Modern Rationalism/Chapter I

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Chapter I.


"The surrender to infidelity by the so-called Christian minister is the most alarming feature of the hour" are words which an eminent American preacher of the Evangelical school addressed to his congregation a few years ago. The words are true, with an apology for the crudity of the expression, not only of America, but of England, Germany, Holland, France, and Switzerland. Though it is scarcely correct to speak of this Rationalistic tendency as merely a feature of the present hour: it is one of the most interesting features of the century as a whole, and has, in our days, come to be accepted as a permanent phenomenon. There were, it is true, occasional indications of the same spirit in the preceding century. Dr. Berkeley constructed a philosophical system, which, if fully evolved, would have grave theological consequences; and Dr. Clarke even called himself humorously "a freethinking anti-Freethinker." Still, there was no evidence of a systematic effort to elevate reason or conscience to the dignity of arbiter of all truth, including revealed, and to deliberately modify or reject under its influence some of the most essential points of Christian doctrine. But at the very commencement of the nineteenth century that spirit reveals its operation. A powerful school is formed within the Church under its inspiration which makes such rapid progress that, in 1833, the thoughtful and anxious Newman, in the van of the opposing Tractarian movement, declared that "the nation was on its way to give up revealed truth." Since that date it has steadily grown, and has come at length to be accepted as a legitimate school within the Church; and legal enactments have been especially framed to accommodate it.

Thus, side by side with the growth of Unitarianism and the rise and progress of Agnosticism, the Rationalistic spirit has penetrated into ecclesiastical circles and caused an interesting internal struggle. The history of the Broad Church, as the rationalizing section has been called since Mr. Conybeare's article, is an important chapter in the history of Rationalism, and its significance, in conjecturing the ultimate issue of the conflict of reason and authority, is very profound. For the present it has had the effect of preserving the numerical strength of the Established Church; it has been found a most effective safety-valve under hostile pressure. Since that effect has only been attained by an important sacrifice and the admission of the very spirit which has raised up inimical bodies, it is probable that there will be further interesting developments. Private judgment in the seventeenth century became, by a logical evolution, Deism in the eighteenth century and Agnosticism in the nineteenth. What is likely to be the evolution of Christian Rationalism?

The influences which have engendered and nourished that rationalizing and concessive tendency are numerous and complex, and, on the whole, peculiar outcomes of the present marvellous century. Two different schools of philosophy, one of German origin and the other a development of the sensism of Locke and Hume, have had a large share in producing it. The astonishing progress of physical science, and its exposure of many quasi-religious traditions, has had a great influence. The vivid light which has been thrown upon non-Christian and pre-Christian religions, the saner reconstruction of the history of Christianity itself, the elaboration of an ethical system on an exclusively humanitarian basis, and especially the flood of light which has been thrown on Christian sacred literature, are other important factors in the development. All these have been operative in the growth of all kinds of Rationalism; but the influence which may be peculiarly associated with the growth of Rationalism in theology is the candid application of reason, both moral and speculative, to the doctrines of traditional Christianity in themselves. The history of this influence is the history of the Broad Church of the Anglican Establishment which we trace in this chapter.

In the eighteenth century English Rationalism had been allied with France. At the great Revolution that alliance ceased, and much hostility was shown to the Deistic tenets which were considered to have brought on the political trouble in France. The noble and strenuous figure of Paine lingers on the threshold of the nineteenth century, amid a storm of calumny and persecution, as the last representative of the old school. After his imprisonment by the Republic for interference on behalf of the unfortunate king, he returned to England and met with a fierce hostility on publishing his "Age of Reason;" in fact, as late as 1819, Richard Carlile was sentenced to three years imprisonment and £1,500 fine for publishing it. Paine returned to America in 1802, and the old form of Rationalism only survived, as a system and with modifications, in Unitarianism.

English scholars then began to seek in Germany that original thought of which England seemed barren and Germany was then especially prolific. Among them was one who was destined to be the founder of the Broad Church, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. "Ever since that profound thinker assumed a fixed position," says Hurst, "a re-action against orthodoxy has been progressing in the Established Church;" and J. Mill calls him one of our chief "seminal" thinkers. Coleridge was already imbued with a culture which effectively predisposed to liberal speculation. At Christ's Hospital and at Cambridge he had been an ardent Hellenist, and had familiarized himself with Plato, and afterwards with the Alexandrian philosophy and theology—the idealistic school of the early Church. He went to Germany in 1798, and attached himself to the philosophy of Kant. For a time he was converted to Hegel; but, dreading the Pantheistic element of Hegel's teaching, he returned to Kant. With the speculations of the Alexandrian Greeks and the principles of the "religion within the limits of reason" acting on his own poetical temperament, his theological opinions soon began to undergo a transformation.

When he returned to England he began at once to introduce German literature to his countrymen; he and De Quincey were the first English interpreters of German thought. The prevailing heresy at home at that period was Benthamism, and to this Coleridge opposed the idealized and somewhat mystic form of Christianity which he had now conceived. The High Church form of Anglicanism had been steadily declining since the seventeenth century; and the Low Church, less mindful of rites and formulae, had gained considerable ground. Methodism, too, had earnestly propagated the habit of attaching more importance to morals than to speculations and the technicalities of theology. Hence, perhaps, Coleridge found a not unwilling soil and less hostility; yet his teaching was certainly conspicuously novel. His freedom of thought is seen particularly in his treatment of sin, especially original sin. He does not admit that it is guilt in the orthodox sense, hence he is led to more lenient thoughts of its punishment. Adam, he says, merely incurs God's displeasure by his act, and is stripped of his supernatural gifts; the sin which his descendants inherit is nothing more grievous—they are left to their natural condition. Redemption, therefore, does not mean salvation from the curse of a broken law, and Christ cannot be said to have paid a debt for man, because no positive debt had been incurred. Still, he removed God's displeasure and reconciled humanity to him. In later life Coleridge is said to have been a sincere Trinitarian, but he had planted the seeds of many heresies in his new scheme.

It was through Julius Hare principally that the new doctrine was propagated. Hare was a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and he soon formed a powerful school of adherents to the new doctrine, of which the most conspicuous members were John Sterling, F. D. Maurice, and Trench. Each, as usually happens, evolved some personal notions, but the general principles on sin and the atonement remain unchanged. Hare takes a new view of sacrifice; says that Christ did not execute his important mission so much by his death as by his entire life—his example. Sin is a matter rather of regret than of responsibility. Miracles have been wrongly considered a necessary support of Christianity; they are rather a decoration of its structure, which stands by its moral worth. Scripture contains many verbal inaccuracies. Faith is not an active force, and, per se, a source of merit; it is rather a passive endowment. Such was the teaching which resounded in the halls of Trinity early in the century.

