eighteenth century found the main butt of its ridicule in the priesthood
and the Church. On its sober side, in the studies of scholars, in the
bureaux of statesmen, in the laboratories of discoverers, it found more
solid work. It accomplished results which that other trivial aspect must
not hide from us.

Troeltsch first in our own day has given us a satisfactory account of
the vast achievement of the movement in every department of human
life.[2] It annihilated the theological notion of the State. In the
period after the Thirty Years' War men began to question what had been
the purpose of it all. Diplomacy freed itself from Jesuitical and papal
notions. It turned preponderantly to commercial and economic aims. A
secular view of the purpose of God in history began to prevail in all
classes of society. The Grand Monarque was ready to proclaim the divine
right of the State which was himself. Still, not until the period of his
dotage did that claim bear any relation to what even he would have
called religion. Publicists, both Catholic and Protestant, sought to
recur to the _lex naturæ_ in contradistinction with the old _lex
divina_. The natural rights of man, the rights of the people, the
rationally conditioned rights of the State, a natural, prudential,
utilitarian morality interested men. One of the consequences of this
theory of the State was a complete alteration in the thought of the
relation of State and Church. The nature of the Church itself as an
empirical institution in the midst of human society was subjected to the
same criticism with the State. Men saw the Church in a new light. As the
State was viewed as a kind of contract in men's social interest, so the
Church was regarded as but a voluntary association to care for their
religious interests. It was to be judged according to the practical
success with which it performed this function.

[Footnote 2: Troeltsch, Art. 'Aufklärung' in Herzog-Hauck,
_Realencylopädie_, 3 Aufl., Bd. ii., s. 225 f.]

Then also, in the economic and social field the rational spirit made
itself felt. Commerce and the growth of colonies, the extension of the
middle class, the redistribution of wealth, the growth of cities, the
dependence in relations of trade of one nation upon another, all these
things shook the ancient organisation of society. The industrial system
grew up upon the basis of a naturalistic theory of all economic
relations. Unlimited freedom in labour and in the use of capital were
claimed. There came a great revolution in public opinion upon all
matters of morals. The ferocity of religious wars, the cruelty of
religious controversies, the bigotry of the confessional, these all,
which, only a generation earlier, had been taken by long-suffering
humanity as if they had been matters of course, were now viewed with
contrition by the more exalted spirits and with contempt and
embitterment by the rest. Men said, if religion can give us not better
morality than this, it is high time we looked to the natural basis of
morality. Natural morality came to be the phrase ever on the lips of the
leading spirits. Too frequently they had come to look askance at the
morality of those who alleged a supernatural sanction for that which
they at least enjoined upon others. We come in this field also, as in
others, upon the assertion of the human as nobler and more beautiful
than that which had by the theologians been alleged to be divine. The
assertion came indeed to be made in ribald and blasphemous forms, but it
was not without a great measure of provocation.

Then there was the altered view of nature which came through the
scientific discoveries of the age. Bacon, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo,
Gassendi, Newton, are the fathers of the modern sciences. These are the
men who brought new worlds to our knowledge and new methods to our use.
That the sun does not move about the earth, that the earth is but a
speck in space, that heaven cannot be above nor hell beneath, these are
thoughts which have consequences. Instead of the old deductive method,
that of the mediæval Aristotelianism, which had been worse than
fruitless in the study of nature, men now set out with a great
enthusiasm to study facts, and to observe their laws. Modern optics,
acoustics, chemistry, geology, zoology, psychology and medicine, took
their rises within the period of which we speak. The influence was
indescribable. Newton might maintain his own simple piety side by side,
so to say, with his character, as a scientific man, though even he did
not escape the accusation of being a Unitarian. In the resistance which
official religion offered at every step to the advance of the sciences,
it is small wonder if natures less placid found the maintenance of their
ancestral faith too difficult. Natural science was deistic with Locke
and Voltaire, it was pantheistic in the antique sense with Shaftesbury,
it was pantheistic-mystical with Spinoza, spiritualistic with Descartes,
theistic with Leibnitz, materialistic with the men of the Encyclopædia.
It was orthodox with nobody. The miracle as traditionally defined became
impossible. At all events it became the millstone around the neck of the
apologists. The movement went to an extreme. All the evils of excess
upon this side from which we since have suffered were forecast. They
were in a measure called out by the evils and errors which had so long
reigned upon the other side.

Again, in the field of the writing of history and of the critique of
ancient literatures, the principles of rational criticism were worked
out and applied in all seriousness. Then these maxims began to be
applied, sometimes timidly and sometimes in scorn and shallowness, to
the sacred history and literature as well. To claim, as the defenders of
the faith were fain to do, that this one department of history was
exempt, was only to tempt historians to say that this was equivalent to
confession that we have not here to do with history at all.

Nor can we overlook the fact that the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries witnessed a great philosophical revival. Here again it is the
rationalist principle which is everywhere at work. The observations upon
nature, the new feeling concerning man, the vast complex of facts and
impulses which we have been able in these few words to suggest, demanded
a new philosophical treatment. The philosophy which now took its rise
was no longer the servant of theology. It was, at most, the friend, and
even possibly the enemy, of theology. Before the end of the rationalist
period it was the master of theology, though often wholly indifferent to
theology, exactly because of its sense of mastery. The great
philosophers of the eighteenth century, Hume, Berkeley, and Kant, belong
with a part only of their work and tendency to the rationalist movement.
Still their work rested upon that which had already been done by Spinoza
and Malebranche, by Hobbes and Leibnitz, by Descartes and Bayle, by
Locke and Wolff, by Voltaire and the Encyclopædists. With all of the
contrasts among these men there are common elements. There is an ever
increasing antipathy to the thought of original sin and of supernatural
revelation, there is the confidence of human reason, the trust in the
will of man, the enthusiasm for the simple, the natural, the
intelligible and practical, the hatred of what was scholastic and, above
all, the repudiation of authority.

All these elements led, toward the end of the period, to the effort at
the construction of a really rational theology. Leibnitz and Lessing
both worked at that problem. However, not until after the labours of
Kant was it possible to utilise the results of the rationalist movement
for the reconstruction of theology. If evidence for this statement were
wanting, it could be abundantly given from the work of Herder. He was
younger than Kant, yet the latter seems to have exerted but slight
influence upon him. He earnestly desired to reinterpret Christianity in
the new light of his time, yet perhaps no part of his work is so futile.


Allusion has been made to pietism. We have no need to set forth its own
achievements. We must recur to it merely as one of the influences which
made the transition from the century of rationalism to bear, in Germany,
an aspect different from that which it bore in any other land. Pietism
had at first much in common with rationalism. It shared with the latter
its opposition to the whole administration of religion established by
the State, its antagonism to the social distinctions which prevailed,
its individualism, its emphasis upon the practical. It was part of a
general religious reaction against ecclesiasticism, as were also
Jansenism in France, and Methodism in England, and the Whitefieldian
revival in America. But, through the character of Spener, and through
the peculiarity of German social relations, it gained an influence over
the educated classes, such as Methodism never had in England, nor, on
the whole, the Great Awakening in America. In virtue of this, German
pietism was able, among influential persons, to present victorious
opposition to the merely secular tendencies of the rationalistic
movement. In no small measure it breathed into that movement a religious
quality which in other lands was utterly lacking. It gave to it an
ethical seriousness from which in other places it had too often set
itself free.

In England there had followed upon the age of the great religious
conflict one of astounding ebb of spiritual interest. Men turned with
all energy to the political and economic interests of a wholly modern
civilisation. They retained, after a short period of friction, a smug
and latitudinarian orthodoxy, which Methodism did little to change. In
France not only was the Huguenot Church annihilated, but the Jansenist
movement was savagely suppressed. The tyranny of the Bourbon State and
the corruption of the Gallican Church which was so deeply identified
with it caused the rationalist movement to bear the trait of a
passionate opposition to religion. In the time of Pascal, Jansenism had
a moment when it bade fair to be to France what pietism was to Germany.
Later, in the anguish and isolation of the conflict the movement lost
its poise and intellectual quality. In Germany, even after the temporary
alliance of pietism and rationalism against the Church had been
transcended, and the length and breadth of their mutual antagonism had
been revealed, there remained a deep mutual respect and salutary
interaction. Obscurantists and sentimentalists might denounce
rationalism. Vulgar ranters like Dippel and Barth might defame religion.
That had little weight as compared with the fact that Klopstock, Hamann
and Herder, Jacobi, Goethe and Jean Paul, had all passed at some time
under the influence of pietism. Lessing learned from the Moravians the
undogmatic essence of religion. Schleiermacher was bred among the
devoted followers of Zinzendorf. Even the radicalism of Kant retained
from the teaching of his pietistic youth the stringency of its ethic,
the sense of the radical evil of human nature and of the categorical
imperative of duty. It would be hard to find anything to surpass his
testimony to the purity of character and spirit of his parents, or the
beauty of the home life in which he was bred. Such facts as these made
themselves felt both in the philosophy and in the poetry of the age. The
rationalist movement itself came to have an ethical and spiritual trait.
The triviality, the morbidness and superstition of pietism received
their just condemnation. But among the leaders of the nation in every
walk of life were some who felt the drawing to deal with ethical and
religious problems in the untrammelled fashion which the century had

We may be permitted to try to show the meaning of pietism by a concrete
example. No one can read the correspondence between the youthful
Schleiermacher and his loving but mistaken father, or again, the
lifelong correspondence of Schleiermacher with his sister, without
receiving, if he has any religion of his own, a touching impression of
what the pietistic religion meant. The father had long before, unknown
to the son, passed through the torments of the rational assault upon a
faith which was sacred to him. He had preached, through years, in the
misery of contradiction with himself. He had rescued his drowning soul
in the ark of the most intolerant confessional orthodoxy. In the crisis
of his son's life he pitiably concealed these facts. They should have
been the bond of sympathy. The son, a sorrowful little motherless boy,
was sent to the Moravian school at Niesky, and then to Barby. He was to
escape the contamination of the universities, and the woes through which
his father had passed. Even there the spirit of the age pursued him. The
precocious lad, in his loneliness, raised every question which the race
was wrestling with. He long concealed these facts, dreading to wound the
man he so revered. Then in a burst of filial candour, he threw himself
upon his father's mercy, only to be abused and measurelessly condemned.
He had his way. He resorted to Halle, turned his back on sacred things,
worked in titanic fashion at everything but the problem of religion. At
least he kept his life clean and his soul sensitive among the flagrantly
immoral who were all about him, even in the pietists' own university. He
laid the foundations for his future philosophical construction. He
bathed in the sentiments and sympathies, poetic, artistic and
humanitarian, of the romanticist movement. In his early Berlin period he
was almost swept from his feet by its flood. He rescued himself,
however, by his rationalism and romanticism into a breadth and power of
faith which made him the prophet of the new age. By him, for a
generation, men like-minded saved their souls. As one reads, one
realises that it was the pietists' religion which saved him, and which,
in another sense, he saved. His recollections of his instruction among
the Herrnhuter are full of beauty and pathos. His sister never advanced
a step upon the long road which he travelled. Yet his sympathy with her
remained unimpaired. The two poles of the life of the age are visible
here. The episode, full of exquisite personal charm, is a veritable
miniature of the first fifty years of the movement which we have to
record. No one did for England or for France what Schleiermacher had
done for the Fatherland.

Æsthetic Idealism

Besides pietism, the Germany of the end of the eighteenth century
possessed still another foil and counterpoise to its decadent
rationalism. This was the so-called æsthetic-idealistic movement, which
shades off into romanticism. The debt of Schleiermacher to that movement
has been already hinted at. It was the revolt of those who had this in
common with the pietists, that they hated and despised the outworn
rationalism. They thought they wanted no religion. It is open to us to
say that they misunderstood religion. It was this misunderstanding which
Schleiermacher sought to bring home to them. What religion they
understood, ecclesiasticism, Roman or Lutheran, or again, the banalities
and fanaticisms of middle-class pietism, they despised. Their war with
rationalism was not because it had deprived man of religion. It had been
equally destructive of another side of the life of feeling, the
æsthetic. Their war was not on behalf of the good, it was in the name of
the beautiful. Rationalism had starved the soul, it had minimised and
derided feeling. It had suppressed emotion. It had been fatal to art. It
was barren of poetry. It had had no sympathy with history and no
understanding of history. It had reduced everything to the process by
which two and two make four. The pietists said that the frenzy for
reason had made man oblivious of the element of the divine. The æsthetic
idealists said that it had been fatal to the element of the human. From
this point of view their movement has been called the new humanism. The
glamour of life was gone, they said. Mystery had vanished. And mystery
is the womb of every art. Rationalism had been absolutely uncreative,
only and always destructive. Rousseau had earlier uttered this wail in
France, and had greatly influenced certain minds in Germany. Shelley and
Keats were saying something of the sort in England. Even as to
Wordsworth, it may be an open question if his religion was not mainly
romanticism. All these men used language which had been conventionally
associated with religion, to describe this other emotion.

Rationalism had ended in proving deadly to ideals. This was true. But
men forgot for the moment how glorious an ideal it had once been to be
rational and to assert the rationality of the universe. Still the time
had come when, in Germany at all events, the great cry was, 'back to the
ideal.' It is curious that men always cry 'back' when they mean
'forward.' For it was not the old idealism, either religious or
æsthetic, which they were seeking. It was a new one in which the sober
fruits of rationalism should find place. Still, for the moment, as we
have seen, the air was full of the cry, 'back to the State by divine
right, back to the Church, back to the Middle Age, back to the beauty of
classical antiquity.' The poetry, the romance, the artistic criticism of
this movement set themselves free at a stroke from theological bondage
and from the externality of conventional ethics. It shook off the dust
of the doctrinaires. It ridiculed the petty utilitarianism which had
been the vogue. It had such an horizon as men had never dreamed before.
It owed that horizon to the rationalism it despised. From its new
elevation it surveyed all the great elements of the life of man. It saw
morals and religion, language and society, along with art and itself, as
the free and unconscious product through the ages, of the vitality of
the human spirit. It must be said that it neither solved nor put away
the ancient questions. Especially through its one-sided æstheticism it
veiled that element of dualism in the world which Kant clearly saw, and
we now see again, after a century which has sometimes leaned to easy
pantheism. However, it led to a study of the human soul and of all its
activities, which came closer to living nature than anything which the
world had yet seen.

To this group of æsthetic idealists belong, not to mention lesser names,
Lessing and Hamann and Winckelmann, but above all Herder and Goethe.
Herder was surely the finest spirit among the elder contemporaries of
Goethe. Bitterly hostile to the rationalists, he had been moved by
Rousseau to enthusiasm for the free creative life of the human spirit.
With Lessing he felt the worth of every art in and for itself, and the
greatness of life in its own fulfilment. He sets out from the analysis
of the poetic and artistic powers, the appreciation of which seemed to
him to be the key to the understanding of the spiritual world. Then
first he approaches the analysis of the ethical and religious feeling.
All the knowledge and insight thus gained he gathers together into a
history of the spiritual life of mankind. This life of the human spirit
comes forth everywhere from nature, is bound to nature. It constitutes
one whole with a nature which the devout soul calls God, and apprehends
within itself as the secret of all that it is and does. Even in the
period in which he had become passionately Christian, Herder never was
able to attain to a scientific establishing of his Christianity, or to
any sense of the specific aim of its development. He felt himself to be
separated from Kant by an impassable gulf. All the sharp antinomies
among which Kant moved, contrasts of that which is sensuous with that
which is reasonable, of experience with pure conception, of substance
and form in thought, of nature and freedom, of inclination and duty,
seemed to Herder grossly exaggerated, if not absolutely false. Sometimes
Herder speaks as if the end of life were simply the happiness which a
man gets out of the use of all his powers and out of the mere fact of
existence. Deeper is Kant's contention, that the true aim of life can be
only moral culture, even independent of happiness, or rather one must
find his noblest happiness in that moral culture.

At a period in his life when Herder had undergone conversion to court
orthodoxy at Bückeburg and threatened to throw away that for which his
life had stood, he was greatly helped by Goethe. The identification of
Herder with Christianity continued to be more deep and direct than that
of Goethe ever became, yet Goethe has also his measure of significance
for our theme. If he steadied Herder in his religious experience, he
steadied others in their poetical emotionalism and artistic
sentimentality, which were fast becoming vices of the time. The classic
repose of his spirit, his apparently unconscious illustration of the
ancient maxim, 'nothing too much,' was the more remarkable, because
there were few influences in the whole gamut of human life to which he
did not sooner or later surrender himself, few experiences which he did
not seek, few areas of thought upon which he did not enter. Systems and
theories were never much to his mind. A fact, even if it were
inexplicable, interested him much more. To the evolution of formal
thought in his age he held himself receptive rather than directing. He
kept, to the last, his own manner of brooding and creating, within the
limits of a poetic impressionableness which instinctively viewed the
material world and the life of the soul in substantially similar
fashion. There is something almost humorous in the way in which he
eagerly appropriated the results of the philosophising of his time, in
so far as he could use these to sustain his own positions, and
caustically rejected those which he could not thus use. He soon got by
heart the negative lessons of Voltaire and found, to use the words which
he puts into the mouth of Faust, that while it freed him from his
superstitions, at the same time it made the world empty and dismal
beyond endurance. In the mechanical philosophy which presented itself in
the _Système de la Nature_ as a positive substitute for his lost faith,
he found only that which filled his poet's soul with horror. 'It
appeared to us,' he says, 'so grey, so cimmerian and so dead that we
shuddered at it as at a ghost. We thought it the very quintessence of
old age. All was said to be necessary, and therefore there was no God.
Why not a necessity for a God to take its place among the other
necessities!' On the other hand, the ordinary teleological theology,
with its external architect of the world and its externally determined
designs, could not seem to Goethe more satisfactory than the mechanical
philosophy. He joined for a time in Rousseau's cry for the return to
nature. But Goethe was far too well balanced not to perceive that such a
cry may be the expression of a very artificial and sophisticated state
of mind. It begins indeed in the desire to throw off that which is
really oppressive. It ends in a fretful and reckless revolt against the
most necessary conditions of human life. Goethe lived long enough to see
in France that dissolution of all authority, whether of State or Church,
for which Rousseau had pined. He saw it result in the return of a
portion of mankind to what we now believe to have been their primitive
state, a state in which they were 'red in tooth and claw.' It was not
that paradisaic state of love and innocence, which, curiously enough,
both Rousseau and the theologians seem to have imagined was the
primitive state.

The thought of the discipline and renunciation of our lower nature in
order to the realisation of a higher nature of mankind is written upon
the very face of the second part of _Faust_. Certain passages in
_Dichtung_ and _Wahrheit_ are even more familiar. 'Our physical as well
as our social life, morality, custom, knowledge of the world,
philosophy, religion, even many an accidental occurrence in our daily
life, all tell us that we must renounce.' 'Renunciation, once for all,
in view of the eternal,' that was the lesson which he said made him feel
an atmosphere of peace breathed upon him. He perceived the supreme moral
prominence of certain Christian ideas, especially that of the atonement
as he interpreted it. 'It is altogether strange to me,' he writes to
Jacobi, 'that I, an old heathen, should see the cross planted in my own
garden, and hear Christ's blood preached without its offending me.'

Goethe's quarrel with Christianity was due to two causes. In the first
place, it was due to his viewing Christianity as mainly, if not
exclusively, a religion of the other world, as it has been called, a
religion whose God is not the principle of all life and nature and for
which nature and life are not divine. In the second place, it was due to
the prominence of the negative or ascetic element in Christianity as
commonly presented, to the fact that in that presentation the law of
self-sacrifice bore no relation to the law of self-realisation. In both
of these respects he would have found himself much more at home with the
apprehension of Christianity which we have inherited from the nineteenth
century. The programme of charity which he outlines in the _Wanderjahre_
as a substitute for religion would be taken to-day, so far as it goes,
as a rather moderate expression of the very spirit of the Christian



The causes which we have named, religious and æsthetic, as well as
purely speculative, led to such a revision of philosophical principles
in Germany as took place in no other land. The new idealistic
philosophy, as it took shape primarily at the hands of Kant, completed
the dissolution of the old rationalism. It laid the foundation for the
speculative thought of the western world for the century which was to
come. The answers which æstheticism and pietism gave to rationalism were
incomplete. They consisted largely in calling attention to that which
rationalism had overlooked. Kant's idealism, however, met the
intellectual movement on its own grounds. It triumphed over it with its
own weapons. The others set feeling over against thought. He taught men
a new method in thinking. The others put emotion over against reason. He
criticised in drastic fashion the use which had been made of reason. He
inquired into the nature of reason. He vindicated the reasonableness of
some truths which men had indeed felt to be indefeasibly true, but which
they had not been able to establish by reasoning.


Immanuel Kant was born in 1724 in Königsberg, possibly of remoter
Scottish ancestry. His father was a saddler, as Melanchthon's had been
an armourer and Wolff's a tanner. His native city with its university
was the scene of his whole life and labour. He was never outside of
Prussia except for a brief interval when Königsberg belonged to Russia.
He was a German professor of the old style. Studying, teaching, writing
books, these were his whole existence. He was the fourth of nine
children of a devoted pietist household. Two of his sisters served in
the houses of friends. The consistorial-rath opened the way to the
university. An uncle aided him to publish his first books. His earlier
interest was in the natural sciences. He was slow in coming to
promotion. Only after 1770 was he full professor of logic and
metaphysics. In 1781 he published the first of the books upon which
rests his world-wide fame. Nevertheless, he lived to see the triumph of
his philosophy in most of the German universities. His subjects are
abstruse, his style involved. It never occurred to him to make the
treatment of his themes easier by use of the imagination. He had but a
modicum of that quality. He was hostile to the pride of intellect often
manifested by petty rationalists. He was almost equally hostile to
excessive enthusiasm in religion. The note of his life, apart from his
intellectual power, was his ethical seriousness. He was in conflict with
ecclesiastical personages and out of sympathy with much of institutional
religion. None the less, he was in his own way one of the most religious
of men. His brief conflict with Wöllner's government was the only
instance in which his peace and public honour were disturbed. He never
married. He died in Königsberg in 1804. He had been for ten years so
much enfeebled that his death was a merciful release.

Kant used the word 'critique' so often that his philosophy has been
called the 'critical philosophy.' The word therefore needs an
explanation. Kant himself distinguished two types of philosophy, which
he called the dogmatic and critical types. The essence of a dogmatic
philosophy is that it makes belief to rest upon knowledge. Its endeavour
is to demonstrate that which is believed. It brings out as its foil the
characteristically sceptical philosophy. This esteems that the proofs
advanced in the interest of belief are inadequate. The belief itself is
therefore an illusion. The essence of a critical philosophy, on the
other hand, consists in this, that it makes a distinction between the
functions of knowing and believing. It distinguishes between the
perception of that which is in accordance with natural law and the
understanding of the moral meaning of things.[3] Kant thus uses his word
critique in accordance with the strict etymological meaning of the root.
He seeks to make a clear separation between the provinces of belief and
knowledge, and thus to find an adjustment of their claims. Of an object
of belief we may indeed say that we know it. Yet we must make clear to
ourselves that we know it in a different sense from that in which we
know physical fact. Faith, since it does not spring from the pure
reason, cannot indeed, as the old dogmatisms, both philosophical and
theological, have united in asserting, be demonstrated by the reason.
Equally it cannot, as scepticism has declared, be overthrown by the pure

The ancient positive dogmatism had been the idealistic philosophy of
Plato and Aristotle. The old negative dogmatism had been the materialism
of the Epicureans. To Plato the world was the realisation of ideas.
Ideas, spiritual entities, were the counterparts and necessary
antecedents of the natural objects and actual facts of life. To the
Epicureans, on the other hand, there are only material bodies and
natural laws. There are no ideas or purposes. In the footsteps of the
former moved all the scholastics of the Middle Age, and again, even
Locke and Leibnitz in their so-called 'natural theology.' In the
footsteps of the latter moved the men who had made materialism and
scepticism to be the dominant philosophy of France in the latter half of
the eighteenth century. The aim of Kant was to resolve this age-long
contradiction. Free, unprejudiced investigation of the facts and laws of
the phenomenal world can never touch the foundations of faith. Natural
science can lead in the knowledge only of the realm of the laws of
things. It cannot give us the inner moral sense of those things. To
speak of the purposes of nature as men had done was absurd. Natural
theology, as men had talked of it, was impossible. What science can give
is a knowledge of the facts about us in the world, of the growth of the
cosmos, of the development of life, of the course of history, all viewed
as necessary sequences of cause and effect.

[Footnote 3: Paulsen, _Kant_, a. 2.]

On the other hand, with the idealists, Kant is fully persuaded that
there is a meaning in things and that we can know it. There is a sense
in life. With immediate certainty we set moral good as the absolute aim
in life. This is done, however, not through the pure reason or by
scientific thinking, but primarily through the will, or as Kant prefers
to call it, the practical reason. What is meant by the practical reason
is the intelligence, the will and the affections operating together;
that is to say, the whole man and not merely his intellect, directed to
those problems upon which, in sympathy and moral reaction, the whole man
must be directed and upon which the pure reason, the mere faculty of
ratiocination, does not adequately operate. In the practical reason the
will is the central thing. The will is that faculty of man to which
moral magnitudes appeal. It is with moral magnitudes that the will is
primarily concerned. The pure reason may operate without the will and
the affections. The will, as a source of knowledge, never works without
the intelligence and the affections. But it is the will which alone
judges according to the predicates good and evil. The pure reason judges
according to the predicates true and false. It is the practical reason
which ventures the credence that moral worth is the supreme worth in
life. It then confirms this ventured credence in a manifold experience
that yields a certainty with which no certainty of objects given in the
senses is for a moment to be compared. We know that which we have
believed. We know it as well as that two and two make four. Still we do
not know it in the same way. Nor can we bring knowledge of it to others
save through an act of freedom on their part, which is parallel to the
original act of freedom on our own part.

How can these two modes of thought stand related the one to the other?
Kant's answer is that they correspond to the distinction between two
worlds, the world of sense and the transcendental or supersensible
world. The pure and the practical reason are the faculties of man for
dealing with these two worlds respectively, the phenomenal and the
noumenal. The world which is the object of scientific investigation is
not the actuality itself. This is true in spite of the fact that to the
common man the material and sensible is always, as he would say, the
real. On the contrary, in Kant's opinion the material world is only the
presentation to our senses of something deeper, of which our senses are
no judge. The reality lies behind this sensible presentation and
appearance. The world of religious belief is the world of this
transcendent reality. The spirit of man, which is not pure reason only,
but moral will as well, recognises itself also as part of this reality.
It expresses the essence of that mysterious reality in terms of its own
essence. Its own essence as free spirit is the highest aspect of reality
of which it is aware. It may be unconscious of the symbolic nature of
its language in describing that which is higher than anything which we
know, by the highest which we do know. Yet, granting that, and supposing
that it is not a contradiction to attempt a description of the
transcendent at all, there is no description which carries us so far.

This series of ideas was perhaps that which gave to Kant's philosophy
its immediate and immense effect upon the minds of men wearied with the
endless strife and insoluble contradiction of the dogmatic and sceptical
spirits. We may disagree with much else in the Kantian system. Even here
we may say that we have not two reasons, but only two functionings of
one. We have not two worlds. The philosophical myth of two worlds has no
better standing than the religious myth of two worlds. We have two
characteristic aspects of one and the same world. These perfectly
interpenetrate the one the other, if we may help ourselves with the
language of space. Each is everywhere present. Furthermore, these
actions of reason and aspects of world shade into one another by
imperceptible degrees. Almost all functionings of reason have something
of the qualities of both. However, when all is said, it was of greatest
worth to have had these two opposite poles of thought brought clearly to
mind. The dogmatists, in the interest of faith, were resisting at every
step the progress of the sciences, feeling that that progress was
inimical to faith. The devotees of science were saying that its
processes were of universal validity, its conclusions irresistible, the
gradual dissolution of faith was certain. Kant made plain that neither
party had the right to such conclusions. Each was attempting to apply
the processes appropriate to one form of rational activity within the
sphere which belonged to the other. Nothing but confusion could result.
The religious man has no reason to be jealous of the advance of the
sciences. The interests of faith itself are furthered by such
investigation. Illusions as to fact which have been mistakenly
identified with faith are thus done away. Nevertheless, its own eternal
right is assured to faith. With it lies the interpretation of the facts
of nature and of history, whatever those facts may be found to be. With
the practical reason is the interpretation of these facts according to
their moral worth, a worth of which the pure reason knows nothing and
scientific investigation reveals nothing.

Here was a deliverance not unlike that which the Reformation had
brought. The mingling of Aristotelianism and religion in the scholastic
theology Luther had assailed. Instead of assent to human dogmas Luther
had the immediate assurance of the heart that God was on his side. And
what is that but a judgment of the practical reason, the response of the
heart in man to the spiritual universe? It is given in experience. It is
not mediated by argument. It cannot be destroyed by syllogism. It needs
no confirmation from science. It is capable of combination with any of
the changing interpretations which science may put upon the outward
universe. The Reformation had, however, not held fast to its great
truth. It had gone back to the old scholastic position. It had rested
faith in an essentially rationalistic manner upon supposed facts in
nature and alleged events of history in connection with the revelation.
It had thus jeopardised the whole content of faith, should these
supposed facts of nature or events in history be at any time disproved.
Men had made faith to rest upon statements of Scripture, alleging such
and such acts and events. They did not recognise these as the naïve and
childlike assumptions concerning nature and history which the authors of
Scripture would naturally have. When, therefore, these statements began
with the progress of the sciences to be disproved, the defenders of the
faith presented always the feeble spectacle of being driven from one
form of evidence to another, as the old were in turn destroyed. The
assumption was rife at the end of the eighteenth century that
Christianity was discredited in the minds of all free and reasonable
men. Its tenets were incompatible with that which enlightened men
infallibly knew to be true. It could be no long time until the
hollowness and sham would be patent to all. Even the interested and the
ignorant would be compelled to give it up. Of course, the invincibly
devout in every nation felt of instinct that this was not true. They
felt that there is an inexpugnable truth of religion. Still that was
merely an intuition of their hearts. They were right. But they were
unable to prove that they were right, or even to get a hearing with many
of the cultivated of their age. To Kant we owe the debt, that he put an
end to this state of things. He made the real evidence for religion that
of the moral sense, of the nonscience and hearts of men themselves. The
real ground of religious conviction is the religious experience. He thus
set free both science and religion from an embarrassment under which
both laboured, and by which both had been injured.

Kant parted company with the empirical philosophy which had held that
all knowledge arises from without, comes from experienced sensations, is
essentially perception. This theory had not been able to explain the
fact that human experience always conforms to certain laws. On the other
hand, the philosophy of so-called innate ideas had sought to derive all
knowledge from the constitution of the mind itself. It left out of
consideration the dependence of the mind upon experience. It tended to
confound the creations of its own speculation with reality, or rather,
to claim correspondence with fact for statements which had no warrant in
experience. There was no limit to which this speculative process might
not be pushed. By this process the medieval theologians, with all
gravity, propounded the most absurd speculations concerning nature. By
this process men made the most astonishing declarations upon the basis,
as they supposed, of revelation. They made allegations concerning
history and the religious experience which the most rudimentary
knowledge of history or reflection upon consciousness proved to be quite
contrary to fact.

Both empiricism and the theory of innate ideas had agreed in regarding
all knowledge as something given, from without or from within. The
knowing mind was only a passive recipient of impressions thus imparted
to it. It was as wax under the stylus, _tabula rasa_, clean paper
waiting to be written upon. Kant departed from this radically. He
declared that all cognition rests upon the union of the mind's activity
with its receptivity. The material of thought, or at least some of the
materials of thought, must be given us in the multiformity of our
perceptions, through what we call experience from the outer world. On
the other hand, the formation of this material into knowledge is the
work of the activity of our own minds. Knowledge is the result of the
systematising of experience and of reflection upon it. This activity of
the mind takes place always in accordance with the mind's own laws. Kant
held them to the absolute dependence of knowledge upon material applied
in experience. He compared himself to Copernicus who had taught men that
they themselves revolved around a central fact of the universe. They had
supposed that the facts revolved about them. The central fact of the
intellectual world is experience. This experience seems to be given us
in the forms of time and space and cause. These are merely forms of the
mind's own activity. It is not possible for us to know 'the thing in
itself,' the _Ding an sich_ in Kant's phrase, which is the external
factor in any sensation or perception. We cannot distinguish that
external factor from the contribution to it, as it stands in our
perception, which our own minds have made. If we cannot do that even for
ourselves, how much less can we do it for others! It is the subject, the
thinking being who says 'I,' which, by means of its characteristic and
necessary active processes, in the perception of things under the forms
of time and space, converts the chaotic material of knowledge into a
regular and ordered world of reasoned experience. In this sense the
understanding itself imposes laws, if not upon nature, yet, at least,
upon nature as we can ever know it. There is thus in Kant's philosophy a
sceptical aspect. Knowledge is limited to phenomena. We cannot by pure
reason know anything of the world which lies beyond experience. This
thought had been put forth by Locke and Berkeley, and by Hume also, in a
different way. But with Kant this scepticism was not the gist of his
philosophy. It was urged rather as the basis of the unconditioned
character which he proposed to assert for the practical reason. Kant's
scepticism is therefore very different from that of Hume. It does not
militate against the profoundest religious conviction. Yet it prepared
the way for some of the just claims of modern agnosticism.

According to Kant, it is as much the province of the practical reason to
lay down laws for action as it is the province of pure reason to
determine the conditions of thought, though the practical reason can
define only the form of action which shall be in the spirit of duty. It
cannot present duty to us as an object of desire. Desire can be only a
form of self-love. In the end it reckons with the advantage of having
done one's duty. It thus becomes selfish and degraded. The
identification of duty and interest was particularly offensive to Kant.
He was at war with every form of hedonism. To do one's duty because one
expects to reap advantage is not to have done one's duty. The doing of
duty in this spirit simply resolves itself into a subtler and more
pervasive form of selfishness. He castigates the popular presentation of
religion as fostering this same fault. On the other hand, there is a
trait of rigorism in Kant, a survival of the ancient dualism, which was
not altogether consistent with the implications of his own philosophy.
This philosophy afforded, as we have seen, the basis for a monistic view
of the universe. But to his mind the natural inclinations of man are
opposed to good conscience and sound reason. He had contempt for the
shallow optimism of his time, according to which the nature of man was
all good, and needed only to be allowed to run its natural course to
produce highest ethical results. He does not seem to have penetrated to
the root of Rousseau's fallacy, the double sense in which he constantly
used the words 'nature' and 'natural.' Otherwise, Kant would have been
able to repudiate the preposterous doctrine of Rousseau, without himself
falling back upon the doctrine of the radical evil of human nature. In
this doctrine he is practically at one with the popular teaching of his
own pietistic background, and with Calvinism as it prevailed with many
of the religiously-minded of his day. In its extreme statements the
latter reminds one of the pagan and oriental dualisms which so long ran
parallel to the development of Christian thought and so profoundly
influenced it.

Kant's system is not at one with itself at this point. According to him
the natural inclinations of men are such as to produce a never-ending
struggle between duty and desire. To desire to do a thing made him
suspicious that he was not actuated by the pure spirit of duty in doing
it. The sense in which man may be in his nature both a child of God,
and, at the same time, part of the great complex of nature, was not yet
clear either to Kant or to his opponents. His pessimism was a reflection
of his moral seriousness. Yet it failed to reckon with that which is yet
a glorious fact. One of the chief results of doing one's duty is the
gradual escape from the desire to do the contrary. It is the gradual
fostering by us, the ultimate dominance in us, of the desire to do that
duty. Even to have seen one's duty is the dawning in us of this high
desire. In the lowest man there is indeed the superficial desire to
indulge his passions. There is also the latent longing to be conformed
to the good. There is the sense that he fulfils himself then only when
he is obedient to the good. One of the great facts of spiritual
experience is this gradual, or even sudden, inversion of standard within
us. We do really cease to desire the things which are against right
reason and conscience. We come to desire the good, even if it shall cost
us pain and sacrifice to do it. Paul could write: 'When I would do good,
evil is present with me.' But, in the vividness of his identification of
his willing self with his better self against his sinning self, he could
also write: 'So then it is no more I that do the sin.' _Das radicale
Böse_ of human nature is less radical than Kant supposed, and 'the
categorical imperative' of duty less externally categorical than he
alleged. Still it is the great merit of Kant's philosophy to have
brought out with all possible emphasis, not merely as against the
optimism of the shallow, but as against the hedonism of soberer people,
that our life is a conflict between inclination and duty. The claims of
duty are the higher ones. They are mandatory, absolute. We do our duty
whether or not we superficially desire to do it. We do our duty whether
or not we foresee advantage in having done it. We should do it if we
foresaw with clearness disadvantage. We should find our satisfaction in
having done it, even at the cost of all our other satisfactions. There
is a must which is over and above all our desires. This is what Kant
really means by the categorical imperative. Nevertheless, his statement
comes in conflict with the principle of freedom, which is one of the
most fundamental in his system. The phrases above used only eddy about
the one point which is to be held fast. There may be that in the
universe which destroys the man who does not conform to it, but in the
last analysis he is self-destroyed, that is, he chooses not to conform.
If he is saved, it is because he chooses thus to conform. Man would be
then most truly man in resisting that which would merely overpower him,
even if it were goodness. Of course, there can be no goodness which
overpowers. There can be no goodness which is not willed. Nothing can be
a motive except through awakening our desire. That which one desires is
never wholly external to oneself.

According to Kant, morality becomes religion when that which the former
shows to be the end of man is conceived also to be the end of the
supreme law-giver, God. Religion is the recognition of our duties as
divine commands. The distinction between revealed and natural religion
is stated thus: In the former we know a thing to be a divine command
before we recognise it as our duty. In the latter we know it to be our
duty before we recognise it as a divine command. Religion may be both
natural and revealed. Its tenets may be such that man can be conceived
as arriving at them by unaided reason. But he would thus have arrived at
them at a later period in the evolution of the race. Hence revelation
might be salutary or even necessary for certain times and places without
being essential at all times or, for that matter, a permanent guarantee
of the truth of religion. There is nothing here which is new or original
with Kant. This line of reasoning was one by which men since Lessing had
helped themselves over certain difficulties. It is cited only to show
how Kant, too, failed to transcend his age in some matters, although he
so splendidly transcended it in others.

The orthodox had immemorially asserted that revelation imparted
information not otherwise attainable, or not then attainable. The
rationalists here allege the same. Kant is held fast in this view.
Assuredly what revelation imparts is not information of any sort
whatsoever, not even information concerning God. What revelation imparts
is God himself, through the will and the affection, the practical
reason. Revelation is experience, not instruction. The revealers are
those who have experienced God, Jesus the foremost among them. They have
experienced God, whom then they have manifested as best they could, but
far more significantly in what they were than in what they said. There
is surely the gravest exaggeration of what is statutory and external in
that which Kant says of the relation of ethics and religion. How can we
know that to be a command of God, which does not commend itself in our
own heart and conscience? The traditionalist would have said, by
documents miraculously confirmed. It was not in consonance with his
noblest ideas for Kant to say that. On the other hand, that which I
perceive to be my duty I, as religious man, feel to be a command of God,
whether or not a mandate of God to that effect can be adduced. Whether
an alleged revelation from God inculcates such a truth or duty may be
incidental. In a sense it is accidental. The content of all historic
revelation is conditioned in the circumstances of the man to whom the
revelation is addressed. It is clear that the whole matter of revelation
is thus apprehended by Kant with more externality than we should have
believed. His thought is still essentially archaic and dualistic. He is,
therefore, now and then upon the point of denying that such a thing as
revelation is possible. The very idea of revelation, in this form, does
violence to his fundamental principle of the autonomy of the human
reason and will. At many points in his reflection it is transparently
clear that nothing can ever come to a man, or be given forth by him,
which is not creatively shaped by himself. As regards revelation,
however, Kant never frankly took that step. The implications of his own
system would have led him to that step. They led to an idea of
revelation which was psychologically in harmony with the assumptions of
his system, and historically could be conceived as taking place without
the interjection of the miraculous in the ordinary sense. If the divine
revelation is to be thought as taking place within the human spirit, and
in consonance with the laws of all other experience, then the human
spirit must itself be conceived as standing in such relation to the
divine that the eternal reason may express and reveal itself in the
regular course of the mind's own activity. Then the manifold moral and
religious ideals of mankind in all history must take their place as
integral factors also in the progress of the divine revelation.

When we come to the more specific topics of his religious teaching,
freedom, immortality, God, Kant is prompt to assert that these cannot be
objects of theoretical knowledge. Insoluble contradictions arise
whenever a proof of them is attempted. If an object of faith could be
demonstrated it would cease to be an object of faith. It would have been
brought down out of the transcendental world. Were God to us an object
among other objects, he would cease to be a God. Were the soul a
demonstrable object like any other object, it would cease to be the
transcendental aspect of ourselves. Kant makes short work of the
so-called proofs for the existence of God which had done duty in the
scholastic theology. With subtilty, sometimes also with bitter irony, he
shows that they one and all assume that which they set out to prove.
They are theoretically insufficient and practically unnecessary. They
have such high-sounding names--the ontological argument, the
cosmological, the physico-theological--that almost in spite of ourselves
we bring a reverential mood to them. They have been set forth with
solemnity by such redoubtable thinkers that there is something almost
startling in the way that Kant knocks them about. The fact that the
ordinary man among us easily perceives that Kant was right shows only
how the climate of the intellectual world has changed. Freedom,
immortality, God, are not indeed provable. If given at all, they can be
given only in the practical reason. Still they are postulates in the
moral order which makes man the citizen of an intelligible world. There
can be no 'ought' for a being who is necessitated. We can perceive, and
do perceive, that we ought to do a thing. It follows that we can do it.
However, the hindrances to the realisation of the moral ideal are such
that it cannot be realised in a finite time. Hence the postulate of
eternal life for the individual. Finally, reason demands realisation of
a supreme good, both a perfect virtue and a corresponding happiness. Man
is a final end only as a moral subject. There must be One who is not
only a law-giver, but in himself also the realisation of the law of
the moral world.

Kant's moral argument thus steps off the line of the others. It is not a
proof at all in the sense in which they attempted to be proofs. The
existence of God appears as a necessary assumption, if the highest good
and value in the world are to be fulfilled. But the conception and
possibility of realisation of a highest good is itself something which
cannot be concluded with theoretical evidentiality. It is the object of
a belief which in entire freedom is directed to that end. Kant lays
stress upon the fact that among the practical ideas of reason, that of
freedom is the one whose reality admits most nearly of being proved by
the laws of pure reason, as well as in conduct and experience. Upon an
act of freedom, then, belief rests. 'It is the free holding that to be
true, which for the fulfilment of a purpose we find necessary.' Now, as
object of this 'free holding something to be true,' he sets forth the
conception of the highest good in the world, to be realised through
freedom. It is clear that before this argument would prove that a God is
necessary to the realisation of the moral order, it would have to be
shown that there are no adequate forces immanent within society itself
for the establishment and fulfilment of that order. As a matter of fact,
reflexion in the nineteenth century, devoted as it has been to the
evolution of society, has busied itself with hardly anything more than
with the study of those immanent elements which make for morality. It is
therefore not an external guarantor of morals, such as Kant thought,
which is here given. It is the immanent God who is revealed in the
history and life of the race, even as also it is the immanent God who is
revealed in the consciousness of the individual soul. Even the moral
argument, therefore, in the form in which Kant puts it, sounds remote
and strange to us. His reasoning strains and creaks almost as if he were
still trying to do that which he had just declared could not be done.
What remains of significance for us, is this. All the debate about first
causes, absolute beings, and the rest, gives us no God such as our souls
need. If a man is to find the witness for soul, immortality and God at
all, he must find it within himself and in the spiritual history of his
fellows. He must venture, in freedom, the belief in these things, and
find their corroboration in the contribution which they make to the
solution of the mystery of life. One must venture to win them. One must
continue to venture, to keep them. If it were not so, they would not be
objects of faith.

