Page:Modern Rationalism (1897).djvu/24

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24

MODERN RATIONALISM.

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