Maurice, also, is latitudinarian with regard to Scripture. He regards its ethical contents principally, and is prepared to yield on questions of form. Sin is nothing more than a certain condition of our life. It is not guilt or responsibility, not a consequence of actual disobedience of God's law or an effect of his displeasure. Christ was not a mediatorial substitute for humanity, but its natural representative with the Father. From his peculiar view of physical death, it followed that there could be no resurrection or general judgment in the orthodox sense. Maurice occupied the chair of Divinity at King's College, London, and for some time after the publication of his "Essays" no notice was taken of his heterodoxy. At length the principal, Dr. Jelf, was induced to read them, and he at once, in 1853, took steps for the removal of Maurice. He, however, still continued in the Anglican ministry, and was for some time chaplain to Lincoln's Inn, and after a few years was appointed by the Queen's authority to the district church of Vere Street, Marylebone. Finally, in 1866, he was appointed to a chair of Moral Philosophy at Cambridge.

In the same connection must be mentioned Kingsley, who disseminated the new liberalism in a series of brilliant novels. Having had Derwent Coleridge, son of Samuel Taylor, for tutor, he was early attracted to the new movement. The atonement he, like his predecessors, denied to be a reconciliation of sinful humanity with an angry deity. Christianity was not a remedial dispensation, but only an outward exhibition of the union of humanity with God that had always existed. Christ did not come to effect this union, but to declare its existence, and to edify and console us by his life and sympathetic death. He emphasizes the "multitudinism" of their principles. The Church is not the Jewish nation or any particular sect, but the entire world, from a certain point of view, as Rigg formulates his opinion: "The Church is the world lifting itself up into the sunshine. The world is the Church falling back into shadow and darkness." Hence, too, Judaic literature has not the monopoly of the Holy Spirit. Its influence is traced in all worthy literature, poetry, romance, science, etc.; indeed, some critics declare his doctrine of the Spirit to have been Pantheistic. Kingsley remained a respected member of the Anglican ministry. He was rector of Eversley for twenty years.

In the meantime, another school of rationalizing theologians was in active operation at Oxford, and here a reaction was provoked. At Oriel there was a liberal school, headed by Whateley, Hampden, and Thomas Arnold. The latter, the famous head-master of Rugby, was one of the most strenuous defenders of Broad Church principles, and held advanced views on the inspiration of Scripture. Cambridge, at that period, was the main centre of the Low Church party. The Broad Church agreed with the Low in being anti-formal and anti-sacramentarian. Both laid the greater stress on the quality of personal conduct and inner righteousness, and detested Romanism and the Romanizing High Church as word-splitters, and as attributing a sort of magical value to external objects and ceremonies. Now, the spirit of Laud had always haunted Oxford, and it at length evoked a powerful school, headed by Froude, Pusey, Keble, and Newman. The new High Church became deeply zealous for the ritual which the Low Church neglected, and the dogmas which the Broad Church were neglecting. They began the famous Tractarian movement.

In 1833 Newman published the first "Tract for the Times," and sounded the note of war. During the next seven years ninety tracts appeared from Oriel, principally from the pens of Pusey and Newman, making a stubborn and spirited fight for the sacramental system (against the Low Churchmen), and for the support of authority and the apostolical succession (against the liberals). The sequel is well known. The Tractarians themselves fell foul of "authority." More than 150 prominent members of the movement went over to Rome. The remainder, rallying round Keble and Pusey, formed the Ritualistic movement, which has found sufficient occupation since in withstanding the allurements of Rome on the one hand, and conflicts with Low Churchmen and their own authorities on the other. The Broad Church continued its growth in peace for the next twenty years. In the year 1860 the following census of the Broad Church clergymen is drawn up—by its opponents. It does not include Ireland, nor some thousands of unimportant parishes in England:—

  { Normal type  . . .  3,100
Broad Church { Exaggerated type (extreme Rationalists)  . . .  300
  { Stagnant type  . . .  700

In 1850, out of the twenty-eight bishops and archbishops thirteen belonged to the High Church, ten to the Broad Church, and five to the Low Church. In 1860 the Broad Church was still more strongly represented on the bench.

In 1850 occurred the famous Gorham controversy, which encouraged the liberty of the liberal thinkers and much discomfited their adversaries. Its final solution is fraught with significance. The Rev. G. C. Gorham had been presented by the Lord Chancellor to the living of Brampford Speke in Devon. The Bishop of Exeter refused to institute him, on the ground that he was unsound in doctrine. He denied that regeneration is in all cases wrought by baptism. The case was brought before the Court of the Arches, the highest ecclesiastical tribunal in England, in 1849, and the Dean decided in favour of the bishop. In the following year the case was carried on to the Privy Council, of which the Queen is a member, and from which there is no appeal. The decision of the Court of the Arches was reversed, and Gorham obtained his institution. On the doctrinal point the Council said that there had always been disputes among the Reformers and among the Anglican divines; and it went on to say that the Court of the Arches had no jurisdiction to settle matters of faith, or to determine what ought, in any particular, to be the doctrine of the Church. "The duty extends only to the consideration of that which is by law established to be the doctrine of the Church of England, upon the true and legal construction of her Articles and formularies." The two archbishops acquiesced in the decision; the Bishop of London refused to do so. At the bewildering and] undignified spectacle, the High Church party again fell into a panic, and numbers, including the two Wilberforces and Manning, seceded to Rome. The liberals continued a steady development.

The Broad Church had now arrived at a second and more acute stage of development, especially with regard to Scripture. The first Broad Church had made antagonism to endless punishment and to the common notion of sin one of its principal specialities; the second Broad Church principally attacks the evangelical view of Scripture—German criticism was advancing rapidly. The first Broad Church had admitted that the inspiration of Scripture differs in kind as well as in degree from that of all other books; the second school only admits difference in degree, and avows that the Bible errs wherever it contradicts science.

The leader of this school was the celebrated Master of Baliol, Dr. Jowett. In a commentary on the "Epistles to the Thessalonians, Galatians, and Romans" he expressed Rationalistic views, which were afterwards developed in "Essays and Reviews." He considered that the doctrine of atonement was involved in hopeless perplexities; that the terms "sacrifice" and "atonement" were used by the Scriptural writers in an accommodating sense, as they were familiar to the Jews; that we really know nothing of the nature of the objective act by which God reconciled the world; that Christ did not die to appease the divine wrath—the great advantage we derive from him is, not his death, but his life.