The source of the radical evil in man is an intelligible act of human
freedom not further to be explained. Moral evil is not, as such,
transmitted. Moral qualities are inseparable from the responsibility of
the person who commits the deeds. Yet this radical disposition to evil
is to be changed into a good one, not altogether by a process of moral
reformation. There is such a thing as a fundamental revolution of a
man's habit of thought, a conscious and voluntary transference of a
man's intention to obey, from the superficial and selfish desires which
he has followed, to the deep and spiritual ones which he will henceforth
allow. There is an epoch in a man's life when he makes the transition.
He probably does it under the spell of personal influence, by the power
of example, through the beauty of another personality. To Kant salvation
was character. It was of and in and by character. To no thinker has the
moral participation of a man in the regeneration of his own character
been more certain and necessary than to Kant. Yet, the change in
direction of the will generally comes by an impulse from without. It
comes by the impress of a noble personality. It is sustained by
enthusiasm for that personality. Kant has therefore a perfectly rational
and ethical and vital meaning for the phrase 'new birth.'

For the purpose of this impulse to goodness, nothing is so effective as
the contemplation of an historical example of such surpassing moral
grandeur as that which we behold in Jesus. For this reason we may look
to Jesus as the ideal of goodness presented to us in flesh and blood.
Yet the assertion that Jesus' historical personality altogether
corresponds with the complete and eternal ethical ideal is one which we
have no need to make. We do not possess in our own minds the absolute
ideal with which in that assertion we compare him.

The ethical ideal of the race is still in process of development. Jesus
has been the greatest factor urging forward that development. We
ourselves stand at a certain point in that development. We have the
ideals which we have because we stand at that point at which we do. The
men who come after us will have a worthier ideal than we do. Again, to
say that Jesus in his words and conduct expressed in its totality the
eternal ethical ideal, would make of his life something different from
the real, human life. Every real, human life is lived within certain
actual antitheses which call out certain qualities and do not call out
others. They demand certain reactions and not others. This is the
concrete element without which nothing historical can be conceived. To
say that Jesus lived in entire conformity to the ethical ideal so far as
we are able to conceive it, and within the circumstances which his own
time and place imposed, is the most that we can say. But in any case,
Kant insists, the real object of our religious faith is not the historic
man, but the ideal of humanity well-pleasing to God. Since this ideal is
not of our own creation, but is given us in our super-sensible nature,
it may be conceived as the Son of God come down from heaven.

The turn of this last phrase is an absolutely characteristic one, and
brings out another quality of Kant's mind in dealing with the Christian
doctrines. They are to him but symbols, forms into which a variety of
meanings may be run. He had no great appreciation of the historical
element in doctrine. He had no deep sense of the social element and of
that for which Christian institutions stand. We may illustrate with that
which he says concerning Christ's vicarious sacrifice. Substitution
cannot take place in the moral world. Ethical salvation could not be
conferred through such a substitution, even if this could take place.
Still, the conception of the vicarious suffering of Christ may be taken
as a symbolical expression of the idea that in the pain of
self-discipline, of obedience and patience, the new man in us suffers,
as it were vicariously, for the old. The atonement is a continual
ethical process in the heart of the religious man. It is a grave defect
of Kant's religious philosophy, that it was so absolutely
individualistic. Had he realised more deeply than he did the social
character of religion and the meaning of these doctrines, not alone as
between man and God, but as between man and man, he surely would have
drawn nearer to that interpretation of the doctrine of the atonement
which has come more and more to prevail. This is the solution which
finds in the atonement of Christ the last and most glorious example of a
universal law of human life and history. That law is that no redemptive
good for men is ever secured without the suffering and sacrifice of
those who seek to confer that good upon their fellows. Kant was disposed
to regard the traditional forms of Christian doctrine, not as the old
rationalism had done, as impositions of a priesthood or inherently
absurd. He sought to divest them indeed of that which was speculatively
untrue, though he saw in them only symbols of the great moral truths
which lie at the heart of religion. The historical spirit of the next
fifty years was to teach men a very different way of dealing with these
same doctrines.

       *       *       *       *       *

Kant had said that the primary condition, fundamental not merely to
knowledge, but to all connected experience, is the knowing,
experiencing, thinking, acting self. It is that which says 'I,' the ego,
the permanent subject. But that is not enough. The knowing self demands
in turn a knowable world. It must have something outside of itself to
which it yet stands related, the object of knowledge. Knowledge is
somehow the combination of those two, the result of their co-operation.
How have we to think of this co-operation? Both Hume and Berkeley had
ended in scepticism as to the reality of knowledge. Hume was in doubt as
to the reality of the subject, Berkeley as to that of the object. Kant
dissented from both. He vindicated the undoubted reality of the
impression which we have concerning a thing. Yet how far that impression
is the reproduction of the thing as it is in itself, we can never
perfectly know. What we have in our minds is not the object. It is a
notion of that object, although we may be assured that we could have no
such notion were there no object. Equally, the notion is what it is
because the subject is what it is. We can never get outside the
processes of our own thought. We cannot know the thing as it is, the
_Ding-an-sich_, in Kant's phrase. We know only that there must be a
'thing in itself.'


Fichte asked, Why? Why must there be a _Ding-an-sich_? Why is not that
also the result of the activity of the ego? Why is not the ego, the
thinking subject, all that is, the creator of the world, according to
the laws of thought? If so much is reduced to idea, why not all? This
was Fichte's rather forced resolution of the old dualism of thought and
thing. It is not the denial of the reality of things, but the assertion
that their ideal element, that part of them which is not mere 'thing,'
the action and subject of the action, is their underlying reality.
According to Kant things exist in a world beyond us. Man has no faculty
by which he can penetrate into that world. Still, the farther we follow
Kant in his analysis the more does the contribution to knowledge from
the side of the mind tend to increase, and the more does the factor in
our impressions from the side of things tend to fade away. This basis of
impression being wholly unknowable is as good as non-existent for us.
Yet it never actually disappears. There would seem to be inevitable a
sort of kernel of matter or prick of sense about which all our thoughts
are generated. Yet this residue is a vanishing quantity. This seemed to
Fichte to be a self-contradiction and a half-way measure. Only two
positions appeared to him thorough-going and consequent. Either one
posits as fundamental the thing itself, matter, independent of any
consciousness of it. So Spinoza had taught. Or else one takes
consciousness, the conscious subject, independent of any matter or thing
as fundamental. This last Fichte claimed to be the real issue of Kant's
thought. He asserts that from the point of view of the thing in itself
we can never explain knowledge. We may be as skilful as possible in
placing one thing behind another in the relation of cause to effect. It
is, however, an unending series. It is like the cosmogony of the Eastern
people which fabled that the earth rests upon the back of an elephant.
The elephant stands upon a tortoise. The question is, upon what does the
tortoise stand? So here, we may say, in the conclusive manner in which
men have always said, that God made the world. Yet sooner or later we
come to the child's question: Who made God? Fichte rightly replied: 'If
God is for us only an object of knowledge, the _Ding-an-sich_ at the end
of the series, there is no escape from the answer that man, the thinker,
in thinking God made him.' All the world, including man, is but the
reflexion, the revelation in forms of the finite, of an unceasing action
of thought of which the ego is the object. Nothing more paradoxical than
this conclusion can be imagined. It seems to make the human subject, the
man myself, the creator of the universe, and the universe only that
which I happen to think it to be.

This interpretation was at first put upon Fichte's reasoning with such
vigour that he was accused of atheism. He was driven from his chair in
Jena. Only after several years was he called to a corresponding post in
Berlin. Later, in his _Vocation of Man_, he brought his thought to
clearness in this form: 'If God be only the object of thought, it
remains true that he is then but the creation of man's thought. God is,
however, to be understood as subject, as the real subject, the
transcendent thinking and knowing subject, indwelling in the world and
making the world what it is, indwelling in us and making us what we are.
We ourselves are subjects only in so far as we are parts of God. We
think and know only in so far as God thinks and knows and acts and lives
in us. The world, including ourselves, is but the reflection of the
thought of God, who thus only has existence. Neither the world nor we
have existence apart from him.'

Johann Gottlieb Fichte was born at Rammenau in 1762. His father was a
ribbon weaver. He came of a family distinguished for piety and
uprightness. He studied at Jena, and became an instructor there in 1793.
He was at first a devout disciple of Kant, but gradually separated
himself from his master. There is a humorous tale as to one of his early
books which was, through mistake of the publisher, put forth without the
author's name. For a brief time it was hailed as a work of Kant--his
_Critique of Revelation_. Fichte was a man of high moral enthusiasm,
very uncompromising, unable to put himself in the place of an opponent,
in incessant strife. The great work of his Jena period was his
_Wissenschaftslehre_, 1794. His popular Works, _Die Bestimmung des
Menschen_ and _Anweisung zum seligen Leben_, belong to his Berlin
period. The disasters of 1806 drove him out of Berlin. Amidst the
dangers and discouragements of the next few years he wrote his famous
_Reden an die deutsche Nation_. He drew up the plan for the founding of
the University of Berlin. In 1810 he was called to be rector of the
newly established university. He was, perhaps, the chief adviser of
Frederick William III in the laying of the foundations of the
university, which was surely a notable venture for those trying years.
In the autumn of 1812 and again in 1813, when the hospitals were full of
sick and wounded after the Russian and Leipzig campaigns, Fichte and his
wife were unceasing in their care of the sufferers. He died of fever
contracted in the hospital in January 1814.

According to Fichte, as we have seen, the world of sense is the
reflection of our own inner activity. It exists for us as the sphere and
material of our duty. The moral order only is divine. We, the finite
intelligences, exist only in and through the infinite intelligence. All
our life is thus God's life. We are immortal because he is immortal. Our
consciousness is his consciousness. Our life and moral force is his, the
reflection and manifestation of his being, individuation of the infinite
reason which is everywhere present in the finite. In God we see the
world also in a new light. There is no longer any nature which is
external to ourselves and unrelated to ourselves. There is only God
manifesting himself in nature. Even the evil is only a means to good
and, therefore, only an apparent evil. We are God's immediate
manifestation, being spirit like himself. The world is his mediate
manifestation. The world of dead matter, as men have called it, does not
exist. God is the reality within the forms of nature and within
ourselves, by which alone we have reality. The duty to which a God
outside of ourselves could only command us, becomes a privilege to which
we need no commandment, but to the fulfilment of which, rather, we are
drawn in joy by the forces of our own being. How a man could, even in
the immature stages of these thoughts, have been persecuted for atheism,
it is not easy to see, although we may admit that his earlier forms of
statement were bewildering. When we have his whole thought before us we
should say rather that it borders on acosmic pantheism, for which
everything is God and the world does not exist.

We have no need to follow Fichte farther. Suffice it to say, with
reference to the theory of knowledge, that he had discovered that one
could not stand still with Kant. One must either go back toward the
position of the old empiricism which assumed the reality of the world
exactly as it appeared, or else one must go forward to an idealism more
thorough-going than Kant had planned. Of the two paths which, with all
the vast advance of the natural sciences, the thought of the nineteenth
century might traverse, that of the denial of everything except the
mechanism of nature, and that of the assertion that nature is but the
organ of spirit and is instinct with reason, Fichte chose the latter and
blazed out the path along which all the idealists have followed him. In
reference to the philosophy of religion, we must say that, with all the
extravagance, the pantheism and mysticism of his phrases, Fichte's great
contribution was his breaking down of the old dualism between God and
man which was still fundamental to Kant. It was his assertion of the
unity of man and God and of the life of God in man. This thought has
been appropriated in all of modern theology.


It was the meagreness of Fichte's treatment of nature which impelled
Schelling to what he called his outbreak into reality. Nature will not
be dismissed, as simply that which is not I. You cannot say that nature
is only the sphere of my self-realisation. Individuals are in their way
the children of nature. They are this in respect of their souls as much
as of their bodies. Nature was before they were. Nature is, moreover,
not alien to intelligence. On the contrary, it is a treasure-house of
intelligible forms which demand to be treated as such. It appeared to
Schelling, therefore, a truer idealism to work out an intelligible
system of nature, exhibiting its essential oneness with personality.

Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling was born in 1775 at Leonberg in
Württemberg. His father was a clergyman. He was precocious in his
intellectual development and much spoiled by vanity. Before he was
twenty years old he had published three works upon problems suggested by
Fichte. At twenty-three he was extraordinarius at Jena. He had
apparently a brilliant career before him. He published his _Erster
Entwurf eines Systems der Naturphilosophe_, 1799, and also his _System
des transcendentalen Idealismus_, 1800. Even his short residence at Jena
was troubled by violent conflicts with his colleagues. It was brought to
an end by his marriage with the wife of Augustus von Schlegel, who had
been divorced for the purpose. From 1806 to 1841 he lived in Munich in
retirement. The long-expected books which were to fulfil his early
promise never appeared. Hegel's stricture was just. Schelling had no
taste for the prolonged and intense labour which his brilliant early
works marked out. He died in 1854, having reached the age of
seventy-nine years, of which at least fifty were as melancholy and
fruitless as could well be imagined.

The dominating idea of Schelling's philosophy of nature may be said to
be the exhibition of nature as the progress of intelligence toward
consciousness and personality. Nature is the ego in evolution,
personality in the making. All natural objects are visible analogues and
counterparts of mind. The intelligence which their structure reveals,
men had interpreted as residing in the mind of a maker of the world.
Nature had been spoken of as if it were a watch. God was its great
artificer. No one asserted that its intelligence and power of
development lay within itself. On the contrary, nature is always in the
process of advance from lower, less highly organised and less
intelligible forms, to those which are more highly organised, more
nearly the counterpart of the active intelligence in man himself. The
personality of man had been viewed as standing over against nature, this
last being thought of as static and permanent. On the contrary, the
personality of man, with all of its intelligence and free will, is but
the climax and fulfilment of a long succession of intelligible forms in
nature, passing upward from the inorganic to the organic, from the
unconscious to the conscious, from the non-moral to the moral, as these
are at last seen in man. Of course, it was the life of organic nature
which first suggested this notion to Schelling. An organism is a
self-moving, self-producing whole. It is an idea in process of
self-realisation. What was observed in the organism was then made by
Schelling the root idea of universal nature. Nature is in all its parts
living, self-moving along the lines of its development, productivity and
product both in one. Empirical science may deal with separate products
of nature. It may treat them as objects of analysis and investigation.
It may even take the whole of nature as an object. But nature is not
mere object. Philosophy has to treat of the inner life which moves the
whole of nature as intelligible productivity, as subject, no longer as
object. Personality has slowly arisen out of nature. Nature was going
through this process of self-development before there were any men to
contemplate it. It would go through this process were there no longer
men to contemplate it.

Schelling has here rounded out the theory of absolute idealism which
Fichte had carried through in a one-sided way. He has given us also a
wonderful anticipation of certain modern ideas concerning nature's
preparation for the doctrine of evolution, which was a stroke of genius
in its way. He attempted to arrange the realm of unconscious
intelligences in an ascending series which should bridge the gulf
between the lowest of natural forms and the fully equipped organism in
which self consciousness, with the intellectual, the emotional, and
moral life, at last integrated. Inadequate material and a fondness for
analogies led Schelling into vagaries in following out this scheme.
Nevertheless, it is only in detail that we can look askance at his
attempt. In principle our own conception of the universe is the same. It
is the dynamic view of nature and an application of the principle of
evolution in the widest sense. His errors were those into which a man
was bound to fall who undertook to forestall by a sweep of the
imagination that which has been the result of the detailed and patient
investigation of three generations. What Schelling attempted was to take
nature as we know it and to exhibit it as in reality a function of
intelligence, pointing, through all the gradations of its varied forms,
towards its necessary goal in self-conscious personality. Instead,
therefore, of our having in nature and personality two things which
cannot be brought together, these become members of one great organism
of intelligence of which the immanent God is the source and the
sustaining power. These ideas constitute Schelling's contribution to an
idealistic and, of course, an essentially monistic view of the universe.
The unity of man with God, Fichte had asserted. Schelling set forth the
oneness of God and nature, and again of man and nature. The circle was

       *       *       *       *       *

If we have succeeded in conveying a clear idea of the movement of
thought from Kant to Hegel, that idea might be stated thus. There are
but three possible objects which can engage the thought of man. These
are nature and man and God. There is the universe, of which we become
aware through experience from our earliest childhood. Then there is man,
the man given in self-consciousness, primarily the man myself. In this
sense man seems to stand over against nature. Then, as the third
possible object of thought, we have God. Upon the thought of God we
usually come from the point of view of the category of cause. God is the
name which men give to that which lies behind nature and man as the
origin and explanation of both. Plato's chief interest was in man. He
talked much concerning a God who was somehow the speculative postulate
of the spiritual nature in man. Aristotle began a real observation of
nature. But the ancient and, still more, the mediæval study of nature
was dominated by abstract and theological assumptions. These prevented
any real study of that nature in the midst of which man lives, in
reaction against which he develops his powers, and to which, on one
whole side of his nature, he belongs. Even in respect of that which men
reverently took to be thought concerning God, they seem to have been
unaware how much of their material was imaginative and poetic symbolism
drawn from the experience of man. The traditional idea of revelation
proved a disturbing factor. Assuming that revelation gave information
concerning God, and not rather the religious experience of communion
with God himself, men accepted statements of the documents of revelation
as if they had been definitions graciously given from out the realm of
the unseen. In reality, they were but fetches from out the world of the
known into the world of the unknown.

The point of interest is this:--In all possible combinations in which,
throughout the history of thought, these three objects had been set, the
one with the others, they had always remained three objects. There was
no essential relation of the one to the other. They were like the points
of a triangle of which any one stood over against the other two. God
stood over against the man whom he had fashioned, man over against the
God to whom he was responsible. The consequences for theology are
evident. When men wished to describe, for example, Jesus as the Son of
God, they laid emphasis upon every quality which he had, or was supposed
to have, which was not common to him with other men. They lost sight of
that profound interest of religion which has always claimed that, in
some sense, all men are sons of God and Jesus was the son of man. Jesus
was then only truly honoured as divine when every trait of his humanity
was ignored. Similarly, when men spoke of revelation they laid emphasis
upon those particulars in which this supposed method of coming by
information was unlike all other methods. Knowledge derived directly
from God through revelation was in no sense the parallel of knowledge
derived by men in any other way. So also God stood over against nature.
God was indeed declared to have made nature. He had, however, but given
it, so to say, an original impulse. That impulse also it had in some
strange way lost or perverted, so that the world, though it had been
made by God, was not good. For the most part it moved itself, although
God's sovereignty was evidenced in that he could still supervene upon
it, if he chose. The supernatural was the realm of God. Natural and
supernatural were mutually exclusive terms, just as we saw that divine
and human were exclusive terms. So also, on the third side of our
triangle, man stood over against nature. Nature was to primitive men the
realm of caprice, in which they imagined demons, spirits and the like.
These were antagonistic to men, as also hostile to God. Then, when with
the advance of reflexion these spirits, and equally their counterparts,
the good genii and angels, had all died, nature became the realm of iron
necessity, of regardless law, of all-destroying force, of cruel and
indifferent fate. From this men took refuge in the thought of a
compassionate God, though they could not withdraw themselves or those
whom they loved from the inexorable laws of nature. They could not see
that God always, or even often, intervened on their behalf. It cannot be
denied that these ideas prevail to some extent in the popular theology
at the present moment. Much of our popular religious language is an
inheritance from a time when they universally prevailed. The religious
intuition even of psalmists and prophets opposed many of these notions.
The pure religious intuition of Jesus opposed almost every one of them.
Mystics in every religion have had, at times, insight into an altogether
different scheme of things. The philosophy, however, even of the
learned, would, in the main, have supported the views above described,
from the dawn of reflexion almost to our own time.

It was Kant who first began the resolution of this three-cornered
difficulty. When he pointed out that into the world, as we know it, an
element of spirit goes, that in it an element of the ideal inheres, he
began a movement which has issued in modern monism. He affirmed that
that element from my thought which enters into the world, as I know it,
may be so great that only just a point of matter and a prick of sense
remains. Fichte said: 'Why do we put it all in so perverse a way? Why
reduce the world of matter to just a point? Why is it not taken for what
it is, and yet understood to be all alive with God and we able to think
of it, because we are parts of the great thinker God?' Still Fichte had
busied himself almost wholly with consciousness. Schelling endeavoured
to correct that. Nature lives and moves in God, just as truly in one way
as does man in another. Men arise out of nature. A circle has been drawn
through the points of our triangle. Nature and man are in a new and
deeper sense revelations of God. In fact, supplementing one another,
they constitute the only possible channels for the manifestation of God.
It hardly needs to be said that these thoughts are widely appropriated
in our modern world. These once novel speculations of the kings of
thought have made their way slowly to all strata of society. Remote and
difficult in their first expression in the language of the schools,
their implications are to-day on everybody's lips. It is this unitary
view of the universe which has made difficult the acceptance of a
theology, the understandlng of a religion, which are still largely
phrased in the language of a philosophy to which these ideas did not
belong. There is not an historic creed, there is hardly a greater system
of theology, which is not stated in terms of a philosophy and science
which no longer reign. Men are asking: 'cannot Christianity be so stated
and interpreted that it shall meet the needs of men of the twentieth
century, as truly as it met those of men of the first or of the
sixteenth?' Hegel, the last of this great group of idealistic
philosophers whom we shall name, enthusiastically believed in this new
interpretation of the faith which was profoundly dear to him. He made
important contribution to that interpretation.


Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born in Stuttgart in 1770. His father
was in the fiscal service of the King of Württemberg. He studied in
Tübingen. He was heavy and slow of development, in striking contrast
with Schelling. He served as tutor in Bern and Frankfort, and began to
lecture in Jena in 1801. He was much overshadowed by Schelling. The
victory of Napoleon at Jena in 1806 closed the university for a time. In
1818 he was called to Fichte's old chair in Berlin. Never on very good
terms with the Prussian Government, he yet showed his large sympathy
with life in every way. After 1820 a school of philosophical thinkers
began to gather about him. His first great book, his _Phenomenologie des
Geistes_ 1807 (translated, Baillie, London, 1910), was published at the
end of his Jena period. His _Philosophie der Religion_ and _Philosophie
der Geschichte_ were edited after his death. They are mainly in the form
which his notes took between 1823 and 1827. He died during an epidemic
of cholera in Berlin in 1831.

Besides his deep interest in history the most striking feature of
Hegel's preliminary training was his profound study of Christianity. He
might almost be said to have turned to philosophy as a means of
formulating the ideas which he had conceived concerning the development
of the religious consciousness, which seemed to him to have been the
bearer of all human culture. No one could fail to see that the idea of
the relation of God and man, of which we have been speaking, was bound
to make itself felt in the interpretation of the doctrine of the
incarnation and of all the dogmas, like that of the trinity, which are
connected with it. Characteristically, Hegel had pure joy in the
speculative aspects of the problem. If one may speak in all reverence,
and, at the same time, not without a shade of humour, Hegel rejoiced to
find himself able, as he supposed, to rehabilitate the dogma of the
trinity, rationalised in approved fashion. It is as if the dogma had
been a revered form or mould, which was for him indeed emptied of its
original content. He felt bound to fill it anew. Or to speak more
justly, he was really convinced that the new meaning which he poured
into the dogma was the true meaning which the Church Fathers had been
seeking all the while. In the light of two generations of sober dealing,
as historians, with such problems, we can but view his solution in a
manner very different from that which he indulged. He was even disposed
mildly to censure the professional theologians for leaving the defence
of the doctrine of the trinity to the philosophers. There were then, and
have since been, defenders of the doctrine who have thought that Hegel
tendered them great aid. As a matter of fact, despite his own utter
seriousness and reverent desire, his solution was a complete dissolution
of the doctrine and of much else besides. His view would have been
fatal, not merely to that particular form of orthodox thought, but, what
is much more serious, to the religious meaning for which it stood.
Sooner or later men have seen that the whole drift of Hegelianism was to
transform religion into intellectualism. One might say that it was
exactly this which the ancient metaphysicians, in the classic doctrine
of the trinity, had done. They had transformed religion into
metaphysics. The matter would not have been remedied by having a modern
metaphysician do the same thing in another way.

Hegel was weary of Fichte's endless discussion of the ego and
Schelling's of the absolute. It was not the abyss of the unknowable from
which things said to come, or that into which they go, which interested
Hegel. It was their process and progress which we can know. It was that
part of their movement which is observable within actual experience,
with which he was concerned. Now one of the laws of the movement of all
things, he said, is that by which every thought suggests, and every
force tends directly to produce, its opposite. Nothing stands alone.
Everything exists by the balance and friction of opposing tendencies. We
have the universal contrasts of heat and cold, of light and darkness, of
inward and outward, of static and dynamic, of yes and no. There are two
sides to every case, democratic government and absolutism, freedom of
religion and authority, the individualistic and the social principles, a
materialistic and a spiritual interpretation of the universe. Only
things which are dead have ceased to have this tide and alternation.
Christ is for living religion now a man, now God, revelation now
natural, now supernatural. Religion in the eternal conflict between
reason and faith, morals the struggle of good and evil, God now
mysterious and now manifest.

Fichte had said: The essence of the universe is spirit. Hegel said: Yes,
but the true notion of spirit is that of the resolution of
contradiction, of the exhibition of opposites as held together in their
unity. This is the meaning of the trinity. In the trinity we have God
who wills to manifest himself, Jesus in whom he is manifest, and the
spirit common to them both. God's existence is not static, it is
dynamic. It is motion, not rest. God is revealer, recipient, and
revelation all in one. The trinity was for Hegel the central doctrine of
Christianity. Popular orthodoxy had drawn near to the assertion of three
Gods. The revolt, however, in asserting the unity of God, had made of
God a meaningless absolute as foundation of the universe. The orthodox,
in respect to the person of Christ, had always indeed asserted in
laboured way that Jesus was both God and man. Starting from their own
abstract conception of God, and attributing to Jesus the qualities of
that abstraction, they had ended in making of the humanity of Jesus a
perfectly unreal thing. On the other hand, those who had set out from
Jesus's real humanity had been unable to see that he was anything more
than a mere man, as their phrase was. On their own assumption of the
mutual exclusiveness of the conceptions of God and man, they could not
do otherwise.

Hegel saw clearly that God can be known to us only in and through
manifestation. We can certainly make no predication as to how God
exists, in himself, as men say, and apart from our knowledge. He exists
for our knowledge only as manifest in nature and man. Man is for Hegel
part of nature and Jesus is the highest point which the nature of God as
manifest in man has reached. In this sense Hegel sometimes even calls
nature the Son of God, and mankind and Jesus are thought of as parts of
this one manifestation of God. If the Scripture asserts, as it seemed to
the framers of the creeds to do, that God manifested himself from before
all worlds in and to a self-conscious personality like his own, Hegel
would answer: But the Scripture is no third source of knowledge, besides
nature and man. Scripture is only the record of God's revelation of
himself in and to men. If these men framed their profoundest thought in
this way, that is only because they lived in an age when men had all
their thoughts of this sort in a form which we can historically trace.
For Platonists and Neoplatonists, such as the makers of the creeds--and
some portions of the Scripture show this influence, as well--the divine,
the ideal, was always thought of as eternal. It always existed as pure
archetype before it ever existed as historic fact. The rabbins had a
speculation to the same effect. The divine which exists must have
pre-existed. Jesus as Son of God could not be thought of by the ancient
world in any terms but these. The divine was static, changelessly
perfect. For the modern man the divinest of all things is the mystery of
growth. The perfect man is not at the beginning, but far down the
immeasurable series of approaches to perfection. The perfection of other
men is the work of still other ages, in which this extraordinary and
inexplicable moral magnitude which Jesus is, has had its influence, and
conferred upon them power to aid them in the fulfilment of God's intent
for themselves, which is like that intent for himself which Jesus has

Surely enough has been said to show that what we have here is only the
absorption of even the profoundest religious meanings into the vortex of
an all-dissolving metaphysical system. The most obvious meaning of the
phrase 'Son of God,' its moral and spiritual, its real religious
meaning, is dwelt on, here in Hegel, as little as Hegel claimed that the
Nicene trinitarians had dwelt upon it. Nothing marks more clearly the
distance we have travelled since Hegel than does the general recognition
that his attempted solution does not even lie in the right direction. It
is an attempt within the same area as that of the Nicene Council and the
creeds, namely, the metaphysical area. What is at stake is not the
pre-existence or the two natures. Hegel was right in what he said
concerning these. The pre-existence cannot be thought of except as
ideal. The two natures we assert for every man, only not in such a
manner as to destroy unity in the personality. The heart of the dogma is
not in these. It is the oneness of God and man, a moral and spiritual
oneness, oneness in conduct and consciousness, the presence and
realisation of God, who is spirit, in a real man, the divineness of
Jesus, in a sense which sees no meaning any longer in the old debate as
between his divinity and his deity.

In the light of the new theory of the universe which we have reviewed,
it flashes upon us that both defenders and assailants of the doctrine of
the incarnation, in the age-long debate, have proceeded from the
assumption that God and man are opposites. Men contended for the
divineness of Jesus in terms which by definition shut out his true
humanity. They asserted the identity of a real man, a true historic
personage, with an abstract notion of God which had actually been framed
by the denial of all human qualities. Their opponents with a like
helplessness merely reversed the situation. To admit the deity of Jesus
would have been for them, in all candour and clear-sightedness,
absolutely impossible, because the admission would have shut out his
true humanity. On the old definitions we cannot wonder that the struggle
was a bitter one. Each party was on its own terms right. If God is by
definition other than man, and man the opposite of God, then it is not
surprising that the attempt to say that Jesus of Nazareth was both,
remained mysticism to the one and seemed folly to the other.

Now, within the area of the philosophy which begins with Kant this old
antinomy has been resolved. An actual circle of clear relations joins
the points of the old hopeless triangle. Men are men because of God
indwelling in them, working through them. The phrase 'mere man' is seen
to be a mere phrase. To say that the Nazarene, in some way not
genetically to be explained, but which is hidden within the recesses of
his own personality, shows forth in incomparable fulness that relation
of God and man which is the ideal for us all, seems only to be saying
over again what Jesus said when he proclaimed: 'I and My Father are
one.' That Jesus actualised, not absolutely in the sense that he stood
out of relation to history, but still perfectly within his relation to
history, that which in us and for us is potential, the sonship of
God--that seems a very simple and intelligible assertion. It certainly
makes a large part of the debate of ages seem remote from us. It brings
home to us that we live in a new world.

Interesting and fruitful is Hegel's expansion of the idea of redemption
beyond that of the individual to that of the whole humanity, and in
every aspect of its life. In my relation to the world are given my
duties. The renunciation of outward duty makes the inward life barren.
The principle which is to transform the world wears an aspect very
different from that of stoicism, of asceticism or even of the
individualism which has sought soul-salvation. In the midst of
unworthiness and helplessness there springs up the consciousness of
reconciliation. Man, with all his imperfections, becomes aware that he
is the object of the loving purpose of God. Still this redemption of a
man is something which is to be worked out, in the individual life and
on the stage of universal history. The first step beyond the individual
life is that of the Church. It is from within this community of
believers that men, in the rule, receive the impulse to the good. The
community is, in its idea, a society in which the conquest of evil is
already being achieved, where the individual is spared much bitter
conflict and loneliness. Nevertheless, so long as this unity of the life
of man with God is realised in the Church alone there remains a false
and harmful opposition between the Church and the world. Religion is
faced by a hostile power to which its principles have no application.
The world is denounced as unholy. With this stigma cast upon it, it may
be unholy. Yet the retribution falls also upon the Church, in that it
becomes artificial, clerical, pharisaical. The end is never that what
have been called the standards of the Church shall prevail. The end is
that the Church shall be the shrine and centre of an influence by virtue
of which the standard of truth and goodness which naturally belongs to
any relation of life shall prevail. The distinction between religion and
secular life must be abandoned. Nothing is less sacred than a Church set
on its own aggrandisement. The relations of family and of the State, of
business and social life, are to be restored to the divineness which
belongs to them, or rather, the divineness which is inalienable from
them is to be recognised. In the laws and customs of a true State,
Christianity first penetrates with its principles the real world. One
sees how large a portion of these thoughts have been taken up into the
programme of modern social movements. They are the basis of what men
call a social theology. A book like Fremantle's _World as the Subject of
Redemption_ is their thorough-going exposition in the English tongue.

We have no cause to pursue the philosophical movement beyond this point.
Its exponents are not without interest. Especially is this true of
Schopenhauer. But the deposit from their work is for our particular
purpose not great. The wonderful impulse had spent itself. These four
brilliant men stand together, almost as much isolated from the
generation which followed them as from that which went before. The
historian of Christian thought in the nineteenth century cannot
overestimate the significance of their personal interest in religion.



The outstanding trait of Kant's reflection upon religion is its supreme
interest in morals and conduct. Metaphysician that he was, Kant saw the
evil which intellectualism had done to religion. Religion was a
profoundly real thing to him in his own life. Religion is a life. It is
a system of thought only because life is a whole. It is a system of
thought only in the way of deposit from a vivid and vigorous life. A man
normally reflects on the conditions and aims of what he does. Religion
is conduct. Ends in character are supreme. Religions and the many
interpretations of Christianity have been good or bad, according as they
ministered to character. So strong was this ethical trait in Kant that
it dwarfed all else. He was not himself a man of great breadth or
richness of feeling. He was not a man of imagination. His religion was
austere, not to say arid. Hegel was before all things an
intellectualist. Speculation was the breath of life to him. He had
metaphysical genius. He tended to transform in this direction everything
which he touched. Religion is thought. He criticised the rationalist
movement from the height of vantage which idealism had reached. But as
pure intellectualist he would put most rationalists to shame. We owe to
this temperament his zeal for an interpretation of the universe 'all in
one piece.' Its highest quality would be its abstract truth. His
understanding of religion had the glory and the limitations which attend
this view.


Between Kant and Hegel came another, Schleiermacher. He too was no mean
philosopher. But he was essentially a theologian, the founder of modern
theology. He served in the same faculty with Hegel and was overshadowed
by him. His influence upon religious thought was less immediate. It has
been more permanent. It was characteristically upon the side which Kant
and Hegel had neglected. That was the side of feeling. His theology has
been called the theology of feeling. He defined religion as feeling.
Christianity is for him a specific feeling. Because he made so much of
feeling, his name has been made a theological household word by many who
appropriated little else of all he had to teach. His warmth and passion,
his enthusiasm for Christ, the central place of Christ in his system,
made him loved by many who, had they understood him better, might have
loved him less. For his real greatness lay, not in the fact that he
possessed these qualities alone, but that he possessed them in a
singularly beautiful combination with other qualities. The emphasis is,
however, correct. He was the prophet of feeling, as Kant had been of
ethical religion and Hegel of the intellectuality of faith. The entire
Protestant theology of the nineteenth century has felt his influence.
The English-speaking race is almost as much his debtor as is his own.
The French Huguenots of the revival felt him to be one of themselves.
Even to Amiel and Scherer he was a kindred spirit.

It is a true remark of Dilthey that in unusual degree an understanding
of the man's personality and career is necessary to the appreciation of
his thought. Friedrich Ernst Daniel Schleiermacher was born in 1768 in
Breslau, the son of a chaplain in the Reformed Church. He never
connected himself officially with the Lutheran Church. We have alluded
to an episode broadly characteristic of his youth. He was tutor in the
house of one of the landed nobility of Prussia, curate in a country
parish, preacher at the Charité in Berlin in 1795, professor
extraordinarius at Halle in 1804, preacher at the Church of the
Dreifaltigkeit in Berlin in 1807, professor of theology and organiser of
that faculty in the newly-founded University of Berlin in 1810. He never
gave up his position as pastor and preacher, maintaining this activity
along with his unusual labours as teacher, executive and author. He died
in 1834. In his earlier years in Berlin he belonged to the circle of
brilliant men and women who made Berlin famous in those years. It was a
fashionable society composed of persons more or less of the
rationalistic school. Not a few of them, like the Schlegels, were deeply
tinged with romanticism. There were also among them Jews of the house of
the elder Mendelssohn. Morally it was a society not altogether above
reproach. Its opposition to religion was a by-word. An affection of the
susceptible youth for a woman unhappily married brought him to the verge
of despair. It was an affection which his passing pride as romanticist
would have made him think it prudish to discard, while the deep,
underlying elements of his nature made it inconceivable that he should
indulge. Only in later years did he heal his wound in a happy married

The episode was typical of the experience he was passing through. He
understood the public with which his first book dealt. That book bears
the striking title, _Reden über die Religion, an die Gebildeten unter
ihren Verächtern_ (translated, Oman, Oxford, 1893). His public
understood him. He could reach them as perhaps no other man could do. If
he had ever concealed what religion was to him, he now paid the price.
If they had made light of him, he now made war on them. This meed they
could hardly withhold from him, that he understood most other things
quite as well as they, and religion much better than they. The
rhetorical form is a fiction. The addresses were never delivered. Their
tension and straining after effect is palpable. They are a cry of pain
on the part of one who sees that assailed which is sacred to him, of
triumph as he feels himself able to repel the assault, of brooding
persuasiveness lest any should fail to be won for his truth. He concedes
everything. It is part of his art to go further than his detractors. He
is so well versed in his subject that he can do that with consummate
mastery, where they are clumsy or dilettante. It is but a pale ghost of
religion that he has left. But he has attained his purpose. He has
vindicated the place of religion in the life of culture. He has shown
the relation of religion to every great thing in civilisation, its
affinity with art, its common quality with poetry, its identity with all
profound activities of the soul. These all are religion, though their
votaries know it not. These are reverence for the highest, dependence on
the highest, self-surrender to the highest. No great man ever lived, no
great work was ever done, save in an attitude toward the universe, which
is identical with that of the religious man toward God. The universe is
God. God is the universe. That religionists have obscured this simple
truth and denied this grand relation is true, and nothing to the point.
The cultivated should be ashamed not to know this. Then, with a sympathy
with institutional religion and a knowledge of history in which he stood
almost alone, he retracts much that he has yielded, he rebuilds much
that he has thrown down, proclaims much which they must now concede. The
book was published in 1799. Twenty years later he said sadly that if he
were rewriting it, its shafts would be directed against some very
different persons, against glib and smug people who boasted the form of
godliness, conventional, even fashionable religionists and loveless
ecclesiastics. Vast and various influences in the Germany of the first
two decades of the century had wrought for the revival of religion. Of
those influences, not the least had been that of Schleiermacher's book.
Among the greatest had been Schleiermacher himself.

The religion of feeling, as advocated in the _Reden_, had left much on
the ethical side to be desired. This defect the author sought to remedy
in his _Monologen_, published in 1800. The programme of theological
studies for the new University of Berlin, _Kurze Darstellung des
Theologischen Studiums_, 1811, shows his theological system already in
large part matured. His _Der christliche Glaube_, published in 1821,
revised three years before his death in 1834, is his monumental work.
His _Ethik_, his lectures upon many subjects, numerous volumes of
sermons, all published after his death, witness his versatility. His
sermons have the rare note which one finds in Robertson and Brooks.

All of the immediacy of religion, its independence of rational argument,
of historical tradition or institutional forms, which was characteristic
of Schleiermacher to his latest day, is felt in the _Reden_. By it he
thrilled the hearts of men as they have rarely been thrilled. It is not
forms and traditions which create religion. It is religion which creates
these. They cannot exist without it. It may exist without them, though
not so well or so effectively. Religion is the sense of God. That sense
we have, though many call it by another name. It would be more true to
say that that sense has us. It is inescapable. All who have it are the
religious. Those who hold to dogmas, rites, institutions in such a way
as to obscure and overlay this sense of God, those who hold those as
substitute for that sense, are the nearest to being irreligious. Any
form, the most _outré_, bizarre and unconventional, is good, so only
that it helps a man to God. All forms are evil, the most accredited the
most evil, if they come between a man and God. The pantheism of the
thought of God in all of Schleiermacher's early work is undeniable. He
never wholly put it aside. The personality of God seemed to him a
limitation. Language is here only symbolical, a mere expression from an
environment which we know, flung out into the depths of that we cannot
see. If the language of personal relations helps men in living with
their truth--well and good. It hinders also. For himself he felt that it
hindered more than helped. His definition of religion as the feeling of
dependence upon God, is cited as evidence of the effect upon him of his
contention against the personalness of God. Religion is also, it is
alleged, the sentiment of fellowship with God. Fellowship implies
persons. But to no man was the fellowship with the soul of his own soul
and of all the universe more real than was that fellowship to
Schleiermacher. This was the more true in his maturer years, the years
of the magnificent rounding out of his thought. God was to him indeed
not 'a man in the next street.' What he says about the problem of the
personalness of God is true. We see, perhaps, more clearly than did he
that the debate is largely about words. Similarly, we may say that
Schleiermacher's passing denial of the immortality of the soul was
directed, in the first instance, against the crass, unsocial and immoral
view which has disfigured much of the teaching of religion. His
contention was directed toward that losing of oneself in God through
ideals and service now, which in more modern phrase we call the entrance
upon the immortal life here, the being in eternity now. For a soul so
disposed, for a life thus inspired, death is but an episode. For himself
he rejoices to declare it one to the issue of which he is indifferent.
If he may thus live with God now, he cares little whether or not he
shall live by and by.

In his _Monologues_ Schleiermacher first sets forth his ethical thought.
As it is religion that a man feels himself dependent upon God, so is it
the beginning of morality that a man feels his dependence upon his
fellows and their dependence on him. Slaves of their own time and
circumstance, men live out their lives in superficiality and isolation.
They are a prey to their own selfishness. They never come into those
relations with their fellows in which the moral ideal can be realised.
Man in his isolation from his fellows is nothing and accomplishes
nothing. The interests of the whole humanity are his private interests.
His own happiness and welfare are not possible to be secured save
through his co-operation with others, his work and service for others.
The happiness and welfare of others not merely react upon his own. They
are in a large sense identical with his own. This oneness of a man with
all men is the basis of morality, just as the oneness of man with God is
the basis of religion. In both cases the oneness exists whether or not
we know it. The contradictions and miseries into which immoral or
unmoral conduct plunges us, are the witness of the fact that this
inviolable unity of a man with humanity is operative, even if he ignores
it. Often it is his ignoring of this relation which brings him through
misery to consciousness of it. Man as moral being is but an
individuation of humanity, just as, again, as religious being he is but
an individuation of God. The goal of the moral life is the absorption of
self, the elimination of self, which is at the same time the
realisation of self, through the life and service for others. The goal
of religion is the elimination of self, the swallowing up of self, in
the service of God. In truth, the unity of man with man is at bottom
only another form of his unity with God, and the service of humanity is
the identical service of God. Other so-called services of God are a
means to this, or else an illusion. This parallel of religion and morals
is to be set over against other passages, easily to be cited, in which
Schleiermacher speaks of passivity and contemplation as the means of the
realisation of the unity of man and God, as if the elimination of self
meant a sort of Nirvana. Schleiermacher was a pantheist and mystic. No
philosopher save Kant ever influenced him half so much as did Spinoza.
There is something almost oriental in his mood at times. An occasional
fragment of description of religion might pass as a better delineation
of Buddhism than of Christianity. This universality of his mind is
interesting. These elements have not been unattractive to some portions
of his following. One wearied with the Philistinism of the modern
popular urgency upon practicality turns to Schleiermacher, as indeed
sometimes to Spinoza, and says, here is a man who at least knows what
religion is. Yet nothing is further from the truth than to say that
Schleiermacher had no sense for the meaning of religion in the outward
life and present world.

In the _Reden_ Schleiermacher had contended that religion is a condition
of devout feeling, specifically the feeling of dependence upon God. This
view dominates his treatment of Christianity. It gives him his point of
departure. A Christian is possessed of the devout feeling of dependence
upon God through Jesus Christ or, as again he phrases it, of dependence
upon Christ. Christianity is a positive religion in the sense that it
has direct relation to certain facts in the history of the race, most of
all to the person of Jesus of Nazareth. But it does not consist in any
positive propositions whatsoever. These have arisen in the process of
interpretation of the faith. The substance of the faith is the
experience of renewal in Christ, of redemption through Christ. This
inward experience is neither produced by pure thought nor dependent upon
it. Like all other experience it is simply an object to be described and
reckoned with. Orthodox dogmatists had held that the content of the
Christian faith is a doctrine given in revelation. Schleiermacher held
that it is a consciousness inspired primarily by the personality of
Jesus. It must be connected with the other data and acta of our
consciousness under the general laws of the operation of the mind.
Against rationalism and much so-called liberal Christianity,
Schleiermacher contended that Christianity is not a new set of
propositions periodically brought up to date and proclaimed as if these
alone were true. New propositions can have only the same relativity of
truth which belonged to the old ones in their day. They may stand
between men and religion as seriously as the others had done.

