Page:Modern Rationalism (1897).djvu/23

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RATIONALISM IN THEOLOGY.

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