Another important member of the school, though not so overt, was Dr. Arnold's pupil and biographer, Arthur Stanley, Dean of Westminster. In his brilliant writings there is ample evidence of his liberal views on inspiration, on the accuracy of the Bible, and on miracles. He exulted warmly over the acquittal of the rationalizing writers of "Essays and Reviews," and maintained that no passage in that volume contradicted the formularies of the Church in a sense that was at all comparable to the contradiction of the articles by the High Church or of the prayer-book by the Low Church. In the Edinburgh Review he described with approval the wide spread of Broad Church principles. Matthew Arnold, the well-known poet and literary critic, may be mentioned as an extreme type of the Broad Church. Although a sceptic of a very advanced character—he and Carlyle are the two great representatives of what is known as "literary" Rationalism—he retained his connection with the Established Church. He was one of the most effective instruments of the diffusion of the Rationalistic spirit among the Anglican laity. "His design was," says an ecclesiastical writer, "to retain the morality of the Old and the New Testament without retaining what he thought its superstitious excrescences—miracles, the promise of a future life after death, etc."

In the second half of the century the Rationalistic movement adopts a much bolder and more candid tone of expression. There are further conflicts with ecclesiastical authority which terminate, like the Gorham controversy, in the triumph of the liberal spirit and the overruling of sacerdotal dogmatism by the State Council. The words of the Privy Council, defining and limiting the province of the ecclesiastical court, encouraged freedom of speculation on the part of professed ministers, and the Church was thrown into violent commotion by the new teaching. In the Gorham case, the Archbishops of York and Canterbury acquiesced in the final decision; in the two famous controversies which now arose the decision was evidently very unacceptable to them, and virtually deprived them of the power of checking Freethought.

The first storm arose in the year 1861. Seven prominent divines of the Broad Church united in an effort to popularize their principles, and issued, with that intention, the famous volume entitled "Essays and Reviews." In the first essay Frederick Temple, D.D., divides the period of human history into three stages—childhood, youth, and maturity. In the first stage men were ruled by precepts; in the second, guided by example; and the third stage (at which we have now arrived) is one of independent reflection and of the supremacy of conscience. He consistently extenuates the meaning of Providence and Inspiration by a universal extension; he describes the development of the world in naturalistic fashion, and says that the Hebrew type was no more divine than the Greek or Roman. In the second essay, by R. Williams, D.D., conscience is again awarded a supremacy over the Bible. The author reviews, with manifest approval, Bunsen's theories on Scripture, praises the work of the higher critics, and deplores the "literalism" of "the despairing school" (evangelical theologians). Justification by faith means simply the attainment of peace of mind by trust in a righteous God, and not a fiction of merit by transfer. Regeneration is not a reconciliation of the soul, but an awakening of its forces. In the third essay Baden Powell, M.A., attacks miracles as being an impossible contravention of physical laws, and not in harmony with God's dealings in the natural world; all alleged miracles are the result of natural causes. The fourth essay, by H. B. Wilson, B.D., advocates the Multitudinist principle; the author urges the abrogation of all subscription to creeds and articles, so that the Church may embrace the whole nation. C. W. Goodwin, M.A., in the next essay, attacks the Scriptural cosmogony; it is found to be a purely human utterance, and is utterly falsified by modern science. Mark Patterson, B.D., in the next essay, eulogizes the Deists of the last century for their strenuous support of the supremacy of reason; the eighteenth century was the hopeful dawn of reason; now is the full noonday of its light. In the seventh essay B. Jowett returns to his theme of the interpretation of Scripture; it is the most destructive essay of the group. He finds no foundation whatever in the gospels or epistles for any supernatural view of inspiration. There is no reason for thinking that the writers of Scripture had any extraordinary gift, or were guarded from error.

Notwithstanding the advance liberalism had made, and its many earlier expressions, the "Essays and Reviews" that appeared at Oxford created a profound sensation. A fierce controversy raged throughout the Church, in which nearly four hundred publications appeared. High and Low Churchmen combined in the attack; the Church of Rome awaited patiently, with a grim smile, the issue of the mutiny. Hengstenburg, a German evangelical divine, declared it to be the "echo of German infidelity which we hear from the midst of the English Church;" that the essayists were "parrots," and that their essays "all tend towards Atheism." The Convocations of York and Canterbury fulminated against them. The High Church party sent petitions to be signed all over the country, with frantic appeals to the piety of the clergy. Nine thousand clergymen responded, and petitioned that action should be taken in the matter. In point of fact, the result only confirmed the impression of the strength of the Rationalists; as Dean Stanley triumphantly pointed out, the list only comprises one-third of the London clergy, nine professors at Oxford and one at Cambridge, eight deans (out of thirty), two headmasters of public schools, and six out of fifty clerical contributors to Smith's "Dictionary of the Bible."

However, action was taken, and Dr. Williams and Mr. Wilson were summoned before the Court of Arches. Out of thirty-two charges all were dismissed but five, and on June 21st, 1864, the Court pronounced that they had departed from the teaching of the Thirty-nine Articles on Inspiration, Atonement, and Justification. They were suspended from their functions for one year only. But the Rationalists were determined upon a severer test, and they carried an appeal before the Privy Council. Again the Privy Council reversed the decision of the ecclesiastical court, gave the essayists the costs of the case, and restored them to their functions. "On the general tendency of the book called ‘Essays and Reviews,'" said the Council, "we neither can nor do pronounce an opinion. On the short extracts before us our judgment is that the charges are not proved."

In the meantime there had been another startling manifestation of the Rationalistic spirit, on this occasion in the ranks of the episcopacy itself. John William Colenso had been appointed Bishop of Natal in 1854, and sent to control the South African Mission. The natives, however, occasioned the conversion of the Bishop to Rationalism. Translating the Old Testament into Zulu brought his attention very acutely to bear upon its interesting contents, and when a Zulu one day naively asked him if the narrative he had been reading—the graphic description of the flood—were true, he felt a pricking of conscience in giving the orthodox answer. As the result of his studies he issued, in 1862, in the very height of the "Essays and Reviews" trouble, a book entitled "The Pentateuch and Book of Joshua Critically Examined," of which he denied the Mosaic authorship and the historical veracity, pointing out its numerous internal contradictions. The English bishops were alarmed, and all (except three) wrote a letter asking him to resign his see; and the convocations of York and Canterbury again condemned the work. Colenso refused to resign, and declared his intention of returning to Africa.