The condition of the heart, which is religion, the experience through
Jesus which is Christianity, is primarily an individual matter. But it
is not solely such. It is a common experience also. Schleiermacher
recognises the common element in the Christian consciousness, the
element which shows itself in the Christian experience of all ages, of
different races and of countless numbers of men. By this recognition of
the Christian Church in its deep and spiritual sense, Schleiermacher
hopes to escape the vagaries and eccentricities, and again the
narrowness and bigotries of pure individualism. No liberal theologian
until Schleiermacher had had any similar sense of the meaning of the
Christian Church, and of the privilege and duty of Christian thought to
contribute to the welfare of that body of men believing in God and
following Christ which is meant by the Church. This is in marked
contrast with the individualism of Kant. Of course, Schleiermacher would
never have recognised as the Church that part of humanity which is held
together by adherence to particular dogmas, since, for him, Christianity
is not dogma. Still less could he recognise as the Church that part of
mankind which is held together by a common tradition of worship, or by a
given theory of organisation, since these also are historical and
incidental. He meant by the Church that part of humanity, in all places
and at all times, which has been held together by the common possession
of the Christian consciousness and the Christian experience. The outline
of this experience, the content of this consciousness, can never be so
defined as to make it legislatively operative. If it were so defined we
should have dogma and not Christianity. Nevertheless, it may be
practically potent. The degree in which a given man may justly identify
his own consciousness and experience with that of the Christian world is
problematical. In Schleiermacher's own case, the identification of some
of his contentions as, for example, the thought that God is not personal
with the great Christian consciousness of the past, is more than
problematical. To this Schleiermacher would reply that if these
contentions were true, they would become the possession of spiritual
Christendom with the lapse of time. Advance always originated with one
or a few. If, however, in the end, a given portion found no place in the
consciousness of generation truly evidencing their Christian life, that
position would be adjudged an idiosyncrasy, a negligible quantity. This
view of Schleiermacher's as to the Church is suggestive. It is the
undertone of a view which widely prevails in our own time. It is
somewhat difficult of practical combination with the traditional marks
of the churches, as these have been inherited even in Protestantism from
the Catholic age.

In a very real sense Jesus occupied the central place in
Schleiermacher's system. The centralness of Jesus Christ he himself was
never weary of emphasising. It became in the next generation a favorite
phrase of some who followed Schleiermacher's pure and bounteous spirit
afar off. Too much of a mystic to assert that it is through Jesus alone
that we know God, he yet accords to Jesus an absolutely unique place in
revelation. It is through the character and personality of Jesus that
the change in the character of man, which is redemption, is marshalled
and sustained. Redemption is a man's being brought out of the condition
in which all higher self consciousness was dimmed and enfeebled, into
one in which this higher consciousness is vivid and strong and the power
of self-determination toward the good has been restored. Salvation is
thus moral and spiritual, present as well as future. It is possible in
the future only because actual in the present. It is the reconstruction
of a man's nature and life by the action of the spirit of God,
conjointly with that of man's own free spirit.

It is intelligible in Schleiermacher's context that Jesus should be
spoken of as the sole redeemer of men, their only hope, and that the
Christian's dependence upon him should be described as absolute. As a
matter of fact, however, the idea of dependence upon Christ alone has
been often, indeed, one may say generally, associated with a conception
of salvation widely different from that of Schleiermacher. It has been
oftenest associated with the notion of something purely external,
forensic, even magical. It is connected, even down to our own time, with
reliance upon the blood of Christ, almost as if this were externally
applied. It has postulated a propitiatory sacrifice, a vicarious
atonement, a completed transaction, something which was laid up for all
and waiting to be availed of by some. Now every external, forensic,
magical notion of salvation, as something purchased for us, imputed to
us, conferred upon us, would have been utterly impossible to
Schleiermacher. It is within the soul of man that redemption takes
place. Conferment from the side of God and Christ, or from God through
Christ, can be nothing more, as also it can be nothing less, than the
imparting of wisdom and grace and spiritual power from the personality
of Jesus, which a man then freely takes up within himself and gives
forth as from himself. The Christian consciousness contains, along with
the sense of dependence upon Jesus, the sense of moral alliance and
spiritual sympathy with him, of a free relation of the will of man to
the will of God as revealed in Jesus. The will of man is set upon the
reproduction within himself, so far as possible, of the consciousness,
experience and character of Jesus.

The sin from which man is to be delivered is described by Schleiermacher
thus: It is the dominance of the lower nature in us, of the
sense-consciousness. It is the determination of our course of life by
the senses. This preponderance of the senses over the consciousness of
God is the secret of unhappiness, of the feeling of defeat and misery in
men, of the need of salvation. One has to read Schleiermacher's phrase,
'the senses' here, as we read Paul's phrase, 'the flesh.' On the other
hand, the preponderance of the consciousness of God, the willing
obedience to it in every act of life, becomes to us the secret of
strength and of blessedness in life. This is the special experience of
the Christian. It is the effect of the impulse and influence of Christ.
We receive this impulse in a manner wholly consistent with the laws of
our psychological and moral being. We carry forward this impulse with
varying fortunes and by free will. It comes to us, however, from without
and from above, through one who was indeed true man, but who is also, in
a manner not further explicable, to be identified with the moral ideal
of humanity. This identification of Jesus with the moral ideal is
complete and unquestioning with Schleiermacher. It is visible in the
interchangeable use of the titles Jesus and Christ. Our saving
consciousness of God could proceed from the person of Jesus only if that
consciousness were actually present in Jesus in an absolute measure.
Ideal and person in him perfectly coincide.

As typical and ideal man, according to Schleiermacher, Jesus was
distinguished from all other founders of religions. These come before us
as men chosen from the number of their fellows, receiving, quite as much
for themselves as for others, that which they received from God. It is
nowhere implied that Jesus himself was in need of redemption, but rather
that he alone possessed from earliest years the fulness of redemptive
power. He was distinguished from other men by his absolute moral
perfection. This excluded not merely actual sin, but all possibility of
sin and, accordingly, all real moral struggle. This perfection was
characterised also by his freedom from error. He never originated an
erroneous notion nor adopted one from others as a conviction of his own.
In this respect his person was a moral miracle in the midst of the
common life of our humanity, of an order to be explained only by a new
spiritually creative act of God. On the other hand, Schleiermacher says
squarely that the absence of the natural paternal participation in the
origin of the physical life of Jesus, according to the account in the
first and third Gospels, would add nothing to the moral miracle if it
could be proved and detract nothing if it should be taken away. Singular
is this ability on the part of Schleiermacher to believe in the moral
miracle, not upon its own terms, of which we shall speak later, but upon
terms upon which the outward and physical miracle, commonly so-called,
had become, we need not say incredible, but unnecessary to
Schleiermacher himself. Singular is this whole part of Schleiermacher's
construction, with its lapse into abstraction of the familiar sort, of
which, in general, the working of his mind had been so free. For surely
what we here have is abstraction. It is an undissolved fragment of
metaphysical theology. It is impossible of combination with the
historical. It is wholly unnecessary for the religious view of salvation
which Schleiermacher had distinctly taken. It is surprising how slow men
have been to learn that the absolute cannot be historic nor the historic

Surely the claim that Jesus was free from error in intellectual
conception is unnecessary, from the point of view of the saving
influence upon character which Schleiermacher had asserted. It is in
contradiction with the view of revelation to which Schleiermacher had
already advanced. It is to be accounted for only from the point of view
of the mistaken assumption that the divine, even in manifestation, must
be perfect, in the sense of that which is static and not of that which
is dynamic. The assertion is not sustained from the Gospel itself. It
reduces many aspects of the life of Jesus to mere semblance. That also
which is claimed in regard to the abstract impossibility of sin upon the
part of Jesus is in hopeless contradiction with that which
Schleiermacher had said as to the normal and actual development of
Jesus, in moral as also in all other ways. Such development is
impossible without struggle. Struggle is not real when failure is
impossible. So far as we know, it is in struggle only that character is
made. Even as to the actual commission of sin on Jesus' part, the
assertion of the abstract necessity of his sinlessness, for the work of
moral redemption, goes beyond anything which we know. The question of
the sinlessness of Jesus is not an _a priori_ question. To say that he
was by conception free from sin is to beg the question. We thus form a
conception and then read the Gospels to find evidence to sustain it. To
say that he did, though tempted in all points like as we are, yet so
conduct himself in the mystery of life as to remain unstained, is indeed
to allege that he achieved that which, so far us we know, is without
parallel in the history of the race. But it is to leave him true man,
and so the moral redeemer of men who would be true. To say that, if he
were true man, he must have sinned, is again to beg the question. Let us
repeat that the question is one of evidence. To say that he was, though
true man, so far as we have any evidence in fact, free from sin, is only
to say that his humanity was uniquely penetrated by the spirit of God
for the purposes of the life which he had to live. That heart-broken
recollection of his own sin which one hears in _The Scarlet Letter_,
giving power to the preacher who would reach men in their sins, has not
the remotest parallel in any reminiscence of Jesus which we possess.
There is every evidence of the purity of Jesus' consciousness. There is
no evidence of the consciousness of sin. There is a passage in the
_Discourses_, in which Schleiermacher himself declared that the
identification of the fundamental idea of religion with the historical
fact in which that religion had its rise, was a mistake. Surely it is
exactly this mistake which Schleiermacher has here made.

It will be evident from all that has been said that to Schleiermacher
the Scripture was not the foundation of faith. As such it was almost
universally regarded in his time. The New Testament, he declared, is
itself but a product of the Christian consciousness. It is a record of
the Christian experience of the men of the earlier time. To us it is a
means of grace because it is the vivid and original register of that
experience. The Scriptures can be regarded as the work of the Holy
Spirit only in so far as this was this common spirit of the early
Church. This spirit has borne witness to Christ in these writings not
essentially otherwise than in later writings, only more at first hand,
more under the impression of intercourse with Jesus. Least of all may we
base the authority of Scripture upon a theory of inspiration such as
that generally current in Schleiermacher's time. It is the personality
of Jesus which is the inspiration of the New Testament. Christian faith,
including the faith in the Scriptures, can rest only upon the total
impression of the character of Jesus.

In the same manner Schleiermacher speaks of miracles. These cannot be
regarded in the conventional manner as supports of religion, for the
simplest of all reasons. They presuppose religion and faith and must be
understood by means of those. The accounts of external miracles
contained in the Gospels are matters for unhesitating criticism. The
Christian finds, for moral reasons and because of the response of his
own heart, the highest revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Extraordinary
events may be expected in Jesus' career. Yet these can be called
miracles only relatively, as containing something extraordinary for
contemporary knowledge. They may remain to us events wholly
inexplicable, illustrating a law higher than any which we yet know.
Therewith they are not taken out of the realm of the orderly phenomena
of nature. In other words, the notion of the miraculous is purely
subjective. What is a miracle for one age may be no miracle in the view
of the next. Whatever the deeds of Jesus may have been, however
inexplicable all ages may find them, we can but regard them as merely
natural consequences of the personality of Jesus, unique because he was
unique. 'In the interests of religion the necessity can never arise of
regarding an event as taken out of its connection with nature, in
consequence of its dependence upon God.'

It is not possible within the compass of this book to do more than deal
with typical and representative persons. Schleiermacher was
epoch-making. He gathered in himself the creative impulses of the
preceding period. The characteristic theological tendencies of the two
succeeding generations may be traced back to him. Many men worked in
seriousness upon the theological problem. No one of them marks an era
again until we come to Ritschl. The theologians of the interval between
Schleiermacher and Ritschl have been divided into three groups. The
first group is of distinctly philosophical tendency. The influence of
Hegel was felt upon them all. To this group belong Schweitzer,
Biedermann, Lipsius, and Pfleiderer. The influence of Hegel was greatest
upon Biedermann, least upon Lipsius. An estimate of the influence of
Schleiermacher would reverse that order. Especially did Lipsius seek to
lay at the foundation of his work that exact psychological study of the
phenomena of religion which Schleiermacher had declared requisite. It is
possible that Lipsius will more nearly come to his own when the
enthusiasm for Ritschl has waned. The second group of Schleiermacher's
followers took the direction opposite to that which we have named. They
were the confessional theologians. Hoffmann shows himself learned, acute
and full of power. One does not see, however, why his method should not
prove anything which any confession ever claimed. He sets out from
Schleiermacher's declaration concerning the content of the Christian
consciousness. In Hoffmann's own devout consciousness there had been
response, since his childhood, to every item which the creed alleged.
Therefore these items must have objective truth. One is reminded of an
English parallel in Newman's _Grammar of Assent_. Yet another group,
that of the so-called mediating theologians, contains some well-known
names. Here belong Nitzsch, Rothe, Müller, Dorner. The name had
originally described the effort to find, in the Union, common ground
between Lutherans and Reformed. In the fact that it made the creeds of
little importance and fell back on Schleiermacher's emphasis upon
feeling, the movement came to have the character also of an attempt to
find a middle way between confessionalists and rationalists. Its
representatives had often the kind of breadth of sympathy which goes
with lack of insight, rather than that breadth of sympathy which is due
to the possession of insight. Yet Rothe rises to real distinction,
especially in his forecast of the social interpretation of religion.
With the men of this group arose a speculation concerning the person of
Christ which for a time had some currency. It was called the theory of
the kenosis. Jesus is spoken of in a famous passage of the letter to the
Philippians; as having emptied himself of divine qualities that he might
be found in fashion as a man. In this speculation the divine attributes
were divided into two classes. Of the one class it was held Christ had
emptied himself in becoming flesh, or at least he had them in abeyance.
He had them, but did not use them. What we have here is but a despairing
effort to be just to Jesus' humanity and yet to assert his deity in the
ancient metaphysical terms. It is but saying yes and no in the same
breath. Biedermann said sadly of the speculation that it represented the
kenosis, not of the divine nature, but of the human understanding.


If any man in the department of theology in the latter half of the
nineteenth century attained a position such as to entitle him to be
compared with Schleiermacher, it was Ritschl. He was long the most
conspicuous figure in any chair of dogmatic theology in Germany. He
established a school of theological thinkers in a sense in which
Schleiermacher never desired to gain a following. He exerted
ecclesiastical influence of a kind which Schleiermacher never sought. He
was involved in controversy in a degree to which the life of
Schleiermacher presents no parallel. He was not a preacher, he was no
philosopher. He was not a man of Schleiermacher's breadth of interest.
His intellectual history presents more than one breach within itself, as
that of Schleiermacher presented none, despite the wide arc which he
traversed. Of Ritschl, as of Schleiermacher, it may be said that he
exerted a great influence over many who have only in part agreed with

Albrecht Ritschl was born in 1822 in Berlin, the son of a bishop in the
Lutheran Church. He was educated at Bonn and at Tübingen. He established
himself at Bonn, where, in 1853, he became professor extraordinarius and
in 1860 ordinaries. In 1864 he was called to Göttingen. In 1874 he
became consistorialrath in the new Prussian establishment for the
Hanoverian Church. He died in 1888. These are the simple outward facts
of a somewhat stormy professional career. There was pietistic influence
in Ritschl's ancestry, as also in Schleiermacher's. Ritschl had,
however, reacted violently against it. His attitude was that of
repudiation of everything mystical. He had strong aversion to the type
of piety which rested its assurance solely upon inward experience. This
aversion is one root of the historic positivism which makes him, at the
last, assert the worthlessness of all supposed revelations outside of
the Bible and of all supposed Christian experience apart from the
influence of the historical Christ. He began his career under the
influence of Hegel. He came to the position in which he felt that the
sole hope for theology was in the elimination from it of all
metaphysical elements. He felt that none of his predecessors had carried
out Schleiermacher's dictum, that religion is not thought, but religious
thought only one of the functions of religion. Yet, of course, he was
not able to discuss fundamental theological questions without
philosophical basis, particularly an explicit theory of knowledge. His
theory of knowledge he had derived eclectically and somewhat
eccentrically, from Lotze and Kant. To this day not all, either of his
friends or foes, are quite certain what it was. It is open to doubt
whether Ritschl really arrived at his theory of cognition and then made
it one of the bases of his theology. It is conceivable that he made his
theology and then propounded his theory of cognition in its defence. In
a word, the basis of distinction between religious and scientific
knowledge is not to be sought in its object. It is to be found in the
sphere of the subject, in the difference of attitude of the subject
toward the object. Religion is concerned with what he calls
_Werthurtheile_, judgments of value, considerations of our relation to
the world, which are of moment solely in accordance with their value in
awakening feelings of pleasure or of pain. The thought of God, for
example, must be treated solely as a judgment of value. It is a
conception which is of worth for the attainment of good, for our
spiritual peace and victory over the world. What God is in himself we
cannot know, an existential Judgment we cannot form without going over
to the metaphysicians. What God is to us we can know simply as religious
men and solely upon the basis of religious experience. God is holy love.
That is a religious value-judgment. But what sort of a being God must be
in order that we may assign to him these attributes, we cannot say
without leaving the basis of experience. This is pragmatism indeed. It
opens up boundless possibilities of subjectivism in a man who was
apparently only too matter-of-fact.

There was a time in his career when Ritschl was popular with both
conservatives and liberals. There were long years in which he was
bitterly denounced by both. Yet there was something in the man and in
his teaching which went beyond all the antagonisms of the schools. There
can be no doubt that it was the intention of Ritschl to build his
theology solely upon the gospel of Jesus Christ. The joy and confidence
with which this theology could be preached, Ritschl awakened in his
pupils in a degree which had not been equalled by any theologian since
Schleiermacher himself. Numbers who, in the time of philosophical and
scientific uncertainty, had lost their courage, regained it in contact
with his confident and deeply religious spirit. A wholesome nature,
eminently objective in temper, concentrated with all his force upon his
task, of rare dialectical gifts, he had a great sense of humour and
occasionally also the faculty of bitterly sarcastic speech. His very
figure radiated the delight of conflict as he walked the Göttingen wall.

A devoted pupil, writing immediately after Ritschl's death, used
concerning Schleiermacher a phrase which we may transfer to Ritschl
himself. 'One wonders whether such a theology ever existed as a
connected whole, except in the mind of its originator. Neither by those
about him, nor by those after him, has it been reproduced in its
entirety or free from glaring contradictions.' It was not free from
contradictions in Ritschl's own mind. His pupils divided his inheritance
among them. Each appropriated that which accorded with his own way of
looking at things and viewed the remainder as something which might be
left out of the account. It is long since one could properly speak of a
Ritschlian school. It will be long until we shall cease to reckon with a
Ritschlian influence. He did yeoman service in breaking down the high
Lutheran confessionalism which had been the order of the day. In his
recognition of the excesses of the Tübingen school all would now agree.
In his feeling against mere sentimentalities of piety many sympathise.
In his emphasis upon the ethical and practical, in his urgency upon the
actual problem of a man's vocation in the world, he meets in striking
manner the temper of our age. In his emphasis upon the social factor in
religion, he represents a popular phase of thought. With all of this, it
is strange to find a man of so much learning who had so little sympathy
with the comparative study of religions, who was such a dogmatist on
behalf of his own inadequate notion of revelation, the logical effect of
whose teaching concerning the Church would be the revival of an
institutionalism and externalism such as Protestantism has hardly known.

Since Schleiermacher the German theologians had made the problem of the
person of Christ the centre of discussion. In the same period the
problem of the person of Christ had been the central point of debate in
America. Here, as there, all the other points arranged themselves about
this one. The new movement which went out from Ritschl took as its
centre the work of Christ in redemption. This is obvious from the very
title of Ritschl's great book, _Die Christliche Lehre von der
Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung_. Of this work the first edition of the
third and significant volume was published in 1874. Before that time the
formal treatises on theology had followed a traditional order of topics.
It had been assumed as self-evident that one should speak of a person
before one talked of his work. It did not occur to the theologians that
in the case of the divine person, at all events, we can securely say
that we know something as to his work. Much concerning his person must
remain a mystery to us, exactly because he is divine. Our safest course,
therefore, would be to infer the unknown qualities of his person from
the known traits of his work. Certainly this would be true as to the
work of God in nature. This was not the way, however, in which the minds
of theologians worked. The habit of dealing with conceptions as if they
were facts had too deep hold upon them. So long as men believed in
revelation as giving them, not primarily God and the transcendental
world itself, but information about God and the transcendental, they
naturally held that they knew as much of the persons of God and Christ
as of their works.

Schleiermacher had opened men's eyes to the fact that the great work of
Christ in redemption is an inward one, an ethical and spiritual work,
the transformation of character. He had said, not merely that the
transformation of man's character follows upon the work of redemption.
It is the work of redemption. The primary witness to the work of Christ
is, therefore, in the facts of consciousness and history. These are
capable of empirical scrutiny. They demand psychological investigation.
When thus investigated they yield our primary material for any assertion
we may make concerning God. Above all, it is the nature of Jesus, as
learned on the evidence of his work in the hearts of men, which is our
great revelation and source of inference concerning the nature of God.
Instead of saying in the famous phrase, that the Christians think of
Christ as God, we say that we are able to think of God, as a religious
magnitude, in no other terms than in those of his manifestation and
redemptive activity in Jesus.

None since Kant, except extreme confessionalists, and those in
diminishing degree, have held that the great effect of the work of
Christ was upon the mind and attitude of God. Less and less have men
thought of justification as forensic and judicial, a declaring sinners
righteous in the eye of the divine law, the attribution of Christ's
righteousness to men, so far at least as to relieve these last of
penalty. This was the Anselmic scheme. Indeed, it had been Tertullian's.
Less and less have men thought of reconciliation as that of an angry God
to men, more and more as of alienated men with God. The phrases of the
orthodoxy of the seventeenth century, Lutheran as well as Calvinistic,
survive. More and more new meaning, not always consistent, is injected
into them. No one would deny that the loftiest moral enthusiasm, the
noblest sense of duty, animated the hearts of many who thought in the
terms of Calvinism. The delineation of God as unreconciled, of the work
and sufferings of Christ as a substitution, of salvation as a
conferment, caused gratitude, tender devotion, heroic allegiance in
some. It worked revulsion in others. It was protested against most
radically by Kant, as indeed it had been condemned by many before him.
For Kant the renovation of character was the essential salvation. Yet
the development of his doctrine was deficient through the
individualistic form which it took. Salvation was essentially a change
in the individual mind, brought about through the practical reason, and
having its ideal in Jesus. Yet for Kant our salvation had no closer
relation to the historic revelation in Jesus. Furthermore, so much was
this change an individual issue that we may say that the actualisation
of redemption would be the same for a given man, were he the only man in
the universe. To hold fast to the ethical idealism of Kant, and to
overcome its subjectivity and individualism, was the problem.

The reference to experience which underlies all that was said above was
particularly congruous with the mood of an age grown weary of
Hegelianism and much impressed with the value of the empirical method in
all the sciences. Another great contention of our age is for the
recognition of the value of what is social. Its emphasis is upon that
which binds men together. Salvation is not normally achieved except in
the life of a man among and for his fellows. It is by doing one's duty
that one becomes good. One is saved, not in order to become a citizen of
heaven by and by, but in order to be an active citizen of a kingdom of
real human goodness here and now. In reality no man is being saved,
except as he does actively and devotedly belong to that kingdom. The
individual would hardly be in God's eyes worth the saving, except in
order that he might be the instrumentality of the realisation of the
kingdom. Those are ideas which it is possible to exaggerate in statement
or, at least, to set forth in all the isolation of their quality as
half-truths. But it is hardly possible to exaggerate their significance
as a reversal of the immemorial one-sidedness, inadequacy, and
artificiality both of the official statement and of the popular
apprehension of Christianity. These ideas appeal to men in our time.
They are popular because men think them already. Men are pleased, even
when somewhat incredulous, to learn that Christianity will bear this
social interpretation. Most Christians are in our time overwhelmingly
convinced that in this direction lies the interpretation which
Christianity must bear, if it is to do the work and meet the needs of
the age. Its consonance with some of the truths underlying socialism may
account, in a measure, for the influence which the Ritschlian theology
has had.

As was indicated, Ritschl's epoch-making book bears the title, _The
Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation_. The book might
be described in the language of the schools as a monograph upon one
great dogma of the Christian faith, around which, as the author treats
it, all the other doctrines are arranged. The familiar topic of
justification, of which Luther made so much, was thus given again the
central place. What the book really offered was something quite
different from this. It was a complete system of theology, but it
differed from the traditional systems of theology. These had followed
helplessly a logical scheme which begins with God as he is in himself
and apart from any knowledge which we have of him. They then slowly
proceeded to man and sin and redemption, one empirical object and two
concrete experiences which we may know something about. Ritschl reversed
the process. He aimed to begin with certain facts of life. Such facts
are sin and the consciousness of forgiveness, awareness of restoration
to the will and power of goodness, the gift of love and of a spirit
which can feel itself victorious even in the midst of ills in life,
confidence that this life is not all. These phrases, taken together,
would describe the consciousness of salvation. This consciousness of sin
and salvation is a fact in individual men. It has evidently been a fact
in the life of masses of men for many generations. The facts have thus a
psychology and a history from which reflection on the phenomenon of
faith must take its departure. There is no reason why, upon this basis,
and until it departs from the scientific methods which are given with
the nature of its object, theology should not be as truly a science as
is any other known among men.

This science starts with man, who in the object of many other sciences.
It confines itself to man in this one aspect of his relation to moral
life and to the transcendent meaning of the universe. It notes the fact
that men, when awakened, usually have the sense of not being in harmony
with the life of the universe or on the way to realisation of its
meaning. It notes the fact that many men have had the consciousness of
progressive restoration to that harmony. It inquires as to the process
of that restoration. It asks as to the power of it. It discovers that
that power is a personal one. Men have believed that this power has been
exerted over them, either in personal contact, or across the ages and
through generations of believers, by one Jesus, whom they call Saviour.
They have believed that it was God who through Jesus saved them. Jesus'
consciousness thus became to them a revelation of God. The thought leads
on to the consideration of that which a saved man does, or ought to do,
in the life of the world and among his fellows, of the institution in
which this attitude of mind is cherished and of the sum total of human
institutions and relations of which the saved life should be the inward
force. There is room even for a clause in which to compress the little
that we know of anything beyond this life. We have written in
unconventional words. There is no one place, either in Ritschl's work or
elsewhere, where this grand and simple scheme stands together in one
context. This is unfortunate. Were this the case, even wayfaring men
might have understood somewhat better than they have what Ritschl was
aiming at.

It is a still greater pity that the execution of the scheme should have
left so much to be desired. That this execution would prove difficult
needs hardly to be said. That it could never be the work of one man is
certainly true. To have had so great an insight is title enough to fame.
Ritschl falls off from his endeavour as often as did
Schleiermacher--more often and with less excuse. The might of the past
is great. The lumber which he meekly carries along with him is
surprising, as one feels his lack of meekness in the handling of the
lumber which he recognised as such. The putting of new wine into old
bottles is so often reprobated by Ritschl that the reader is justly
surprised when he nevertheless recognises the bottles. The system is not
'all of one piece'--distinctly not. There are places where the rent is
certainly made worse by the old cloth on the new garment. The work taken
as a whole is so bewildering that one finds himself asking, 'What is
Ritschl's method?' If what is meant is not a question of detail, but of
the total apprehension of the problem to be solved, the apprehension
which we strove to outline above, then Ritschl's courageous and complete
inversion of the ancient method, his demand that we proceed from the
known to the unknown, is a contribution so great that all shortcomings
in the execution of it are insignificant. His first volume deals with
the history of the doctrine of justification, beginning with Anselm and
Abelard. In it Ritschl's eminent qualities as historian come out. In it
also his prejudices have their play. The second volume deals with the
Biblical foundations for the doctrine. Ritschl was bred in the Tübingen
school. Yet here is much forced exegesis. Ritschl's positivistic view of
the Scripture and of the whole question of revelation, was not congruous
with his well-learned biblical criticism. The third volume is the
constructive one. It is of immeasurably greater value than the other
two. It is this third volume which has frequently been translated.

In respect of his contention against metaphysics it is hardly necessary
that we should go into detail. With his empirical and psychological
point of departure, given above, most men will find themselves in entire
sympathy. The confusion of religion, which is an experience, with dogma
which is reasoning about it, and the acceptance of statements in
Scripture which are metaphysical in nature, as if they were religious
truths--these two things have, in time past, prevented many earnest
thinkers from following the true road. When it comes to the constructive
portion of his work, it is, of course, impossible for Ritschl to build
without the theoretical supports which philosophy gives, or to follow up
certain of the characteristic magnitudes of religion without following
them into the realm of metaphysics, to which, quite as truly as to that
of religion, they belong. It would be unjust to Ritschl to suppose that
these facts were hidden from him.

As to his attitude toward mysticism, there is a word to say. In the long
history of religious thought those who have revolted against
metaphysical interpretation, orthodox or unorthodox, have usually taken
refuge in mysticism. Hither the prophet Augustine takes refuge when he
would flee the ecclesiastic Augustine, himself. The Brethren of the Free
Spirit, Tauler, à Kempis, Suso, the author of the _Theologia Germanica_,
Molinos, Madame Gayon, illustrate the thing we mean. Ritschl had seen
much of mysticism in pietist circles. He knew the history of the
movement well. What impressed his sane mind was the fact that unhealthy
minds have often claimed, as their revelation from God, an experience
which might, with more truth, be assigned to almost any other source. He
desired to cut off the possibility of what seemed to him often a tragic
delusion. The margin of any mystical movement stretches out toward
monstrosities and absurdities. For that matter, what prevents a Buddhist
from declaring his thoughts and feelings to be Christianity? Indeed,
Ritschl asks, why is not Buddhism as good as such Christianity? He is,
therefore, suspicious of revelations which have nothing by which they
can be measured and checked.

The claim of mystics that they came, in communion with God, to the point
where they have no need of Christ, seemed to him impious. There is no
way of knowing that we are in fellowship with God, except by comparing
what we feel that this fellowship has given us, with that which we
historically learn that the fellowship with God gave to Christ. This is
the sense and this the connexion in which Ritschl says that we cannot
come to God save in and through the historic Christ as he is given us in
the Gospels. The inner life, at least, which is there depicted for us
is, in this outward and authoritative sense, our norm and guide.

Large difficulties loom upon the horizon of this positivistic insistence
upon history. Can we know the inner life of Christ well enough to use it
thus as test in every, or even in any case? Does not the use of such a
test, or of any test in this external way, take us out of the realm of
the religion of the spirit? Men once said that the Church was their
guide. Others said the Scripture was their guide. Now, in the sense of
the outwardness of its authority, we repudiate even this. It rings
devoutly if we say Christ is our guide. Yet, as Ritschl describes this
guidance, in the exigency of his contention against mysticism, have we
anything different? What becomes of Confucianists and Shintoists, who
have never heard of the historic Christ? And all the while we have the
sense of a query in our minds. Is it open to any man to repudiate
mysticism absolutely and with contumely, and then leave us to discover
that he does not mean mysticism as historians of every faith have
understood it, but only the margin of evil which is apparently
inseparable from it? That margin of evil others see and deplore. Against
it other remedies have been suggested, as, for example, intelligence.
Some would feel that in Ritschl's remedy the loss is greater than the

This historical character of revelation is so truly one of the fountain
heads of the theology which takes its rise in Ritschl, that it deserves
to be considered somewhat more at length. The Ritschlian movement has
engaged a generation of more or less notable thinkers in the period
since Ritschl's death. These have dissented at many points from
Ritschl's views, diverged from his path and marked out courses of their
own. We shall do well in the remainder of this chapter to attempt the
delineation in terms, not exclusively of Ritschl, but of that which may
with some laxity be styled Ritschlianism. The value judgments of
religion indicate only the subjective form of religious knowledge, as
the Ritschlians understand it. Faith, however, does not invent its own
contents. Historical facts, composing the revelation, actually exist,
quite independent of the use which the believer makes of them. No group
of thinkers have more truly sought to draw near to the person of the
historic Jesus. The historical person, Jesus of Nazareth, is the divine
revelation. That sums up this aspect of the Ritschlian position. Some
negative consequences of this position we have already noted. Let us
turn to its positive significance.

Herrmann is the one of the Ritschlians who has dealt with this matter
not only with great clearness, but also with deep Christian feeling in
his _Verkehr des Christen mit Gott_, 1886, and notably in his address,
_Der Begriff der Offenbarung_, 1887. If the motive of religion were an
intellectual curiosity, a verbal communication would suffice. As it is a
practical necessity, this must be met by actual impulse in life. That
passing out of the unhappiness of sin, into the peace and larger life
which is salvation, does indeed imply the movement of God's spirit on
our hearts, in conversion and thereafter. This is essentially mediated
to us through the Scriptures, especially through those of the New
Testament, because the New Testament contains the record of the
personality of Jesus. In that our personality is filled with the spirit
which breathes in him, our salvation is achieved. The image of Jesus
which we receive acts upon us as something indubitably real. It
vindicates itself as real, in that it takes hold upon our manhood. Of
course, this assumes that the Church has been right in accepting the
Gospels as historical. Herrmann candidly faces this question. Not every
word or deed, he says, which is recorded concerning Jesus, belongs to
this central and dynamic revelation of which we speak. We do not help
men to see Jesus in a saving way if, on the strength of accounts in the
New Testament, we insist concerning Jesus that he was born of a virgin,
that he raised the dead, that he himself rose from the dead. We should
not put these things before men with the declaration that they must
assent to them. We must not try to persuade ourselves that that which
acted upon the disciples as indubitably real must of necessity act
similarly upon us. We are to allow ourselves to be seized and uplifted
by that which, in our position, touches us as indubitably real. This is,
in the first place, the moral character of Jesus. It is his inner life
which, on the testimony of the disciples, meets us as something real and
active in the world, as truly now as then. What are some facts of this
inner life? The Jesus of the New Testament shows a firmness of religious
conviction, a clearness of moral judgment, a purity and force of will,
such as are not found united in any other figure in history. We have the
image of a man who is conscious that he does not fall short of the ideal
for which he offers himself. It is this consciousness which is yet
united in him with the most perfect humility. He lives out his life and
faces death in a confidence and independence which have never been
approached. He has confidence that he can lift men to such a height that
they also will partake with him in the highest good, through their full
surrender to God and their life of love for their fellows.

It is clear that Herrmann aims to bring to the front only those elements
in the life of Jesus which are likely to prove most effectual in meeting
the need and winning the faith of the men of our age. He would cast into
the background those elements which are likely to awaken doubt and to
hinder the approach of men's souls to God. For Herrmann himself the
virgin birth has the significance that the spiritual life of Jesus did
not proceed from the sinful race. But Herrmann admits that a man could
hold even that without needing to allege that the physical life of Jesus
did not come into being in the ordinary way. The distinction between the
inner and outward life of Jesus, and the declaration that belief in the
former alone is necessary, has the result of thus ridding us of
questions which can scarcely fail to be present to the mind of every
modern man. Yet it would be unjust to imply that this is the purpose.
Quite the contrary, the distinction is logical for this theology.
Redemption is an affair of the inner life of a man. It is the force of
the inner life of the Redeemer which avails for it. It is from the
belief that such an inner and spiritual life was once realised here on
earth, that our own faith gathers strength, and gets guidance in the
conflict for the salvation of our souls. The belief in the historicity
of such an inner life is necessary. So Harnack also declares in his
_Wesen des Christenthums_, 1900. It is noteworthy that in this connexion
neither of these writers advances to a form of speculation concerning
the exalted Christ, which in recent years has had some currency.
According to this doctrine, there is ascribed to the risen and ascended
Jesus an existence with God which is thought of in terms different from
those which we associate with the idea of immortality. In other words,
this continued existence of Christ as God is a counterpart of that
existence before the incarnation, which the doctrine of the
pre-existence alleged. But surely this speculation can have no better
standing than that of the pre-existence.

Sin in the language of religion is defection from the law of God. It is
the transgression of the divine command. In what measure, therefore, the
life of man can be thought of as sinful, depends upon his knowledge of
the will of God. In Scripture, as in the legends of the early history of
the race, this knowledge stands in intimate connexion with the witness
to a primitive revelation. This thought has had a curious history. The
ideas of mankind concerning God and his will have grown and changed as
much as have any other ideas. The rudimentary idea of the good is
probably of social origin. It first emerges in the conflict of men one
with another. As the personalised ideal of conduct, the god then reacts
upon conduct, as the conduct reacts upon the notion of the god. Only
slowly has the ideal of the good been clarified. Only slowly have the
gods been ethicised. 'An honest God is the noblest work of man.' The
moralising and spiritualising of the idea of Jahve lies right upon the
face of the Old Testament. The ascent of man on his ethical and
spiritual side is as certain as is that on his physical side. Long
struggle upward through ignorance, weakness, sin, gradual elevating of
the standard of what ought to he, growingly successful effort to conform
to that standard--this is what the history of the race has seen.

Athwart this lies the traditional dogma. The dogma took up into itself a
legend of the childhood of the world. It elaborated that which in
Genesis is vague and poetic into a vast scheme which has passed as a
sacred philosophy of history. It postulated an original revelation. It
affirmed the created state of man as one of holiness before a fall. To
the framers of the dogma, if sin is the transgression of God's will,
then it must be in light of a revelation of that will. In the Scriptures
we have vague intimations concerning God's will, growingly clearer
knowledge of that will, evolving through history to Jesus. In the dogma
we have this grand assumption of a paradisaic state of perfectness in
which the will of God was from the beginning perfectly known.

In the Platonic, as in the rabbinic, speculation the idea must precede
the fact. Every step of progress is a defection from that idea. The
dogma suffers from an insoluble contradiction within itself. It aims to
give us the point of departure by which we are to recognise the nature
of sin. At the same moment it would describe the perfection of man at
which God has willed that by age-long struggle he should arrive. Now, if
we place this perfection at the beginning of human history, before all
human self-determination, we divest it of ethical quality. Whatever else
it may be, it is not character. On the other hand, if we would make this
perfection really that of moral character, then we cannot place it at
the beginning of human history, but far down the course of the evolution
of the higher human traits, of the consciousness of sin and of the
struggle for redemption. It is not revelation from God, but naïve
imagination, later giving place to adventurous speculation concerning
the origin of the universe, which we have in the doctrine of the
primeval perfection of man. We do not really make earnest with our
Christian claim that in Jesus we have our paramount revelation, until we
admit this. It is through Jesus, and not from Adam that we know sin.

So we might go on to say that the dogma of inherited guilt is a
contradiction in terms. Disadvantage may be inherited, weakness,
proclivity to sin, but not guilt, not sin in the sense of that which
entails guilt. What entails guilt is action counter to the will of God
which we know. That is always the act of the individual man myself. It
cannot by any possibility be the act of another. It may be the
consequence of the sins of my ancestors that I do moral evil without
knowing it to be such. Even my fellows view this as a mitigation, if not
as an exculpation. The very same act, however, which up to this point
has been only an occasion for pity, becomes sin and entails guilt, when
it passes through my own mind and will as a defection from a will of God
in which I believe, and as a righteousness which I refuse. The confusion
of guilt and sin in order to the inclusion of all under the need of
salvation, as in the Augustinian scheme, ended in bewilderment and
stultification of the moral sense. It caused men to despair of
themselves and gravely to misrepresent God. It is no wonder if in the
age of rationalism this dogma was largely done away with. The religious
sense of sin was declared to be an hallucination. Nothing is more
evident in the rationalist theology than its lack of the sense of sin.
This alone is sufficient explanation of the impotency and inadequacy of
that theology. Kant's doctrine of radical evil testifies to his deep
sense that the rationalists were wrong. He could see also the
impossibility of the ancient view. But he had no substitute. Hegel, much
as he prided himself upon the restoration of dogma, viewed evil as only
relative, good in the making. Schleiermacher made a beginning of
construing the thought of sin from the point of view of the Christian
consciousness. Ritschl was the first consistently to carry out
Schleiermacher's idea, placing the Christian consciousness in the centre
and claiming that the revelation of the righteousness of God and of the
perfection of man is in Jesus. All men being sinners, there is a vast
solidarity, which he describes as the Kingdom of Evil and sets over
against the Kingdom of God, yet not so that the freedom or
responsibility of man is impaired. God forgives all sin save that of
wilful resistance to the spirit of the good. That is, Ritschl regards
all sin, short of this last, as mainly ignorance and weakness. It is
from Ritschl, and more particularly from Kaftan, that the phrases have
been mainly taken which served as introduction to this paragraph.

For the work of God through Christ, in the salvation of men from the
guilt and power of sin, various terms have been used. Different aspects
of the work have been described by different names. Redemption,
regeneration, justification, reconciliation and election or
predestination--these are the familiar words. This is the order in which
the conceptions stand, if we take them as they occur in consciousness.
Election then means nothing more than the ultimate reference to God of
the mystery of an experience in which the believer already rejoices. On
the other hand, in the dogma the order is reversed. Election must come
first, since it is the decree of God upon which all depends. Redemption
and reconciliation have, in Christian doctrine, been traditionally
regarded as completed transactions, waiting indeed to be applied to the
individual or appropriated by him through faith, but of themselves
without relation to faith. Reconciliation was long thought of as that of
an angry God to man. Especially was this last the characteristic view of
the West, where juristic notions prevailed. Origen talked of a right of
the devil over the soul of man until bought off by the sacrifice of
Christ. This is pure paganism, of course. The doctrine of Anselm marks a
great advance. It runs somewhat thus: The divine honour is offended in
the sin of man. Satisfaction corresponding to the greatness of the guilt
must be rendered. Man is under obligation to render this satisfaction;
yet he is unable so to do. A sin against God is an infinite offence. It
demands an infinite satisfaction. Man can render no satisfaction which
is not finite. The way out of this dilemma is the incarnation of the
divine Logos. For the god-man, as man, is entitled to bring this
satisfaction for men. On the other hand, as God he is able so to do. In
his death this satisfaction is embodied. He gave his life freely. God
having received satisfaction through him demands nothing more from us.

Abelard had, almost at the same time with Anselm, interpreted the death
of Christ in far different fashion. It was a revelation of the love of
God which wins men to love in turn. This notion of Abelard was far too
subtle. The crass objective dogma of Anselm prevailed. The death of
Christ was a sacrifice. The purpose was the propitiation of an angry
God. The effect was that, on the side of God, a hindrance to man's
salvation was removed. The doctrine accurately reflects the feudal ideas
of the time which produced it. In Grotius was done away the notion of
private right, which lies at the basis of the theory of Anselm. That of
public duty took its place. A sovereign need not stand upon his offended
honour, as in Anselm's thought. Still, he cannot, like a private
citizen, freely forgive. He must maintain the dignity of his office, in
order not to demoralise the world. The sufferings of Christ did not
effect a necessary private satisfaction. They were an example which
satisfied the moral order of the world. Apart from this change, the
conception remains the same.

As Kaftan argues, we can escape the dreadful externality and
artificiality of this scheme, only as redemption and regeneration are
brought back to their primary place in consciousness. These are the
initial experiences in which we become aware of God's work through
Christ in us and for us. The reconciliation is of us. The redemption is
from our sins. The regeneration is to a new moral life. Through the
influence of Jesus, reconciled on our part to God and believing in His
unchanging love to us, we are translated into God's kingdom and live for
the eternal in our present existence. Redemption is indeed the work of
God through Christ, but it has intelligible parallel in the awakening of
the life of the mind, or again of the spirit of self-sacrifice, through
the personal influence of the wise and good. Salvation begins in such an
awakening through the personal influence of the wisest and best. It is
transformation of our personality through the personality of Jesus, by
the personal God of truth, of goodness and of love. All that which God
through Jesus has done for us is futile, save as we make the
actualisation of our deliverance from sin our continuous and unceasing
task. When this connexion of thought is broken through, we transfer the
whole matter of salvation from the inner to the outer world and make of
it a transaction independent of the moral life of man.

