Page:Modern Rationalism (1897).djvu/12

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MODERN RATIONALISM.

developed a semi-Rationalism on their own side, dropping off, as in the ancient controversy, into semi-Arianism on the one side, and Tritheism on the other. But the struggle is principally characterized by the rise of the Deistic school. Allied with the Voltairean school, which was permeating France with Rationalism, there was in England a powerful body of writers—Toland, Collins (the first to bear the title of Freethinker), Chubb, Woolston, Tindal, Shaftesbury, and Bolingbroke, who made a virulent organized attack upon the very credentials of Christianity, ridiculing its history and its mysterious contents, and denying the very possibility of miracles. They were opposed by Dr. S. Clarke, Dr. Berkeley, and Dr. Butler (the first two again developing a certain amount of private Rationalism in the course of their apologetic efforts). The rise and spread of Wesleyanism created a diversion in favour of the Rationalists by slighting the efforts of the evidential school and creating an emotional concentration upon the Atonement and similar doctrines. The fall of High-Churchism and the ascendancy of the Broad Church tended to produce a similar effect. Still, it is not too much to say that the Deistic controversy remains buried in the eighteenth century. As a consecration and development of the Rationalistic spirit, the Deistic school wrought an enduring effect. But even the brilliant writings of Bolingbroke and Shaftesbury are now practically shelved. Hume and Gibbon are the only Rationalists whose works pass on into the nineteenth century.

Such had been the progress of the Rationalistic spirit up to the period with which this sketch will deal. As a spirit, or method, it had been extensively used against orthodox belief; but few of its results were useful in the great struggle of the present century. The controversy once more changes its entire character, though animated by the same spirit. Modern Rationalism differs in two ways from Voltairean or Deistic Rationalism. It is more fundamental, and it is not