Since the English Court had no jurisdiction over him, an episcopal synod met in Cape Town on November 27th, 1863, and condemned him in his absence. He was charged with denial of the Atonement and the divinity of Christ, belief in justification without knowledge of Christ, denial of the endlessness of punishment and of the truthfulness and inspiration of Scripture. English Rationalists rallied round him, and collected £ 2,000 for an appeal to the Privy Council. The Council decided in favour of Colenso, and declared the sentence of the Bishop of Cape Town to be null and void. Of the religious state of South Africa after Colenso's return a bewildered Mussulman wrote to a Constantinopolitan paper: "The priests all advocate different creeds; and, as to their bishops, one Colenso actually writes books against his own religion." When Colenso revisited England in 1874, the Bishops of London, Oxford, and Lincoln forbade him to preach in their dioceses.

Thus the Broad Church advanced with rapid strides from year to year. There was no longer a necessity for the timid reserve and the veiled utterances of its early prophets. Their position was now fully recognised in the Church, and their speculations were practically unassailable, except by argument. They assimilated the results of modern thought with surprising facility, in the departments of higher criticism, philosophy, and science; and they continued to develop the ethical modifications of dogma of their predecessors. Indeed, now that Jowett's "Life and Letters" have been given to the world, his Rationalism is found to have been most destructive. One reviewer says of him: "He regarded them [the creeds] as extinct superstitions . . . He scarcely believed in a personal Deity, and less and less as life went on . . . He rejected miracles entirely, the Resurrection, of course, included . . . of the doctrine of the pardon of sins he had no conception." Mr. Mallock has happily delineated his position in "The New Republic." Dr. Jenkinson (Jowett) preaches the Sunday sermon in the private theatre, whereupon the opinion of the Agnostic professor (Huxley) is given that, apart from unavoidable matters of form, he finds himself in substantial agreement with the divine. The incident is typical of the attitude of a large section of Churchmen.

In the year after the decision on "Essays and Reviews" an important legislative measure was introduced for the express purpose of strengthening the position of the Broad Churchmen. The terms of subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles had now become a matter of grave concern to clerical aspirants with modern views of dogma and ritual and Scripture. The High Church party, though equally distant from their letter, subscribed to them with that easy elasticity of conscience which invariably comes of contact with Rome; but many of the Rationalists were much disturbed by a form of subscription which demanded an "unfeigned assent and consent to all and everything contained in the book of Common Prayer." Dean Stanley once more came to the front, and had a correspondence with Archbishop Tait on the subject. "If once," he wrote, "we press the subscriptions in their rigid and literal sense, it may safely be asserted that there is not one clergyman in the Church who can venture to cast a stone at another; they must all go out." The statement was only too evidently true, and in 1865 Lord Granville introduced a Bill in which the form of subscription was materially altered. Instead of giving an "unfeigned assent to all and everything" in the articles and book of prayer, the clergyman merely professed: "I believe the doctrine of the Church of England, as therein set forth, to be agreeable to the word of God." By accepting the doctrine (in the singular number) they were dispensed from assenting to individual dogmas, and they had no difficulty in considering that doctrine, of whose moral character they were deeply convinced, to be "agreeable to the word of God" (as expounded and expurged by the higher critics). The change has a very deep significance, and is one of the most tangible of the many signs of the times which permit us to test the strength of the Rationalistic current. As Buxton said, in the House of Commons, the Bill was introduced "to make it possible for men to minister at the altars of the church, though they might dissent from some part of her teaching." The Bill passed into law, 28 and 29 Vict., c. 122.

There is an interesting passage in one of Stanley's own works which illustrates the curious obstinacy of the Rationalists in adhering to the Established Church. "The choice," he says, in his "Essays on Church and State," "is between absolute individual separation from every conceivable outward form of organization and continuance in one or other of those which exist in the hope of modifying or improving it . . . The path of a theologian or ecclesiastic who, in any existing system, loves truth and seeks charity is, indeed, difficult at the best . . . To serve a great institution, and by serving it to endeavour to promote within it a vitality which shall secure it as the shelter for such as will have to continue the same struggle after they are gone, is an object for which much may be, and ought to be, endured, which otherwise would be intolerable." He conceived the national church to be, not a rigid and unchanging institution, but a body whose function it was to promulgate the truths which approve themselves in each successive generation, and as the most efficient instrument for supplying the moral needs of the community. And that was the attitude of all the rationalizing divines. They looked to the ethical and philanthropic value of Christianity, and the theistic basis of its altruistic spirit, as they conceived it; to the fate of its dogmas and formulae they were comparatively indifferent. They could thus assimilate freely the results of destructive criticism; it might reveal other religious systems of equal ethical value, but it could never impair the inherent value of Christianity. And the Church of England was useful as a barrier to Roman and ritualistic tyranny. How that frame of mind is related to the modern ethical movement will appear in chapter v.

During the next thirty years the growth of the movement is constant and devoid of dramatic interest. England has become accustomed to liberal concessions on the part of its ministers. At the present day they are both frequent and generous, yet they excite little or no official protest, and little excitement outside the pages of third-rate periodicals. The supremacy of conscience and the freedom of individual speculation, contained in germ in the fundamental principle of the Reformation, is now virtually accepted. Ecclesiastical authority is practically limited to administrative functions. From the recognition that the Church had no supernatural commission in teaching men quickly came to recognise that the time-honoured ecclesiastical formularies were equally devoid of supernatural sanction, and are at length learning to extend the same view to the Judaic literature on which they were founded. The magisterial power of prelates has grown more attenuated with each succeeding decade: the Lincoln case was another illustration of its fictitious ascendancy. Clergymen speculate freely in complete disregard both of prelates and formularies, and their opinions almost cover the entire ground between Romanism and Agnosticism. I know one who considers the Archbishop of Westminster as his lawful prelate; and, at the other extreme, the pupils of Jowett, with their neo-Platonic divinity, are not far removed from Agnosticism. When Canon Farrar, preaching in Westminster Abbey, rejected one of the most characteristic dogmas of Christianity there was a momentary excitement; but it has long subsided into indifference. And when, in 1889, Canon Gore edited "Lux Mundi," which started from the assumption that, in this epoch of "profound transformation," theology "must take a new development," and that there was a "necessity of some general restatement of the claims and meanings of theology," a few of the more fossilized theologians, like Archdeacon Denison, raised a solemn protest; but the book was only another welcome expression of a very wide-spread sentiment. Men like Professor Momerie can with impunity preach, in pulpits of the Established Church, rank disbelief in the most familiar dogmas. Other clergymen, like A. Craufurd, M.A., in his "Christian Instincts and Modern Doubt," propagate by their writings a similar rejection of all dogma (in the traditional sense), and a commendation of the spirit of Emerson and Browning. Even, to judge from the posthumous revelations on the late Archbishop of York, the Rationalistic spirit is not confined to the minor spheres.