Justification and reconciliation also are primarily acts and gifts of
God. Justification is a forensic act. The sense is not that in
justification we are made just. We are, so to say, temporarily thus
regarded, not that leniency may become the occasion of a new offence,
but that in grateful love we may make it the starting point of a new
life. We must justify our justification. It is easy to see the
objections to such a course on the part of a civil judge. He must
consider the rights of others. It was this which brought Grotius and the
rest, with the New England theologians down to Park, to feel that
forgiveness could not be quite free. If we acknowledge that this
symbolism of God as judge or sovereign is all symbolism, mere figure of
speech, not fact at all, then that objection--and much else--falls away.
If we assert that another figure of speech, that of God as Father, more
perfectly suggests the relation of God and man, then forgiveness may be
free. Then justification and forgiveness are only two words for one and
the same idea. Then the nightmare of a God who would forgive and cannot,
of a God who will forgive but may not justify until something further
happens, is all done away. Then the relation of the death of Jesus to
the forgiveness of our sins cannot be other than the relation of his
life to that forgiveness. Both the one and the other are a revelation of
the forgiving love of God. We may say that in his death the whole
meaning of his life was gathered. We may say that his death was the
consummation of his life, that without it his life would not have been
what it is. This is, however, very far from being the ordinary statement
of the relation of Jesus' death, either to his own life or to the
forgiveness of our sins.

The doctrinal tradition made much also of the deliverance from
punishment which follows after the forgiveness of sin. In fact, in many
forms of the dogma, it has been the escape from punishment which was
chiefly had in mind. Along with the forensic notion of salvation we
largely or wholly discard the notion of punishment. We retain only the
sense that the consequence of continuing in sin is to become more
sinful. God himself is powerless to prevent that. Punishment is
immanent, vital, necessary. The penalty is gradually taken away if the
sin itself is taken away--not otherwise. It returns with the sin, it
continues in the sin, it is inseparable from the sin. Punishment is no
longer the right word. Reward is not the true description of that
growing better which is the consequence of being good. Reward or
punishment as _quid pro quo_, as arbitrary assignments, as external
equivalents, do not so much as belong to the world of ideas in which we
move. For this view the idea that God laid upon Jesus penalties due to
us, fades into thin air. Jesus could by no possibility have met the
punishment of sin, except he himself had been a sinner. Then he must
have met the punishment of his own sin and not that of others. That
portion which one may gladly bear of the consequences of another's sin
may rightfully be called by almost any other name. It cannot be called
punishment since punishment is immanent. Even eternal death is not a
judicial assignment for our obstinate sinfulness. Eternal death is the
obstinate sinfulness, and the sinfulness the death.

It must be evident that reconciliation can have, in this scheme, no
meaning save that man's being reconciled to God. Jesus reveals a God who
has no need to be reconciled to us. The alienation is not on the side of
God. That, being alienated from God, man may imagine that God is hostile
to him, is only the working of a familiar law of the human mind. The
fiction of an angry God is the most awful survival among us of primitive
paganism. That which Jesus by his revelation of God brought to pass was
a true 'at-one-ment,' a causing of God and man to be at one again. To
the word atonement, as currently pronounced, and as, until a half
century ago, almost universally apprehended, the notion of that which is
sacrificial attached. To the life and death of Jesus, as revelation of
God and Saviour of men, we can no longer attach any sacrificial meaning
whatsoever. There is indeed the perfectly general sense in which so
beautiful a life and so heroic a death were, of course, a grand
exemplification of self-sacrifice. Yet this is a sense so different from
the other and in itself so obvious, that one hesitates to use the same
word in the immediate context with that other, lest it should appear
that the intention was to obscure rather than to make clear the meaning.
For atonement in a sense different from that of reconciliation, we have
no significance whatever. Reconciliation and atonement describe one and
the same fact. In the dogma the words were as far as possible from being
synonyms. They referred to two facts, the one of which was the means and
essential prerequisite of the other. The vicarious sacrifice was the
antecedent condition of the reconciling of God. In our thought it is not
a reconciliation of God which is aimed at. No sacrifice is necessary. No
sacrifice such as that postulated is possible. Of the reconciliation of
man to God the only condition is the revelation of the love of God in
the life and death of Jesus and the obedient acceptance of that
revelation on the part of men.



It has been said that in Christian times the relation of philosophy and
religion may be determined by the attitude of reason toward a single
matter, namely, the churchly doctrine of revelation.[4] There are three
possible relations of reason to this doctrine. First, it may be affirmed
that the content of religion and theology is matter communicated to man
in extraordinary fashion, truth otherwise unattainable, on which it is
beyond the competence of reason to sit in judgment. We have then the two
spheres arbitrarily separated. As regards their relation, theology is at
first supreme. Reason is the handmaiden of faith. It is occupied in
applying the principles which it receives at the hands of theology.
These are the so-called Ages of Faith. Notably was this the attitude of
the Middle Age. But in the long run either authoritative revelation,
thus conceived, must extinguish reason altogether, or else reason must
claim the whole man. After all, it is in virtue of his having some
reason that man is the subject of revelation. He is continually asked to
exercise his reason upon certain parts of the revelation, even by those
who maintain that he must do so only within limits. It is only because
there in a certain reasonableness in the conceptions of revealed
religion that man has ever been able to make them his own or to find in
them meaning and edification. This external relation of reason to
revelation cannot continue. Nor can the encroachments of reason be met
by temporary distinctions such as that between the natural and the
supernatural. The antithesis to the natural is not the supernatural, but
the unnatural. The antithesis to reason is not faith, but irrationality.
The antithesis to human truth is not the divine truth. It is falsehood.

[Footnote 4: Seth Pringle-Pattison, _The Philosophical Radicals_, p.

When men have made this discovery, a revulsion carries their minds to
the second position of which we spoke. This is, namely, the position of
extreme denial. It is an attitude of negation toward revelation, such as
prevailed in the barren and trivial rationalism of the end of the
eighteenth century. The reason having been long repressed revenges
itself, usurping everything. The explanation of the rise of positive
religion and of the claim of revelation is sought in the hypothesis of
deceit, of ambitious priestcraft and incurable credulity. The religion
of those who thus argue, in so far as they claim any religion, is merely
the current morality. Their explanation of the religion of others is
that it is merely the current morality plus certain unprovable
assumptions. Indeed, they may think it to be but the obstinate adherence
to these assumptions minus the current morality. It is impossible that
this shallow view should prevail. To overcome it, however, there is need
of a philosophy which shall give not less, but greater scope to reason
and at the same time an inward meaning to revelation.

This brings us to the third possible position, to which the best
thinkers of the nineteenth century have advanced. So long as deistic
views of the relation of God to man and the world held the field,
revelation meant something interjected _ab extra_ into the established
order of things. The popular theology which so abhorred deism was yet
essentially deistic in its notion of God and of his separation from the
world. Men did not perceive that by thus separating God from the world
they set up alongside of him a sphere and an activity to which his
relations were transient and accidental. No wonder that other men,
finding their satisfying activity within the sphere which was thus
separated from God, came to think of this absentee God as an appendage
to the scheme of things. But if man himself be inexplicable, save as
sharing in the wider life of universal reason, if the process of history
be realised as but the working out of an inherent divine purpose, the
manifestation of an indwelling divine force, then revelation denotes no
longer an interference with that evolution. It is a factor in that
evolution. It is but the normal relation of the immanent spirit of God
to the children of men at the crises of their fate. Then revelation is
an experience of men precisely in the line and according to the method
of all their nobler experiences. It is itself reasonable and moral.
Inspiration is the normal and continuous effect of the contact of the
God who is spirit with man who is spirit too. The relation is never
broken. But there are times in which it has been more particularly felt.
There have been personalities to whom in eminent degree this depth of
communion with God has been vouchsafed. To such persons and eras the
religious sense of mankind, by a true instinct, has tended to restrict
the words 'revelation' and 'inspiration.' This restriction, however,
signifies the separation of the grand experience from the ordinary, only
in degree and not in kind. Such an experience was that of prophets and
law-givers under the ancient covenant. Such an experience, in
immeasurably greater degree, was that of Jesus himself. Such a
turning-point in the life of the race was the advent of Christianity.
The world has not been wrong in calling the documents of these
revelations sacred books and in attributing to them divine authority. It
has been largely wrong _in the manner in which it construed their
authority_. It has been wholly wrong in imagining that the documents
themselves were the revelation. They are merely the record _of a
personal communion with the transcendent_. It was Lessing who first cast
these fertile ideas into the soil of modern thought. They were never
heartily taken up by Kant. One can think, however, with what enthusiasm
men recurred to them after their postulates had been verified and the
idea of God, of man and of the world which they implied, had been
confirmed by Fichte and Schelling.

In the philosophical movement, the outline of which we have suggested,
what one may call the _nidus_ of a new faith in Scripture had been
prepared. The quality had been forecast which the Scripture must be
found to possess, if it were to retain its character as document of
revelation. In those very same years the great movement of biblical
criticism was gathering force which, in the course of the nineteenth
century, was to prove by stringent literary and historical methods, what
qualities the documents which we know as Scripture do possess. It was to
prove in the most objective fashion that the Scripture does not possess
those qualities which men had long assigned to it. It was to prove that,
as a matter of fact, the literature does possess the qualities which the
philosophic forecast, above hinted, required. It was thus actually to
restore the Bible to an age in which many reasonable men had lost their
faith in it. It was to give a genetic reconstruction of the literature
and show the progress of the history which the Scripture enshrines.
After a contest in which the very foundations of faith seemed to be
removed, it was to afford a basis for a belief in Scripture and
revelation as positive and secure as any which men ever enjoyed, with
the advantage that it is a foundation upon which the modern man can and
does securely build. The synchronism of the two endeavours is
remarkable. The convergence upon one point, of studies starting, so to
say, from opposite poles and having no apparent interest in common, is
instructive. It is an illustration of that which Comte said, that all
the great intellectual movements of a given time are but the
manifestation of a common impulse, which pervades and possesses the
minds of the men of that time.

The attempt to rationalise the narrative of Scripture was no new one. It
grew in intensity in the early years of the nineteenth century. The
conflict which was presently precipitated concerned primarily the
Gospels. It was natural that it should do so. These contain the most
important Scripture narrative, that of the life of Jesus. Strauss had in
good faith turned his attention to the Gospels, precisely because he
felt their central importance. His generation was to learn that they
presented also the greatest difficulties. The old rationalistic
interpretation had started from the assumption that what we have in the
gospel narrative is fact. Yet, of course, for the rationalists, the
facts must be natural. They had the appearance of being supernatural
only through the erroneous judgment of the narrators. It was for the
interpreter to reduce everything which is related to its simple, natural
cause. The water at Cana was certainly not turned into wine. It must
have been brought by Jesus as a present and opened thus in jest. Jesus
was, of course, begotten in the natural manner. A simple maiden must
have been deceived. The execution of this task of the rationalising of
the narratives by one Dr. Paulus, was the _reductio ad absurdum_ of the
claim. The most spiritual of the narratives, the finest flower of
religious poetry, was thus turned into the meanest and most trivial
incident without any religious significance whatsoever. The obtuseness
of the procedure was exceeded only by its vulgarity.


On the other hand, as Pfleiderer has said, we must remember the
difficulty which beset the men of that age. Their general culture made
it difficult for them to accept the miraculous element in the gospel
narrative as it stood. Yet their theory of Scripture gave them no notion
as to any other way in which the narratives might be understood. The men
had never asked themselves how the narratives arose. In the preface to
his _Leben Jesu_, Strauss said: 'Orthodox and rationalists alike
proceed from the false assumption that we have always in the Gospels
testimony, sometimes even that of eye-witnesses, to fact. They are,
therefore, reduced to asking themselves what can have been the real and
natural fact which is here witnessed to in such extraordinary way. We
have to realise,' Strauss proceeds, 'that the narrators testify
sometimes, not to outward facts, but to ideas, often most poetical and
beautiful ideas, constructions which even eye-witnesses had
unconsciously put upon facts, imagination concerning them, reflexions
upon them, reflexions and imaginings such as were natural to the time
and at the author's level of culture. What we have here is not
falsehood, not misrepresentation of the truth. It is a plastic, naïve,
and, at the same time, often most profound apprehension of truth, within
the area of religious feeling and poetic insight. It results in
narrative, legendary, mythical in nature, illustrative often of
spiritual truth in a manner more perfect than any hard, prosaic
statement could achieve.' Before Strauss men had appreciated that
particular episodes, like the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection,
might have some such explanation as this. No one had ever undertaken to
apply this method consistently, from one end to the other of the gospel
narrative. What was of more significance, no one had clearly defined the
conception of legend. Strauss was sure that in the application of this
notion to certain portions of the Scripture no irreverence was shown. No
moral taint was involved. Nothing which could detract from the reverence
in which we hold the Scripture was implied. Rather, in his view, the
history of Jesus is more wonderful than ever, when some, at least, of
its elements are viewed in this way, when they are seen as the product
of the poetic spirit, working all unconsciously at a certain level of
culture and under the impulse of a great enthusiasm.

There is no doubt that Strauss, who was at that time an earnest
Christian, felt the relief from certain difficulties in the biography of
Jesus which this theory affords. He put it forth in all sincerity as
affording to others like relief. He said that while rationalists and
supernaturalists alike, by their methods, sacrificed the divine content
of the story and clung only to its form, his hypothesis sacrificed the
historicity of the narrative form, but kept the eternal and spiritual
truth. In his opinion, the lapse of a single generation was enough to
give room for this process of the growth of the legendary elements which
have found place in the written Gospels which we have. Ideas entertained
by primitive Christians relative to their lost Master, have been, all
unwittingly, transformed into facts and woven into the tale of his
career. The legends of a people are in their basal elements never the
work of a single individual. They are never intentionally produced. The
imperceptible growth of a joint creative work of this kind was possible,
however, only on the supposition that oral tradition was, for a time,
the means of transmission of the reminiscences of Jesus. Strauss'
explanation of his theory has been given above, to some extent in his
own words. We may see how he understood himself. We may appreciate also
the genuineness of the religious spirit of his work. At the same time
the thorough-going way in which he applied his principle, the relentless
march of his argument, the character of his results, must sometimes have
been startling even to himself. They certainly startled others. The
effect of his work was instantaneous and immense. It was not at all the
effect which he anticipated. The issue of the furious controversy which
broke out was disastrous both to Strauss' professional career and to his
whole temperament and character.

David Friedrich Strauss was born in 1808 in Ludwigsburg in Württemberg.
He studied in Tübingen and in Berlin. He became an instructor in the
theological faculty in Tübingen in 1832. He published his _Leben Jesu_
in 1835. He was almost at once removed from his portion. In 1836 he
withdrew altogether from the professorial career. His answer to his
critics, written in 1837, was in bitter tone. More conciliatory was his
book, _Über Vergängliches und Bleibendes im Christenthum_, published in
1839. Indeed there were some concessions in the third edition of his
_Leben Jesu_ in 1838, but these were all repudiated in 1840. His _Leben
Jesu für das deutsche Volk_, published in 1866 was the effort to
popularise that which he had done. It is, however, in point of method,
superior to his earlier work, Comments were met with even greater
bitterness. Finally, not long before his death in 1874, he published
_Der Alte und der Neue Glaube_, in which he definitely broke with
Christianity altogether and went over to materialism and pessimism.

Pfleiderer, who had personal acquaintance with Strauss and held him in
regard, once wrote: 'Strauss' error did not lie in his regarding some of
the gospel stories as legends, and some of the narratives of the
miraculous as symbols of ideal truths. So far Strauss was right. The
contribution which he made is one which we have all appropriated and
built upon. His error lay in his looking for those religious truths
which are thus symbolised, outside of religion itself, in adventurous
metaphysical speculations. He did not seek them in the facts of the
devout heart and moral will, as these are illustrated in the actual life
of Jesus.' If Strauss, after the disintegration in criticism of certain
elements in the biography of Jesus, had given us a positive picture of
Jesus as the ideal of religious character and ethical force, his work
would indeed have been attacked. But it would have outlived the attack
and conferred a very great benefit. It conferred a great benefit as it
was, although not the benefit which Strauss supposed. The benefit which
it really conferred was in its critical method, and not at all in its

Of the mass of polemic and apologetic literature which Strauss' _Leben
Jesu_ called forth, little is at this distance worth the mentioning.
Ullmann, who was far more appreciative than most of his adversaries,
points out the real weakness of Strauss' work. That weakness lay in the
failure to draw any distinction between the historical and the mythical.
He threatened to dissolve the whole history into myth. He had no sense
for the ethical element in the personality and teaching of Jesus nor of
the creative force which this must have exerted. Ullmann says with
cogency that, according to Strauss, the Church created its Christ
virtually out of pure imagination. But we are then left with the query:
What created the Church? To this query Strauss has absolutely no answer
to give. The answer is, says Ullmann, that the ethical personality of
Jesus created the Church. This ethical personality is thus a supreme
historic fact and a sublime historic cause, to which we must endeavour
to penetrate, if need be through the veil of legend. The old
rationalists had made themselves ridiculous by their effort to explain
everything in some natural way. Strauss and his followers often appeared
frivolous, since, according to them, there was little left to be
explained. If a portion of the narrative presented a difficulty, it was
declared mythical. What was needed was such a discrimination between the
legendary and historical elements in the Gospels as could be reached
only by patient, painstaking study of the actual historical quality and
standing of the documents. No adequate study of this kind had ever been
undertaken. Strauss did not undertake it, nor even perceive that it was
to be undertaken. There had been many men of vast learning in textual
and philological criticism. Here, however, a new sort of critique was
applied to a problem which had but just now been revealed in all its
length and breadth. The establishing of the principles of this
historical criticism--the so-called Higher Criticism--was the herculean
task of the generation following Strauss. To the development of that
science another Tübingen professor, Baur, made permanent contribution.
With Strauss himself, sadder than the ruin of his career, was the
tragedy of the uprooting of his faith. This tragedy followed in many
places in the wake of the recognition of Strauss' fatal half-truth.


Baur, Strauss' own teacher in Tübingen, afterward famous as biblical
critic and church-historian, said of Strauss' book, that through it was
revealed in startling fashion to that generation of scholars, how little
real knowledge they had of the problem which the Gospels present. To
Baur it was clear that if advance was to be made beyond Strauss'
negative results, the criticism of the gospel history must wait upon an
adequate criticism of the documents which are our sources for that
history. Strauss' failure had brought home to the minds of men the fact
that there were certain preliminary studies which must needs be taken
up. Meantime the other work must wait. As one surveys the literature of
the next thirty years this fact stands out. Many apologetic lives of
Jesus had to be written in reply to Strauss. But they are almost
completely negligible. No constructive work was done in this field until
nearly a generation had passed.

Since all history, said Baur, before it reaches us must pass through the
medium of a narrator, our first question as to the gospel history is
not, what objective reality can be accorded to the narrative itself.
There is a previous question. This concerns the relation of the
narrative to the narrator. It might be very difficult for us to make up
our minds as to what it was that, in a given case, the witness saw. We
have not material for such a judgment. We have probably much evidence,
up and down his writings, as to what sort of man the witness was, in
what manner he would be likely to see anything and with what personal
equation he would relate that which he saw. Baur would seem to have been
the first vigorously and consistently to apply this principle to the
gospel narratives. Before we can penetrate deeply into the meaning of an
author we must know, if we may, his purpose in writing. Every author
belongs to the time in which he lives. The greater the importance of his
subject for the parties and struggles of his day, the safer is the
assumption that both he and his work will bear the impress of these
struggles. He will represent the interests of one or another of the
parties. His work will have a tendency of some kind. This was one of
Baur's oft-used words--the tendency of a writer and of his work. We must
ascertain that tendency. The explanation of many things both in the form
and substance of a writing would be given could we but know that. The
letters of Paul, for example, are written in palpable advocacy of
opinions which were bitterly opposed by other apostles. The biographies
of Jesus suggest that they also represent, the one this tendency, the
other that. We have no cause to assert that this trait of which we speak
implies conscious distortion of the facts which the author would relate.
The simple-minded are generally those least aware of the bias in the
working of their own minds. It is obvious that until we have reckoned
with such elements as these, we cannot truly judge of that which the
Gospels say. To the elaboration of the principles of this historical
criticism Baur gave the labour of his life. His biblical work alone
would have been epoch-making.

Ferdinand Christian Baur was born in 1793 in Schmieden, near Stuttgart.
He became a professor in Tübingen in 1826 and died there in 1860. He was
an ardent disciple of Hegel. His greatest work was surely in the field
of the history of dogma. His works, _Die Christliche Lehre von der
Vereöhnung_, 1838, _Die Christliche Lehre von der Dreieinigkeit und
Menschwerdung Gottes_, 1841-1843, his _Lehrbuch der Christlichen
Dogmengeschichte_, 1847, together constitute a contribution to which
Harnack's work in our own time alone furnishes a parallel. Baur had
begun his thorough biblical studies before the publication of Strauss'
book. The direction of those studies was more than ever confirmed by his
insight of the shortcomings of Strauss' work. Very characteristically
also he had begun his investigations, not at the most difficult point,
that of the Gospels, as Strauss had done, but at the easiest point, the
Epistles of Paul. As early as 1831 he had published a tractate, _Die
Christus-Partei in der Corinthischen Gemeinde_. In that book he had
delineated the bitter contest between Paul and the Judaising element in
the Apostolic Church which opposed Paul whithersoever he went. In 1835
his disquisition, _Die sogenannten Pastoral-Briefe_, appeared. In the
teachings of these letters he discovered the antithesis to the gnostic
heresies of the second century. He thought also that the stage of
organisation of the Church which they imply, accorded better with this
supposition than with that of their apostolic authorship. The same
general theme is treated in a much larger way in Baur's _Paulus, der
Apostel Jesu Christi_, in 1845. Here the results of his study of the
book of the Acts are combined with those of his inquiries as to the
Pauline Epistles. In the history of the apostolic age men had been
accustomed to see the evidence only of peace and harmony. Baur sought to
show that the period had been one of fierce struggle, between the narrow
Judaic and legalistic form of faith in the Messiah and that conception,
introduced by Paul, of a world-religion free from the law. Out of this
conflict, which lasted a hundred and fifty years, went forth the
Catholic Church. The monuments of this struggle and witnesses of this
process of growth are the New Testament writings, most of which were
produced in the second century. The only documents which we have which
were written before A.D. 70, were the four great Epistles of Paul, those
to the Galatians, to the Romans, and to the Corinthians, together with
the Apocalypse.

Many details in Baur's view are now seen to have been overstated and
others false. Yet this was the first time that a true historical method
had been applied to the New Testament literature as a whole. Baur's
contribution lay in the originality of his conception of Christianity,
in his emphasis upon Paul, in his realisation of the magnitude of the
struggle which Paul inaugurated against Jewish prejudices in the
primitive Church. In his idea, the issue of that struggle was, on the
one hand, the freeing of Christianity from Judaism and on the other, the
developing of Christian thought into a system of dogma and of the
scattered Christian communities into an organised Church. The Fourth
Gospel contains, according to Baur, a Christian gnosis parallel to the
gnosis which was more and more repudiated by the Church as heresy. The
Logos, the divine principle of life and light, appears bodily in the
phenomenal world in the person of Jesus. It enters into conflict with
the darkness and evil of the world. This speculation is but thinly
clothed in the form of a biography of Jesus. That an account completely
dominated by speculative motives gives but slight guarantee of
historical truth, was for Baur self-evident. The author remains unknown,
the age uncertain. The book, however, can hardly have appeared before
the time of the Montanist movement, that is, toward the end of the
second century. Scholars now rate far more highly than did Baur the
element of genuine Johannine tradition which may lie behind the Fourth
Gospel and account for its name. They do not find traces of Montanism or
of paschal controversies. But the main contention stands. The Fourth
Gospel represents the beginning of elaborate reflexion upon the life and
work of Jesus. It is what it is because of the fusion of the ethical and
spiritual content of the revelation in the personality of Jesus, with
metaphysical abstractions and philosophical interpretation.

Baur was by no means so fortunate in the solution which he offered of
the problem which the synoptic Gospels present. His opinions are of no
interest except as showing that he too worked diligently upon a question
which for a long time seemed only to grow in complexity and which has
busied scholars practically from Baur's day to our own. His zeal here
also to discover dogmatic purposes led him astray. The _Tendenzkritik_
had its own tendencies. The chief was to exaggeration and one-sidedness.
Baur had the kind of ear which hears grass grow. There is much
overstrained acumen. Many radically false conclusions are reached by
prejudiced operation with an historical formula, which in the last
analysis is that of Hegel. Everything is to be explained on the
principle of antithesis. Again, the assumption of conscious purpose in
everything which men do or write is a grave exaggeration. It is often in
contradiction of that wonderful unconsciousness with which men and
institutions move to the fulfilment of a purpose for the good, the
purpose of God, into which their own life is grandly taken up. To make
each phase of such a movement the contribution of some one man's scheme
or endeavour is, as was once said, to make God act like a professor.

       *       *       *       *       *

The method of this book is that it seeks to deal only with men who have
inaugurated movements, or marked some turning-point in their course
which has proved of more than usual significance. The compass of the
book demands such a limitation. But by this method whole chapters in the
life of learning are passed over, in which the substance of achievement
has been the carrying out of a plan of which we have been able to note
only the inception. There is a sense in which the carrying out of a plan
is both more difficult and more worthy than the mere setting it in
motion. When one thinks of the labour and patience which have been
expended, for example, upon the problem of the Gospels in the past
seventy years, those truths come home to us. When one reminds himself of
the hypotheses which have been made but to be abandoned, which have yet
had the value that they at least indicated the area within which
solutions do not lie,--when one thinks of the wellnigh immeasurable toil
by which we have been led to large results which now seem secure, one is
made to realise that the conditions of the advance of science are, for
theologians, not different from those which obtain for scholars who, in
any other field, would establish truth and lead men. In a general way,
however, it may be said that the course of opinion in these two
generations, in reference to such questions as those of the dates and
authorship of the New Testament writings, has been one of rather
noteworthy retrogression from many of the Tübingen positions. Harnack's
_Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur_, 1893, and his _Chronologie
der altchristlichen Literatur_, 1897, present a marked contrast to
Baur's scheme.


The minds of New Testament scholars in the last generation have been
engaged with a question which, in its full significance, was hardly
present to the attention of Baur's school. It is the question of the New
Testament as a whole. It is the question as to the time and manner and
motives of the gathering together of the separate writings into a canon
of Scripture which, despite the diversity of its elements, exerted its
influence as a unit and to which an authority was ascribed, which the
particular writings cannot originally have had. When and how did the
Christians come to have a sacred book which they placed on an equality
with the Old Testament, which last they had taken over from the
synagogue? How did they choose the writings which were to belong to this
new collection? Why did they reject books which we know were read for
edification in the early churches? Deeper even than the question of the
growth of the collection is that of the growth of the apprehension
concerning it. This apprehension of these twenty-seven different
writings as constituting the sole document of Christian revelation,
given by the Holy Spirit, the identical holy book of the Christian
Church, gave to the book a significance altogether different from that
which its constituent elements must have had for men to whom they had
appeared as but the natural literary deposit of the religious movement
of the apostolic age. This apprehension took possession of the mind of
the Christian community. It was made the subject of deliverances by
councils of the Church. How did this great transformation take place?
Was it an isolated achievement, or was it part of a general movement?
Did not this development of life in the Christian communities which gave
them a New Testament belong to an evolution which gave them also the
so-called Apostles' Creed and a monarchical organisation of the Church
and the beginnings of a ritual of worship?

It is clear that we have here a question of greatest moment. With the
rise of this idea of the canon, with the assigning to this body of
literature the character of Scripture, we have the beginning of the
larger mastery which the New Testament has exerted over the minds and
life of men. Compared with this question, investigations as to the
authorship and as to the time, place and circumstance of the production
of particular books, came, for the time, to occupy a secondary rank. As
they have emerged again, they wear a new aspect and are approached in a
different spirit. The writings are revealed as belonging to a far larger
context, that of the whole body of the Christian literature of the age.
It in no way follows from that which we have said that the body of
documents, which ultimately found themselves together in the New
Testament, have not a unity other than the outward one which was by
consensus of opinion or conciliar decree imposed upon them. They do
represent, in the large and in varying degrees, an inward and spiritual
unity. There was an inspiration of the main body of these writings, the
outward condition of which, at all events, was the nearness of their
writers to Jesus or to his eye-witnesses, and the consequence of which
was the unique relation which the more important of these documents
historically bore to the formation of the Christian Church. There was a
heaven which lay about the infancy of Christianity which only slowly
faded into the common light of day. That heaven was the spirit of the
Master himself. The chief of these writings do centrally enshrine the
first pure illumination of that spirit. But the churchmen who made the
canon and the Fathers who argued about it very often gave mistaken
reasons for facts in respect of which they nevertheless were right. They
gave what they considered sound external reasons. They alleged apostolic
authorship. They should have been content with internal evidence and
spiritual effectiveness. The apostles had come, in the mind of the early
Church, to occupy a place of unique distinction. Writings long enshrined
in affection for their potent influence, but whose origin had not been
much considered, were now assigned to apostles, that they might have
authority and distinction. The theory of the canon came after the fact.
The theory was often wrong. The canon had been, in the main and in its
inward principle, soundly constituted. Modern critics reversed the
process. They began where the Church Fathers left off. They tore down
first that which had been last built up. Modern criticism, too, passed
through a period in which points like those of authorship and date of
Gospels and Epistles seemed the only ones to be considered. The results
being here often negative, complete disintegration of the canon seemed
threatened, through discovery of errors in the processes by which the
canon had been outwardly built up. Men realise now that that was a

Two things have been gained in this discussion. There is first the
recognition that the canon is a growth. The holy book and the conception
of its holiness, as well, were evolved. Christianity was not primarily a
book-religion save in the sense that almost all Christians revered the
Old Testament. Other writings than those which we esteem canonical were
long used in churches. Some of those afterward canonical were not used
in all the churches. In similar fashion we have learned that identical
statements of faith were not current in the earliest churches. Nor was
there one uniform system of organisation and government. There was a
time concerning which we cannot accurately use the word Church. There
were churches, very simple, worshipping communities. But the Church, as
outward magnitude, as triumphant organisation, grew. So there were many
creeds or, at least, informally accredited and current beginnings of
doctrine. By and by there was a formally accepted creed. So there were
first dearly loved memorials of Jesus and letters of apostolic men. Only
by and by was there a New Testament. The first gain is the recognition
of this state of things. The second follows. It is the recognition that,
despite a sense in which this literature is unique, there is also a
sense in which it is but a part of the whole body of early Christian
literature. From the exact and exhaustive study of the early Christian
literature as a whole, we are to expect a clearer understanding and a
juster estimate of the canonical part of it. It is not easy to say to
whom we have to ascribe the discovery and elaboration of these truths.
The historians of dogma have done much for this body of opinion. The
historians of Christian literature have perhaps done more. Students of
institutions and of the canon law have had their share. Baur had more
than an inkling of the true state of things. But by far the most
conspicuous teacher of our generation, in two at least of these
particular fields, has been Harnack. In his lifelong labour upon the
sources of Christian history, he had come upon this question of the
canon again and again. In his _Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte_,
1887-1890, 4te. Aufl., 1910, the view of the canon, which was given
above, is absolutely fundamental. In his _Geschichte der altchristlichen
Literatur bis Eusebius_, 1893, and _Chronologic der allchristlichen
Literatur_, 1897-1904, the evidence is offered in rich detail. It was in
his tractate, _Das Neue Testament um das Jahr_ 200, 1889, that he
contended for the later date against Zahn, who had urged that the
outline of the New Testament was established and the conception of it as
Scripture present, by the end of the first century. Harnack argues that
the decision practically shaped itself between the time of Justin
Martyr, c. A.D. 150, and that of Irenæus, c. A.D. 180. The studies of
the last twenty years have more and more confirmed this view.


We said that the work of Strauss revealed nothing so clearly as the
ignorance of his time concerning the documents of the early Christian
movement. The labours of Baur and of his followers were directed toward
overcoming this difficulty. Suddenly the public interest was stirred,
and the earlier excitement recalled by the publication of a new life of
Jesus. The author was a Frenchman, Ernest Renan, at one time a candidate
for the priesthood in the Roman Church. He was a man of learning and
literary skill, who made his _Vie de Jésus_, which appeared in 1863, the
starting-point for a series of historical works under the general title,
_Les Origines de Christianisme_. In the next year appeared Strauss'
popular work, _Leben Jesu für das deutsche Volk_. In 1864 was published
also Weizsäcker's contribution to the life of Christ, his
_Untersuchungen über die evangelische Geschichte_. To the same year
belonged Schenkel's _Charakterbild Jesu_. In the years from 1867-1872
appeared Keim's _Geschichte Jesu von Nazara_. There is something very
striking in this recurrence to the topic. After ail, this was the point
for the sake of which those laborious investigations had been
undertaken. This was and is the theme of undying religious interest, the
character and career of the Nazarene. Renan's philosophical studies had
been mainly in English, studies of Locke and Hume. But Herder also had
been his beloved guide. For his biblical and oriental studies he had
turned almost exclusively to the Germans. There is a deep religious
spirit in the work of the period of his conflict with the Church. The
enthusiasm for Christ sustained him in his struggle. Of the days before
he withdrew from the Church he wrote: 'For two months I was a Protestant
like a professor in Halle or Tübingen.' French was at that time a
language much better known in the world at large, particularly the
English-speaking world, than was German. Renan's book had great art and
charm. It took a place almost at once as a bit of world-literature. The
number of editions in French and of translations into other languages is
amazing. Beyond question, the critical position was made known through
Renan to multitudes who would never have been reached by the German
works which were really Renan's authorities. It is idle to say with
Pfleiderer that it is a pity that, having possessed so much learning,
Renan had not possessed more. That is not quite the point. The book has
much breadth and solidity of learning. Yet Renan has scarcely the
historian's quality. His work is a work of art. It has the halo of
romance. Imagination and poetical feeling make it in a measure what it

Renan was born in 1823 in Treguier in Brittany. He set out for the
priesthood, but turned aside to the study of oriental languages and
history. He made long sojourn in the East. He spoke of Palestine as
having been to him a fifth Gospel. He became Professor of Hebrew in the
_College de France_. He was suspended from his office in 1863, and
permitted to read again only in 1871. He had formally separated himself
from the Roman Church in 1845. He was a member of the Academy. His
diction is unsurpassed. He died in 1894. In his own phrase, he sought to
bring Jesus forth from the darkness of dogma into the midst of the life
of his people. He paints him first as an idyllic national leader, then
as a struggling and erring hero, always aiming at the highest, but
doomed to tragic failure through the resistance offered by reality to
his ideal. He calls the traditional Christ an abstract being who never
was alive. He would bring the marvellous human figure before our eyes.
He heightens the brilliancy of his delineation by the deep shadows of
mistakes and indiscretion upon Jesus' part. In some respects an epic or
an historical romance, without teaching us history in detail, may yet
enable us by means of the artist's intuition to realise an event or
period, or make presentation to ourselves of a personality, better than
the scant records acknowledged by the strict historian could ever do.

Our materials for a real biography of Jesus are inadequate. This was the
fact which, by all these biographies of Jesus, was brought home to men's
minds. Keim's book, the most learned of those mentioned, is hardly more
than a vast collection of material for the history of Jesus' age, which
has now been largely superseded by Schürer's _Geschichte des Judischen
Volkes im Zeitalier Jesu Christi_, 2 Bde., 1886-1890. There have been
again, since the decade of the sixties, periods of approach to the great
problem. Weiss and Beyschlag published at the end of the eighties lives
of Jesus which, especially the former, are noteworthy in their treatment
of the critical material. They do not for a moment face the question of
the person of Christ. The same remark might be made, almost without
exception, as to those lives of Jesus which have appeared in numbers in
England and America. The best books of recent years are Albert Reville's
_Jesus de Nazareth_, 1897, and Oscar Holtzmann's _Leben Jesu_, 1901. So
great are the difficulties and in such disheartening fashion are they
urged from all sides, that one cannot withhold enthusiastic recognition
of the service which Holtzmann particularly has here rendered, in a
calm, objective, and withal deeply devout handling of his theme.
Meantime new questions have arisen, questions of the relation of Jesus
to Messianism, like those touched upon by Wrede in his _Das Messias
Geheimniss in den Evangelien_, 1901, and questions as to the
eschatological trait in Jesus' own teaching. Schweitzer's book, _Von
Reimarus zu Wrede: eine Geschichte der Leben Jesu-Forschung_, 1906, not
merely sets forth this deeply interesting chapter in the history of the
thought of modern men, but has also serious interpretative value in
itself. For English readers Sanday's _Life of Christ in Recent
Research_, 1907, follows the descriptive aspect, at least, of the same
purpose with Schweitzer's book, covering, however, only the last twenty

It is characteristic that Ritschl, notwithstanding his emphasis upon the
historical Jesus, asserted the impossibility of a biography of Jesus.
The understanding of Jesus is through faith. For Wrede, on the other
hand, such a biography is impossible because of the nature of our
sources. Not alone are they scant, but they are not biographical. They
are apologetic, propagandist, interested in everything except those
problems which a biographer must raise. The last few years have even
conjured up the question whether Jesus ever lived. One may say with all
simplicity, that the question has, of course, as much rightfulness as
has any other question any man could raise. The somewhat extended
discussion has, however, done nothing to make evident how it could
arise, save in minds unfamiliar with the materials and unskilled in
historical research. The conditions which beset us when we ask for a
biography of Jesus that shall answer scientific requirement are not
essentially different from those which meet us in the case of any other
personage equally remote in point of time, and equally woven about--if
any such have been--by the love and devotion of men. Bousset's little
book, _Was Wissen wir von Jesus?_ 1904, convinces a quiet mind that we
know a good deal. Qualities in the personality of Jesus obviously worked
in transcendent measure to call out devotion. No understanding of
history is adequate which has no place for the unfathomed in
personality. Exactly because we ourselves share this devotion, we could
earnestly wish that the situation as to the biography of Jesus were
other than it is.


We have spoken thus far as if the whole biblical-critical problem had
been that of the New Testament. In reality the same impulses which had
opened up that question to the minds of men had set them working upon
the problem of the Old Testament as well. We have seen how the
Christians made for themselves a canon of the New Testament. By the
force of that conception of the canon, and through the belief that,
almost in a literal sense, God was the author of the whole book, the
obvious differences among the writings had been obscured. Men forgot the
evolution through which the writings had passed. The same thing had
happened for the Old Testament in the Jewish synagogues and for the
rabbis before the Christian movement. When the Christians took over the
Old Testament they took it over in this sense. It was a closed book
wherein all appreciation of the long road which the religion of Israel
had traversed in its evolution had been lost. The relation of the old
covenant to the new was obscured. The Old Testament became a Christian
book. Not merely were the Christian facts prophesied in the Old
Testament, but its doctrines also were implied. Almost down to modern
times texts have been drawn indifferently from either Testament to prove
doctrine and sustain theology. Moses and Jesus, prophets and Paul, are
cited to support an argument, without any sense of difference. What we
have said is hardly more true of Augustine or Anselm than of the classic
Puritan divines. This was the state of things which the critics faced.

The Old Testament critical movement is a parallel at all points of the
one which we have described in reference to the New. Of course, elder
scholars, even Spinoza, had raised the question as to the Mosaic
authorship of certain portions of the Pentateuch. Roman Catholic
scholars in the seventeenth century, for whom the stringent theory of
inspiration had less significance than for Protestants, had set forth
views which showed an awakening to the real condition. Yet, at the
beginning of the nineteenth century, no one would have forecast a
revolution in opinion which would recognise the legendary quality of
considerable portions of the Pentateuch and historical books, which
would leave but little that is of undisputed Mosaic authorship, which
would place the prophets before the law, which would concede the growth
of the Jewish canon, which would perceive the relation of Judaism to the
religions of the other Semite peoples and would seek to establish the
true relation of Judaism to Christianity.

In the year 1835, the same year in which Strauss' _Leben Jesu_ saw the
light, Wilhelm Vatke published his _Religion des Alten Testaments_.
Vatke was born in 1806, began to teach in Berlin in 1830, was professor
extraordinarius there in 1837 and died in 1882, not yet holding a full
professorship. His book was obscurely written and scholastic. Public
attention was largely occupied by the conflict which Strauss' work had
caused. Reuss in Strassburg was working on the same lines, but published
the main body of his results much later.

The truth for which these scholars and others like them argued, worked
its way slowly by force of its own merit. Perhaps it was due to this
fact that the development of Old Testament critical views was subject to
a fluctuation less marked than that which characterised the case of the
New Testament. It is not necessary to describe the earlier stages of the
discussion in Vatke's own terms. To his honour be it said that the views
which he thus early enunciated were in no small degree identical with
those which were in masterful fashion substantiated in Holland by Kuenen
about 1870, in Germany by Wellhausen after 1878, and made known to
English readers by Robertson Smith In 1881.

Budde has shown in his _Kanon des Alten Testaments_, 1900, that the Old
Testament which lies before us finished and complete, assumed its
present form only as the result of the growth of several centuries. At
the beginning of this process of the canonisation stands that strange
event, the sudden appearance of a holy book of the law under King
Josiah, in 621 B.C. The end of the process, through the decisions of the
scribes, falls after the destruction of Jerusalem, possibly even in the
second century. Lagarde seems to have proved that the rabbis of the
second century succeeded in destroying all copies of the Scripture which
differed from the standard then set up. This state of things has
enormously increased a difficulty which was already great enough, that
of the detection and separation of the various elements of which many of
the books in this ancient literature are made up. Certain books of the
New Testament also present the problem of the discrimination of elements
of different ages, which have been wrought together into the documents
as we now have them, in a way that almost defies our skill to disengage.
The synoptic Gospels are, of course, the great example. The book of the
Acts presents a problem of the same kind. But the Pentateuch, or rather
Hexateuch, the historical books in less degree, the writings even of
some of the prophets, the codes which formulate the law and ritual, are
composites which have been whole centuries in the making and remaking.
There was no such thing as right of authorship in ancient Israel, little
of it in the ancient world at all. What was once written was popular or
priestly property. Histories were newly narrated, laws enlarged and
rearranged, prophecies attributed to conspicuous persons. All this took
place not in deliberate intention to pervert historic truth, but because
there was no interest in historic truth and no conception of it. The
rewriting of a nation's history from the point of view of its priesthood
bore, to the ancient Israelite, beyond question, an aspect altogether
different from that which the same transaction would bear to us. The
difficulty of the separation of these materials, great in any case, is
enhanced by the fact alluded to, that we have none but internal
evidence. The success of the achievement, and the unanimity attained
with reference to the most significant questions, is one of the marvels
of the life of learning of our age.

In the Jewish tradition it had been assumed that the Mosaic law was
written down in the wilderness. Then, in the times of the Judges and of
the Kings, the historical books took shape, with David's Psalms and the
wise words of Solomon. At the end of the period of the Kings we have the
prophetic literature and finally Ezra and Nehemiah. De Wette had
disputed this order, but Wellhausen in his _Prolegomena zur Geshichte
Israels_, 1883, may be said to have proved that this view was no longer
tenable. Men ask, could the law, or even any greater part of it, have
been given to nomads in the wilderness? Do not all parts of it assume a
settled state of society and an agricultural life? Do the historical
books from Judges to the II. Kings know anything about the law? Are the
practices of worship which they imply consonant with the supposition
that the law was in force? How is it that that law appears both under
Josiah and again under Ezra, as something new, thus far unknown, and yet
as ruling the religious life of the people from that day forth? It seems
impossible to escape the conclusion that only after Josiah's
reformation, more completely after the restoration under Ezra, did the
religion of the law exist. The centralisation of worship at one point,
such as the book of Deuteronomy demands, seems to have been the thing
achieved by the reform under Josiah. The establishment of the priestly
hierarchy such as the code ordains was the issue of the religious
revolution wrought in Ezra's time. To put it differently, the so-called
_Book of the Covenant, the nucleus of the law-giving_, itself implies
the multiplicity of the places of worship. Deuteronomy demands the
centralisation of the worship as something which is yet to take place.
The priestly Code declares that the limitation of worship to one place
was a fact already in the time of the journeys of Israel in the
wilderness. It is assumed that the Hebrews in the time of Moses shared
the almost universal worship of the stars. Moses may indeed have
concluded a covenant between his people and Jahve, their God, hallowing
the judicial and moral life of the people, bringing these into relation
to the divine will. Jahve was a holy God whose will was to guide the
people coming up out of the degradation of nature-worship. That part of
the people held to the old nature-worship is evident in the time of
Elijah. The history of Israel is not that of defection from a pure
revelation. It is the history of a gradual attainment of purer
revelation, of enlargement in the application of it, of discovery of new
principles contained in it. It is the history also of the decline of
spiritual religion. The zeal of the prophets against the ceremonial
worship shows that. Their protest reveals at that early date the
beginning of that antithesis which had become so sharp in Jesus' time.

