Page:Modern Rationalism (1897).djvu/17

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RATIONALISM IN THEOLOGY.

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 intro-