It would be impossible to appreciate the working of the Rationalistic spirit among the laity of the Church of England, for the simple reason that one does not know where to draw the line of communion. If Mr. Matthew Arnold, with his professed abhorrence of all dogma and his shadowy remnant of theistic belief, is aggregated to it, its comprehension is bewildering. The author of "Super natural Religion," a book which caused a fluttering of wings in 1874, is just as anti-miraculous as Mr. Arnold. Sir J. Seeley, another prominent lay writer, author of "Ecce Homo," is also conspicuously Rationalistic. Few Rationalists (retaining some shade of Theistic belief) have placed themselves outside the pale of the Church as decisively as Carlyle did; yet Carlyle was more decidedly Theistic than Arnold. Drummond, Balfour, and Mallock, the three chief modern champions of the Church, are decided Rationalists; the latter two decided sceptics. Of the poets who have influenced the nineteenth century, Wordsworth, Southey, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron, Keats, Browning, Tennyson, G. Eliot, A. Clough, Swinburne, Arnold—how few can honestly be said to have remained in the Church? The list is a perfect gradation of stages of the Rationalistic spirit—from Wordsworth to Shelley. We can only say that, on perusing a list of the secular writers of the century, especially of the present day, in poetry, fiction, history, science, ethics, and philosophy, the majority are found to be at least anti-dogmatic and anti-sacerdotal, and to take no more than a moral interest in the Established Church.

Such, then, has been the evolution of the Rationalistic spirit in the Church itself since the beginning of the century. The century opens with the apparent triumph of theologians over the Deistic school, the last embodiment of Rationalistic inquiry. A storm of vituperation greets the appearance of "The Age of Reason." By the middle of the century a book, virtually containing the same principles, is published by a group of professed theologians at Oxford, acclaimed by half the nation, and sanctioned by the highest tribunal of the land. The end of the century is in a fair way to accept even the conclusions of Paine on dogma and Scripture. A similar progress is seen in every other land that is freed from the ignorance and sacerdotal tyranny of the past; but the limits of this sketch confine our attention to England. Germany, Switzerland, France, Holland, and the United States can boast a similar history. Now, however, for the clearer analysis of that progress which has been historically described, we have to consider the particular dogmas of traditional theology which have been modified or rejected, and the influences which effected that remarkable expansion.

One of the most potent influences at work in the direction of Rationalism has been the system of Biblical criticism which has attained such curious results and adopted so subversive a tone in the present century. This will demand special treatment in the next chapter. A third chapter will estimate the important effect of recent discoveries in comparative religion; and the influence of science and philosophy will be separately considered. At present we are concerned with an influence which is not a result of the recent accumulation of knowledge, and so not peculiar to this century, except in the intensity of its operation—it is the action of reason in itself, apart from its recent attainments, upon dogma. This is the most natural element of the Rationalistic spirit, and it is this direct application of reason to dogma, initiated by the Kantist-Coleridgean school, and consistently maintained by all the Broad Churchmen, which has had so dissolving an effect upon the old beliefs. As Kant first clearly associated and differentiated the speculative and the practical functions of reason, so there has been a twofold application of it in the present instance. Some dogmas have fallen before conscience proper, the moral sense; some have yielded to purely speculative considerations.

Among the doctrines which have dissolved under candid and sincere ethical consideration, the most familiar is that of the eternity of punishment. With a larger development of the moral sense and the attainment of a certain degree of liberty of thought, it was inevitable that this, the most repellent point of the Christian scheme, should be toned down. No admixture of Kantist or Platonist speculation was necessary for its modification. The emancipated moral sense at once perceived and declared its incompatibility with the high attributes which were assigned to the Deity. Hence the dogma was an object of adverse criticism from the very beginning of liberal speculation. The decisions of the Privy Council in 64 made it clear that the teaching of the Thirty-nine Articles on the point could be set aside with impunity. Canon Farrar in 1877 placidly remarked of the decaying doctrine: "Many of us were scared with it in our childhood;" and Frothingham says that it has not only departed from the temples of science and philosophy, but "even in the wilderness of theology it is seldom met with."

Lecky has analyzed the immoral effect the doctrine is calculated to have upon those who subscribe to it: (1) It causes an indifference to suffering, for the habitual contemplation of such scenes of horror as Christian ministers formerly depicted to their audiences could not but blunt the edge of sensitiveness. (2) It stifles the natural feeling of pity for suffering; the believer is constrained to regard this picture of inhuman torment as the deliberate infliction of his Deity; indeed, he is taught that such will be his mental condition in the abode of bliss that he will look down with complacency on the fearful fate of his dearest friends. (3) It predisposes to persecution; the terrible example of the divine chastiser sanctions the minor terrestrial persecutions of the Inquisition, and of every period and section of Christianity.

On the other hand, the efforts of rationalizing theologians to explain away the pellucid teaching of Christ on the subject are painfully ingenious. Maurice drew a distinction between eternal and everlasting which is difficult to less subtle minds. H. Ward-Beecher says: "I doubt whether in the days of the Old Testament, or in the Jewish mind at the time of our Saviour, the sharp, metaphysically-accurate idea of time and duration existed. I believe that what they meant by eternal was a vague and nebulous period of time, and that it was not used in a scientific sense, but in a poetic." When Canon Farrar preached his famous five sermons on the subject in Westminster Abbey, he said, after describing the traditional belief: "Though texts may be quoted which give prima facie plausibility to such modes of teaching, yet, to say nothing of the fact that the light and love which God himself has kindled within us recoil from them, these texts are, in the first place, alien to the broad, unifying principles of Scripture. That, in the next place, they are founded on interpretations demonstrably groundless; and, in the third place, that for every one so quoted two can be adduced to the contrary." And he concludes: "Thus, then, finding neither in Scripture nor anywhere anything to prove that the fate of every man is at death irrevocably determined, I shake off the hideous incubus of atrocious conceptions attached by false theology to the doctrine of final retribution." With such words, spoken by the first preacher in the first temple of the English Church, the "hideous incubus" may be dismissed for ever.