This determination of the relative positions of law and prophets was the
first step in the reconstruction of the history, both of the nation of
Israel and of its literature. At the beginning, as in every literature,
are songs of war and victory, of praise and grief, hymns, even riddles
and phrases of magic. Everywhere poetry precedes prose. Then come myths
relating to the worship and tales of the fathers and heroes. Elements of
both these sorts are embedded in the simple chronicles which began now
to be written, primitive historical works, such as those of the Jahvist
and Elohist, of the narrators of the deeds of the judges and of David
and of Saul. Perhaps at this point belong the earliest attempts at
fixing the tradition of family and clan rights, and of the regulation of
personal conduct, as in the Book of the Covenant. Then comes the great
outburst of the prophetic spirit, the preaching of an age of great
religious revival. Then follows the law, with its minute regulation of
all details of life upon which would depend the favour of the God who
had brought punishment upon the people in the exile. The prophecy runs
on into apocalyptic like that of the book of Daniel. The contact with
the outside world makes possible a phase of literature such as that to
which the books of Job and Ecclesiastes belong. The deepening of the
inner life gave the world the lyric of the Psalms, some of which are
credibly assigned to a period so late as that of the Maccabees.

In this which has been said of the literature we have the clue also for
the reconstruction of the nation's history. The naïve assumption in the
writing of all history had once been that one must begin with the
beginning. But to Wellhausen, Stade, Eduard Meyer and Kittel and
Cornill, it has been clear that the history of the earliest times is the
most uncertain. It is the least adapted to furnish a secure point of
departure for historical inquiry. There exist for it usually no
contemporary authorities, or only such as are of problematical worth.
This earliest period constitutes a problem, the solution of which, so
far as any solution is possible, can be hoped for only through approach
from the side of ascertained facts. We must start from a period which is
historically known. For the history of the Hebrews, this is the time of
the first prophets of whom we have written records, or from whom we have
written prophecies. We get from these, as also from the earliest direct
attempts at history writing, only that conception of Israel's
pre-historic life which was entertained in prophetic circles in the
eighth century. We learn the heroic legends in the interpretation which
the prophets put upon them. We have still to seek to interpret them for
ourselves. We must begin in the middle and work both backward and
forward. Such a view of the history of Israel affords every opportunity
for the connecting of the history and religion of Israel with those of
the other Semite stocks. Some of these have in recent years been
discovered to offer extraordinary parallels to that which the Old
Testament relates.


When speaking of Baur's contribution to New Testament criticism, we
alluded to his historical works. He was in a distinct sense a reformer
of the method of the writing of church history. To us the notions of the
historical and of that which is genetic are identical. Of course, naïve
religious chronicles do not meet that test. A glance at the histories
produced by the age of rationalism will show that these also fall short
of it. The perception of the relativity of institutions like the papacy
is here wholly wanting. Men and things are brought summarily to the bar
of the wisdom of the author's year of grace. They are approved or
condemned by this criterion. For Baur, all things had come to pass in
the process of the great life of the world. There must have been a
rationale of their becoming. It is for the historian with sympathy and
imagination to find out what their inherent reason was. One other thing
distinguishes Baur as church historian from his predecessors. He
realised that before one can delineate one must investigate. One must go
to the sources. One must estimate the value of those sources. One must
have ground in the sources for every judgment. Baur was himself a great
investigator. Yet the movement for the investigation of the sources of
biblical and ecclesiastical history which his generation initialed has
gone on to such achievements that, in some respects, we can but view the
foundations of Baur's own work as precarious, the results at which he
arrived as unwarranted. New documents have come to light since his day.
Forgeries have been proved to be such, The whole state of learning as to
the literature of the Christian origins has been vastly changed. There
is still another other thing to say concerning Baur. He was a Hegelian.
He has the disposition always to interpret the movements of the
religious spirit in the sense of philosophical ideas. He frankly says
that without speculation every historical investigation remains but a
play upon the surface of things. Baur's fault was that in his search
for, or rather in his confident discovery of, the great connecting
forces of history, the biographical element, the significance of
personality, threatened altogether to disappear. The force in the
history was the absolute, the immanent divine will. The method
everywhere was that of advance by contrasts and antagonisms. One gets an
impression, for example, that the Nicene dogma became what it did by the
might of the idea, that it could not by any possibility have had any
other issue.

The foil to much of this in Baur's own age was represented in the work
of Neander, a converted Jew, professor of church history in Berlin, who
exerted great influence upon a generation of English and American
scholars. He was not an investigator of sources. He had no talent for
the task. He was a delineator, one of the last of the great painters of
history, if one may so describe the type. He had imagination, sympathy,
a devout spirit. His great trait was his insight into personality. He
wrote history with the biographical interest. He almost resolves history
into a series of biographical types. He has too little sense for the
connexion of things, for the laws of the evolution of the religious
spirit. The great dramatic elements tend to disappear behind the
emotions of individuals. The old delineators were before the age of
investigation. Since that impulse became masterful, some historians have
been completely absorbed in the effort to make contribution to this
investigation. Others, with a sense of the impossibility of mastering
the results of investigation in all fields, have lost the zeal for the
writing of church history on a great scale. They have contented
themselves with producing monographs upon some particular subject, in
which, at the most, they may hope to embody all that is known as to some
specific question.

We spoke above of the new conception of the relation of the canonical
literature of the New Testament to the extracanonical. We alluded to the
new sense of the continuity of the history of the apostolic churches
with that of the Church of the succeeding age. The influence of these
ideas has been to set all problems here involved in a new light. Until
1886 it might have been said with truth that we had no good history of
the apostolic age. In that year Weizsäcker's book, _Das Apostolische
Zeitalter der Christlichen Kirche_, admirably filled the place. A part
of the problem of the historian of the apostolic age is difficult for
the same reason which was given when we were speaking of the biography
of Jesus. Our materials are inadequate. First with the beginning of the
activities of Paul have we sources of the first rank. The relation of
statements in the Pauline letters to data in the book of the Acts was
one of the earliest problems which the Tübingen school set itself. An
attempt to write the biography of Paul reminds us sharply of our
limitations. We know almost nothing of Paul prior to his conversion, or
subsequent to the enigmatical breaking off of the account of the
beginnings of his work at Rome. Harnack's _Mission und Ausbreitung des
Christenthums_, 1902 (translated, Moffatt, 1908), takes up the work of
Paul's successors in that cardinal activity. It offers, strange as it
may seem, the first discussion of the dissemination of Christianity
which has dealt adequately with the sources. It gives also a picture of
the world into which the Christian movement went. It emphasises anew the
truth which has for a generation past grown in men's apprehension that
there is no possibility of understanding Christianity, except against
the background of the religious life and thought of the world into which
it came. Christianity had vital relation, at every step of its progress,
to the religious movements and impulses of the ancient world, especially
in those centres of civilisation which Paul singled out for his
endeavour and which remained the centres of the Christian growth. It was
an age which has often been summarily described as corrupt. Despite its
corruption, or possibly because it was corrupt, it gives evidence,
however, of religious stirring, of strong ethical reaction, of spiritual
endeavour rarely paralleled. In the Roman Empire everything travelled.
Religions travelled. In the centres of civilisation there was scarcely a
faith of mankind which had not its votaries.

It was an age of religious syncretism, of hospitality to diverse
religious ideas, of the commingling of those ideas. These things
facilitated the progress of Christianity. They made certain that if the
Christian movement had in it the divine vitality which men claimed, it
would one day conquer the world. Equally, they made certain that, as the
very condition of this conquest, Christianity would be itself
transformed. This it is which has happened in the evolution of
Christianity from its very earliest stages and in all phases of its
life. Of any given rite, opinion or institution, of the many which have
passed for almost two millenniums unchallenged under the Christian name,
men about us are now asking: But how much of it is Christian? In what
measure have we to think of it as derived from some other source, and
representing the accommodation and assimilation of Christianity to its
environment in process of its work? What is Christianity? Not
unnaturally the ancient Church looked with satisfaction upon the great
change which passed over Christianity when Constantine suddenly made
that which had been the faith of a despised and persecuted sect, the
religion of the world. The Fathers can have thought thus only because
their minds rested upon that which was outward and spectacular. Not
unnaturally the metamorphosis in the inward nature of Christianity which
had taken place a century and a quarter earlier was hidden from their
eyes. In truth, by that earlier and subtler transformation Christianity
had passed permanently beyond the stage in which it had been
preponderantly a moral and spiritual enthusiasm, with its centre and
authority in the person of Jesus. It became a system and an institution,
with a canon of New Testament Scripture, a monarchical organisation and
a rule of faith which was formulated in the Apostles' Creed.

To Baur the truth as to the conflict of Paul with the Judaisers had
meant much. He thought, therefore, with reference to the rise of
priesthood and ritual among the Christians, to the emphasis on Scripture
in the fashion of the scribes, to the insistence upon rules and dogmas
after the manner of the Pharisees, that they were but the evidence of
the decline and defeat of Paul's free spirit and of the resurgence of
Judaism in Christianity. He sought to explain the rise of the episcopal
organisation by the example of the synagogue. Ritschl in his _Entstehung
der alt-catholischen Kirche_, 1857, had seen that Baur's theory could
not be true. Christianity did not fall back into Judaism. It went
forward to embrace the Hellenic and Roman world. The institutions,
dogmas, practices of that which, after A.D. 200, may with propriety be
called the Catholic Church, are the fruit of that embrace. There was
here a falling off from primitive and spiritual Christianity. But it was
not a falling back into Judaism. There were priests and scribes and
Pharisees with other names elsewhere. The phenomenon of the waning of
the original enthusiasm of a period of religious revelation has been a
frequent one. Christianity on a grand scale illustrated this phenomenon
anew. Harnack has elaborated this thesis with unexampled brilliancy and
power. He has supported it with a learning in which he has no rival and
with a religious interest which not even hostile critics would deny. The
phrase, 'the Hellenisation of Christianity,' might almost be taken as
the motto of the work to which he owes his fame.


Adolf Harnack was born in 1851 in Dorpat, in one of the Baltic provinces
of Russia. His father, Theodosius Harnack, was professor of pastoral
theology in the University of Dorpat. Harnack studied in Leipzig and
began to teach there in 1874. He was called to the chair of church
history in Giessen in 1879. In 1886 he removed to Marburg and in 1889 to
Berlin. Harnack's earlier published work was almost entirely in the
field of the study of the sources and materials of early church history.
His first book, published in 1873, was an inquiry as to the sources for
the history of Gnosticism. His _Patrum Apostolicorum Opera_, 1876,
prepared by him jointly with von Gehhardt and Zahn, was in a way only a
forecast of the great collection, _Texte und Untersuchungen zur
Geschickte der alt-christlichen Literatur_, begun in 1882, upon which
numbers of scholars have worked together with him. The collection has
already more than thirty-five volumes. In his own two works, _Die
Geschichte der alt-christlichen Literatur bis Eusebius_, 1893, and _Die
Chronologie der alt-christlichen Literatur bis Eusebius_, 1897, are
deposited the results of his reflexion on the mass of this material. His
_Beitrage zur Einleitung in das Neue Testament_, 1906, etc., should not
be overlooked. He has had the good fortune to be among those who have
discovered manuscripts of importance. He has had to do with the Prussian
Academy's edition of the Greek Fathers. A list of his published works,
which was prepared in connexion with the celebration of his sixtieth
birthday in 1911, bears witness to his amazing diligence and fertility.
He was for thirty-five years associated with Schurer in the publication
of the _Theologische Literaturzeitung_. He has filled important posts in
the Church and under the government. To this must be added an activity
as a teacher which has placed a whole generation of students from every
portion of the world under undying obligation. One speaks with reserve
of the living, but surely no man of our generation has done more to make
the history of which we write.

Harnack's epoch-making work was his _Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte_,
1886-88, fourth edition, 1910. The book met, almost from the moment of
its appearance, with the realisation of the magnitude of that which had
been achieved. It rested upon a fresh and independent study of the
sources. It departed from the mechanism which had made the old treatises
upon the history of doctrine formal and lifeless. Harnack realised to
the full how many influences other than theological had had part in the
development of doctrine. He recognised the reaction of modes of life and
practice, and of external circumstances on the history of thought. His
history of doctrine has thus a breadth and human quality never before
attained. Philosophy, worship, morals, the development of Church
government and of the canon, the common interests and passions of the
age and those of the individual participants, are all made tributary to
his delineation.

Harnack cannot share Baur's view that the triumph of the
Logos-Christology at Nicæa and Chalcedon was inevitable. A certain
historic naturalness of the movement he would concede, the world on
which Christianity entered being what it was. He is aware, however, that
many elements other than Christian have entered into the development. He
has phrased his apprehension thus. That Hellenisation of Christianity
which Gnosticism represented, and against which, in this, its acute
form, the Church contended was, after all, the same thing which, by
slower process and more unconsciously, befell the Church itself. That
pure moral enthusiasm and inspiration which had been the gist of the
Christian movement, in its endeavour to appropriate the world, had been
appropriated by the world in far greater measure than its adherents
knew. It had taken up its mission to change the world. It had dreamed
that while changing the world it had itself remained unchanged. The
world was changed, the world of life, of feeling and of thought. But
Christianity was also changed. It had conquered the world. It had no
perception of the fact that it illustrated the old law that the
conquered give laws to the conquerors. It had fused the ancient culture
with the flame of its inspiration. It did not appreciate the degree in
which the elements of that ancient culture now coloured its far-shining
flame. It had been a maker of history. Meantime it had been unmade and
remade by its own history. It confidently carried back its canon, dogma,
organisation, to Christ and the apostles. It did not realise that the
very fact that it could find these things natural and declare them
ancient, proved with conclusiveness that it had itself departed from the
standard of Christ and the apostles. It esteemed that these were its
defences against the world. It little dreamed that they were, by their
very existence, the evidence of the fact that the Church had not
defended itself against the world. Its dogma was the Hellenisation of
its thought. Its organisation was the Romanising of its life. Its canon
and ritual were the externalising, and conventionalising of its spirit
and enthusiasm. These are positive and constructive statements of
Harnack's main position.

When, however, they are turned about and stated negatively, these
statements all convey, more or less, the impression that the advance of
Christianity had been its destruction, and the evolution of dogma had
been a defection from Christ. This is the aspect of the contention which
gave hostile critics opportunity to say that we have before us the
history of the loss of Christianity. Harnack himself has many sentences
which superficially will bear that construction. Hatch had said in his
brilliant book, _The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the
Christian Church_, 1891, that the domestication of Greek philosophy in
the Church signified a defection from the Sermon on the Mount. The
centre of gravity of the Gospel was changed from life to doctrine, from
morals to metaphysics, from goodness to orthodoxy. The change was
portentous. The aspect of pessimism is, however, removed when one
recognises the inevitableness of some such process, if Christianity was
ever to wield an influence in the world at all. Again, one must consider
that the process of the recovery of pure Christianity must begin at
exactly this point, namely, with the recognition of how much in current
Christianity is extraneous. It must begin with the sloughing off of
these extraneous elements, with the recovery of the sense for that which
original Christianity was. Such a recovery would be the setting free
again of the power of the religion itself.

The constant touchstone and point of reference for every stage of the
history of the Church must be the gospel of Jesus. But what was the
gospel of Jesus? In what way did the very earliest Christians apprehend
that gospel? This question is far more difficult for us to answer than
it was for those to whom the New Testament was a closed body of
literature, externally differentiated from all other, and with a
miraculous inspiration extending uniformly to every phrase in any book.
These men would have said that they had but to find the proper
combination of the sacred phrases. But we acknowledge that the central
inspiration was the personality of Jesus. The books possess this
inspiration in varying degree. Certain of the books have distinctly
begun the fusion of Christian with other elements. They themselves
represent the first stages of the history of doctrine. We acknowledge
that those utterances of Jesus which have been preserved for us, shaped
themselves by the antitheses in which Jesus stood. There is much about
them that is palpably incidental, practically relevant and
unquestionably only relative. In a large sense, much of the meaning of
the gospel has to be gathered out of the evidence of the operation of
its spirit in subsequent ages of the Christian Church, and from remoter
aspects of the influence of Jesus on the world. Thus the very conception
of the gospel of Jesus becomes inevitably more or less subjective. It
becomes an ideal construction. The identification of this ideal with the
original gospel proclamation becomes precarious. We seem to move in a
circle. We derive the ideal from the history, and then judge the history
by the ideal.

Is there any escape from this situation, short of the return to the
authority of Church or Scripture in the ancient sense? Furthermore, even
the men to whom the gospel was in the strictest sense a letter,
identified the gospel with their own private interpretation of this
letter. Certainly the followers of Ritschl who will acknowledge no
traits of the gospel save those of which they find direct witness in the
Gospels, thus ignore that the Gospels are themselves interpretations.
This undue stress upon the documents which we are fortunate enough to
possess, makes us forget the limitations of these documents. We tend
thus to exaggerate that which must be only incidental, as, for example,
the Jewish element, in the teaching of Jesus. We thus underrate phases
of Jesus' teaching which, no doubt, a man like Paul would have
apprehended better than did the evangelists themselves. In truth, in
Harnack's own delineation of the teaching of Jesus, those elements of it
which found their way to expression in Paul, or again in the fourth
Gospel, are rather underrated than overstated, in the author's anxiety
to exclude elements which are acknowledged to be interpretative in their
nature. We are driven, in some measure, to seek to find out what the
gospel was from the way in which the earliest Christians took it up. We
return ever afresh to questions nearly unanswerable from the materials
at hand. What was the central principle in the shaping of the earliest
stages of the new community, both as to its thought and life? Was it the
longing for the coming of the Kingdom of God, the striving after the
righteousness of the Sermon on the Mount? Or was it the faith of the
Messiah, the reverence for the Messiah, directed to the person of Jesus?
What word dominated the preaching? Was it that the Kingdom of God was
near, that the Son of Man would come? Or was it that in Jesus Messiah
has come? What was the demand upon the hearer? Was it, Repent, or was
it, Believe on the Lord Jesus, or was it both, and which had the greater
emphasis? Was the name of Jesus used in the formulas of worship before
the time of Paul? What do we know about prayer in the name of Jesus, or
baptism in that name, or miracles in the name of Jesus, or of the Lord's
Supper and the conception of the Lord as present with his disciples in
the rite? Was this revering of Jesus, which was fast moving toward a
worship of him, the inner motive force of the whole construction of the
dogma of his person and of the trinity?

In the second volume Harnack treats of the development primarily of the
Christological and trinitarian dogma, from the fourth to the seventh
centuries. The dramatic interest of the narrative exceeds anything which
has been written on this theme. A debate which to most modern men is
remote and abstruse almost to the point of unintelligibility, and of
which many of the external aspects are disheartening in the extreme, is
here brought before us in something of the reasonableness which it must
have had for those who took part in it. Tertullian shaped the problem
and established the nomenclature for the Christological solution which
the Orient two hundred years later made its own. It was he who, from the
point of view of the Jurist, rather than of the philosopher, gave the
words 'person' and 'substance,' which continually occur in this
discussion, the meaning which in the Nicene Creed they bear. Most
brilliant is Harnack's characterisation of Arius and Athanasius. In
Arius the notion of the Son of God is altogether done away. Only the
name remains. The victory of Arianism would have resolved Christianity
into cosmology and formal ethics. It would have destroyed it as
religion. Yet the perverse situation into which the long and fierce
controversy had drifted cannot be better illustrated than by one
undisputed fact. Athanasius, who assured for Christianity its character
as a religion of the living communion of God with man, is yet the
theologian in whose Christology almost every possible trace of the
recollection of the historic Jesus has disappeared. The purpose of the
redemption is to bring men into community of life with God. But
Athanasius apprehended this redemption as a conferment, from without and
from above, of a divine nature. He subordinated everything to this idea.
The whole narrative concerning Jesus falls under the interpretation that
the only quality requisite for the Redeemer in his work was the
possession in all fulness of the divine nature. His incarnation, his
manifestation in real human life, held fast to in word, is reduced to a
mere semblance. Salvation is not an ethical process, but a miraculous
endowment. The Christ, who was God, lifts men up to godhood. They become
God. These phrases are of course capable of ethical and intelligible
meaning. The development of the doctrine, however, threw the emphasis
upon the metaphysical and miraculous aspects of the work. It gloried in
the fact that the presence of divine and human, two natures in one
person forever, was unintelligible. In the end it came to pass that the
enthusiastic assent to that which defied explanation became the very
mark of a humble and submissive faith. One reads the so-called
Athanasian Creed, and hears the ring of its determination to exact
assent. It had long since been clear to these Catholics and churchmen
that, with the mere authority of Scripture, it was not possible to
defend Christianity against the heretics. The heresies read their
heresies out of the Bible. The orthodox read orthodoxy from the same
page. Marcion had proved that, in the very days when the canon took its
shape. There must be an authority to define the interpretation of the
Scripture. Those who would share the benefits which the Church dispensed
must assent unconditionally to the terms of membership.

All these questions were veiled for the early Christians behind the
question of the kind of Christ in whom their hearts believed. With all
that we have said about the reprehensible admixture of the metaphysical
element in the dogma, with all the accusation which we bring concerning
acute or gradual Hellenisation, secularisation and defection from the
Christ, we ought not to hide from ourselves that in this gigantic
struggle there were real religious interests at stake, and that for the
men of both parties. Dimly, or perhaps vividly, the man of either party
felt that the conception of the Christ which he was fighting for was
congruous with the conception of religion which he had, or felt that he
must have. It is this religious issue, everywhere present, which gives
dignity to a struggle which otherwise does often sadly lack it. There
are two religious views of the person of Christ which have stood, from
the beginning, the one over against the other.[5] The one saw in Jesus
of Nazareth a man, distinguished by his special calling as the Messianic
King, endued with special powers, lifted above all men ever known, yet a
man, completely subject to God in faith, obedience and prayer. This view
is surely sustained by many of Jesus' own words and deeds. It shines
through the testimony of the men who followed him. Even the belief in
his resurrection and his second coming did not altogether do away with
it. The other view saw in him a new God who, descending from God,
brought mysterious powers for the redemption of mankind into the world,
and after short obscuring of his glory, returned to the abode of God,
where he had been before. From this belief come all the hymns and
prayers to Jesus as to God, all miracles and exorcisms in his name.

[Footnote 5: Wernle, _Einfzhrung in das Theologische Studium_, 1908, v.

In the long run, the simpler view did not maintain itself. If false gods
and demons were expelled, it was the God Jesus who expelled them. The
more modest faith believed that in the man Jesus, being such an one as
he was, men had received the greatest gift which the love of God had to
bestow. In turn the believer felt the assurance that he also was a child
of God, and in the spirit of Jesus was to realise that sonship.
Syncretist religions suggested other thoughts. We see that already even
in the synoptic tradition the calling upon the name of Jesus had found
place. One wonders whether that first apprehension ever stood alone in
its purity. The Gentile Churches founded by Paul, at all events, had no
such simple trust. Equally, the second form of faith seems never to have
been able to stand alone in its peculiar quality. Some of the gnostic
sects had it. Marcion again is our example. The new God Jesus had
nothing to do with the cruel God of the Old Testament. He supplanted the
old God and became the only God. In the Church the new God, come down
from heaven, must be set in relation with the long-known God of Israel.
No less, must he stand in relation to the simple hero of the Gospels
with his human traits. The problem of theological reflexion was to find
the right middle course, to keep the divine Christ in harmony, on the
one side, with monotheism, and on the other, with the picture which the
Gospels gave. Belief knew nothing of these contradictions. The same
simple soul thanked God for Jesus with his sorrows and his sympathy, as
man's guide and helper, and again prayed to Jesus because he seemed too
wonderful to be a man. The same kind of faith achieves the same
wondering and touching combination to-day, after two thousand years.
With thought comes trouble. Reflexion wears itself out upon the
insoluble difficulty, the impossible combination, the flat
contradiction, which the two views present, so soon as they are clearly

In the earliest Christian writings the fruit of this reflexion lies
before us in this form:--The Creator of worlds, the mediator, the lord
of angels and demons, the Logos which was God and is our Saviour, was
yet a humble son of man, undergoing suffering and death, having laid
aside his divine glory. This picture is made with materials which the
canonical writings themselves afford. Theological study had henceforth
nothing to do but to avoid extremes and seek to make this image, which
reflexion upon two polar opposites had yielded, as nearly thinkable as
possible. It has been said that the trinitarian doctrine is not in the
New Testament, that it was later elaborated by a different kind of mind.
This is not true. But the inference is precisely the contrary of that
which defenders of the dogma would formerly have drawn from this
concession. The same kind of mind, or rather the same two kinds of mind,
are at work in the New Testament. Both of the religious elements above
suggested are in the Gospels and Epistles. The New Testament presents
attempts at their combination. Either form may be found in the
literature of the later age. If we ask ourselves, What is that in Jesus
which gives us the sense of redemption, surely we should answer, It is
his glad and confident resting in the love of God the Father. It is his
courage, his faith in men, which becomes our faith in ourselves. It is
his wonderful mingling of purity and love of righteousness with love of
those who have sinned. You may find this in the ancient literature, as
the Fathers describe that to which their souls cling. But this is not
the point of view from which the dogma is organised. The Nicene
Christology is not to be understood from this approach. The cry of a
dying civilisation after power and light and life, the feeling that
these might come to it, streaming down as it were, from above, as a
physical, a mechanical, a magical deliverance, this is the frame within
which is set what is here said of the help and redemption wrought by
Christ. The resurrection and the incarnation are the points at which
this streaming in of the divine light and power upon a darkened world is

That religion seemed the highest, that interpretation of Christianity
the truest, the absolute one, which could boast that it possessed the
power of the Almighty through his physical union with men. He who
contended that Jesus was God, contended therewith for a power which
could come upon men and make them in some sense one with God. This is
the view which has been almost exclusively held in the Greek Church. It
is the view which has run under and through and around the other
conception in the Roman and Protestant Churches. The sense that
salvation is inward, moral, spiritual, has rarely indeed been absent
from Christendom. It would be preposterous to allege that it had. Yet
this sense has been overlaid and underrun and shot through with that
other and disparate idea of salvation, as of a pure bestowment,
something achieved apart from us, or, if one may so say, some alteration
of ourselves upon other than moral and spiritual terms. The conception
of the person Christ shows the same uncertainty. Or rather, with a given
view of the nature of religion and salvation, the corresponding view of
Christ is certain. In the age-long and world-wide contest over the
trinitarian formula, with all that is saddening in the struggle and all
that was misleading in the issue, it is because we see men struggling to
come into the clear as to these two meanings of religion, that the
contest has such absorbing interest. Men have been right in declining to
call that religion in which a man saves himself. They have been wrong in
esteeming that they were then only saved of God or Christ when they were
saved by an obviously external process. Even this antinomy is softened
when one no longer holds that God and men are mutually exclusive
conceptions. It is God working within us who saves, the God who in Jesus
worked such a wonder of righteousness and love as else the world has
never seen.



By the middle of the nineteenth century the empirical sciences had
undergone vast expansion in the study of detail and in the discovery of
principles. Men felt the necessity of some adequate discussion of the
relation of these sciences one to another and of their unity. There was
need of the organisation of the mass of knowledge, largely new and ever
increasing, which the sciences furnished. It lay in the logic of the
case that some of these attempts should advance the bold claim to deal
with all knowledge whatsoever and to offer a theory of the universe as a
whole. Religion, both in its mythological and in its theological stages,
had offered a theory of the universe as a whole. The great metaphysical
systems had offered theories of the universe as a whole. Both had
professed to include all facts. Notoriously both theology and
metaphysics had dealt in most inadequate fashion with the material
world, in the study of which the sciences were now achieving great
results. Indeed, the methods current and authoritative with theologians
and metaphysicians had actually prevented study of the physical
universe. Both of these had invaded areas of fact to which their methods
had no application and uttered dicta which had no relation to truth. The
very life of the sciences depended upon deliverance from this bondage.
The record of that deliverance is one of the most dramatic chapters in
the history of thought. Could one be surprised if, in the resentment
which long oppression had engendered and in the joy which overwhelming
victory had brought, scientific men now invaded the fields of their
opponents? They repaid their enemies in their own coin. There was with
some a disposition to deny that there exists an area of knowledge to
which the methods of metaphysicians and theologians might apply. This
was Comte's contention. Others conceded that there might be such an
area, but claimed that we can have no knowledge of it. Even the
theologians, after their first shock, were disposed to concede that,
concerning the magnitudes in which they were most interested, as for
example, God and soul, we have no knowledge of the sort which the method
of the physical sciences would give. They fell back upon Kant's
distinction of the two reasons and two worlds. They exaggerated the
sharpness of that distinction. They learned that the claim of
agnosticism was capable of being viewed as a line of defence, behind
which the transcendental magnitudes might be secure. Indeed, if one may
take Spencer as an example, it is not certain that this was not the
intent of some of the scientists in their strong assertion of
agnosticism. Spencer's later work reveals that he had no disposition to
deny that there are foundations for belief in a world lying behind the
phenomenal, and from which the latter gets its meaning.

Meantime, after positivism was buried and agnosticism dead, a thing was
achieved for which Comte himself laid the foundation and in which
Spencer as he grew older was ever more deeply interested. This was the
great development of the social sciences. Every aspect of the life of
man, including religion itself, has been drawn within the area of the
social sciences. To all these subjects, including religion, there have
been applied empirical methods which have the closest analogy with those
which have reigned in the physical sciences. Psychology has been made a
science of experiment, and the psychology of religion has been given a
place within the area of its observations and generalizations. The
ethical, and again the religious consciousness has been subjected to the
same kind of investigation to which all other aspects of consciousness
are subjected. Effort has been made to ascertain and classify the
phenomena of the religious life of the race in all lands and in all
ages. A science of religions is taking its place among the other
sciences. It is as purely an inductive science as is any other. The
history of religions and the philosophy of religion are being rewritten
from this point of view.

In the first lines of this chapter we spoke of the empirical sciences,
meaning the sciences of the material world. It is clear, however, that
the sciences of mind, of morals and of religion have now become
empirical sciences. They have their basis in experience, the experience
of individuals and the experience of masses of men, of ages of
observable human life. They all proceed by the method of observation and
inference, of hypothesis and verification. There is a unity of method as
between the natural and social and psychical sciences, the reach of
which is startling to reflect upon. Indeed, the physiological aspects of
psychology, the investigations of the relation of adolescence to
conversion, suggest that the distinction between the physical and the
psychical is a vanishing distinction. Science comes nearer to offering
an interpretation of the universe as a whole than the opening paragraphs
of this chapter would imply. But it does so by including religion, not
by excluding it. No one would any longer think of citing Kant's
distinction of two reasons and two worlds in the sense of establishing a
city of refuge into which the persecuted might flee. Kant rendered
incomparable service by making clear two poles of thought. Yet we must
realise how the space between is filled with the gradations of an
absolute continuity of activity. Man has but one reason. This may
conceivably operate upon appropriate material in one or the other of
these polar fashions. It does operate in infinite variations of degree,
in unity with itself, after both fashions, at all times and upon all

Positivism was a system. Agnosticism was at least a phase of thought.
The broadening of the conception of science and the invasion of every
area of life by a science thus broadly conceived, has been an influence
less tangible than those others but not, therefore, less effective.
Positivism was bitterly hostile to Christianity, though, in the mind of
Comte himself and of a few others, it produced a curious substitute,
possessing many of the marks of Roman Catholicism. The name 'agnostic'
was so loosely used that one must say that the contention was hostile to
religion in the minds of some and not of others. The new movement for an
inclusive science is not hostile to religion. Yet it will transform
current conceptions of religion as those others never did. In proportion
as it is scientific, it cannot be hostile. It may at most be
indifferent. Nevertheless, in the long run, few will choose the theme of
religion for the scientific labour of life who have not some interest in
religion. Men of these three classes have accepted the doctrine of
evolution. Comte thought he had discovered it. Spencer and those for
whom we have taken him as type, did service in the elaboration of it. To
the men of our third group, the truth of evolution seems no longer
debatable. Here too, in the word 'evolution,' we have a term which has
been used with laxity. It corresponds to a notion which has only
gradually been evolved. Its implications were at first by no means
understood. It was associated with a mechanical view of the universe
which was diametrically opposed to its truth. Still, there could not be
a doubt that the doctrine contravened those ideas as to the origin of
the world, and more particularly of man, of the relations of species,
and especially of the human species to other forms of animal life, which
had immemorially prevailed in Christian circles and which had the
witness of the Scriptures on their behalf. If we were to attempt, with
acknowledged latitude, to name a book whose import might be said to be
cardinal for the whole movement treated of in this chapter, that book
would be Darwin's _Origin of Species_, which was published in 1859.

Long before Darwin the creation legend had been recognised as such. The
astronomy of the seventeenth century had removed the earth from its
central position. The geology of the eighteenth had shown how long must
have been the ages of the laying down of the earth's strata. The
question of the descent of man, however, brought home the significance
of evolution for religion more forcibly than any other aspect of the
debate had done. There were scientific men of distinction who were not
convinced of the truth of the evolutionary hypothesis. To most Christian
men the theory seemed to leave no unique distinction or spiritual
quality for man. It seemed to render impossible faith in the Scriptures
as revelation. To many it seemed that the whole issue as between a
spiritual and a purely materialistic view of the universe was involved.
Particularly was this true of the English-speaking peoples.

One other factor in the transformation of the Christian view needs to be
dwelt upon. It is less theoretical than those upon which we have dwelt.
It is the influence of socialism, taking that word in its largest sense.
An industrial civilisation has developed both the good and the evil of
individualism in incredible degree. The unity of society which the
feudal system and the Church gave to Europe in the Middle Age had been
destroyed. The individualism and democracy which were essential to
Protestantism notoriously aided the civil and social revolution, but the
centrifugal forces were too great. Initiative has been wonderful, but
cohesion is lacking. Democracy is yet far from being realised. The civil
liberations which were the great crises of the western world from 1640
to 1830 appear now to many as deprived of their fruit. Governments
undertake on behalf of subjects that which formerly no government would
have dreamed of doing. The demand is that the Church, too, become a
factor in the furtherance of the outward and present welfare of mankind.
If that meant the call to love and charity it would be an old refrain.
That is exactly what it does not mean. It means the attack upon evils
which make charity necessary. It means the taking up into the
idealisation of religion the endeavour to redress all wrongs, to do away
with all evils, to confer all goods, to create a new world and not, as
heretofore, mainly at least, a new soul in the midst of the old world.
No one can deny either the magnitude of the evils which it is sought to
remedy, or the greatness of the goal which is thus set before religion.
The volume of religious and Christian literature devoted to these social
questions is immense. It is revolutionary in its effect. For, after all,
the very gist of religion has been held to be that it deals primarily
with the inner life and the transcendent world. That it has dealt with
the problem of the inner life and transcendent world in such a manner as
to retard, or even only not to further, the other aspects of man's life
is indeed a grave indictment. That it should, however, see ends in the
outer life and present world as ends fully sufficient in themselves,
that it should cease to set these in the light of the eternal, is that
it should cease to be religion. The physical and social sciences have
given to men an outward setting in the world, a basis of power and
happiness such as men never have enjoyed. Yet the tragic failure of our
civilisation to give to vast multitudes that power and happiness, is the
proof that something more than the outward basis is needed. The success
of our civilisation is its failure.

This is by no means a recurrence to the old antithesis of religion and
civilisation, as if these were contradictory elements. On the contrary,
it is but to show that the present world of religion and of economics
are not two worlds, but merely different aspects of the same world.
Therewith it is not alleged that religion has not a specific
contribution to make.


The permanent influence of that phase of thought which called itself
Positivism has not been great. But a school of thought which numbered
among its adherents such men and women as John Stuart Mill, George Henry
Lewes, George Eliot, Frederic Harrison, and Matthew Arnold, cannot be
said to have been without significance. A book upon the translation of
which Harriet Martinean worked with sustained enthusiasm cannot be
dismissed as if it were merely a curiosity. Comte's work, _Coura de
Philosophie Positive_, appeared between the years 1830 and 1842. Littré
was his chief French interpreter. But the history of the positivist
movement belongs to the history of English philosophical and religious
thought, rather than to that of France.

Comte was born at Montpellier in 1798, of a family of intense Roman
Catholic piety. He showed at school a precocity which might bear
comparison with Mill's. Expelled from school, cast off by his parents,
dismissed by the elder Casimir Perier, whose secretary he had been, he
eked out a living by tutoring in mathematics. Friends of his philosophy
rallied to his support. He never occupied a post comparable with his
genius. He was unhappy in his marriage. He passed through a period of
mental aberration, due, perhaps, to the strain under which he worked. He
did not regain his liberty without an experience which embittered him
against the Church. During the fourteen years of the production of his
book he cut himself off from any reading save that of current scientific
discovery. He came under the influence of Madame Vaux, whom, after her
death, he idolised even more than before. For the problem which, in the
earlier portion of his work, he set himself, that namely, of the
organising of the sciences into a compact body of doctrine, he possessed
extraordinary gifts. Later, he took on rather the air of a high priest
of humanity, legislating concerning a new religion. It is but fair to
say that at this point Littré and many others parted company with Comte.
He developed a habit and practice ascetic in its rigour and mystic in
its devotion to the positivists' religion--the worship of humanity. He
was the friend and counsellor of working-men and agitators, of little
children, of the poor and miserable. He ended his rather pathetic and
turbulent career in 1857, gathering a few disciples about his bed as he
remembered that Socrates had done.

Comte begins with the natural sciences and postulates the doctrine of
evolution. To the definition of this doctrine he makes some interesting
approaches. The discussion of the order and arrangement of the various
sciences and of their characteristic differences is wonderful in its
insight and suggestiveness. He asserts that in the study of nature we
are concerned solely with the facts before us and the relations which
connect those facts. We have nothing to do with the supposed essence or
hidden nature and meaning of those facts. Facts and the invariable laws
which govern them are the only legitimate objects of pursuit. Comte
infers that because we can know, in this sense, only phenomena and their
relations, we should in consequence guard against illusions which creep
in again if we so much as use the words principle, or cause, or will, or
force. By phenomena must be understood objects of perception, to the
exclusion, for example, of psychological changes reputed to be known in
self-consciousness. That there is no knowledge but of the physical, that
there is no knowing except by perception--this is ever reiterated as
self-evident. Even psychology, resting as it does largely upon the
observation of the self by the self, must be illusive. Physiology, or
even phrenology, with the value of which Comte was much impressed, must
take its place. Every object of knowledge is other than the knowing
subject. Whatever else the mind knows, it can never know itself. By
invincible necessity the human mind can observe all phenomena except its
own. Commenting upon this, James Martineau observed: 'We have had in the
history of thought numerous forms of idealism which construed all
outward phenomena as mere appearances within the mind. We have hitherto
had no strictly corresponding materialism, which claimed certainty for
the outer world precisely because it was foreign to ourselves.' Man is
the highest product of nature, the highest stage of nature's most mature
and complex form. Man as individual is nothing more. Physiology gives us
not merely his external constitution and one set of relations. It is the
whole science of man. There is no study of mind in which its actions and
states can be contemplated apart from the physical basis in conjunction
with which mind exists.

Thus far man has been treated only biologically, as individual. We must
advance to man in society. Almost one half of Comte's bulky work is
devoted to this side of the inquiry. Social phenomena are a class
complex beyond any which have yet been investigated. So much is this the
case and so difficult is the problem presented, that Comte felt
constrained in some degree to change his method. We proceed from
experience, from data in fact, as before. But the facts are not mere
illustrations of the so called laws of individual human nature. Social
facts are the results also of situations which represent the accumulated
influence of past generations. In this, as against Bentham, for example,
with his endless recurrence to human nature, as he called it, Comte was
right. Comte thus first gave the study of history its place in
sociology. In this study of history and sociology, the collective
phenomena are more accessible to us and better known by us, than are the
parts of which they are composed. We therefore proceed here from the
general to the particular, not from the particular to the general, as in
research of the kinds previously named. The state of every part of the
social organisation is ultimately connected with the contemporaneous
state of all the other parts. Philosophy, science, the fine arts,
commerce, navigation, government, are all in close mutual dependence.
When any considerable change takes place in one, we may know that a
parallel change has preceded or will follow in the others. The progress
of society is not the aggregate of partial changes, but the product of a
single impulse acting through all the partial agencies. It can therefore
be most easily traced by studying all together. These are the main
principles of sociological investigation as set forth by Comte, some of
them as they have been phrased by Mill.

The most sweeping exemplification of the axiom last alluded to, as to
parallel changes, is Comte's so-called law of the three states of
civilisation. Under this law, he asserts, the whole historical evolution
can be summed up. It is as certain as the law of gravitation. Everything
in human society has passed, as has the individual man, through the
theological and then through the metaphysical stage, and so arrives at
the positive stage. In this last stage of thought nothing either of
superstition or of speculation will survive. Theology and metaphysics
Comte repeatedly characterises as the two successive stages of
nescience, unavoidable as preludes to science. Equally unavoidable is it
that science shall ultimately prevail in their place. The advance of
science having once begun, there is no possibility but that it will
ultimately possess itself of all. One hears the echo of this confidence
in Haeckel also. There is a persistence about the denial of any
knowledge whatsoever that goes beyond external facts, which ill comports
with the pretensions of positivism to be a philosophy. For its final
claim is not that it is content to rest in experimental science. On the
contrary, it would transform this science into a homogeneous doctrine
which is able to explain everything in the universe. This is but a _tour
de force_. The promise is fulfilled through the denial of the reality of
everything which science cannot explain. Comte was never willing to face
the fact that the very existence of knowledge has a noumenal as well as
a phenomenal side. The reasonableness of the universe is certainly a
conception which we bring to the observation of nature. If we did not
thus bring it with us, no mere observation of nature would ever give it
to us. It is impossible for science to get rid of the conception of
force, and ultimately of cause. There can be no phenomenon which is not
a manifestation of something. The very nomenclature falls into hopeless
confusion without these conceptions. Yet the moment we touch them we
transcend science and pass into the realm of philosophy. It is mere
juggling with words to say that our science has now become a philosophy.

The adjective 'positive' contains the same fallacy. Apparently Comte
meant by the choice of it to convey the sense that he would limit
research to phenomena in their orders of resemblance, co-existence and
succession. But to call the inquiry into phenomena positive, in the
sense that it alone deals with reality, to imply that the inquiry into
causes deals with that which has no reality, is to beg the question.
This is not a premise with which he may set out in the evolution of his

Comte denied the accusation of materialism and atheism. He did the first
only by changing the meaning of the term materialism. Materialism the
world has supposed to be the view of man's condition and destiny which
makes these to begin and end in nature. That certainly was Comte's view.
The accusation of atheism also he avoids by a mere play on words. He is
not without a God. Humanity is God. Mankind is the positivist's Supreme.
Altruism takes the place of devotion. The devotion so long wasted upon a
mere creature of the imagination, to whom it could do no good, he would
now give to men who sorely need it and can obviously profit by it.
Surely the antithesis between nature and the supernatural, in the form
in which Comte argues against it, is now abandoned by thoughtful people.
Equally the antithesis of altruism to the service of God is perverse. It
arouses one's pity that Comte should not have seen how, in true religion
these two things coalesce.

Moreover, this deification of mankind, in so far as it is not a sounding
phrase, is an absurdity. When Comte says, for example, that the
authority of humanity must take the place of that of God, he has
recognised that religion must have authority. Indeed, the whole social
order must have authority. However, this is not for him, as we are
accustomed to say, the authority of the truth and of the right. There is
no such abstraction as the truth, coming to various manifestations.
There is no such thing as right, apart from relatively right concrete
measures. There is no larger being indwelling in men. Society, humanity
in its collective capacity, must, if need be, override the individual.
Yet Comte despises the mere rule of majorities. The majority which he
would have rule is that of those who have the scientific mind. We may
admit that in this he aims at the supremacy of truth. But, in fact, he
prepares the way for a doctrinaire tyranny which, of all forms of
government, might easily turn out to be the worst which a long-suffering
humanity has yet endured.

