Page:Modern Rationalism (1897).djvu/16

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MODERN RATIONALISM.

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