So universal and emphatic is the rejection of this treasured doctrine of nineteen centuries of Christendom that antipathy to it has actually penetrated into the Church of Rome—so aptly compared by Dr. Jessopp to the Celestial Empire. In the Irish Ecclesiastical Record there had appeared an article extenuating the harsh features of the dogma, and teaching that one might lawfully hope that the damned came at length to a state of "something like submissive contentment." A similarly timid article followed in the Dublin Review. At length, in 1892, Professor Mivart commenced a series of articles on the question in the Nineteenth Century. He had frequently voiced what little liberal sentiment there was in the Church of Rome. Cardinal Newman had, in his "Grammar of Assent," revived (from Petavius) an ancient notion that the damned were granted an alleviation of their sufferings from time to time. But Mivart thought it consistent with Papal doctrine to admit, not only that the damned find a certain complacency in the society of kindred souls, but even that there may be an evolution or amelioration of their sufferings in the course of time. He did not reject the word "fire," but he naively added that "the Church does not mean by fire anything like what we do." Dr. Mivart thought that the whispers of the time-spirit were as audible in the Church of Rome as elsewhere. "This reaction," he says, "I rejoice to help forward, for I am sure that the hour has fully come for putting away such revolting images." Rome thought otherwise, and the articles were put on the Index. Such condemnation, however, is regarded only as a matter of discipline by educated Catholics, and commands only external compliance. In point of fact, many Catholics still retain Mr. Mivart's half-hearted theory.

Another point of traditional doctrine to which the early Broad Church, according to Hurst, offered an equal resistance is the idea of sin. Gunsaulus, an American critic of much competency, says that "Coleridge and his followers have so infringed upon the fundamental idea that their idea of sin is . . . possible only in Pantheism." Jowett's idea of sin has frequently been said to be Pantheistic. Gunsaulus says of him that "he buries his orthodoxy, with all the ideas of sin and a personal God it has cherished, in his essay on ‘Predestination and Free-will.'"[1] As we have seen previously, they all agreed that sin was not a matter of guilt or of responsibility, not a positive consequence of transgression of a divine law. Its character was "negative" and "unreal," it was merely a regrettable condition of life. Indeed, Maurice gives somewhere a fantastic description of sin as consisting in the fact that some men (the good) recognise their redemption in Christ, and others (the sinful) do not; all, however, were redeemed once for all by Christ; and he says, in a letter to Miss Barton, that he "wishes to treat evil as though it were not, for in very truth it is a falsehood." In point of fact, the Rationalizers were approaching that saner view of the moral law which Bentham initiated, and which is now current among us—that, namely, which ascribes the character of a humanitarian ordination to the moral law, and does not base it upon the arbitrary will of a Supreme Being. On that theory each sin leaves its inevitable imprint in human life, for which there is no atonement. At the same time men were beginning to recognise that the theory of the divine chastiser was an imperfectly sublimated relic of pre-civilized ages. Anger and vindictiveness were coming to be recognised as unseemly attributes of the Platonic deity of the nineteenth century.

And this conception of sin was applied with even greater eagerness to the traditional dogma of original sin. As the moral sense of the community asserted its supreme position it came to throw off that plea of "mystery" which had confusedly reconciled Christendom to so grave an ethical anomaly as the condemnation of countless millions of men to positive, even eternal, suffering for one man's fault. In proportion as the moral sense is refined in man, it recedes with abhorrence from that course of conduct which tradition had assigned to an infinitely good and moral being. During so many centuries conscience had been stifled by the plea of mystery; but conscience triumphed at last and rejected the imputed conduct. It is only from Roman Catholic quarters that we now hear such words as these: "It is a heresy to deny that the souls of unbaptized babies are guilty of sin, or that they are punished for their guilt."[2] Many of the Broad Churchmen began to hope for a change in the baptismal service (though the Gorham case had reduced it purely to a matter of form). Maurice wished that, instead of presuming to make the infant a child of God, it would simply declare it to be one.

But the great struggle of the century between the Broad Church and the orthodox, and one which is closely connected with the theory of sin, is over the question of the Atonement. If sin is not a matter of guilt and responsibility, and if vindictive punishment is thought unworthy of the Deity, then the traditional conception of the Atonement must be discarded. Hence the liberals at once began to change entirely the character of the dogma. God is represented in the new school as a principle of infinite love; his whole dispensation is marked with love, not with anger and vindictiveness, as a less enlightened religious feeling conceived it to be. Hence there is nothing to be seen in the Atonement but love; the cruder elements of "punishment" and "victim of divine wrath," etc., must be relegated to the ages that imported them into the Biblical conception. Coleridge protests against the notion that Christ paid a debt for us; sin does not incur a debt. Trench says that the Atonement was quite independent of the Fall of Adam. Maurice and Kingsley protest against its being considered as a reconciliation of a sinful humanity and an angry Deity. Jowett's refined moral sense declares that sacrifice is a "crude and barbarous notion"—a relic of the ancient days when savages thought their gods eat and drank like themselves—and that there is no sacrificial idea in the Atonement. Only in a figurative sense can we speak of the "sacrifice of the cross"—the phrase which has been on the lips of Christendom for nineteen centuries. J. Macleod Campbell, of the Scotch Established Church, says it was "a moral and spiritual atonement;" justice looks to the sinner, not as an object of punishment, but simply as being in the undesirable condition of unrighteousness. In a word, the whole of the Rationalizers, like the schools of Schleiermacher and Hofmann in Germany, and the corresponding school in the United States, reject the familiar Christian doctrine that Christ procured salvation for humanity. That is a step of profound significance.

Still they retain, as usually happens, most of the old terminology, though the sense of the word has entirely changed. Setting aside such as deny the divinity of Christ, they have several theories of the death of the Son of God. Some look upon it as a sensible representation to humanity of the enormity of sin; the majority, however, make it a direct part of their scheme of universal divine love. Humanity, they say, was never really separated from God, as the old theology taught; we are not born children of wrath, etc., but all in all times are embraced in the divine love. But a striking revelation of that union became necessary, hence the economy of the Atonement, which was, says Jowett, "the greatest moral act ever done in the world," and "God's method of conquering the human heart, and subduing a revolted world, and attaching it to his throne." Hence, too, the death of Christ was only the dramatic termination of the episode, not the unique source of merit. It is through Christ's exemplary life we are most benefited. Whatever may be thought of the ethical value of this new dogma, its substitution for the old one is revolutionary to the Christian scheme.