In the end, we are told, love is to take the place of force. Humanity is
present to us first in our mothers, wives and daughters. For these it is
present in their fathers, husbands, sons. From this primary circle love
widens and worship extends as hearts enlarge. It is the prayer to
humanity which first rises above the mere selfishness of the sort to get
something out of God. Remembrance in the hearts of those who loved us
and owe something to us is the only worthy form of immortality. Clearly
it is only the caricature of prayer or of the desire of immortality
which rises before Comte's mind as the thing to be escaped. For this
caricature religious men, both Catholic and Protestant, without doubt,
gave him cause. There were to be seven sacraments, corresponding to
seven significant epochs in a man's career. There were to be priests for
the performance of these sacraments and for the inculcation of the
doctrines of positivism. There were to be temples of humanity, affording
opportunity for and reminder of this worship. In each temple there was
to be set up the symbol of the positivist religion, a woman of thirty
years with her little son in her arms. Littré spoke bitterly of the
positivist religion as a lapse of the author into his old aberration.
This religion was certainly regarded as negligible by many to whom his
system as a whole meant a great deal. At least, it is an interesting
example, as is also his transformation of science into a philosophy, of
the resurgence of valid elements in life, even in the case of a man who
has made it his boast to do away with them.


We may take Spencer as representative of a group of men who, after the
middle of the nineteenth century, laboured enthusiastically to set forth
evolutionary and naturalistic theories of the universe. These theories
had also, for the most part, the common trait that they professed
agnosticism as to all that lay beyond the reach of the
natural-scientific methods, in which the authors were adept. Both Ward
and Boutroux accept Spencer as such a type. Agnosticism for obvious
reasons could be no system. Naturalism is a tendency in interpretation
of the universe which has many ramifications. There is no intention of
making the reference to one man's work do more than serve as
introduction to the field.

Spencer was eager in denial that he had been influenced by Comte. Yet
there is a certain reminder of Comte in Spencer's monumental endeavour
to systematise the whole mass of modern scientific knowledge, under the
general title of 'A Synthetic Philosophy.' He would show the unity of
the sciences and their common principles or, rather, the one great
common principle which they all illustrate, the doctrine of evolution,
as this had taken shape since the time of Darwin. Since 1904 we have an
autobiography of Herbert Spencer, which, to be sure, seems largely to
have been written prior to 1889. The book is interesting, as well in the
light which it throws upon the expansion of the sciences and the
development of the doctrine of evolution in those years, as in the
revelation of the personal traits of the man himself. Concerning these
Tolstoi wrote to a friend, apropos of a gift of the book: 'In
autobiographies the most important psychological phenomena are often
revealed quite independently of the author's will.'

Spencer was born in 1820 in Derby, the son of a schoolmaster. He came of
Nonconformist ancestry of most marked individuality. His early education
was irregular and inadequate. Before he reached the age of seventeen his
reading had been immense. He worked with an engineer in the period of
the building of the railways in the Midlands. He always retained his
interest in inventions. He wrote for the newspapers and magazines and
definitely launched upon a literary career. At the age of thirty he
published his first book, on _Social Statics_. He made friends among the
most notable men and women of his age. So early as 1855 he was the
victim of a disease of the heart which never left him. It was on his
recovery from his first grave attack that he shaped the plan which
henceforth held him, of organising the modern sciences and incorporating
them into what he called a synthetic philosophy. There was immense
increase in actual knowledge and in the power of his reflection on that
knowledge, as the years went by. A generation elapsed between the
publication of his _First Principles_ and the conclusion of his more
formal literary labours. There is something captivating about a man's
life, the energy of which remains so little impaired that he esteems it
better to write a new book, covering some untouched portion of his
scheme, than to give to an earlier volume the revision which in the
light of his matured convictions it may need. His philosophical
limitations he never transcended. He does not so naïvely offer a
substitute for philosophy as does Comte. But he was no master in
philosophy. There is a reflexion of the consciousness of this fact in
his agnosticism.

That the effort of the agnostic contention has been great, and on the
whole salutary, few would deny. Spencer's own later work shows that his
declaration, that the absolute which lies behind the universe is
unknowable, is to be taken with considerable qualification. It is only a
relative unknowableness which he predicates. Moreover, before Spencer's
death, the doctrine of evolution had made itself profoundly felt in the
discussion of all aspects of life, including that of religion. There
seemed no longer any reason for the barrier between science and religion
which Spencer had once thought requisite.

The epithet agnostic, as applied to a certain attitude of scientific
mind, is just, as over against excessive claims to valid knowledge made,
now by theology and now by speculative philosophy. It is hardly
descriptive in any absolute sense. Spencer had coined the rather
fortunate illustration which describes science as a gradually increasing
sphere, such that every addition to its surface does but bring us into
more extensive contact with surrounding nescience. Even upon this
illustration Ward has commented that the metaphor is misleading. The
continent of our knowledge is not merely bounded by an ocean of
ignorance. It is intersected and cut up by straits and seas of
ignorance. The author of _Ecce Coelum_ has declared: 'Things die out
under the microscope into the same unfathomed and, so far as we can see,
unfathomable mystery, into which they die off beyond the range of our
most powerful telescope.' This sense of the circumambient unknown has
become cardinal with the best spirits of the age. Men have a more
rigorous sense of what constitutes knowledge.

They have reckoned more strictly with the methods by which alone secure
and solid knowledge may be attained. They have undisguised scepticism as
to alleged knowledge not arrived at in those ways. It was the working of
these motives which gave to the labours of the middle of the nineteenth
century so prevailingly the aspect of denial, the character which
Carlyle described as an everlasting No. This was but a preparatory
stage, a retrogression for a new and firmer advance.

In the sense of the recognition of our ignorance and of a becoming
modesty of affirmation, over against the mystery into which all our
thought runs out, we cannot reject the correction which agnosticism has
administered. It is a fact which has had disastrous consequences, that
precisely the department of thought, namely the religious, which one
might suppose would most have reminded men of the outlying mystery, that
phase of life whose very atmosphere is mystery, has most often been
guilty of arrant dogmatism. It has been thus guilty upon the basis of
the claim that it possessed a revelation. It has allowed itself
unlimited licence of affirmation concerning the most remote and
difficult matters. It has alleged miraculously communicated information
concerning those matters. It has clothed with a divine
authoritativeness, overriding the mature reflexion and laborious
investigation of learned men, that which was, after all, nothing but the
innocent imaginings of the childhood of the race. In this good sense of
a parallel to that agnosticism which scientists profess for themselves
within their own appointed realm, there is a religious agnosticism which
is one of the best fruits of the labour of the age. It is not that
religious men have abandoned the thought of revelation. They apprehended
more justly the nature of revelation. They confess that there is much
ignorance which revelation does not mitigate. _Exeunt omnia in
mysterium_. They are prepared to say concerning many of the dicta of
religiosity, that they cannot affirm their truth. They are prepared to
say concerning the experience of God and the soul, that they know these
with an indefeasible certitude. This just and wholesome attitude toward
religious truth is only a corollary of the attitude which science has
taught us toward all truth whatsoever.

The strictly philosophic term phenomenon, to which science has taken so
kindly, is in itself an explicit avowal of something beyond the
phenomenal. Spencer is careful to insist upon this relation of the
phenomenal to the noumenal. His _Synthetic Philosophy_ opens with an
exposition of this non-relative or absolute, without which the relative
itself becomes contradictory. It is an essential part of Spencer's
doctrine to maintain that our consciousness of the absolute, indefinite
as it is, is positive and not negative. 'Though the absolute cannot in
any manner or degree be known, in the strict sense of knowing, yet we
find that its positive existence is a necessary datum of consciousness.
The belief which this datum of consciousness constitutes has a higher
warrant than any other belief whatsoever.' In short, the absolute or
noumenal, according to Spencer, though not known as the phenomenal or
relative is known, is so far from being for knowledge a pure blank, that
the phenomenal, which is said to be known, is in the strict sense
inconceivable without it. This actuality behind appearances, without
which appearances are unthinkable, is by Spencer identified with that
ultimate verity upon which religion ever insists. Religion itself is a
phenomenon, and the source and secret of most complex and interesting
phenomena. It has always been of the greatest importance in the history
of mankind. It has been able to hold its own in face of the attacks of
science. It must contain an element of truth. All religions, however,
assert that their God is for us not altogether cognisable, that God is a
great mystery. The higher their rank, the more do they acknowledge this.
It is by the flippant invasion of this mystery that the popular
religiosity offends. It talks of God as if he were a man in the next
street. It does not distinguish between merely imaginative fetches into
the truth, and presumably accurate definition of that truth. Equally,
the attempts which are logically possible at metaphysical solutions of
the problem, namely, theism, pantheism, and atheism, if they are
consistently carried out, assert, each of them, more than we know and
are involved in contradiction with themselves. But the results of modern
physics and chemistry reveal, as the constant element in all phenomena,
force. This manifests itself in various forms which are interchangeable,
while amid all these changes the force remains the same. This latter
must be regarded as the reality, and basis of all that is relative and
phenomenal. The entire universe is to be explained from the movements of
this absolute force. The phenomena of nature and of mental life come
under the same general laws of matter, motion, and force.

Spencer's doctrine, as here stated, is not adequate to account for the
world of mental life or adapted to serve as the basis of a
reconciliation of science and religion. It does not carry us beyond
materialism. Spencer's real intention was directed to something higher
than that. If the absolute is to be conceived at all, it is as a
necessary correlative of our self-consciousness. If we get the idea of
force from the experience of our own power of volition, is it not
natural to think of mind-force as the prius of physical force, and not
the reverse? Accordingly, the absolute force, basis of all specific
forces, would be mind and will. The doctrine of evolution would
harmonise perfectly with these inferences. But it would have to become
idealistic evolution, as in Schelling, instead of materialistic, as in
Comte. We are obliged, Spencer owns, to refer the phenomenal world of
law and order to a first cause. He says that this first cause is
incomprehensible. Yet he further says, when the question of attributing
personality to this first cause is raised, that the choice is not
between personality and something lower. It is between personality and
something higher. To this may belong a mode of being as much
transcending intelligence and will as these transcend mechanical motion.
It is strange, he says, that men should suppose the highest worship to
lie in assimilating the object of worship to themselves. And yet, again,
in one of the latest of his works he writes: 'Unexpected as it will be
to most of my readers, I must assert that the power which manifests
itself in consciousness is but a differently conditioned form of the
power which manifests itself beyond consciousness. The conception to
which the exploration of nature everywhere tends is much less that of a
universe of dead matter than that of a universe everywhere alive.'

Similar is the issue in the reflexion of Huxley. Agnosticism had at
first been asserted in relation to the spiritual and the teleological.
It ended in fastening upon the material and mechanical. After all, says
Huxley, in one of his essays:--'What do we know of this terrible matter,
except as a name for an unknown and hypothetical cause of states of our
own consciousness? Again, what do we know of that spirit over whose
threatened extinction by matter so great lamentation has now arisen,
except that it is also a name for an unknown and hypothetical cause of
states of our consciousness?' He concedes that matter is inconceivable
apart from mind, but that mind is not inconceivable apart from matter.
He concedes that the conception of universal and necessary law is an
ideal. It is an invention of the mind's own devising. It is not a
physical fact. In brief, taking agnostic naturalism just as it seemed
disposed a generation ago to present itself, it now appears as if it had
been turned exactly inside out. Instead of the physical world being
primary and fundamental and the mental world secondary, if not
altogether problematical, the precise converse is true.

Nature, as science regards it, may be described as a system whose parts,
be they simple or complex, are wholly governed by universal laws.
Knowledge of these laws is an indispensable condition of that control of
nature upon which human welfare in so large degree depends. But this
reign of law is an hypothesis. It is not an axiom which it would be
absurd to deny. It is not an obvious fact, thrust upon us whether we
will or no. Experiences are possible without the conception of law and
order. The fruit of experience in knowledge is not possible without it.
That is only to say that the reason why we assume that nature is a
connected system of uniform laws, lies in the fact that we ourselves are
self-conscious personalities. When the naturalists say that the notion
of cause is a fetish, an anthropomorphic superstition which we must
eliminate, we have to answer: 'from the realm of empirical science
perhaps, but not from experience as a whole.' Indeed, a glance at the
history, and particularly at the popular literature, of science affords
the interesting spectacle of the rise of an hallucination, the growth of
a habit of mythological speech, which is truly surprising. We begin to
hear of self-existent laws which reign supreme and bind nature fast in
fact. By this learned substitution for God, it was once confidently
assumed that the race was to emerge from mythical dawn and metaphysical
shadows into the noon-day of positive knowledge. Rather, it would appear
that at this point a part of the human race plunged into a new era of
myth-making and fetish worship--the homage to the fetish of law. Even
the great minds do not altogether escape. 'Fact I know and law I know,'
says Huxley, with a faint suggestion of sacred rhetoric. But surely we
do not know law in the same sense in which we know fact. If there are no
causes among our facts, then we do not know anything about the laws. If
we do know laws it is because we assume causes. If, in the language of
rational beings, laws of nature are to be spoken of as self-existent and
independent of the phenomena which they are said to govern, such
language must be merely analogous to the manner in which we often speak
of the civil law. We say the law does that which we know the executive
does. But the thorough-going naturalist cast off these implications as
the last rags of a creed outworn. Physicists were fond of talking of the
movement of molecules, just as the ancient astrologers imagined that the
planets had souls and guided their own courses. We had supposed that
this was anthropomorphism. In truth, this would-be scientific mode of
speech is as anthropomorphic as is the cosmogony of Hesiod, only on a
smaller scale. Primitive religion ascribed life to everything of which
it talked. Polytheism in religion and independent forces and
self-existent laws in science are thus upon a par. The gods many and
lords many, so amenable to concrete presentation in poetry and art, have
given place to one Supreme Being. So also light, heat, and other natural
agencies, palpable and ready to hand for the explanation of everything,
in the myth-making period of science which living men can still
remember, have by this time paled. They have become simply various
manifestations of one underlying spiritual energy, which is indeed
beyond our perception.[6] When Comte said that the universe could not
rest upon will, because then it would be arbitrary, incalculable,
subject to caprice, one feels the humour and pathos of it. Comte's
experience with will, his own and that of others, had evidently been too
largely of that sad sort. Real freedom consists in conformity to what
ought to be. In God, whom we conceive as perfect, this conformity is
complete. With us it remains an ideal. Were we the creatures of a blind
mechanical necessity there could be no talk of ideal standards and no
meaning in reason at all.

[Footnote 6: Ward, _Naturalism and Agnosticism_, vol. ii. p. 248.]


In the progress of the thought of the generation, say, from 1870 to the
present day, the conception of evolution has been much changed. The
doctrine of evolution has itself been largely evolved within that
period. The application of it has become familiar in fields of which
there was at first no thought. The bearing of the acceptance of it upon
religion has been seen to be quite different from that which was at
first supposed. The advocacy of the doctrine was at first associated
with the claims of naturalism or positivism. Wider applications of the
doctrine and deeper insight into its meaning have done away with this
misunderstanding. Evolution, as originally understood, was as far as
possible from suggesting anything mechanical. By the term was meant
primarily the gradual unfolding of a living germ from its embryonic
beginning to its mature and final stage. This adult form was regarded
not merely as the goal actually reached through successive stages of
growth. It was conceived as the end aimed at, and achieved through the
force of some vital or ideal principle shaping the plastic material and
directing the process of growth. In short, evolution implied ideal ends
controlling physical means. Yet we find with Spencer, as prevailingly
also with others in the study of the natural sciences, the ideas of end
and of cause looked at askance. They are regarded an outside the pale of
the natural sciences. In a very definite sense that is true. The logical
consequence of this admission should be merely the recognition that the
idea of evolution as developed in the natural sciences cannot be the
whole idea.

The entire history of anything, Spencer tells us, must include its
appearance out of the imperceptible, and its disappearance again into
the imperceptible. Be it a single object, or the whole universe, an
account which begins with it in a concrete form, or leaves off with its
concrete form, is incomplete. He uses a familiar instance, that of a
cloud appearing when vapour drifts over a cold mountain top, and again
disappearing when it emerges into warmer air. The cloud emerges from the
imperceptible as heat is dissipated. It is dissolved again as heat is
absorbed and the watery particles evaporate. Spencer esteems this an
analogue of the appearance of the universe itself, according to the
nebular hypothesis. Yet assuredly, as the cloud presupposes vapours
which had previously condensed, and the vapour clouds that had
previously evaporated, and as clouds dissolve in one place even at the
moment that they are forming in another, so we are told of nebulæ which
are in every phase of advance or of decline. To ask which was first,
solid masses or nebulous haze, is much like recurring to the riddle of
the hen and the egg. Still, we are told, we have but to extend our
thought beyond this emergence and subsidence of sidereal systems, of
continents, nations, men, to find a permanent totality made up of
transient individuals in every stage of change. The physical assumption
with which Spencer sets out is that the mass of the universe and its
energy are fixed in quantity. All the phenomena of evolution are
included in the conservation of this matter and force.

Besides the criticism which was offered above, that the mere law of the
persistence of force does not initiate our series, there is a further
objection. Even within the series, once it has been started, this law of
the persistence of force is solely a quantitative law. When energy is
transformed there is an equivalence between the new form and the old. Of
the reasons for the direction evolution takes, for the permanence of
that direction once it has been taken, so that the sequence of forms is
a progression, the explication of a latent nature--of all this, the mere
law of the persistence of force gives us no explanation whatever. The
change at random from one form of manifestation to another might be a
striking illustration of the law of the persistence of force, but it
would be the contradiction of evolution. The very notion of evolution is
that of the sequence of forms, so that something is expressed or
achieved. That achievement implies more than the mere force. Or rather,
it involves a quality of the force with which the language of mechanism
does not reckon. It assumes the idea which gives direction to the force,
an ideal quality of the force.

Unquestionably that which men sought to be rid of was the idea of
purpose in nature, in the old sense of design in the mind of God,
external to the material universe, of force exerted upon nature from
without, so as to cause nature to conform to the design of its 'Great
Original,' in Addison's high phrase. In this effort, however, the
reducing of all to mere force and permutation of force, not merely
explains nothing, but contradicts facts which stare us in the face. It
deprives evolution of the quality which makes it evolution. To put in
this incongruous quality at the beginning, because we find it necessary
at the end, is, to say the least, naïve. To deny that we have put it in,
to insist that in the marvellous sequence we have only an illustration
of mechanism and of conservation of force, is perverse. We passed
through an era in which some said that they did not believe in God;
everything was accounted for by evolution. In so far as they meant that
they did not believe in the God of deism and of much traditional
theology, they did not stand alone in this claim. In so far as they
meant by evolution mere mechanism, they explained nothing and destroyed
the notion of evolution besides. In so far as they meant more than mere
mechanism, they lapsed into the company of the scientific myth-makers to
whom we alluded above. They attributed to their abstraction, evolution,
qualities which other people found in the forms of the universe viewed
as the manifestation of an immanent God. Only by so doing were they able
to ascribe to evolution that which other people describe as the work of
God. At this level the controversy becomes one simply about words.

Of course, the great illumination as to the meaning of evolution has
come with its application to many fields besides the physical. Darwin
was certainly the great inaugurator of the evolutionary movement in
England. Still, Darwin's problem was strictly limited. The impression is
widespread that the biological evolutionary theories were first
developed, and furnished the basis for the others. Yet both Hegel and
Comte, not to speak of Schelling, were far more interested in the
intellectual and historical, the ethical and social aspects of the
question. Both Hegel and Comte were, whether rightly or wrongly, rather
contemptuous of the appeal to biology and organic life. Both had the
sense that they used a great figure of speech when they spoke of society
as an organism, and compared the working of institutions to biological
functions. This is indeed the question. It is a question over which
Spencer sets himself lightly. He passes back and forth between organic
evolution and the ethical, economic, and social movements which are
described by the same term, as if we were in possession of a perfectly
safe analogy, or rather as if we were assured of an identical principle.
Much that is already archaic in Spencer's economic and social, his
historical and ethical, not to say his religious, chapters is due to the
influence of this fact. Of his own mind it was true that he had come to
the doctrine of evolution from the physical side. He brought to his
other subjects a more or less developed method of operating with the
conception. He never fully realised how new subjects would alter the
method and transform the conception. Spencerian evolution is an
assertion of the all-sufficiency of natural law. The authority of
conscience is but the experience of law-abiding and dutiful generations
flowing in our veins. The public weal has hold over us, because the
happiness and misery of past ages are inherited by us.

It marked a great departure when Huxley began vigorously to dissent from
these views. According to him evolutionary science has done nothing for
ethics. Men become ethical only as they set themselves against the
principles embodied in the evolutionary process of the world. Evolution
is the struggle for existence. It is preposterous to say that man became
good by succeeding in the struggle for existence. Instead of the old
single movement, as in Spencer, straight from the nebula to the saint,
Huxley has place for suffering. Suffering is most intense in man
precisely under conditions most essential to the evolution of his nobler
powers. The loss of ease or money may be gain in character. The cosmical
process is not only full of pain. It is full of mercilessness and of
wickedness. Good has been evolved, but so has evil. The fittest may have
survived. There is no guarantee that they are the best. The continual
struggle against our fellows poisons our higher life. It will hardly do
to say with Huxley that the ethical struggle is the reverse of the
cosmical process. Nevertheless, we have here a most interesting
transformation in thought.

These ideas and principles, as is well known, were elaborated and
advanced upon in a very popular book, Drummond's _Ascent of Man_, 1894.
Even the title was a happy and suggestive one. Struggle for life is a
fact, but it is not the whole fact. It is balanced by the struggle for
the life of others. This latter reaches far down into the levels of what
we call brute life. Its divinest reach is only the fulfilment of the
real nature of humanity. It is the living with men which develops the
moral in man. The prolongation of infancy in the higher species has had
to do with the development of moral nature. So only that we hold a
sufficiently deep view of reason, provided we see clearly that reason
transforms, perfects, makes new what we inherit from the beast, we need
not fear for morality, though it should universally be taught that
morality came into being by the slow and gradual fashioning of brute

Benjamin Kidd in his _Social Evolution_, 1895, has reverted again to
extreme Darwinism in morals and sociology. The law is that of unceasing
struggle. Reason does not teach us to moderate the struggle. It but
sharpens the conflict. All religions are præter-rational, Christianity
most of all, in being the most altruistic. Kidd, not without reason,
comments bitterly upon Spencer's Utopia, the passage of militarism into
industrialism. The struggle in industrialism is fiercer than ever.
Reason affects the animal nature of man for the worse. Clearly conscious
of what he is doing, man objects to sacrificing himself for his family
or tribe. Instinct might lead an ape to do that. Intelligence warns a
man against it. Reason is cruel beyond anything dreamed of in the beast.
That portion of the community which loves to hear the abuse of reason,
rejoiced to hear this phrase. They rejoiced when they heard that
religion was the only remedy, and that religion was ultra-rational,
contra-rational, supernatural, in this new sense. How one comes by it,
or how one can rationally justify the yielding of allegiance to it, is
not clear. One must indeed have the will to believe if one believes on
these terms.

These again are but examples. They convey but a superficial impression
of the effort to apply the conception of evolution to the moral and
religious life of man. All this has taken place, of course, in a far
larger setting that of the endeavour to elaborate the evolutionary view
of politics and of the state, of economics and of trade, of social life
and institutions, of culture and civilisation in every aspect. This
elaboration and reiteration of the doctrine of evolution sometimes
wearies us. It is but the unwearied following of the main clue to the
riddle of the universe which the age has given us. It is nothing more
and nothing less than the endeavour to apprehend the ideal life, no
longer as something held out to us, set up before us, but also as
something working within us, realising itself through us and among us.
To deny the affinity of this with religion would be fatuous and also
futile. Temporarily, at least, and to many interests of religion, it
would be fatal.


It must be evident that the total view of the universe which the
acceptance of the doctrine of evolution implies, has had effect in the
diminution of the acuteness of the question concerning miracles. It
certainly gives to that question a new form. A philosophy which asserts
the constant presence of God in nature and the whole life of the world,
a criticism which has given us a truer notion of the documents which
record the biblical miracles, the reverent sense of ignorance which our
increasing knowledge affords, have tended to diminish the dogmatism of
men on either side of the debate. The contention on behalf of the
miracle, in the traditional sense of the word, once seemed the bulwark
of positive religion, the distinction between the man who was satisfied
with a naturalistic explanation of the universe and one whose devout
soul asked for something more. On the other hand, the contention against
the miracle appeared to be a necessary corollary of the notion of a law
and order which are inviolable throughout the universe. Furthermore,
many men have come of themselves to the conclusion for which
Schleiermacher long ago contended. Whatever may be theoretically
determined concerning miracles, yet the miracle can never again be
regarded as among the foundations of faith. This is for the simplest of
reasons. The belief in a miracle presupposes faith. It is the faith
which sustains the miracle, and not the miracle the faith. Jesus is to
men the incomparable moral and spiritual magnitude which he is, not on
the evidence of some unparalleled things physical which it is alleged he
did. Quite the contrary, it is the immediate impression of the moral and
spiritual wonder which Jesus is, that prepares what credence we can
gather for the wonders which it is declared he did. This is a transfer
of emphasis, a redistribution of weight in the structure of our thought,
the relief of which many appreciate who have not reasoned the matter
through for themselves.

Schleiermacher had said, and Herrmann and others repeat the thought,
that, as the Christian faith finds in Christ the highest revelation,
miracles may reasonably be expected of him. Nevertheless, he adds, these
deeds can be called miracles or esteemed extraordinary, only as
containing something which was beyond contemporary knowledge of the
regular and orderly connexion between physical and spiritual life.
Therewith, it must be evident, that the notion of the miraculous is
fundamentally changed. So it comes to pass that we have a book like
Mackintosh's _Natural History of the Christian Religion_, 1894, whose
avowed purpose is to do away with the miraculous altogether. Of course,
the author means the traditional notion of the miraculous, according to
which it is the essence of arbitrariness and the negation of law. It is
not that he has less sense for the divine life of the world, or for the
quality of Christianity as revelation. On the other hand, we have a book
like Percy Gardner's _Exploratio Evangelica_, 1899. With the most
searching criticism of the narratives of some miracles, there is
reverent confession, on the author's part, that he is baffled by the
reports of others. There is recognition of unknown possibilities in the
case of a character like that of Jesus. It is not that Gardner has a
less stringent sense of fact and of the inexorableness of law than has
Mackintosh or an ardent physicist. The problem is reduced to that of the
choice of expression. We are not able to withhold a justification of the
scholar who declares: We must not say that we believe in the miraculous.
This language is sure to be appropriated by those who still take their
departure from the old dualism, now hopelessly obsolete, for which a
breach of the law of nature was the crowning evidence of the love of
God. On the other hand, the assertion that we do not believe in the
miraculous will easily be taken by some to mean the denial of the whole
sense of the nearness and power and love of God, and of the unimagined
possibilities of such a moral nature as was that of Christ. It is to be
repeated that we have here a mere difference as to terms. The debate is
no longer about ideas.

The traditional notion of the miracle arose out of the confusion of two
series of ideas which, in the last analysis, have nothing to do with
each other. On the one hand, there is the conception of law and order,
of cause and effect, of the unbroken connexion of nature. On the other
hand is the thought of the divine purpose in the life of the world and
of the individual. By the aid of that first sequence of thoughts we find
ourselves in the universe and interpret the world of fact to ourselves.
Yet in the other sequence lies the essence of religion. The two
sequences may perfectly well coexist in the same mind. Out of the
attempt to combine them nothing clear or satisfying can issue. If one
should be, to-day, brought face to face with a fact which was alleged to
be a miracle, his instinctive effort would be, nevertheless, to seek to
find its cause, to establish for it a connexion in the natural order. In
the ancient world men did not argue thus, nor in the modern world until
less than two hundred years ago. The presumption of the order of nature
had not assumed for them the proportions which it has for us. For us it
is overwhelming, self-evident. Therewith is not involved that we lack
belief in a divine purpose for the world and for the individual life.

We do not deny that there are laws of nature of which we have no
experience, facts which we do not understand, events which, if they
should occur, would stand before us as unique. Still, the decisive thing
is, that in face of such an event, instead of viewing it quite simply as
a divine intervention, as men used to do, we, with equal simplicity and
no less devoutness, conceive that same event as only an illustration of
a connexion in nature which we do not understand. There is no inherent
reason why we may not understand it. When we do understand it, there
will be nothing more about it that is conceivably miraculous. There will
be then no longer a unique quality attaching to the event. Therewith
ends the possible significance of such an event as proof of divine
intervention for our especial help. We have but a connexion in nature
such that, whether understood or not, if it were to recur, the event
would recur.

The miracles which are related in the Scripture may be divided for our
consideration into three classes. To the first class belong most of
those which are related in the Old Testament, but some also which are
conspicuous in the New Testament. They are, in some cases, the poetical
and imaginative representation of the profoundest religious ideas. So
soon as one openly concedes this, when there is no longer any necessity
either to attack or to defend the miracle in question, one is in a
position to acknowledge how deep and wonderful the thoughts often are
and how beautiful the form in which they are conveyed. It is through
imagination and symbolism that we are able to convey the subtlest
meanings which we have. Still more was this the case with men of an
earlier age. In the second place, the narratives of miracles are, some
of them, of such a sort that we may say that an event or circumstance in
nature has been obviously apprehended in naïve fashion. This by no means
forbids us to interpret that same event in quite a different way. The
men of former time, exactly in proportion as they had less sense of the
order of nature than have we, so were they also far readier to assume
the immediate forthputting of the power of God. This was true not merely
of the uneducated. It is difficult, or even impossible, for us to find
out what the event was. Fact and apprehension are inextricably
interwoven. That which really happened is concealed from us by the tale
which had intended to reveal it. In the third place, there are many
cases in the history of Jesus, and some in that of the apostles and
prophets, in which that which is related moves in the borderland between
body and soul, spirit and matter, the region of the influence of will,
one's own or that of another, over physical conditions. Concerning such
cases we are disposed, far more than were men even a few years ago, to
concede that there is much that is by no means yet investigated, and the
soundest judgment we can form is far from being sure. Even if we
recognise to the full the lamentable resurgence of outworn superstitions
and stupidities, which again pass current among us for an unhappy
moment, if we detect the questionable or manifestly evil consequences of
certain uses made or alleged of psychic influence, yet still we are not
always in a position to say, with certainty, what is true in tales of
healing which we hear in our own day. There are certain of the
statements concerning Jesus' healing power and action which are
absolutely baffling. They can be eliminated from the narrative only by a
procedure which might just as well eliminate the narrative. In many of
the narratives there may be much that is true. In some all may be as
related. In Jesus' time, on the witness of the Scripture itself, it was
assumed as something no one questioned, that miraculous deeds were
performed, not alone by Jesus and the apostles, but by many others, and
not always even by the good. Such deeds were performed through the power
of evil spirits as well as by the power of God. To imagine that the
working of miracles proved that Jesus came from God, is the most patent
importation of a modern apologetic notion into the area of ancient
thought. We must remember that Jesus himself laid no great weight upon
the miracles which we assume that he believed he wrought, and some of
which we may believe that he did work. Many he performed with hesitation
and desired so far as possible to conceal.

Even if we were in a position at one point or another in the life of
Jesus to defend the traditional assumptions concerning the miraculous,
yet it must be evident how opposed it is to right reason, to lay stress
on the abstract necessity of belief in the miraculous. The traditional
conception of the miraculous is done away for us. This is not at all by
the fact that we are in a position to say with Matthew Arnold: 'The
trouble with miracles is that they never happen.' We do not know enough
to say that. To stake all on the assertion of the impossibility of
so-called miracles is as foolish as to stake much on the affirmation of
their actuality. The connexion of nature is only an induction. This can
never be complete. The real question is both more complex and also more
simple. The question is whether, even if an event, the most unparalleled
of those related in the Gospels or outside of them, should be proved
before our very eyes to have taken place, the question is whether we
should believe it to have been a miracle in the traditional sense, an
event in which the actual--not the known, but the possible--order of
nature had been broken through, and in the old sense, God had
arbitrarily supervened.

Allowed that the event were, in our own experience and in the known
experience of the race, unparalleled, yet it would never occur to us to
suppose but that there was a law of this case, also, a connexion in
nature in which, as work of God, it occurred, and in which, if the
conditions were repeated, it would recur. We should unceasingly
endeavour through observation, reflexion, and new knowledge, to show how
we might subordinate this event in the connexion of nature which we
assume. We should feel that we knew more, and not less, of God, if we
should succeed. And if our effort should prove altogether futile, we
should be no less sure that such natural connexion exists. This is
because nature is for us the revelation of the divine. The divine, we
assume, has a natural order of working. Its inviolability is the
divinest thing about it. It is through this sequence of ideas that we
are in a position to deny, not facts which may be inexplicable, but the
traditional conception of the miracle. For surely no one needs to be
told that this is not the conception of the miracle which has existed in
the minds of the devout, and equally of the undevout, from the beginning
of thought until the present day.

However, there is nothing in all of this which hinders us from believing
with a full heart in the love and grace and care of God, in his holy and
redeeming purpose for mankind and for the individual. It is true that
this belief cannot any longer retain its naïve and childish form. It is
true that it demands of a man far more of moral force, of ethical and
spiritual mastery, of insight and firm will, to sustain the belief in
the purpose of God for himself and for all men, when a man believes that
he sees and feels God only in and through nature and history, through
personal consciousness and the personal consciousness of Jesus. It is
true that it has, apparently, been easier for men to think of God as
outside and above his world, and of themselves as separated from their
fellows by his special providence. It is more difficult, through glad
and intelligent subjection to all laws of nature and of history, to
achieve the education of one's spirit, to make good one's inner
deliverance from the world, to aid others in the same struggle and to
set them on their way to God. Men grow uncertain within themselves,
because they say that traditional religion has apprehended the matter in
a different way. This is true. It is also misleading. Whatever miracles
Jesus may have performed, no one can say that he performed them to make
life easier for himself, to escape the common lot, to avoid struggle, to
evade suffering and disgraceful death. On the contrary, in genuine human
self-distrust, but also in genuine heroism, he gave himself to his
vocation, accepting all that went therewith, and finished the work of
God which he had made his own. This is the more wonderful because it lay
so much nearer to him than it can lie to us, to pray for special
evidence of the love of God and to set his faith on the receiving of it.
He had not the conception of the relation of God to nature and history
which we have.

We may well view the modern tendency to belief in healings through
prayer, suggestion and faith, as an intelligible, an interesting, and in
part, a touching manifestation. Of course there is mingled with it much
dense ignorance, some superstition and even deception. Yet behind such a
phenomenon there is meaning. Men of this mind make earnest with the
thought that God cares for them. Without that thought there is no
religion. They have been taught to find the evidence of God's love and
care in the unusual. They are quite logical. It has been a weak point of
the traditional belief that men have said that in the time of Christ
there were miracles, but since that time, no more. Why not, if we can
only in spirit come near to Christ and God? They are quite logical also
in that they have repudiated modern science. To be sure, no
inconsiderable part of them use the word science continually.

But the very esoteric quality of their science is that it means
something which no one else ever understood that it meant. In reality
their breach with science is more radical than their breach with
Christianity. They feel the contradiction in which most men are bound
fast, who will let science have its way, up to a certain point, but who
beyond that, would retain the miracle. Dimly the former appreciate that
this position is impossible. They leave it to other men to become
altogether scientific if they wish. For themselves they prefer to remain
religious. What a revival of ancient superstitions they have brought to
pass, is obvious. Still we shall never get beyond such adventurous and
preposterous endeavours to rescue that which is inestimably precious in
religion, until the false antithesis between reason and faith, the lying
contradiction between the providence of God and the order of nature, is
overcome. Some science mankind apparently must have. Altogether without
religion the majority, it would seem, will never be. How these are
related, the one to the other, not every one sees. Many attempt their
admixture in unhappy ways. They might try letting them stand in peace as
complement and supplement the one to the other. Still better, they may
perhaps some day see how each penetrates, permeates and glorifies the


We said that the last generation had been characterised by an unexampled
concentration of intellectual interest upon problems presented by the
social sciences. With this has gone an unrivalled earnestness in the
interpretation of religion as a social force. The great religious
enthusiasm has been that of the application of Christianity to the
social aspects of life. This effort has furnished most of the watchwords
of religious teaching. It has laid vigorous, not to say violent, hands
on religious institutions. It has given a new perspective to effort and
a new impulse to devotion. The revival of religion in our age has taken
this direction, with an exclusiveness which has had both good and evil
consequences. Yet, before all, it should be made clear that it
constitutes a religious revival. Some are deploring the prostrate
condition of spiritual interests. If one judged only by conventional
standards, they have much evidence upon their side. Some are seeking to
galvanise religious life by recurrence to evangelistic methods
successfully operative half a century ago. The outstanding fact is that
the age shows immense religious vitality, so soon as one concedes that
it must be allowed to show its vitality in its own way. It is the age of
the social question. One must be ignorant indeed of the activity of the
churches and of the productivity of religious thinkers, if he does not
own that in Christian circles also no questions are so rife as these.
Whether the panaceas have been all wise or profitable may be questioned.
Whether the interest has not been even excessive and one-sided, whether
the accusation has not been occasionally unjust and the self-accusation
morbid, these are questions which it might be possible in some quarters
to ask. This is, however, only another form of proof of what we say. The
religious interest in social questions has not been aroused primarily by
intellectual and scientific impulses, nor fostered mainly by doctrinaire
discussion. On the contrary, the initiative has been from the practical
side. It has been a question of life and service. If anything, one often
misses the scientific note in the flood of semi-religious literature
relating to this theme, the realisation that, to do well, it is often
profitable to think. Yet there is effort to mediate the best results of
social-scientific thinking, through clerical education and directly to
the laity. On the other hand, a deep sense of ethical and spiritual
responsibility is prevalent among thinkers upon social topics.

Often indeed has the quality of Christianity been observed which is here
exemplified. Each succeeding age has read into Christ's teachings, or
drawn out from his example, the special meaning which that generation,
or that social level, or that individual man had need to draw. To them
in their enthusiasm it has often seemed as if this were the only lesson
reasonable men could draw. Nothing could be more enlightening than is
reflexion upon this reading of the ever-changing ideals of man's life
into Christianity, or of Christianity into the ever-advancing ideals of
man's life. This chameleonlike quality of Christianity is the farthest
possible remove from the changelessness which men love to attribute to
religion. It is the most wonderful quality which Christianity possesses.
It is precisely because of the recognition of this capacity for change
that one may safely argue the continuance of Christianity in the world.
Yet also because of this recognition, one is put upon his guard against
joining too easily in the clamour that a past apprehension of religion
was altogether wrong, or that a new and urgent one, in its exclusive
emphasis and its entirety, is right. Our age is haunted by the sense of
terrific social and economic inequalities which prevail. It has set its
heart upon the elimination of those inequalities. It is an age whose
disrespect for religion is in some part due to the fact that religion
has not done away with these inequalities. It is an age which is
immediately interested in an interpretation of religion which will make
central the contention that, before all things else, these inequalities
must be done away. If religion can be made a means of every man's
getting his share of the blessings of this world, well and good. If not,
there are many men and women to whom religion seems utterly meaningless.

This sentence hardly overstates the case. It is the challenge of the age
to religion to do something which the age profoundly needs, and which
religion under its age-long dominant apprehension has not conspicuously
done, nor even on a great scale attempted. It is the challenge to
religion to undertake a work of surpassing grandeur--nothing less than
the actualisation of the whole ideal of the life of man. Religious men
respond with the quickened and conscientious conviction, not indeed that
they have laid too great an emphasis upon the spiritual, but that under
a dualistic conception of God and man and world, they have never
sufficiently realised that the spiritual is to be realised in the
material, the ideal in and not apart from the actual, the eternal in and
not after the temporal. Yet with that oscillatory quality which belongs
to human movements, especially where old wrongs and errors have come
deeply to be felt, a part of the literature of the contention shows
marked tendency to extremes. A religion in the body must become a
religion of the body. A Christianity of the social state runs risk of
being apprehended as merely one more means for compassing outward and
material ends. Religion does stand for the inner life and the
transcendent world, only not an inner life through the neglect of the
outer, or a transcendent world in some far-off star or after an æon or
two. There might be meaning in the argument that, exactly because so
many other forces in our age do make for the realisation of the outer
life and present world with an effectiveness and success which no
previous age has ever dreamed, there is the more reason, and not the
less, why religion should still be religion. Exactly this is the
contention of Eueken in one of the most significant contributions of
recent years to the philosophy of religion, his _Wahrheitsgehalt der
Religion_, 1901, transl. Jones, 1911. The very source and cause of the
sure recovery of religion in our age will be the experience of the
futility, the bankruptcy, of a civilisation without faith. No nobler
argument has been heard in our time for the spiritual meaning of
religion, with the fullest recognition of all its other meanings.

The modern emphasis on the social aspects of religion may be said to
have been first clearly expressed in Seeley's _Ecce Homo_, 1867. The
pith of the book is in this phrase: 'To reorganise society and to bind
the members of it together by the closest ties was the business of
Jesus' life.' Allusion has been made to Fremantle's _The World as the
Subject of Redemption_, 1885. Worthy of note is also Fairbairn's
_Religion in History and Modern Life_, 1894; pre-eminently so is
Bosanquet's _The Civilisation of Christendom_, 1893. Westcott's
_Incarnation and Common Life_, 1893, contains utterances of weight.
Peabody, in his book, _Jesus Christ and the Social Question_, 1905, has
given, on the whole, the best résumé of the discussion. He conveys
incidentally an impression of the body of literature produced in recent
years, in which it is assumed, sometimes with embitterment, that the
centre of gravity of Christianity is outside the Church. Sell, in the
very title of his illuminating little book, _Christenthum und
Weltgeschichte seit der Reformation: das Christenthum in seiner
Entwickelung über die Kirche hinaus_, 1910, records an impression, which
is widespread and true, that the characteristic mark of modern
Christianity is that it has transcended the organs and agencies
officially created for it. It has become non-ecclesiastical, if not
actually hostile to the Church. It has permeated the world in unexpected
fashion and does the deeds of Christianity, though rather eager to avoid
the name. The anti-clericalism of the Latin countries is not
unintelligible, the anti-ecclesiasticism of the Teutonic not without a
cause. German socialism, ever since Karl Marx, has been fundamentally
antagonistic to any religion whatsoever. It is purely secularist in
tone. This is also a strained situation, liable to become perverse. That
part of the Christian Church which understands itself, rejoices in
nothing so much as in the fact that the spirit of Christ is so widely
disseminated, his influence felt by many who do not know what influence
it is which they feel, his work done by vast numbers who would never
call themselves his workers. That part of the Church is not therewith
convinced but that there is need of the Church as institution, and of
those who are consciously disciples of Jesus in the world.

By far the largest question, however, which is raised in this connexion,
is one different from any thus far intimated. It is, perhaps, the last
question one would have expected the literature of the social movement
to raise. It is, namely, the question of the individual. Ever since the
middle of the eighteenth century a sort of universalistic optimism, to
which the individual is sacrificed, has obtained. Within the period of
which this book treats the world has won an enlargement of horizon of
which it never dreamed. It has gained a forecast of the future of
culture and civilisation which is beyond imagination. The access of
comfort makes men at home in the world as they never were at home. There
has been set a value on this life which life never had before. The
succession of discoveries and applications of discovery makes it seem as
if there were to be no end in this direction. From Rousseau to Spencer
men have elaborated the view that the historical process cannot really
issue in anything else than in ever higher stages of perfection and of
happiness. They postulate a continuous enhancement of energy and a
steady perfecting of intellectual and moral quality. As the goal of
evolution appears an ideal condition which is either indefinitely
remote, that is, which gives room for the bliss of infinite progress in
its direction, or else a definitely attainable condition, which would
have within itself the conditions of perpetuity.

The resistlessness with which this new view of the life of civilisation
has won acknowledgment from men of all classes is amazing. It rests upon
a belief in the self-sufficiency and the all-sufficiency of the life of
this world, of the bearings of which it may be assumed that few of its
votaries are aware. In reality this view cannot by any possibility be
described as the result of knowledge. On the contrary, it is a venture
of faith. It is the peculiar, the very characteristic and suggestive
form which the faith of our age takes. Men believe in this indefinite
progress of the world and of mankind, because without postulating such
progress they do not see how they can assume the absolute worth of an
activity which is yet the only thing which has any interest to most of
them. Under this view one can assign to the individual life a definite
significance, only upon the supposition that the individual is the organ
of realisation of a part of this progress of mankind. All happiness and
suffering, all changes in knowledge and manner of conduct, are supposed
to have no worth each for itself or for the sake of the individual, but
only for their relation to the movement as a whole. Surely this is an
illusion. Exactly that in which the characteristic quality of the world
and of life is found, the individual personalities, the single
generations, the concrete events--these lose, in this view, their own
particular worth. What can possibly be the worth of a whole of which the
parts have no worth? We have here but a parallel on a huge scale of that
deadly trait in our own private lives, according to which it makes no
difference what we are doing, so only that we are doing, or whither we
are going, so only that we cease not to go, or what our noise is all
about, so only that there be no end of the noise. Certainly no one can
establish the value of the evolutionary process in and of itself.

If the movement as a whole has no definite end that has absolute worth,
then it has no worth except as the stages, the individual factors
included in it, attain to something within themselves which is of
increasing worth. If the movement achieves this, then it has worth, not
otherwise. We may illustrate this question by asking ourselves
concerning the existence and significance of suffering and of the evil
and of the bad which are in the world, in their relation to this
tendency to indefinite progress which is supposed to be inherent in
civilisation. On this theory we have to say that the suffering of the
individual is necessary for the development and perfecting of the whole.
As over against the whole the individual has no right to make demands as
to welfare or happiness. The bad also becomes only relative. In the
movement taken as a whole, it is probably unavoidable. In any case it is
negligible, since the movement is irresistible. All ethical values are
absorbed in the dynamic ones, all personal values in the collective
ones. Surely the sole intelligent question about any civilisation is,
what sort of men does it produce. If it produces worthless individuals,
it is so far forth a worthless civilisation. If it has sacrificed many
worthy men in order to produce this ignoble result, then it is more
obviously ignoble than ever.

Furthermore, this notion of an inherent necessity and an irresistible
tendency to progress is a chimera. The progress of mankind is a task. It
is something to which the worthy human spirit is called upon to make
contribution. The unworthy never hear the call. Progress is not a
natural necessity. It is an ethical obligation. It is a task which has
been fulfilled by previous generations in varying degrees of
perfectness. It will be participated in by succeeding generations with
varying degrees of wisdom and success. But as to there being anything
autonomous about it, this is sheer hallucination, myth-making again, on
the part of those who boast that they despise the myth,
miracle-mongering on the part of those who have abjured the miracle,
nonsense on the part of those who boast that they alone are sane. There
is no ultimate source of civilisation but the individual, as there is
also no issue of civilisation but in individuals. Men, characters,
personalities, are the makers of it. Men are the product which is made.
The higher stages and achievements of the life of society have come to
pass always and only upon condition that single personalities have
recognised the problem, seen their individual duty and known how to
inspire others with enthusiasm. Periods of decline are always those in
which this personal element cannot make itself felt. Democracies and
periods of the intensity of emphasis upon the social movement, tend
directly to the depression and suppression of personality.[7] Such
reflexions will have served their purpose if they give us some clear
sense of what we have to understand as the effect of the social movement
on religion. They may give also some forecast of the effect of real
religion on the social movement. For religion is the relation of God and
personality. It can be social only in the sense that society, in all its
normal relations, is the sphere within which that relation of God and
personality is to be wrought out.

[Footnote 7: Siebeck, _Religionsphilosophie_, 1893, s. 407.]



In those aspects of our subject with which we have thus far dealt,
leadership has been largely with the Germans. Effort was indeed made in
the chapter on the sciences to illustrate the progress of thought by
reference to British writers. In this department the original and
creative contribution of British authors was great. There were, however,
also in the earlier portion of the nineteenth century movements of
religious thought in Great Britain and America related to some of those
which we have previously considered. Moreover, one of the most
influential movements of English religious thought, the so-called Oxford
Movement, with the Anglo-Catholic revival which it introduced, was of a
reactionary tendency. It has seemed, therefore, feasible to append to
this chapter that which we must briefly say concerning the general
movement of reaction which marked the century. This reactionary movement
has indeed everywhere run parallel to the one which we have endeavoured
to record. It has often with vigour run counter to our movement. It has
revealed the working of earnest and sometimes anxious minds in
directions opposed to those which we have been studying. No one can fail
to be aware that there has been a great Catholic revival in the
nineteenth century. That revival has had place in the Roman Catholic
countries of the Continent as well. It was in order to include the
privilege of reference to these aspects of our subject that this chapter
was given a double title. Yet in no country has the nineteenth century
so favourably altered the position of the Roman Catholic Church as in
England. In no country has a Church which has been esteemed to be
Protestant been so much influenced by Catholic ideas. This again is a
reason for including our reference to the reaction here.

According to Pfleiderer, a new movement in philosophy may be said to
have begun in Great Britain in the year 1825, with the publication of
Coleridge's _Aids to Reflection_. In Coleridge's _Confessions of an
Enquiring Spirit_, published six years after his death in 1834, we have
a suggestion of the biblical-critical movement which was beginning to
shape itself in Germany. In the same years we have evidence in the works
of Erskine and the early writings of Campbell, that in Scotland
theologians were thinking on Schleiermacher's lines. In those same years
books of more or less marked rationalistic tendency were put forth by
the Oriel School. Finally, with Pusey's _Assize Sermon_, in 1833, Newman
felt that the movement later to be called Tractarian had begun. We shall
not be wrong, therefore, in saying that the decade following 1825 saw
the beginnings in Britain of more formal reflexion upon all the aspects
of the theme with which we are concerned.

What went before that, however, in the way of liberal religious
thinking, though informal in its nature, should not be ignored. It was
the work of the poets of the end of the eighteenth and of the beginning
of the nineteenth centuries. The culmination of the great revolt against
the traditional in state and society and against the conventional in
religion, had been voiced in Britain largely by the poets. So vigorous
was this utterance and so effective, that some have spoken of the
contribution of the English poets to the theological reconstruction. It
is certain that the utterances of the poets tended greatly to the
dissemination of the new ideas. There was in Great Britain no such unity
as we have observed among the Germans, either of the movement as a whole
or in its various parts. There was a consecution nothing less than
marvellous in the work of the philosophers from Kant to Hegel. There was
a theological sequence from Schleiermacher to Ritschl. There was an
unceasing critical advance from the days of Strauss. There was nothing
resembling this in the work of the English-speaking people. The
contributions were for a long time only sporadic. The movement had no
inclusiveness. There was no aspect of a solid front in the advance. In
the department of the sciences only was the situation different. In a
way, therefore, it will be necessary in this chapter merely to single
out individuals, to note points of conflict, one and another, all along
the great line of advance. Or, to put it differently, it will be
possible to pursue a chronological arrangement which would have been
bewildering in our study heretofore. With the one great division between
the progressive spirits and the men of the reaction, it will be possible
to speak of philosophers, critics and theologians together, among their
own contemporaries, and so to follow the century as it advances.

In the closing years of the eighteenth century in England what claimed
to be a rational supernaturalism prevailed. Men sought to combine faith
in revealed religion with the empirical philosophy of Locke. They
conceived God and his relation to the world under deistical forms. The
educated often lacked in singular degree all deeper religious feeling.
They were averse to mysticism and spurned enthusiasm. Utilitarian
considerations, which formed the practical side of the empirical
philosophy, played a prominent part also in orthodox belief. The theory
of the universe which obtained among the religious is seen at its worst
in some of the volumes of the Warburton Lectures, and at its best
perhaps in Butler's _Analogy of Natural and Revealed Religion_. The
character and views of the clergy and of the ruling class among the
laity of the Church of England, early in the nineteenth century, are
pictured with love and humour in Trollope's novels. They form the
background in many of George Eliot's books, where, in more mordant
manner, both their strength and weaknesses are shown. Even the remarks
which introduce Dean Church's _Oxford Movement_, 1891, in which the
churchly element is dealt with in deep affection, give anything but an
inspiring view.

The contrast with this would-be rational and unemotional religious
respectability of the upper classes was furnished, for masses of the
people, in the quickening of the consciousness of sin and grace after
the manner of the Methodists. But the Methodism of the earlier age had
as good as no intellectual relations whatsoever. The Wesleys and
Whitefield had indeed influenced a considerable portion of the Anglican
communion. Their pietistic trait, combined, for the most part, with a
Calvinism which Wesley abhorred and an old-fashioned low church feeling
with which also Wesley had no sympathy, shows itself in the so-called
evangelical party which was strong before 1830. This evangelical
movement in the Church of England manifested deep religious feeling, it
put forth zealous philanthropic effort, it had among its representatives
men and women of great beauty of personal character and piety. Yet it
was completely cut off from any living relation to the thought of the
age. There was among its representatives no spirit of theological
inquiry. There was, if anything, less probability of theological
reconstruction, from this quarter, than from the circles of the older
German pietism, with which this English evangelicalism of the time of
the later Georges had not a little in common. There had been a great
enthusiasm for humanity at the opening of the period of the French
Revolution, but the excesses and atrocities of the Revolution had
profoundly shocked the English mind. There was abroad something of the
same sense for the return to nature, and of the greatness of man, which
moved Schiller and Goethe. The exponents of it were, however, almost
exclusively the poets, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats and Byron. There was
nothing which combined these various elements as parts of a great whole.
Britain had stood outside the area of the Revolution, and yet had put
forth stupendous efforts, ultimately successful, to make an end of the
revolutionary era and of the Napoleonic despotism. This tended perhaps
to give to Britons some natural satisfaction in the British Constitution
and the established Church which flourished under it. Finally, while men
on the Continent were devising holy alliances and other chimeras of the
sort, England was precipitated into the earlier acute stages of the
industrial revolution in which she has led the European nations and
still leads. This fact explains a certain preoccupation of the British
mind with questions remote from theological reconstruction or religious


It may now sound like a contradiction if we assert that the years from
1780 to 1830 constitute the era of the noblest English poetry since the
times of great Elizabeth. The social direction of the new theology of
the present day, with its cry against every kind of injustice, with its
claim of an equal opportunity for a happy life for every man--this was
the forecast of Cowper, as it had been of Blake. To Blake all outward
infallible authority of books or churches was iniquitous. He was at
daggers drawn with every doctrine which set limit to the freedom of all
men to love God, or which could doubt that God had loved all men. Jesus
alone had seen the true thing. God was a father, every man his child.
Long before 1789, Burns was filled with the new ideas of the freedom and
brotherhood of man, with zeal for the overthrow of unjust privilege. He
had spoken in imperishable words of the holiness of the common life. He
had come into contact with the most dreadful consequences of Calvinism.
He has pilloried these mercilessly in his 'Holy Tulzie' and in his 'Holy
Willie's Prayer.' Such poems must have shaken Calvinism more than a
thousand liberal sermons could have done. What Coleridge might have done
in this field, had he not so early turned to prose, it is not easy to
say. The verse of his early days rests upon the conviction, fundamental
to his later philosophy, that all the new ideas concerning men and the
world are a revelation of God. Wordsworth seems never consciously to
have broken with the current theology. His view of the natural glory and
goodness of humanity, especially among the poor and simple, has not much
relation to that theology. His view of nature, not as created of God. in
the conventional sense, but as itself filled with God, of God as
conscious of himself at every point of nature's being, has still less.
Man and nature are but different manifestations of the one soul of all.
Byron's contribution to Christian thought, we need hardly say, was of a
negative sort. It was destructive rather than constructive. Among the
conventions and hypocrisies of society there were none which he more
utterly despised than those of religion and the Church as he saw these.
There is something volcanic, Voltairean in his outbreaks. But there is a
difference. Both Voltaire and Byron knew that they had not the current
religion. Voltaire thought, nevertheless, that he had a religion.
Posterity has esteemed that he had little. Byron thought he had none.
Posterity has felt that he had much. His attack was made in a reckless
bitterness which lessened its effect. Yet the truth of many things which
he said is now overwhelmingly obvious. Shelley began with being what he
called an atheist. He ended with being what we call an agnostic, whose
pure poetic spirit carried him far into the realm of the highest
idealism. The existence of a conscious will within the universe is not
quite thinkable. Yet immortal love pervades the whole. Immortality is
improbable, but his highest flights continually imply it. He is sure
that when any theology violates the primary human affections, it
tramples into the dust all thoughts and feelings by which men may become
good. The men who, about 1840, stood paralysed between what Strauss
later called 'the old faith and the new,' or, as Arnold phrased it, were
'between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to be born,' found
their inmost thoughts written broad for them in Arthur Clough. From the
time of the opening of Tennyson's work, the poets, not by destruction
but by construction, not in opposition to religion but in harmony with
it, have built up new doctrines of God and man and aided incalculably in
preparing the way for a new and nobler theology. In the latter part of
the nineteenth century there was perhaps no one man in England who did
more to read all of the vast advance of knowledge in the light of higher
faith, and to fill such a faith with the spirit of the glad advance of
knowledge, than did Browning. Even Arnold has voiced in his poetry not a
little of the noblest conviction of the age. And what shall one say of
Mrs. Browning, of the Rossettis and William Morris, of Emerson and
Lowell, of Lanier and Whitman, who have spoken, often with consummate
power and beauty, that which one never says at all without faith and
rarely says well without art?


Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in 1772 at his father's vicarage,
Ottery St. Mary's, Devonshire. He was the tenth child of his parents,
weak in frame, always suffering much. He was a student at Christ's
Hospital, London, where he was properly bullied, then at Jesus College,
Cambridge, where he did not take his degree. For some happy years he
lived in the Lake region and was the friend of Wordsworth and Southey.
He studied in Göttingen, a thing almost unheard of in his time. The
years 1798 to 1813 were indeed spent in utter misery, through the opium
habit which he had contracted while seeking relief from rheumatic pain.
He wrote and taught and talked in Highgate from 1814 to 1834. He had
planned great works which never took shape. For a brief period he
severed his connexion with the English Church, coming under Unitarian
influence. He then reverted to the relation in which his ecclesiastical
instincts were satisfied. We read his _Aids to Reflection_ and his
_Confessions of an Enquiring Spirit_, and wonder how they can ever have
exerted a great influence. Nevertheless, they were fresh and stimulating
in their time. That Coleridge was a power, we have testimony from men
differing among themselves so widely as do Hare, Sterling, Newman and
John Stuart Mill. He was a master of style. He had insight and breadth.
Tulloch says of the _Aids_, that it is a book which none but a thinker
upon divine things will ever like. Not all even of these have liked it.
Inexcusably fragmentary it sometimes seems. One is fain to ask: What
right has any man to publish a scrap-book of his musings? Coleridge had
the ambition to lay anew the foundations of spiritual philosophy. The
_Aids_ were but of the nature of prolegomena. For substance his
philosophy went back to Locke and Hume and to the Cambridge Platonists.
He had learned of Kant and Schleiermacher as well. He was no
metaphysician, but a keen interpreter of spiritual facts, who himself
had been quickened by a particularly painful experience. He saw in
Christianity, rightly conceived, at once the true explanation of our
spiritual being and the remedy for its disorder. The evangelical
tradition brought religion to a man from without. It took no account of
man's spiritual constitution, beyond the fact that he was a sinner and
in danger of hell. Coleridge set out, not from sin alone, but from the
whole deep basis of spiritual capacity and responsibility upon which sin
rests. He asserts experience. We are as sure of the capacity for the
good and of the experience of the good as we can be of the evil. The
case is similar as to the truth. There are aspects of truth which
transcend our powers. We use words without meaning when we talk of the
plans of a being who is neither an object for our senses nor a part of
our self-consciousness. All truth must be capable of being rendered into
words conformable to reason. Theologians had declared their doctrines
true or false without reference to the subjective standard of judgment.
Coleridge contended that faith must rest not merely upon objective data,
but upon inward experience. The authority of Scripture is in its
truthfulness, its answer to the highest aspirations of the human reason
and the most urgent necessities of the moral life. The doctrine of an
atonement is intelligible only in so far as it too comes within the
range of spiritual experience. The apostolic language took colour from
the traditions concerning sacrifice. Much has been taken by the Church
as literal dogmatic statement which should be taken as more figure of
speech, borrowed from Jewish sources.

Coleridge feared that his thoughts concerning Scripture might, if
published, do more harm than good. They were printed first in 1840.
Their writing goes back into the period long before the conflict raised
by Strauss. There is not much here that one might not have learned from
Herder and Lessing. Utterances of Whately and Arnold showed that minds
in England were waking. But Coleridge's utterances rest consistently
upon the philosophy of religion and theory of dogma which have been
above implied. They are more significant than are mere flashes of
generous insight, like those of the men named. The notion of verbal
inspiration or infallible dictation of the Holy Scriptures could not
possibly survive after the modern spirit of historical inquiry had made
itself felt. The rabbinical idea was bound to disappear. A truer sense
of the conditions attending the origins and progress of civilisation and
of the immaturities through which religious as well as moral and social
ideas advance, brought of necessity a changed idea of the nature of
Scripture and revelation. Its literature must be read as literature, its
history as history. For the answer in our hearts to the spirit in the
Book, Coleridge used the phrase: 'It finds me.' 'Whatever finds me bears
witness to itself that it has proceeded from the Holy Ghost. In the
Bible there is more that finds me than in all the other books which I
have read.' Still, there is much in the Bible that does not find me. It
is full of contradictions, both moral and historical. Are we to regard
these as all equally inspired? The Scripture itself does not claim that.
Besides, what good would it do us to claim that the original documents
were inerrant, unless we could claim also that they had been inerrantly
transmitted? Apparently Coleridge thought that no one would ever claim
that. Coleridge wrote also concerning the Church. His volume on _The
Constitution of Church and State_ appeared in 1830. It is the least
satisfactory of his works. The vacillation of Coleridge's own course
showed that upon this point his mind was never clear. Arnold also,
though in a somewhat different way, was zealous for the theory that
Church and State are really identical, the Church being merely the State
in its educational and religious aspect and organisation. If Thomas
Arnold's moral earnestness and his generous spirit could not save this
theory from being chimerical, no better result was to be expected from


It has often happened in the history of the English universities that a
given college has become, through its body of tutors and students,
through its common-room talk and literary work, the centre, for the
time, of a movement of thought which gives leadership to the college. In
this manner it has been customary to speak of the group of men who,
before the rise of the Oxford Movement, gathered at Oriel College, as
the Oriel School. Newman and Keble were both Oriel tutors. The Oriel men
were of distinctly liberal tendency. There were men of note among them.
There was Whately, Archbishop of Dublin after 1831, and Copleston, from
whom both Keble and Newman owned that they learned much. There was
Arnold, subsequently Headmaster of Rugby. There was Hampden, Professor
of Divinity after 1836. The school was called from its liberalism the
Noetic school. Whether this epithet contained more of satire or of
complacency it is difficult to say. These men arrested attention and
filled some of the older academic and ecclesiastical heads with alarm.
Without disrespect one may say that it is difficult now to understand
the commotion which they made. Arnold had a truly beautiful character.
What he might have done as Professor of Ecclesiastical History in Oxford
was never revealed, for he died in 1842. Whately, viewed as a noetic,
appears commonplace.

Perhaps the only one of the group upon whom we need dwell was Hampden.
In his Bampton Lectures of 1832, under the title of _The Scholastic
Philosophy considered in its Relation to Christian Theology_, he
assailed what had long been the very bulwark of traditionalism. His idea
was to show how the vast fabric of scholastic theology had grown up,
particularly what contributions had been made to it in the Middle Age.
The traditional dogma is a structure reared upon the logical terminology
of the patristic and mediæval schools. It has little foundation in
Scripture and no response in the religious consciousness. We have here
the application, within set limits, of the thesis which Harnack in our
own time has applied in a universal way. Hampden's opponents were not
wrong in saying that his method would dissolve, not merely that
particular system of theology, but all creeds and theologies whatsoever.
Patristic, mediæval Catholic theology and scholastic Protestantism, no
less, would go down before it. A pamphlet attributed to Newman,
published in 1836, precipitated a discussion which, for bitterness, has
rarely been surpassed in the melancholy history of theological dispute.
The excitement went to almost unheard of lengths. In the controversy the
Archbishop, Dr. Howley, made but a poor figure. The Duke of Wellington
did not add to his fame. Wilberforce and Newman never cleared themselves
of the suspicion of indirectness. This was, however, after the opening
of the Oxford Movement.


The period from 1820 to 1850 was one of religious and intellectual
activity in Scotland as well. Tulloch depicts with a Scotsman's
patriotism the movement which centres about the names of Erskine and
Campbell. Pfleiderer also judges that their contribution was as
significant as any made to dogmatic theology in Great Britain in the
nineteenth century. They achieved the same reconstruction of the
doctrine of salvation which had been effected by Kant and
Schleiermacher. At their hands the doctrine was rescued from that
forensic externality into which Calvinism had degenerated. It was given
again its quality of ethical inwardness, and based directly upon
religious experience. High Lutheranism had issued in the same
externality in Germany before Kant and Schleiermacher, and the New
England theology before Channing and Bushnell. The merits of Christ
achieved an external salvation, of which a man became participant
practically upon condition of assent to certain propositions. Similarly,
in the Catholic revival, salvation was conceived as an external and
future good, of which a man became participant through the sacraments
applied to him by priests in apostolical succession. In point of
externality there was not much to choose between views which were felt
to be radically opposed the one to the other.

Erskine was not a man theologically educated. He led a peculiarly
secluded life. He was an advocate by profession, but, withdrawing from
that career, virtually gave himself up to meditation. Campbell was a
minister of the Established Church of Scotland in a remote village, Row,
upon the Gare Loch. When he was convicted of heresy and driven from the
ministry, he also devoted himself to study and authorship. Both men seem
to have come to their results largely from the application of their own
sound religious sense to the Scriptures. That the Scottish Church should
have rejected the truth for which these men contended was the heaviest
blow which it could have inflicted on itself. Thereby it arrested its
own healthy development. It perpetuated its traditional view, somewhat
as New England orthodoxy was given a new lease of life through the
partisanship which the Unitarian schism engendered. The matter was not
mended at the time of the great rupture of the Scottish Church in 1843.
That body which broke away from the Establishment, and achieved a purely
ecclesiastical control of its own clergy, won, indeed, by this means the
name of the Free Church, though, in point of theological opinion, it was
far from representing the more free and progressive element. Tulloch
pays a beautiful tribute to the character of Erskine, whom he knew.
Quiet, brooding, introspective, he read his Bible and his own soul, and
with singular purity of intuition generalised from his own experience.
Therewith is described, however, both the power and the limitation of
his work. His first book was entitled _Remarks on the Internal Evidence
for the Truth of Revealed Religion_, 1820. The title itself is
suggestive of the revolution through which the mind both of Erskine and
of his age was passing. His book, _The Unconditional Freeness of the
Gospel_, appeared in 1828; _The Brazen Serpent_ in 1831. Men have
confounded forgiveness and pardon. They have made pardon equivalent to
salvation. But salvation is character. Forgiveness is only one of the
means of it. Salvation is not a future good. It is a present fellowship
with God. It is sanctification of character by means of our labour and
God's love. The fall was the rise of the spirit of freedom. Fallen man
can never be saved except through glad surrender of his childish
independence to the truth and goodness of God. Yet that surrender is the
preservation and enlargement of our independence. It is the secret of
true self-realisation. The sufferings of Christ reveal God's holy love.
It is not as if God's love had been purchased by the sufferings of his
Son. On the contrary, it is man who needs to believe in God's love, and
so be reconciled to the God whom he has feared and hated. Christ
overcomes sin by obediently enduring the suffering which sin naturally
entails. He endures it in pure love of his brethren. Man must overcome
sin in the same way.

Campbell published, so late as 1856, his great work _The Nature of the
Atonement and its Relation to the Remission of Sins and Eternal Life_.
It was the matured result of the reflections of a quarter of a century,
spent partly in enforced retirement after 1831. Campbell maintains
unequivocally that the sacrifice of Christ cannot be understood as a
punishment due to man's sin, meted out to Christ in man's stead. Viewed
retrospectively, Christ's work in the atonement is but the highest
example of a law otherwise universally operative. No man can work
redemption for his fellows except by entering into their condition, as
if everything in that condition were his own, though much of it may be
in no sense his due. It is freely borne by him because of his
identification of himself with them. Campbell lingers in the myth of
Christ's being the federal head of the humanity. There is something
pathetic in the struggle of his mind to save phrases and the
paraphernalia of an ancient view which, however, his fundamental
principle rendered obsolete, He struggles to save the word satisfaction,
though it means nothing in his system save that God is satisfied as he
contemplates the character of Christ. Prospectively considered, the
sacrifice of Christ effects salvation by its moral power over men in
example and inspiration. Vicarious sacrifice, the result of which was
merely imputed, would leave the sinner just where he was before. It is
an empty fiction. But the spectacle of suffering freely undertaken for
our sakes discovers the treasures of the divine image in man. The love
of God and a man's own resolve make him in the end, in fact, that which
he has always been in capacity and destiny, a child of God, possessed of
the secret of a growing righteousness, which is itself salvation.


Scottish books seem to have been but little read in England in that day.
It was Maurice who first made the substance of Campbell's teaching known
in England. Frederick Denison Maurice was the son of a Unitarian
minister, educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, at a time when it was
impossible for a Nonconformist to obtain a degree. He was ordained a
priest of the Church of England in 1834, even suffering himself to be
baptised again. He was chaplain of Lincoln's Inn and Professor of
Theology in King's College, London. After 1866 he was Professor of Moral
Philosophy in Cambridge, though his life-work was over. At the heart of
Maurice's theology lies the contention to which he gave the name of
universal redemption. Christ's work is for every man. Every man is
indeed in Christ. Man's unhappiness lies only in the fact that he will
not own this fact and live accordingly. Man as man is the child of God.
He cannot undo that fact or alter that relation if he would. He does not
need to become a child of God, as the phrase has been. He needs only to
recognise that he already is such a child. He can never cease to bear
this relationship. He can only refuse to fulfil it. With other words
Erskine and Coleridge and Schleiermacher had said this same thing.

For the rest, one may speak briefly of Maurice. He was animated by the
strongest desire for Church unity, but at the back of his mind lay a
conception of the Church and an insistence upon uniformity which made
unity impossible. In the light of his own inheritance his ecclesiastical
positivism seems strange. Perhaps it was the course of his experience
which made this irrational positivism natural. Few men in his generation
suffered greater persecutions under the unwarranted supposition on the
part of contemporaries that he had a liberal mind. In reality, few men
in his generation had less of a quality which, had he possessed it,
would have given him peace and joy even in the midst of his
persecutions. The casual remark above made concerning Campbell is true
in enhanced degree of Maurice. A large part of the industry of a very
industrious life was devoted to the effort to convince others and
himself that those few really wonderful glimpses of spiritual truth
which he had, had no disastrous consequences for an inherited system of
thought in which they certainly did not take their rise. His name was
connected with the social enthusiasm that inaugurated a new movement in
England which will claim attention in another paragraph.


Allusion has been made to a revision of traditional theology which took
place in America also, upon the same general lines which we have seen in
Schleiermacher and in Campbell. The typical figure here, the protagonist
of the movement, is William Ellery Channing. It may be doubted whether
there has ever been a civilisation more completely controlled by its
Church and ministers, or a culture more entirely dominated by theology,
than were those of New England until the middle of the eighteenth
century. There had been indeed a marked decline in religious life. The
history of the Great Awakening shows that. Remonstrances against the
Great Awakening show also how men's minds were moving away from the
theory of the universe which the theology of that movement implied. One
cannot say that in the preaching of Hopkins there is an appreciable
relaxation of the Edwardsian scheme. Interestingly enough, it was in
Newport that Channing was born and with Hopkins that he associated until
the time of his licensure to preach in 1802. Many thought that Channing
would stand with the most stringent of the orthodox. Deism and
rationalism had made themselves felt in America after the Revolution.
Channing, during his years in Harvard College, can hardly have failed to
come into contact with the criticism of religion from this side. There
is no such clear influence of current rationalism upon Channing as, for
example, upon Schleiermacher. Yet here in the West, which most Europeans
thought of as a wilderness, circumstances brought about the launching of
this man upon the career of a liberal religious thinker, when as yet
Schleiermacher had hardly advanced beyond the position of the
_Discourses_, when Erskine had not yet written a line and Campbell was
still a child. Channing became minister of the Federal Street Church in
Boston in 1803. The appointment of Ware as Hollis Professor of Divinity
in Harvard College took place in 1805. That appointment was the first
clear indication of the liberal party's strength. Channing's Baltimore
Address was delivered in 1819. He died in 1847.

In the schism among the Congregational Churches in New England, which
before 1819 apparently had come to be regarded by both parties as
remediless, Channing took the side of the opposition to Calvinistic
orthodoxy. He developed qualities as controversialist and leader which
the gentler aspect of his early years had hardly led men to suspect.
This American liberal movement had been referred to by Belsham as
related to English Unitarianism. After 1815, in this country, by its
opponents at least, the movement was consistently called Unitarian.
Channing did with zeal contend against the traditional doctrine of the
atonement and of the trinity. On the other hand, he saw in Christ the
perfect revelation of God to humanity and at the same time the ideal of
humanity. He believed in Jesus' sinlessness and in his miracles,
especially in his resurrection. The keynote of Channing's character and
convictions is found in his sense of the inherent greatness of man. Of
this feeling his entire system is but the unfolding. It was early and
deliberately adopted by him as a fundamental faith. It remained the
immovable centre of his reverence and trust amid all the inroads of
doubt and sorrow. Political interest was as natural to Channing's
earlier manhood as it had been to Fichte in the emergency of the
Fatherland. Similarly, in the later years of his life, when evils
connected with slavery had made themselves felt, his participation in
the abolitionist agitation showed the same enthusiasm and practical
bent. He had his dream of communism, his perception of the evils of our
industrial system, his contempt for charity in place of economic remedy.
All was for man, all rested upon supreme faith in man. That man is
endowed with knowledge of the right and with the power to realise it,
was a fundamental maxim. Hence arose Channing's assertion of free-will.
The denial of free-will renders the sentiment of duty but illusory. In
the conscience there is both a revelation and a type of God. Its
suggestions, by the very authority they carry with them, declare
themselves to be God's law. God, concurring with our highest nature,
present in its action, can be thought of only after the pattern which he
gives us in ourselves. Whatever revelation God makes of himself, he must
deal with us as with free beings living under natural laws. Revelation
must be merely supplementary to those laws. Everything arbitrary and
magical, everything which despairs of us or insults us as moral agents,
everything which does not address itself to us through reason and
conscience, must be excluded from the intercourse between God and man.
What the doctrines of salvation and atonement, of the person of Christ
and of the influence of the Holy Spirit, as construed from this centre
would be, may without difficulty be surmised. The whole of Channing's
teaching is bathed in an atmosphere of the reverent love of God which is
the very source of his enthusiasm for man.


A very different man was Horace Bushnell, born in the year of Channing's
licensure, 1802. He was not bred under the influence of the strict
Calvinism of his day. His father was an Arminian. Edwards had made
Arminians detested in New England. His mother had been reared in the
Episcopal Church. She was of Huguenot origin. When about seventeen,
while tending a carding-machine, he wrote a paper in which he
endeavoured to bring Calvinism into logical coherence and, in the
interest of sound reason, to correct St. Paul's willingness to be
accursed for the sake of his brethren. He graduated from Yale College in
1827. He taught there while studying law after 1829. He describes
himself at this period as sound in ethics and sceptical in religion, the
soundness of his morals being due to nature and training, the
scepticism, to the theology in which he was involved. His law studies
were complete, yet he turned to the ministry. He had been born on the
orthodox side of the great contention in which Channing was a leader of
the liberals in the days of which we speak. He never saw any reason to
change this relation. His clerical colleagues, for half a life-time,
sought to change it for him. In 1833 he was ordained and installed as
minister of the North Church in Hartford, a pastorate which he never
left. The process of disintegration of the orthodox body was continuing.
There was almost as much rancour between the old and the new orthodoxy
as between orthodox and Unitarians themselves. Almost before his career
was well begun an incurable disease fastened itself upon him. Not much
later, all the severity of theological strife befell him. Between these
two we have to think of him doing his work and keeping his sense of

His earliest book of consequence was on _Christian Nurture_, published
in 1846. Consistent Calvinism presupposes in its converts mature years.
Even an adult must pass through waters deep for him. He is not a sinful
child of the Father. He is a being totally depraved and damned to
everlasting punishment. God becomes his Father only after he is
redeemed. The revivalists' theory Bushnell bitterly opposed. It made of
religion a transcendental matter which belonged on the outside of life,
a kind of miraculous epidemic. He repudiated the prevailing
individualism. He anticipated much that is now being said concerning
heredity, environment and subconsciousness. He revived the sense of the
Church in which Puritanism had been so sadly lacking. The book is a
classic, one of the rich treasures which the nineteenth century offers
to the twentieth.

Bushnell, so far as one can judge, had no knowledge of Kant. He is,
nevertheless, dealing with Kant's own problem, of the theory of
knowledge, in his rather diffuse 'Dissertation on Language,' which is
prefixed to the volume which bears the title _God in Christ_, 1849. He
was following his living principle, the reference of doctrine to
conscience. God must be a 'right God.' Dogma must make no assertion
concerning God which will not stand this test. Not alone does the dogma
make such assertions. The Scripture makes them as well. How can this be?
What is the relation of language to thought and of thought to fact? How
can the language of Scripture be explained, and yet the reality of the
revelation not be explained away? There is a touching interest which
attaches to this Hartford minister, working out, alone and clumsily, a
problem the solution of which the greatest minds of the age had been
gradually bringing to perfection for three-quarters of a century.

In the year 1848 Bushnell was invited to give addresses at the
Commencements of three divinity schools: that at Harvard, then
unqualifiedly Unitarian; that at Andover, where the battle with
Unitarianism had been fought; and that at Yale, where Bushnell had been
trained. The address at Cambridge was on the subject of _the Atonement_;
the one at New Haven on _the Divinity of Christ_, including Bushnell's
doctrine of the trinity; the one at Andover on _Dogma and Spirit_, a
plea for the cessation of strife. He says squarely of the old school
theories of the atonement, which represent Christ as suffering the
penalty of the law in our stead: 'They are capable, one and all of them,
of no light in which they do not offend some right sentiment of our
moral being. If the great Redeemer, in the excess of his goodness,
consents to receive the penal woes of the world in his person, and if
that offer is accepted, what does it signify, save that God will have
his modicum of suffering somehow; and if he lets the guilty go he will
yet satisfy himself out of the innocent?' The vicariousness of love, the
identification of the sufferer with the sinner, in the sense that the
Saviour is involved by his desire to help us in the woes which naturally
follow sin, this Bushnell mightily affirmed. Yet there is no pretence
that he used vicariousness or satisfaction in the same sense in which
his adversaries did. He is magnificently free from all such indirection.
In the New Haven address there is this same combination of fire and
light. The chief theological value of the doctrine of the trinity, as
maintained by the New England Calvinistic teachers, had been to furnish
the _dramatis personæ_ for the doctrine of the atonement. In the
speculation as to the negotiation of this substitutionary transaction,
the language of the theologians had degenerated into stark tritheism.
Edwards, describing the councils of the trinity, spoke of the three
persons as 'they.' Bushnell saw that any proper view of the unity of God
made the forensic idea of the atonement incredible. He sought to replace
the ontological notion of the trinity by that of a trinity of
revelation, which held for him the practical truths by which his faith
was nourished, and yet avoided the contradictions which the other
doctrine presented both to reason and faith. Bushnell would have been
far from claiming that he was the first to make this fight. The American
Unitarians had been making it for more than a generation. The Unitarian
protest was wholesome. It was magnificent. It was providential, but it
paused in negation. It never advanced to construction. Bushnell's
significance is not that he fought this battle, but that he fought it
from the ranks of the orthodox Church. He fought it with a personal
equipment which Channing had not had. He was decades later in his work.
He took up the central religious problem when Channing's successors were
following either Emerson or Parker.

The Andover address consisted in the statement of Bushnell's views of
the causes which had led to the schism in the New England Church. A
single quotation may give the key-note of the discourse:--'We had on our
side an article of the creed which asserted a metaphysical trinity. That
made the assertion of the metaphysical unity inevitable and desirable.
We had theories of atonement, of depravity, of original sin, which
required the appearance of antagonistic theories. On our side,
theological culture was so limited that we took what was really only our
own opinion for the unalterable truth of God. On the other side, it was
so limited that men, perceiving the insufficiency of dogma, took the
opposite contention with the same seriousness and totality of
conviction. They asserted liberty, as indeed they must, to vindicate
their revolt. They produced, meantime, the most intensely human and, in
that sense, the most intensely opinionated religion ever invented.'


The Oxford Movement has been spoken of as a reaction against the
so-called Oriel Movement, a conservative tendency over against an
intellectualist and progressive one. In a measure the personal
animosities within the Oxford circle may be accounted for in this way.
The Tractarian Movement, however, which issued, on the one hand, in the
going over of Newman to the Church of Rome and, on the other, in a great
revival of Catholic principles within the Anglican Church itself, stands
in a far larger setting. It was not merely an English or insular
movement. It was a wave from a continental flood. On its own showing it
was not merely an ecclesiastical movement. It had political and social
aims as well. There was a universal European reaction against the
Enlightenment and the Revolution. That reaction was not simple, but
complex. It was a revolt of the conservative spirit from the new ideals
which had been suddenly translated into portentous realities. It was
marked everywhere by hatred of the eighteenth century with all its ways
and works. On the one side we have the revolutionary thesis, the rights
of man, the authority of reason, the watchwords liberty, equality,
fraternity. On the other side stood forth those who were prepared to
assert the meaning of community, the continuity of history, spiritual as
well as civil authority as the basis of order, and order as the
condition of the highest good. In literature the tendency appears as
romanticism, in politics as legitimism, in religion as ultramontanism.
Le Maistre with his _L'Eglise gallicane du Pape_; Chateaubriand with his
_Génie du Christianisme_; Lamennais with his _Essai sur l'Indifference
en Matière, de Religion_, were, from 1820 to 1860, the exponents of a
view which has had prodigious consequences for France and Italy. The
romantic movement arose outside of Catholicism. It was impersonated in
Herder. Friedrich Schlegel, Werner and others went over to the Roman
Church. The political reaction was specifically Latin and Catholic. In
the lurid light of anarchy Rome seemed to have a mission again. Divine
right in the State must be restored through the Church. The Catholic
apologetic saw the Revolution as only the logical conclusion of the
premises of the Reformation. The religious revolt of the sixteenth
century, the philosophical revolt of the seventeenth, the political
revolt of the eighteenth, the social revolt of the nineteenth, are all
parts of one dreadful sequence. As the Church lifted up the world after
the first flood of the barbarians, so must she again lift up the world
after the devastations made by the more terrible barbarians of the
eighteenth century. England had indeed stood a little outside of the
cyclone which had devastated the world from Coronna to Moscow and from
the Channel to the Pyramids, but she had been exhausted in putting down
the revolution. Only God's goodness had preserved England. The logic of
Puritanism would have been the same. Indeed, in England the State was
weaker and worse than were the states upon the Continent. For since 1688
it had been a popular and constitutional monarchy. In Frederick
William's phrase, its sovereign took his crown from the gutter. The
Church was through and through Erastian, a creature of the State.
Bishops were made by party representatives. Acts like the Reform Bills,
the course of the Government in the matter of the Irish Church, were
steps which would surely bring England to the pass which France had
reached in 1789. The source of such acts was wrong. It was with the
people. It was in men, not in God. It was in reason, not in authority.
It would be difficult to overstate the strength of this reactionary
sentiment in important circles in England at the end of the third decade
of the nineteenth century.


In so far as that complex of causes just alluded to made of the Oxford
Movement or the Catholic revival a movement of life, ecclesiastical,
social and political as well, its history falls outside the purpose of
this book. We proposed to deal with the history of thought. Reactionary
movements have frequently got on without much thought. They have left
little deposit of their own in the realm of ideas. Their avowed
principle has been that of recurrence to that which has already been
thought, of fidelity to ideas which have long prevailed. This is the
reason why the conservatives have not a large place in such a sketch as
this. It is not that their writings have not often been full of high
learning and of the subtlest of reasoning. It is only that the ideas
about which they reason do not belong to the history of the nineteenth
century. They belong, on the earnest contention of the conservatives
themselves--those of Protestants, to the history of the Reformation--and
of Catholics, both Anglican and Roman, to the history of the early or
mediæval Church.

Nevertheless, when with passionate conviction a great man, taking the
reactionary course, thinks the problem through again from his own point
of view, then we have a real phenomenon in the history of contemporary
thought. When such an one wrestles before God to give reason to himself
and to his fellows for the faith that is in him, then the reactionary's
reasoning is as imposing and suggestive as is any other. He leaves in
his work an intellectual deposit which must be considered. He makes a
contribution which must be reckoned with, even more seriously, perhaps,
by those who dissent from it than by those who may agree with it. Such
deposit Newman and the Tractarian movement certainly did make. They
offered a rationale of the reaction. They gave to the Catholic revival a
standing in the world of ideas, not merely in the world of action.
Whether their reasoning has weight to-day, is a question upon which
opinion is divided. Yet Newman and his compeers, by their character and
standing, by their distinctively English qualities and by the road of
reason which they took in the defence of Catholic principles, made
Catholicism English again, in a sense in which it had not been English
for three hundred years. Yet though Newman brought to the Roman Church
in England, on his conversion to it, a prestige and qualities which in
that communion were unequalled, he was never _persona grata_ in that
Church. Outwardly the Roman Catholic revival in England was not in large
measure due to Newman and his arguments. It was due far more to men like
Wiseman and Manning, who were not men of argument but of deeds.


John Henry Newman was born in 1801, the son of a London banker. His
mother was of Huguenot descent. He came under Calvinistic influence.
Through study especially, of Romaine _On Faith_ he became the subject of
an inward conversion, of which in 1864 he wrote: 'I am still more
certain of it than that I have hands and feet.' Thomas Scott, the
evangelical, moved him. Before he was sixteen he made a collection of
Scripture texts in proof of the doctrine of the trinity. From Newton _On
the Prophecies_ he learned to identify the Pope with anti-Christ--a
doctrine by which, he adds, his imagination was stained up to the year
1843. In his _Apologia_, 1865, he declares: 'From the age of fifteen,
dogma has been a fundamental principle of my religion. I cannot enter
into the idea of any other sort of religion.' At the age of twenty-one,
two years after he had taken his degree, he came under very different
influences. He passed from Trinity College to a fellowship in Oriel. To
use his own phrase, he drifted in the direction of liberalism. He was
touched by Whately. He was too logical, and also too dogmatic, to be
satisfied with Whately's position. Of the years from 1823 to 1827 Mozley
says: 'Probably no one who then knew Newman could have told which way he
would go. It is not certain that he himself knew.' Francis W. Newman,
Newman's brother, who later became a Unitarian, remembering his own
years of stress, speaks with embitterment of his elder brother, who was
profoundly uncongenial to him.

The year 1827, in which Keble's _Christian Year_ was published, saw
another change in Newman's views. Illness and bereavement came to him
with awakening effect. He made the acquaintance of Hurrell Froude.
Froude brought Newman and Keble together. Henceforth Newman bore no more
traces either of evangelicalism or of liberalism. Of Froude it is
difficult to speak with confidence. His brother, James Anthony Froude,
the historian, author of the _Nemesis of Faith_, 1848, says that he was
gifted, brilliant, enthusiastic. Newman speaks of him with almost
boundless praise. Two volumes of his sermons, published after his death
in 1836, make the impression neither of learning nor judgment. Clearly
he had charm. Possibly he talked himself into a common-room reputation.
Newman says: 'Froude made me look with admiration toward the Church of
Rome.' Keble never had felt the liberalism through which Newman had
passed. Cradled as the Church of England had been in Puritanism, the
latter was to him simply evil. Opinions differing from his own were not
simply mistaken, they were sinful. He conceived no religious truth
outside the Church of England. In the _Christian Year_ one perceives an
influence which Newman strongly felt. It was that of the idea of the
sacramental significance of all natural objects or events. Pusey became
professor of Hebrew in 1830. He lent the movement academic standing,
which the others could not give. He had been in Germany, and had
published an _Inquiry into the Rationalist Character of German
Theology_, 1825. He hardly did more than expose the ignorance of Rose.
He was himself denounced as a German rationalist who dared to speak of a
new era in theology. Pusey, mourning the defection of Newman, whom he
deeply loved, gathered in 1846 the forces of the Anglo-Catholics and
continued in some sense a leader to the end of his long life in 1882.