Besides the more obvious consequences of the new method of conceiving Christ's mission, it was soon perceived that it removed one of the gravest reasons for believing in his divinity. The old argument was that no finite atonement could efface the infinite indignity of sin, hence it was necessary for man's salvation that a divine being should atone for him. Now that there was no infinite debt to repay, and that the notion of vicarious atonement was rejected by the purified theology, why should Christ be divine at all? For the supposed purpose of the "atonement" (as they persisted in calling it) the sacrifice of a Buddha or a Socrates would suffice. In the answer of the orthodox theologians there is much confusion and inadequacy. It is said no one of them would admit that he denied the divinity of Christ (though Jowett and Colenso are accused of doing so); but their replies are very unsatisfactory. They generally say that this dramatic representation of the evil of sin and of the love of God was to be an "overwhelming spectacle," and evoke a "tremendous sympathy;" and thus they infer the divinity of the victim from the strength of their adjectives. Still, they have been watched with much anxiety on the point, and a denial of Christ's divinity is feared as a further development.

When Canon Gore edited "Lux Mundi" his criticism of Christ's references to the Old Testament was felt by many to be dangerous. He, however, resists the interpretation. Only Momerie, Craufurd, and a few minor Rationalists are explicit on the point.[3] In "Ecce Homo" Sir J. Seeley did not openly call into question the divinity of Christ, but the eagerness with which he emphasizes the natural beauty and elevation of his character is very suggestive.

Another doctrine which had been particularly prominent since the Reformation, and which has now been rejected by the majority of thoughtful believers, is the supposed meritoriousness of faith. "Only believe and you shall be saved" was not merely an ironical summary of Protestant doctrine; it was a very widely-accepted principle. Now, however, it has yielded to the strong infusion of ethical consideration which characterizes modern religious thought. The value of a man's life is measured almost entirely by his works. The confusion which has long enveloped the meaning of faith has been largely removed, and it is very commonly regarded, not as an arbitrary preternatural gift of mysterious nature, nor as a vague sentiment overriding the workings of reason, but as an intellectual assent like any other, only to be accorded on the perception of satisfactory evidence. The acceptance of definite creeds and formularies is understood to be a matter of secondary importance; the true test of communion with the Church of Christ is righteousness of life. And there has been a profound change, also, in the conception of the works which prove genuine moral worth. The older ascetical idea has fallen into disrepute. The anger of God has disappeared from the circle of religious thought; "the religion of Christ," says Momerie, in this connection, "has no angry Deity requiring to be bribed." Love is now, in the modern Johannine Church, his most prominent attribute; hence it must be thought that he surrounded human life with pleasures, not for purposes of mortification, but for the enjoyment of his children. Works that yield fruit of human happiness or of evil undone are the only acceptable gifts; the selfish, timorous, and useless asceticism of former days is relegated to the gallery of religious pathology. Kingsley ridicules it in his brilliant novels; Tennyson indicates its futility in impressive verse; Jowett thinks sacrifice to the Infinite a barbaric notion.

And simultaneously with this cessation of belief in the merit of faith there has spread a refusal to admit the demerit of unbelief as such. This attitude is more particularly a result of nineteenth-century evolution, for the Reformers were as ready to burn the unbeliever as their predecessors. With the multiplication of sects a more lenient view of theological error was inevitable, and even Chillingworth admitted "the absolute innocence of error." Yet this leniency was only extended to the absolute unbeliever with much unwillingness, and under a kind of moral compulsion. We have seen how, in the early years of this century, even the Deism of Paine was grievously persecuted; and even the illustrious De Maistre believed that infidels always died of horrible diseases with special names. Truth, however, has prevailed; in face of the glorious list of "unbelieving" Englishmen of the nineteenth century—a veritable legion of honour—quoted in the Introduction, no one who has not had the perverse training of a Roman Catholic, or who does not live in the emotional atmosphere of the lower Evangelical school, can sustain the "pestilent doctrine" of the sinfulness of scepticism. Yet the doctrine is still embodied in the formularies of the Anglican Church. As Stanley pointed out to Arch bishop Tait, according to the Athanasian creed (contained in the Prayer-book to which the clergyman subscribes) all the Greeks are hopelessly damned, since they do not admit that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son; yet he quotes, with warm approval, the words of a "great prelate": "I never met with a single clergyman who believed this in the literal sense of the words." Again, the 18th article runs: "They also are to be had accursed that presume to say that every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law and the light of nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved."

With this compare the following words from one of the Rev. A. Momerie's sermons: "Many so-called infidels and atheists are among the most zealous servants of God." And even bishops have endorsed that panegyric of the avowed "infidel"—Charles Darwin. However, this question will recur in the last chapter.

The doctrine of Predestination has also been profoundly modified by the ethical spirit of the Rationalists. The Lutheran doctrine was, of course, less repulsive (in direct form) than the Calvinistic from the commencement; yet it was repulsive enough, and the believer was once more urged to distort his conscience into accepting it as a profound and painful mystery. The modern conscience has solved the mystery, to some extent, by refusing to believe in the predestination of a few chosen souls—and the inevitable damnation of the majority. Kingsley, Temple, Wilson, and Colenso strenuously urged a more generous estimate of the fate of humanity and of the extension of the Church; they declare the older view—the belief of nineteen centuries—to be a blasphemy. H. Ward Beecher says it would drive him to infidelity. The working of Providence has been recognised in other religions besides Judaism and Christianity, and discovered on earth in the tens of thousands of years that preceded the death of Christ; the gift of Inspiration has been accorded to other literatures than the Hebrew and the Hebræo-Greek.

Finally, the activity of that important figure in Christian theology—the devil—has been considerably restricted, not only by scientific, but by ethical considerations. During the long history of Christianity its adherents looked with unmoved complacency on the spectacle of endless legions of devils let loose among mankind to tempt, afflict, corrupt, ruin in body and soul the less gifted children of Adam: the Irish peasant regards that view to this day as a divine revelation, and accepts it just as calmly as the belief that nearly the whole of humanity will be condemned to indescribable torment for not embracing his own peculiar tenets. Science initiated a revolt by exposing the cruel fallacy of witchcraft and superseding exorcisms; as it advances "Satan retreats," says Frothingham, "from one department of nature after another, and leaves the highways and byways of creation free to the passage of serene, inexorable, and regenerating law." And at length the ethical enormity of the old belief dawns upon the Christian conscience. Various efforts are made to explain away Christ's continual references to devils; indeed, one modern theologian maintains that the obnoxious idea comes rather from Milton's "Paradise Lost" than from the Bible. In any case, the modern moralist traces evil to more tangible influences, and pays less regard to the powers of darkness. The wide acceptance of a modern work of fiction in which Satan's character is completely revolutionized must be taken as a symptom of the decay of the dogma.