The course of political events was fretting the Conservatives
intolerably. The agitation for the Reform Bill was taking shape. Sir
Robert Peel, the member for Oxford, had introduced a Bill for the
emancipation of the Roman Catholics. There was violent commotion in
Oxford. Keble and Newman strenuously opposed the measure. In 1830 there
was revolution in France. In England the Whigs had come into power.
Newman's mind was excited in the last degree. 'The vital question,' he
says, 'is this, how are we to keep the Church of England from being
liberalised?' At the end of 1832 Newman and Froude went abroad together.
On this journey, as he lay becalmed in the straits of Bonifacio, he
wrote his immortal hymn, 'Lead, Kindly Light.' He came home assured that
he had a work to do. Keble's Assize Sermon on the _National Apostasy_,
preached in July 1833, on the Sunday after Newman's return to Oxford,
kindled the conflagration which had been long preparing. Newman
conceived the idea of the _Tracts for the Times_ as a means of
expressing the feelings and propagating the opinions which deeply moved
him. 'From the first,' he says, 'my battle was with liberalism. By
liberalism I mean the anti-dogmatic principle. Secondly, my aim was the
assertion of the visible Church with sacraments and rites and definite
religious teaching on the foundation of dogma; and thirdly, the
assertion of the Anglican Church as opposed to the Church of Rome.'
Newman grew greatly in personal influence. His afternoon sermons at St.
Mary's exerted spiritual power. They deserved so to do. Here he was at
his best. All of his strength and little of his weakness shows. His
insight, his subtility, his pathos, his love of souls, his marvellous
play of dramatic as well as of spiritual faculty, are in evidence. Keble
and Pusey were busying themselves with the historical aspects of the
question. Pusey began the _Library of the Fathers_, the most elaborate
literary monument of the movement. Nothing could be more amazing than
the uncritical quality of the whole performance. The first check to the
movement came in 1838, when the Bishop of Oxford animadverted upon the
_Tracts_. Newman professed his willingness to stop them. The Bishop did
not insist. Newman's own thought moved rapidly onward in the only course
which was still open to it.

Newman had been bred in the deepest reverence for Scripture. In a sense
that reverence never left him, though it changed its form. He saw that
it was absurd to appeal to the Bible in the old way as an infallible
source of doctrine. How could truth be infallibly conveyed in defective
and fallible expressions? Newman's own studies in criticism, by no means
profound, led him to this correct conclusion. This was the end for him
of evangelical Protestantism. The recourse was then to the infallible
Church. Infallible guide and authority one must have. Without these
there can be no religion. To trust to reason and conscience as conveying
something of the light of God is impossible. To wait in patience and to
labour in fortitude for the increase of that light is unendurable. One
must have certainty. There can be no certainty by the processes of the
mind from within. This can come only by miraculous certification from

According to Newman the authority of the Church should never have been
impaired in the Reformation. Or rather, in his view of that movement,
this authority, for truly Christian men, had never been impaired. The
intellect is aggressive, capricious, untrustworthy. Its action in
religious matters is corrosive, dissolving, sceptical. 'Man's energy of
intellect must be smitten hard and thrown back by infallible authority,
if religion is to be saved at all.' Newman's philosophy was utterly
sceptical, although, unlike most absolute philosophical sceptics, he had
a deep religious experience. The most complete secularist, in his
negation of religion, does not differ from Newman in his low opinion of
the value of the surmises of the mind as to the transcendental meaning
of life and the world. He differs from Newman only in lacking that which
to Newman was the most indefeasible thing which he had at all, namely,
religious experience. Newman was the child of his age, though no one
ever abused more fiercely the age of which he was the child. He supposed
that he believed in religion on the basis of authority. Quite the
contrary, he believed in religion because he had religion or, as he
says, in a magnificent passage in one of his parochial sermons, because
religion had him. His scepticism forbade him to recognise that this was
the basis of his belief. His diremption of human nature was absolute.
The soul was of God. The mind was of the devil. He dare not trust his
own intellect concerning this inestimable treasure of his experience. He
dare not trust intellect at all. He knew not whither it might lead him.
The mind cannot be broken to the belief of a power above it. It must
have its stiff neck bent to recognise its Creator.

His whole book, _The Grammar of Assent_, 1870, is pervaded by the
intensest philosophical scepticism. Scepticism supplies its motives,
determines its problems, necessitates its distinctions, rules over the
succession and gradation of its arguments. The whole aim of the work is
to withdraw religion and the proofs of it, from the region of reason
into the realm of conscience and imagination, where the arguments which
reign may satisfy personal experience without alleging objective
validity or being able to bear the criticism which tests it. Again, he
is the perverse, unconscious child of the age which he curses. Had not
Kant and Schleiermacher, Coleridge and Channing sought, does not Ritschl
seek, to remove religion from the realm of metaphysics and to bring it
within the realm of experience? They had, however, pursued the same end
by different means. One is reminded of that saying of Gretchen
concerning Mephistopheles: 'He says the same thing with the pastor, only
in different words.' Newman says the same words, but means a different

Assuming the reduction of religion to experience, in which Kant and
Schleiermacher would have agreed, and asserting the worthlessness of
mentality, which they would have denied, we are not surprised to hear
Newman say that without Catholicism doubt is invincible. 'The Church's
infallibility is the provision adopted by the mercy of the Creator to
preserve religion in the world. Outside the Catholic Church all things
tend to atheism. The Catholic Church is the one face to face antagonist,
able to withstand and baffle the fierce energy of passion and the
all-dissolving scepticism of the mind. I am a Catholic by virtue of my
belief in God. If I should be asked why I believe in God, I should
answer, because I believe in myself. I find it impossible to believe in
myself, without believing also in the existence of him who lives as a
personal, all-seeing, all-judging being in my conscience.' These
passages are mainly taken from the _Apologia_, written long after Newman
had gone over to the Roman Church. They perfectly describe the attitude
of his mind toward the Anglican Church, so long as he believed this, and
not the Roman, to be the true Church. He had once thought that a man
could hold a position midway between the Protestantism which he
repudiated and the Romanism which he still resisted. He stayed in the
_via media_ so long as he could. But in 1839 he began to have doubts
about the Anglican order of succession. The catholicity of Rome began to
overshadow the apostolicity of Anglicanism. The Anglican formularies
cannot be at variance with the teachings of the authoritative and
universal Church. This is the problem which the last of the _Tracts_,
_Tract Ninety_, sets itself. It is one of those which Newman wrote. One
must find the sense of the Roman Church in the Thirty-Nine Articles.
This tract is prefaced by an extraordinary disquisition upon reserve in
the communication of religious knowledge. God's revelations of himself
to mankind have always been a kind of veil. Truth is the reward of
holiness. The Fathers were holy men. Therefore what the Fathers said
must be true. The principle of reserve the Articles illustrate. They do
not mean what they say. They were written in an uncatholic age, that is,
in the age of the Reformation. They were written by Catholic men. Else
how can the Church of England be now a Catholic Church? Through their
reserve they were acceptable in an uncatholic age. They cannot be
uncatholic in spirit, else how should they be identical in meaning with
the great Catholic creeds? Then follows an exposition of every important
article of the thirty-nine, an effort to interpret each in the sense of
the Roman Catholic Church of to-day. Four tutors published a protest
against the tract. Formal censure was passed upon it. It was now evident
to Newman that his place in the leadership of the Oxford Movement was
gone. From this time, the spring of 1841, he says he was on his deathbed
as regards the Church of England. He withdrew to Littlemore and
established a brotherhood there. In the autumn of 1843 he resigned the
parochial charge of St. Mary's at Oxford. On the 9th of October 1845 he
was formally admitted to the Roman Church. On the 6th of October Ernest
Renan had formally severed his connexion with that Church.

It is a strange thing that in his _Essay on the Development of Christian
Doctrine_, written in 1845, Newman himself should have advanced
substantially Hampden's contention. Here are written many things
concerning the development of doctrine which commend themselves to minds
conversant with the application of historical criticism to the whole
dogmatic structure of the Christian ages. The purpose is with Newman
entirely polemical, the issue exactly that which one would not have
foreseen. Precisely because the development of doctrine is so obvious,
because no historical point can be found at which the growth of doctrine
ceased and the rule of faith was once for all settled, therefore an
infallible authority outside of the development must have existed from
the beginning, to provide a means of distinguishing true development
from false. This infallible guide is, of course, the Church. It seems
incredible that Newman could escape applying to the Church the same
argument which he had so skilfully applied to Scripture and dogmatic
history. Similar is the case with the argument of the _Grammar of
Assent_. 'No man is certain of a truth who can endure the thought of its
contrary.' If the reason why I cannot endure the thought of the
contradictory of a belief which I have made my own, is that so to think
brings me pain and darkness, this does not prove my truth. If my belief
ever had its origin in reason, it must be ever refutable by reason. It
is not corroborated by the fact that I do not wish to see anything that
would refute it.[8] This last fact may be in the highest degree an act
of arbitrariness. To make the impossibility of thinking the opposite,
the test of truth, and then to shut one's eyes to those evidences which
might compel one to think the opposite, is the essence of irrationality.
One attains by this method indefinite assertiveness, but not certainty.
Newman lived in some seclusion in the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in
Birmingham for many years. A few distinguished men, and a number of his
followers, in all not more than a hundred and fifty, went over to the
Roman Church after him. The defection was never so great as, in the
first shock, it was supposed that it would be. The outward influence of
Newman upon the Anglican Church then ceased. But the ideas which he put
forth have certainly been of great influence in that Church to this day.
Most men know the portrait of the great cardinal, the wide forehead,
ploughed deep with horizontal furrows, the pale cheek, down which 'long
lines of shadow slope, which years and anxious thought and suffering
give.' One looks into the wonderful face of those last days--Newman
lived to his ninetieth year--and wonders if he found in the infallible
Church the peace which he so earnestly sought.

[Footnote 8: Fairbairn, _Catholicism, Roman and Anglican_, p. 157.]


It was said that the Oxford Movement furnished the rationale of the
reaction. Many causes, of course, combine to make the situation of the
Roman Church and the status of religion in the Latin countries of the
Continent the lamentable one that it is. That position is worst in those
countries where the Roman Church has most nearly had free play. The
alienation both of the intellectual and civil life from organised
religion is grave. That the Roman Church occupies in England to-day a
position more favourable than in almost any nation on the Continent, and
better than it occupied in England at the beginning of the nineteenth
century, is due in large measure to the general influence of the
movement with which we have been dealing. The Anglican Church was at the
beginning of the nineteenth century preponderantly evangelical,
low-church and conscious of itself as Protestant. At the beginning of
the twentieth it is dominantly ritualistic and disposed to minimise its
relation to the Reformation. This resurgence of Catholic principles is
another effect of the movement of which we speak. Other factors must
have wrought for this result besides the body of arguments which Newman
and his compeers offered. The argument itself, the mere intellectual
factor, is not adequate. There is an inherent contradiction in the
effort to ground in reason an authority which is to take the place of
reason. Yet round and round this circle all the labours of John Henry
Newman go. Cardinal Manning felt this. The victory of the Church was not
to be won by argument. It is well known that Newman opposed the decree
of infallibility. It cannot be said that upon this point his arguments
had great weight. If one assumes that truth comes to us externally
through representatives of God, and if the truth is that which they
assert, then in the last analysis what they assert is truth. If one has
given in to such authority because one distrusts his reason, then it is
querulous to complain that the deliverances of authority do not comport
with reason. There may be, of course, the greatest interest in the
struggle as to the instance in which this authority is to be lodged.
This interest attaches to the age-long struggle between Pope and
Council. It attaches to the dramatic struggle of Döllinger, Dupanloup,
Lord Acton and the rest, in 1870. Once the Church has spoken there is,
for the advocate of authoritative religion, no logic but to submit.

Similarly as to the _Encyclical_ and _Syllabus of Errors_ of 1864, which
forecast the present conflict concerning Modernism. The _Syllabus_ had a
different atmosphere from that which any Englishman in the sixties would
have given it. Had not Newman, however, made passionate warfare on the
liberalism of the modern world? Was it not merely a question of degrees?
Was Gladstone's attitude intelligible? The contrast of two principles in
life and religion, the principles of authority and of the spirit, is
being brought home to men's consciousness as it has never been before.
One reads _Il Santo_ and learns concerning the death of Fogazzaro, one
looks into the literature relating to Tyrrell, one sees the fate of
Loisy, comparing the really majestic achievement in his works and the
spirit of his _Simple Reflections_ with the _Encyclical Pascendi_, 1907.
One understands why these men have done what they could to remain within
the Roman Church. One recalls the attitude of Döllinger to the
inauguration of the Old Catholic Movement, reflects upon the relative
futility of the Old Catholic Church, and upon the position of Hyacinthe
Loyson. One appreciates the feeling of these men that it is impossible,
from without, to influence as they would the Church which they have
loved. The present difficulty of influencing it from within seems almost
insuperable. The history of Modernism as an effective contention in the
world of Christian thought seems scarcely begun. The opposition to
Modernism is not yet a part of the history of thought.


In no life are reflected more perfectly the spiritual conflicts of the
fifth decade of the nineteenth century than in that of Frederick W.
Robertson. No mind worked itself more triumphantly out of these
difficulties. Descended from a family of Scottish soldiers, evangelical
in piety, a student in Oxford in 1837, repelled by the Oxford Movement,
he undertook his ministry under a morbid sense of responsibility. He
reacted violently against his evangelicalism. He travelled abroad, read
enormously, was plunged into an agony which threatened mentally to undo
him. He took his charge at Brighton in 1847, still only thirty-one years
old, and at once shone forth in the splendour of his genius. A martyr to
disease and petty persecution, dying at thirty-seven, he yet left the
impress of one of the greatest preachers whom the Church of England has
produced. He left no formal literary work such as he had designed. Of
his sermons we have almost none from his own manuscripts. Yet his
influence is to-day almost as intense as when the sermons were
delivered. It is, before all, the wealth and depth of his thought, the
reality of the content of the sermons, which commands admiration. They
are a classic refutation of the remark that one cannot preach theology.
Out of them, even in their fragmentary state, a well-articulated system
might be made. He brought to his age the living message of a man upon
whom the best light of his age had shone.


Something of the same sort may be said concerning Phillips Brooks. He
inherited on his father's side the sober rationalism and the humane and
secular interest of the earlier Unitarianism, on his mother's side the
intensity of evangelical pietism with the Calvinistic form of thought.
The conflict of these opposing tendencies in New England was at that
time so great that Brooks's parents sought refuge with the low-church
element in the Episcopal Church. Brooks's education at Harvard College,
where he took his degree in 1855, as also at Alexandria, and still more,
his reading and experience, made him sympathetic with that which, in
England in those years, was called the Broad Church party. He was deeply
influenced by Campbell and Maurice. Later well known in England, he was
the compeer of the best spirits of his generation there. Deepened by the
experience of the great war, he held in succession two pulpits of large
influence, dying as Bishop of Massachusetts in 1893. There is a
theological note about his preaching, as in the case of Robertson. Often
it is the same note. Brooks had passed through no such crisis as had
Robertson. He had flowered into the greatness of rational belief. His
sermons are a contribution to the thinking of his age. We have much
finished material of this kind from his own hand, and a book or two
besides. His service through many years as preacher to his university
was of inestimable worth. The presentation of ever-advancing thought to
a great public constituency is one of the most difficult of tasks. It is
also one of the most necessary. The fusion of such thoughtfulness with
spiritual impulse has rarely been more perfectly achieved than in the
preaching of Phillips Brooks.


We have used the phrase, the Broad Church party. Stanley had employed
the adjective to describe the real character of the English Church, over
against the antithesis of the Low Church and the High. The designation
adhered to a group of which Stanley was himself a type. They were not
bound together in a party. They had no ecclesiastical end in view. They
were of a common spirit. It was not the spirit of evangelicalism. Still
less was it that of the Tractarians. It was that which Robertson had
manifested. It aimed to hold the faith with an open mind in all the
intellectual movement of the age. Maurice should be enumerated here,
with reservations. Kingsley beyond question belonged to this group.
There was great ardour among them for the improvement of social
conditions, a sense of the social mission of Christianity. There grew up
what was called a Christian Socialist movement, which, however, never
attained or sought a political standing. The Broad Church movement
seemed, at one time, assured of ascendancy in the Church of England. Its
aims appeared congruous with the spirit of the times. Yet Dean Fremantle
esteems himself perhaps the last survivor of an illustrious company.

The men who in 1860 published the volume known as _Essays and Reviews_
would be classed with the Broad Church. In its authorship were
associated seven scholars, mostly Oxford men. Some one described _Essays
and Reviews_ as the _Tract Ninety_ of the Broad Church. It stirred
public sentiment and brought the authors into conflict with authority in
a somewhat similar way. The living antagonism of the Broad Church was
surely with the Tractarians rather than with the evangelicals. Yet the
most significant of the essays, those on miracles and on prophecy,
touched opinions common to both these groups. Jowett, later Master of
Balliol, contributed an essay on the 'Interpretation of Scripture.' It
hardly belongs to Jowett's best work. Yet the controversy then
precipitated may have had to do with Jowett's adherence to Platonic
studies instead of his devoting himself to theology. The most decisive
of the papers was that of Baden Powell on the 'Study of the Evidences of
Christianity.' It was mainly a discussion of the miracle. It was radical
and conclusive. The essay closes with an allusion to Darwin's _Origin of
Species_, which had then just appeared. Baden Powell died shortly after
its publication. The fight came on Rowland Williams's paper upon
Bunson's _Biblical Researches_. It was really upon the prophecies and
their use in 'Christian Evidences.' Baron Bunsen was not a great
archæologist, but he brought to the attention of English readers that
which was being done in Germany in this field. Williams used the
archæological material to rectify the current theological notions
concerning ancient history. A certain type of English mind has always
shown zeal for the interpretation of prophecy. Williams's thesis,
briefly put, was this: the Bible does not always give the history of the
past with accuracy; it does not give the history of the future at all;
prophecy means spiritual teaching, not secular prognostication. A reader
of our day may naturally feel that Wilson, with his paper on the
'National Church,' made the greatest contribution. He built indeed upon
Coleridge, but he had a larger horizon. He knew the arguments of the
great Frenchmen of his day and of their English imitators who, in Benn's
phrase, narrowed and perverted the ideal of a world-wide humanity into
that of a Church founded on dogmas and administered by clericals. Wilson
argued that in Jesus' teaching the basis of the religious community is
ethical. The Church is but the instrument for carrying out the will of
God as manifest in the moral law. The realisation of the will of God
must extend beyond the limits of the Church's activity, however widely
these are drawn. There arose a violent agitation. Williams and Wilson
were prosecuted. The case was tried in the Court of Arches. Williams was
defended by no less a person than Fitzjames Stephen. The two divines
were sentenced to a year's suspension. This decision was reversed by the
Lord Chancellor. Fitzjames Stephen had argued that if the men most
interested in the church, namely, its clergy, are the only men who
may be punished for serious discussion of the facts and truths of
religion, then respect on the part of the world for the Church is at an
end. By this discussion the English clergy, even if Anglo-Catholic, are
in a very different position from the Roman priests, over whom
encyclicals, even if not executed, are always suspended.

Similar was the issue in the case of Colenso, Bishop of Natal. Equipped
mainly with Cambridge mathematics added to purest self-devotion, he had
been sent out as a missionary bishop. In the process of the translation
of the Pentateuch for his Zulus, he had come to reflect upon the problem
which the Old Testament presents. In a manner which is altogether
marvellous he worked out critical conclusions parallel to those of Old
Testament scholars on the Continent. He was never really an expert, but
in his main contention he was right. He adhered to his opinion despite
severe pressure and was not removed from the episcopate. With such
guarantees it would be strange indeed if we could not say that biblical
studies entered in Great Britain, as also in America, on a development
in which scholars of these nations are not behind the best scholars of
the world. The trials for heresy of Robertson Smith in Edinburgh and of
Dr. Briggs in New York have now little living interest. Yet biblical
studies in Scotland and America were incalculably furthered by those
discussions. The publication of a book like _Supernatural Religion_,
1872, illustrates a proclivity not uncommon in self-conscious liberal
circles, for taking up a contention just when those who made it and have
lived with it have decided to lay it down. However, the names of Hatch
and Lightfoot alone, not to mention the living, are sufficient to
warrant the assertions above made.

       *       *       *       *       *

More than once in these chapters we have spoken of the service rendered
to the progress of Christian thought by the criticism and interpretation
of religion at the hands of literary men. That country and age may be
esteemed fortunate in which religion occupies a place such that it
compels the attention of men of genius. In the history of culture this
has by no means always been the case. That these men do not always speak
the language of edification is of minor consequence. What is of infinite
worth is that the largest minds of the generation shall engage
themselves with the topic of religion. A history of thought concerning
Christianity cannot but reckon with the opinions, for example, of
Carlyle, of Emerson, of Matthew Arnold--to mention only types.


Carlyle has pictured for us his early home at Ecclefechan on the Border;
his father, a stone mason of the highest character; his mother with her
frugal, pious ways; the minister, from whom he learned Latin, 'the
priestliest man I ever beheld in any ecclesiastical guise.' The picture
of his mother never faded from his memory. Carlyle was destined for the
Church. Such had been his mother's prayer. He took his arts course in
Edinburgh. In the university, he says, 'there was much talk about
progress of the species, dark ages, and the like, but the hungry young
looked to their spiritual nurses and were bidden to eat the east wind.'
He entered Divinity Hall, but already, in 1816, prohibitive doubts had
arisen in his mind. Irving sought to help him. Irving was not the man
for the task. The Christianity of the Church had become intellectually
incredible to Carlyle. For a time he was acutely miserable, bordering
upon despair. He has described his spiritual deliverance: 'Precisely
that befel me which the Methodists call their conversion, the
deliverance of their souls from the devil and the pit. There burst forth
a sacred flame of joy in me.' With _Sartor Resartus_ his message to the
world began. It was printed in _Fraser's Magazine_ in 1833, but not
published separately until 1838. His difficulty in finding a publisher
embittered him. Style had something to do with this, the newness of his
message had more. Then for twenty years he poured forth his message.
Never did a man carry such a pair of eyes into the great world of London
or set a more peremptory mark upon its notabilities. His best work was
done before 1851. His later years were darkened with much misery of
body. No one can allege that he ever had a happy mind.

He was a true prophet, but, Elijah-like, he seemed to himself to be
alone. His derision of the current religion seems sometimes needless.
Yet even that has the grand note of sincerity. What he desired he in no
small measure achieved--that his readers should be arrested and feel
themselves face to face with reality. His startling intuition, his
intellectual uprightness, his grasp upon things as they are, his passion
for what ought to be, made a great impression upon his age. It was in
itself a religious influence. Here was a mind of giant force, of
sternest truthfulness. His untruths were those of exaggeration. His
injustices were those of prejudice. He invested many questions of a
social and moral, of a political and religious sort with a nobler
meaning than they had had before. His _French Revolution_, his papers on
_Chartism_, his unceasing comment on the troubled life of the years from
1830 to 1865, are of highest moment for our understanding of the growth
of that social feeling in the midst of which we live and work. In his
brooding sympathy with the downtrodden he was a great inaugurator of the
social movement. He felt the curse of an aristocratic society, yet no
one has told us with more drastic truthfulness the evils of our
democratic institutions. His word was a great corrective for much
'rose-water' optimism which prevailed in his day. The note of hope is,
however, often lacking. The mythology of an absentee God had faded from
him. Yet the God who was clear to his mature consciousness, clear as the
sun in the heavens, was a God over the world, to judge it inexorably.
Again, it is not difficult to accumulate evidence in his words which
looks toward pantheism; but what one may call the religious benefit of
pantheism, the sense that God is in his world, Carlyle often loses.

Materialism is to-day so deeply discredited that we find it difficult to
realise that sixty years ago the problem wore a different look. Carlyle
was never weary of pouring out the vials of his contempt on
'mud-philosophies' and exalting the spirit as against matter. Never was
a man more opposed to the idea of a godless world, in which man is his
own chief end, and his sensual pleasures the main aims of his existence.
His insight into the consequences of our commercialism and luxury and
absorption in the outward never fails. Man is God's son, but the effort
to realise that sonship in the joy and trust of a devout heart and in
the humble round of daily life sometimes seems to him cant or
superstition. The humble life of godliness made an unspeakable appeal to
him. He had known those who lived that life. His love for them was
imperishable. Yet he had so recoiled from the superstitions and
hypocrisies of others, the Eternal in his majesty was so ineffable, all
effort to approach him so unworthy, that almost instinctively he would
call upon the man who made the effort, to desist. So magnificent, all
his life long, had been his protest against the credulity and stupidity
of men, against beliefs which assert the impossible and blink the facts,
that, for himself, the great objects of faith were held fast to, so to
say, in their naked verity, with a giant's strength. They were
half-querulously denied all garment and embodiment, lest he also should
be found credulous and self-deceived. From this titan labouring at the
foundations of the world, this Samson pulling down temples of the
Philistines on his head, this cyclops heaving hills at ships as they
pass by, it seems a long way to Emerson. Yet Emerson was Carlyle's


Arnold said in one of his American addresses: 'Besides these
voices--Newman, Carlyle, Goethe--there came to us in the Oxford of my
youth a voice also from this side of the Atlantic, a clear and pure
voice which, for my ear at any rate, brought a strain as new and moving
and unforgetable as those others. Lowell has described the apparition of
Emerson to your young generation here. He was your Newman, your man of
soul and genius, speaking to your bodily ears, a present object for your
heart and imagination.' Then he quotes as one of the most memorable
passages in English speech: 'Trust thyself. Accept the place which the
divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries,
the connection of events. Great men have always done so, confiding
themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying a perception
which was stirring in their hearts, working through their hands,
dominating their whole being.' Arnold speaks of Carlyle's grim
insistence upon labour and righteousness but of his scorn of happiness,
and then says: 'But Emerson taught happiness in labour, in righteousness
and veracity. In all the life of the spirit, happiness and eternal hope,
that was Emerson's gospel. By his conviction that in the life of the
spirit is happiness, by his hope and expectation that this life of the
spirit will more and more be understood and will prevail, by this
Emerson was great.'

Seven of Emerson's ancestors were ministers of New England churches. He
inherited qualities of self-reliance, love of liberty, strenuous virtue,
sincerity, sobriety and fearless loyalty to ideals. The form of his
ideals was modified by the glow of transcendentalism which passed over
parts of New England in the second quarter of the nineteenth century,
but the spirit in which Emerson conceived the laws of life, reverenced
them and lived them, was the Puritan spirit, only elevated, enlarged and
beautified by the poetic temperament. Taking his degree from Harvard in
1821, despising school teaching, stirred by the passion for spiritual
leadership, the ministry seemed to offer the fairest field for its
satisfaction. In 1825 he entered the Divinity School in Harvard to
prepare himself for the Unitarian ministry. In 1829 he became associate
minister of the Second Unitarian Church in Boston. He arrived at the
conviction that the Lord's Supper was not intended by Jesus to be a
permanent sacrament. He found his congregation, not unnaturally,
reluctant to agree with him. He therefore retired from the pastoral
office. He was always a preacher, though of a singular order. His task
was to befriend and guide the inner life of man. The influences of this
period in his life have been enumerated as the liberating philosophy of
Coleridge, the mystical vision of Swedenborg, the intimate poetry of
Wordsworth, the stimulating essays of Carlyle. His address before the
graduating class of the Divinity School at Cambridge in 1838 was an
impassioned protest against what he called the defects of historical
Christianity, its undue reliance upon the personal authority of Jesus,
its failure to explore the moral nature of man. He made a daring plea
for absolute self-reliance and new inspiration in religion: 'In the soul
let redemption be sought. Refuse the good models, even those which are
sacred in the imagination of men. Cast conformity behind you. Acquaint
men at first hand with deity.' He never could have been the power he was
by the force of his negations. His power lay in the wealth, the variety,
the beauty and insight with which he set forth the positive side of his
doctrine of the greatness of man, of the presence of God in man, of the
divineness of life, of God's judgment and mercy in the order of the
world. One sees both the power and the limitation of Emerson's religious
teaching. At the root of it lay a real philosophy. He could not
philosophise. He was always passing from the principle to its
application. He could not systematise. He speaks of his 'formidable
tendency to the lapidary style.' Granting that one finds his philosophy
in fragments, just as one finds his interpretation of religion in
flashes of marvellous insight, both are worth searching for, and either,
in Coleridge's phrase, finds us, whether we search for it or not.


What shall we say of Matthew Arnold himself? Without doubt the twenty
years by which Arnold was Newman's junior at Oxford made a great
difference in the intellectual atmosphere of that place, and of the
English world of letters, at the time when Arnold's mind was maturing.
He was not too late to feel the spell of Newman. His mind was hardly one
to appreciate the whole force of that spell. He was at Oxford too early
for the full understanding of the limits within which alone the
scientific conception of the world can be said to be true. Arnold often
boasted that he was no metaphysician. He really need never have
mentioned the fact. The assumption that whatever is true can be verified
in the sense of the precise kind of verification which science implies
is a very serious mistake. Yet his whole intellectual strength was
devoted to the sustaining, one cannot say exactly the cause of religion,
but certainly that of noble conduct, and to the assertion of the elation
of duty and the joy of righteousness. With all the scorn that Arnold
pours upon the trust which we place in God's love, he yet holds to the
conviction that 'the power without ourselves which makes for
righteousness' is one upon which we may in rapture rely.

Arnold had convinced himself that in an ago such as ours, which will
take nothing for granted, but must verify everything, Christianity, in
the old form of authoritative belief in supernatural beings and
miraculous events, is no longer tenable. We must confine ourselves to
such ethical truths as can be verified by experience. We must reject
everything which goes beyond these. Religion has no more to do with
supernatural dogma than with metaphysical philosophy. It has nothing to
do with either. It has to do with conduct. It is folly to make religion
depend upon the conviction of the existence of an intelligent and moral
governor of the universe, as the theologians have done. For the object
of faith in the ethical sense Arnold coined the phrase: 'The Eternal not
ourselves which makes for righteousness.' So soon as we go beyond this,
we enter upon the region of fanciful anthropomorphism, of extra belief,
_aberglaube_, which always revenges itself. These are the main
contentions of his book, _Literature and Dogma_, 1875.

One feels the value of Arnold's recall to the sense of the literary
character of the Scriptural documents, as urged in his book, _Saint Paul
and Protestantism_, 1870, and again to the sense of the influence which
the imagination of mankind has had upon religion. One feels the truth of
his assertion of our ignorance. One feels Arnold's own deep earnestness.
It was his concern that reason and the will of God should prevail.
Though he was primarily a literary man, yet his great interest was in
religion. One feels so sincerely that his main conclusion is sound, that
it is the more trying that his statement of it should be often so
perverse and his method of sustaining it so precarious. It is quite
certain that the idea of the Eternal not ourselves which makes for
righteousness is far from being the clear idea which Arnold claims. It
is far from being an idea derived from experience or verifiable in
experience, in the sense which he asserts. It seems positively
incredible that Arnold did not know that with this conception he passed
the boundary of the realm of science and entered the realm of
metaphysics, which he so abhorred.

He was the eldest son of Thomas Arnold of Rugby. He was educated at
Winchester and Rugby and at Balliol College. He was Professor of Poetry
in Oxford from 1857 to 1867. He was an inspector of schools. The years
of his best literary labour were much taken up in ways which were
wasteful of his rare powers. He came by literary intuition to an idea of
Scripture which others had built up from the point of view of a theory
of knowledge and by investigation of the facts. He is the helpless
personification of a view of the relation of science and religion which
has absolutely passed away. Yet Arnold died only in 1888. How much a
distinguished inheritance may mean is gathered from the fact that a
grand-daughter of Thomas Arnold and niece of Matthew Arnold, Mrs.
Humphry Ward, in her novels, has dealt largely with problems of
religious life, and more particularly of religious thoughtfulness. She
has done for her generation, in her measure, that which George Eliot did
for hers.


As the chapter and the book draw to their close we can think of no man
whose life more nearly spanned the century, or whose work touched more
fruitfully almost every aspect of Christian thoughtfulness than did that
of James Martineau. We can think of no man who gathered into himself
more fully the significant theological tendencies of the age, or whose
utterance entitles him to be listened to more reverently as seer and
saint. He was born in 1805. He was bred as an engineer. He fulfilled for
years the calling of minister and preacher. He gradually exchanged this
for the activity of a professor. He was a religious philosopher in the
old sense, but he was also a critic and historian. His position with
reference to the New Testament was partly antiquated before his _Seat of
Authority in Religion_, 1890, made its appearance. Evolutionism never
became with him a coherent and consistent assumption. Ethics never
altogether got rid of the innate ideas. The social movement left him
almost untouched. Yet, despite all this, he was in some sense a
representative progressive theologian of the century.

There is a parallel between Newman and Martineau. Both busied themselves
with the problem of authority. Criticism had been fatal to the
apprehension which both had inherited concerning the authority of
Scripture. From that point onward they took divergent courses. The
arguments which touched the infallible and oracular authority of
Scripture, for Newman established that of the Church; for Martineau they
had destroyed that of the Church four hundred years ago. Martineau's
sense, even of the authority of Jesus, reverent as it is, is yet no
pietistic and mystical view. The authority of Jesus is that of the truth
which he speaks, of the goodness which dwells in him, of God himself and
God alone. A real interest in the sciences and true learning in some of
them made Martineau able to write that wonderful chapter in his _Seat of
Authority_, which he entitled 'God in Nature.' Newman could see in
nature, at most a sacramental suggestion, a symbol of transcendental

The Martineaus came of old Huguenot stock, which in England belonged to
the liberal Presbyterianism out of which much of British Unitarianism
came. The righteousness of a persecuted race had left an austere impress
upon their domestic and social life. Intellectually they inherited the
advanced liberalism of their day. Harriet Martineau's earlier piety had
been of the most fervent sort. She reacted violently against it in later
years. She had little of the politic temper and gentleness of her
brother. She described one of her own later works as the last word of
philosophic atheism. James was, and always remained, of deepest
sensitiveness and reverence and of a gentleness which stood in high
contrast with his powers of conflict, if necessity arose. Out of
Martineau's years as preacher in Liverpool and London came two books of
rare devotional quality, _Endeavours after the Christian Life_, 1843 and
1847, and _Hours of Thought on Sacred Things_, 1873 and 1879. Almost all
his life he was identified with Manchester College, as a student when
the college was located at York, as a teacher when it returned to
Manchester and again when it was removed to London. With its removal to
Oxford, accomplished in 1889, he had not fully sympathised. He believed
that the university itself must some day do justice to the education of
men for the ministry in other churches than the Anglican. He was eighty
years old when he published his _Types of Ethical Theory_, eighty-two
when he gave to the world his _Study of Religion_, eighty-five when his
_Seat of Authority_ saw the light. The effect of this postponement of
publication was not wholly good. The books represented marvellous
learning and ripeness of reflection. But they belong to a period
anterior to the dates they bear upon their title-pages. Martineau's
education and his early professional experience put him in touch with
the advancing sciences. In the days when most men of progressive spirit
were carried off their feet, when materialism was flaunted in men's
faces and the defence of religion was largely in the hands of those who
knew nothing of the sciences, Martineau was not moved. He saw the end
from the beginning. There is nothing finer in his latest work than his
early essays--'Nature and God,' 'Science, Nescience and Faith,' and
'Religion as affected by Modern Materialism.' He died in 1900 in his
ninety-fifth year.

It is difficult to speak of the living in these pages. Personal
relations enforce reserve and brevity. Nevertheless, no one can think of
Manchester College and Martineau without being reminded of Mansfield
College and of Fairbairn, a Scotchman, but of the Independent Church. He
also was both teacher and preacher all his days, leader of the movement
which brought Mansfield College from Birmingham to Oxford, by the
confession both of Anglicans and of Non-conformists the most learned man
in his subjects in the Oxford of his time, an historian, touched by the
social enthusiasm, but a religious philosopher, _par excellence_. His
_Religion and Modern Life_, 1894, his _Catholicism, Roman and Anglican_,
1899, his _Place of Christ in Modern Theology_, 1893, his _Philosophy of
the Christian Religion_, 1902, and his _Studies in Religion and
Theology_, 1910, indicate the wideness of his sympathies and the scope
of the application, of his powers. If imitation is homage, grateful
acknowledgment is here made of rich spoil taken from his books.

Philosophy took a new turn in Britain after the middle of the decade of
the sixties. It began to be conceded that Locke and Hume were dead. Had
Mill really appreciated that fact he might have been a philosopher more
fruitful and influential than he was. Sir William Hamilton was dead.
Mansel's endeavour, out of agnosticism to conjure the most absurdly
positivistic faith, had left thinking men more exposed to scepticism, if
possible, than they had been before. When Hegel was thought in Germany
to be obsolete, and everywhere the cry was 'back to Kant,' some Scotch
and English scholars, the two Cairds and Seth Pringle-Pattison, with
Thomas Hill Green, made a modified Hegelianism current in Great Britain.
They led by this path in the introduction of their countrymen to later
German idealism. By this introduction philosophy in both Britain and
America has greatly gained. Despite these facts, John Caird's
_Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion_, 1880, is still only a
religious philosophy. It is not a philosophy of religion. His
_Fundamental Ideas of Christianity_, 1896, hardly escapes the old
antitheses among which theological discussion moved, say, thirty years
ago. Edward Caird's _Critical Philosophy of Kant_, 1889, and especially
his _Evolution of Religion_, 1892, marked the coming change more
definitely than did any of the labours of his brother. Thomas Hill Green
gave great promise in his _Introduction to Hume_, 1885, his _Prolegomena
to Ethics_, 1883, and still more in essays and papers scattered through
the volumes edited by Nettleship after Green's death. His contribution
to religious discussion was such as to make his untimely end to be
deeply deplored. Seth Pringle-Pattison's early work, _The Development
from Kant to Hegel_, 1881, still has great worth. His _Hegelianism and
Personality_, 1893, deals with one aspect of the topic which needs ever
again to be explored, because of the psychological basis which in
religious discussion is now assumed.


The greatest contribution of America to religious discussion in recent
years is surely William James's _Varieties of Religious Experience_,
1902. The book is unreservedly acknowledged in Britain, and in Germany
as well, to be the best which we yet have upon the psychology of
religion. Not only so, it gives a new intimation as to what psychology
of religion means. It blazes a path along which investigators are
eagerly following. Boyce, in his Phi Beta Kappa address at Harvard in
1911, declared James to be the third representative philosopher whom
America has produced. He had the form of philosophy as Emerson never
had. He could realise whither he was going, as Emerson in his
intuitiveness never did. He criticised the dominant monism in most
pregnant way. He recurred to the problems which dualism owned but could
not solve. We cannot call the new scheme dualism. The world does not go
back. Yet James made an over-confident generation feel that the
centuries to which dualism had seemed reasonable were not so completely
without intelligence as has been supposed by some. No philosophy may
claim completeness as an interpretation of the universe. No more
conclusive proof of this judgment could be asked than is given quite
unintentionally in Haeckel's _Weltrãthsel_.

At no point is this recall more earnest than in James's dealing with the
antithesis of good and evil. The reaction of the mind of the race, and
primarily of individuals, upon the fact of evil, men's consciousness of
evil in themselves, their desire to be rid of it, their belief that
there is a deliverance from it and that they have found that
deliverance, is for James the point of departure for the study of the
actual phenomena and the active principle of religion. The truest
psychological and philosophical instinct of the ago thus sets the
experience of conversion in the centre of discussion. Apparently most
men have, at some time and in some way, the consciousness of a capacity
for God which is unfulfilled, of a relation to God unrealised, which is
broken and resumed, or yet to be resumed. They have the sense that their
own effort must contribute to this recovery. They have the sense also
that something without themselves empowers them to attempt this recovery
and to persevere in the attempt. The psychology of religion is thus put
in the forefront. The vast masses of material of this sort which the
religious world, both past and present, possesses, have been either
actually unexplored, or else set forth in ways which distorted and
obscured the facts. The experience is the fact. The best science the
world knows is now to deal with it as it would deal with any other fact.
This is the epoch-making thing, the contribution to method in James's
book. James was born in New York in 1842, the son of a Swedenborgian
theologian. He took his medical degree at Harvard in 1870. He began to
lecture there in anatomy in 1872 and became Professor of Philosophy in
1885. He was a Gifford and a Hibbert Lecturer. He died in 1910.

When James's thesis shall have been fully worked out, much supposed
investigation of primitive religions, which is really nothing but
imagination concerning primitive religions, will be shown in its true
worthlessness. We know very little about primitive man. What we learn as
to primitive man, on the side of his religion, we must learn in part
from the psychology of the matured and civilised, the present living,
thinking, feeling man in contact with his religion. Matured religion is
not to be judged by the primitive, but the reverse. The real study of
the history of religions, the study of the objective phenomena, from
earliest to latest times, has its place. But the history of religions is
perverted when it takes for fact in the life of primitive man that which
never existed save in the imagination of twentieth century students.
Early Christianity, on its inner and spiritual side, is to be judged by
later Christianity, by present Christianity, by the Christian experience
which we see and know to-day, and not conversely, as men have always
claimed. The modern man is not to be converted after the pattern which
it is alleged that his grandfather followed. For, first, there is the
question as to whether his grandfather did conform to this pattern. And
beyond that, it is safer to try to understand the experience of the
grandfather, whom we do not know, by the psychology and experience of
the grandson, whom we do know, with, of course, a judicious admixture of
knowledge of the history of the nineteenth century, which would occasion
characteristic differences. The modern saint is not asked to be a saint
like Francis. In the first place, how do we know what Francis was like?
In the second place, the experience of Francis may be most easily
understood by the aid of modern experience of true revolt from
worldliness and of consecration to self-sacrifice, as these exist among
us, with, of course, the proper background furnished by the history of
the thirteenth century. Souls are one. Our souls may be, at least in
some measure, known to ourselves. Even the souls of some of our fellows
may be measurably known to us. What are the facts of the religious
experience? How do souls react in face of the eternal? The experience of
religion, the experience of the fatherhood of God, of the sonship of
man, of the moving of the spirit, is surely one experience. How did even
Christ's great soul react, experience, work, will, and suffer? By what
possible means can we ever know how he reacted, worked, willed,
suffered? In the literature we learn only how men thought that he
reacted. We must inquire of our own souls. To be sure, Christ belonged
to the first century, and we live in the twentieth. It is possible for
us to learn something of the first century and of the concrete outward
conditions which caused his life to take the shape which it did. We
learn this by strict historical research. Assuredly the supreme measure
in which the spirit of all truth and goodness once took possession of
the Nazarene, remains to us a mystery unfathomed and unfathomable.
Dwelling in Jesus, that spirit made through him a revelation of the
divine such as the world has never seen. Yet that mystery leads forth
along the path of that which is intelligible. And, in another sense,
even such religious experience as we ourselves may have, poor though it
be and sadly limited, leads back into the same mystery.

It was with this contention that religion is a fact of the inner life of
man, that it is to be understood through consciousness, that it is
essentially and absolutely reasonable and yet belongs to the
transcendental world, it was with this contention that, in the person of
Immanuel Kant, the history of modern religious thought began. It is with
this contention, in one of its newest and most far-reaching applications
in the work of William James, that this history continues. For no one
can think of the number of questions which recent years have raised,
without realising that this history is by no means concluded. It is
conceivable that the changes which the twentieth century will bring may
be as noteworthy as those which the nineteenth century has seen. At
least we may be grateful that so great and sure a foundation has been



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