Of the points of doctrine which have suffered from criticism of a purely intellectual nature the most conspicuous is the belief in miracles. Christendom seems to have been a perpetual theatre of miraculous events until the Reformation, when they suddenly cease, and faith looks back for their occurrence to the early ages of the Church and to Scripture. Early in the century the patristic miracles are disregarded, and attention confined to those enumerated in Scripture. As the Rationalistic spirit gains strength it boldly attacks the miracles of Scripture; for, says Mr. Lecky, "the first work of Rationalism is an attempt to explain away the miracles of Scripture." Julius Hare, with a presentiment of the fatal results of German criticism, prepares the attack by teaching that too much importance had been attached to the Scripture miracles; the real and enduring basis of Christianity is its fulfilment of the moral necessities of mankind—miracles are a superfluous adornment of its structure. Baden Powell, in "Essays and Reviews," makes a direct attack upon the very abstract idea of a miracle. Stanley also is liberal on the point. The author of "Supernatural Religion," in 1874, takes as his formal object the task of proving that the miraculous element in Christianity is a delusion. He maintains (1) that miracles are not only highly improbable, but antecedently incredible, so that no amount of testimony would avail, as Hume held and Voltaire denied; and (2) that the actual witnesses to the New Testament miracles, the writers of the Gospels and Epistles, are not entitled to credence. Matthew Arnold is conspicuously anti-miraculous. On the whole, the objection, or at least indifference, to them which is now so common arises, not so much from a belief in their intrinsic impossibility (as the Deists held), or the fallibility of testimony (as Hume held), as from the fact, so clearly enunciated by Huxley, that we are absolutely ignorant of the capabilities of "nature," and therefore illogical in introducing super natural forces to explain phenomena. Among miracles, of course, the resurrection of the body must be included, and there has been a decay of belief in that scriptural doctrine. Hurst[4] declares that Maurice did not accept it in the orthodox sense. Momerie maintains that Scripture does not promise a resurrection of the material body at all.

The dogma of the Trinity has invited Rationalistic criticism from the time of its formation—the fourth century. Since, however, the dogma has become the fundamental tenet of the orthodox Church, in contradistinction to Arians, Socinians, or Unitarians, few important ecclesiastics openly dissent from it. Kingsley's doctrine of the holy spirit is said to have been Pantheistic. Jowett and Colenso are generally said to have abandoned it. The Rev. A. Craufurd and the Rev. A. Momerie openly reject it. Momerie again says that Scripture never taught it; that it merely depicts the one indivisible God as manifesting himself in three characters—in nature, in Christ, and in our hearts. Thus the divinity of Christ is also called into question with impunity. In fact, there has recently been an attempt made to show that the ordinary doctrine of the Incarnation, the miraculous conception of Christ, is inconsistent with the idea that the relations of the sexes are divinely appointed. A deviation from the ordinary sexual course, in view of the sanctity of Christ, would seem to imply that there is some thing unholy in legitimate sexual intercourse.

Two of the most vivid convictions of the Christian from the earliest Christian ages have been belief in the personality of God and the personality of the devil. The latter, we have seen, is much enfeebled; the former has also been deeply impaired by the criticism of professed theologians. Dr. Arnold seems to have felt that a relaxation of this dogma (certainly the most important in theology) was imminent. Maurice quotes a saying of his, "that the early Church was utterly wrong and foolish in making the nature of God the ground of its belief and profession; whereas some doctrine directly concerning our human life ought to be the uniting bond." A little later Jowett wrote, with characteristic nonchalance, that "the received reasons for believing in a God are groundless." We have already quoted two critics (both ecclesiastical writers) who declare that Jowett lost belief in the personality of God. Dean Mansel also provoked strong accusation of rationalizing the dogma in his Bampton Lectures. He said that "a finite mind can form no conception of an infinite being which shall be speculatively true;" our knowledge of God, as the absolute and unconditioned, as he wished him to be called, is negative and regulative, not positive and speculative. Chretien says of him that he "consigns us for the guidance of our life to seeming truths, but tells us that, if we could only lay aside the veil of our human nature, we should perceive these seeming truths to be falsehoods." And even Maurice accuses him of denying that we can know God. The point will be further discussed in the chapter on philosophy.

With such specimens of the criticisms of prominent and influential theologians on the most important Christian dogmas we may fitly close our appreciation of the rationalizing tendency within the Church. Not only has there been a remarkable number of secessions from orthodoxy to Rationalism proper in the course of the century, but a large section of the Church itself is moving bodily towards that goal. In the stress of an overpowering controversy, and in the painful foreboding of its issue, there has been a deliberate and successful attempt to free the Church from the fatal shackles of dogma, and to base its fortune upon its ethical and humanitarian mission. How far, in historical retrospect, such a profound change casts discredit upon its claims as an institution it is not our province to consider; and it would be premature to essay a prediction of the probable consequences. The position will be more clearly understood after treating of Rationalism in ethics.

As an epilogue it is interesting to note the progress of the Rationalistic spirit in a sect which has hitherto preserved its clear characteristic features through eighteen centuries of troubled life. In an interesting article in the Fortnightly Review Mr. Cohen points out that Jewish obduracy has all but vanished, through contact with modern Rationalism. "The past half-century," he writes, "has undeniably been an epoch in Freethought, and the expanding Hebrew has exhausted the possibilities." Rabbinism is slowly dying; Judaism to day is a species of materialism. "Homogeneity is gone, and the new order is a peaceful conglomeration of multifarious points of view." The absence of spiritualism is inferred from the unpopularity of private prayer. The Anglo-Jewish Association entertains Mr. Bradlaugh at dinner; the number of mixed marriages increases; a sort of Jewish Young Men's Association starts with a positive doctrine of sin; it fails. A layman of some standing recommends uncovered heads at divine service and the Sabbath on the Lord's day—no one is moved. At the School Board election the preponderance of educated Jewish opinion was towards purely secular teaching in Board schools. Here, too, therefore, the Rationalistic spirit has penetrated, and has apparently triumphed in proportion to the tyranny it has undermined.

  1. "The Metamorphoses of a Creed," by F. W. Gunsaulus.
  2. The Bishop of Nottingham in a pastoral against Mivart.
  3. Momerie says, in "Defects of Christianity," that the character of Christ is "so different from those of ordinary men as to deserve and demand that we should call it, by way of contradistinction, divine."
  4. "History of Rationalism."