Page:Modern Rationalism (1897).djvu/33

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33
RATIONALISM IN THEOLOGY.

teaching that one might lawfully hope that the damned came at length to a state of "something like submissive contentment." A similarly timid article followed in the Dublin Review. At length, in 1892, Professor Mivart commenced a series of articles on the question in the Nineteenth Century. He had frequently voiced what little liberal sentiment there was in the Church of Rome. Cardinal Newman had, in his "Grammar of Assent," revived (from Petavius) an ancient notion that the damned were granted an alleviation of their sufferings from time to time. But Mivart thought it consistent with Papal doctrine to admit, not only that the damned find a certain complacency in the society of kindred souls, but even that there may be an evolution or amelioration of their sufferings in the course of time. He did not reject the word "fire," but he naively added that "the Church does not mean by fire anything like what we do." Dr. Mivart thought that the whispers of the time-spirit were as audible in the Church of Rome as elsewhere. "This reaction," he says, "I rejoice to help forward, for I am sure that the hour has fully come for putting away such revolting images." Rome thought otherwise, and the articles were put on the Index. Such condemnation, however, is regarded only as a matter of discipline by educated Catholics, and commands only external compliance. In point of fact, many Catholics still retain Mr. Mivart's half-hearted theory.

Another point of traditional doctrine to which the early Broad Church, according to Hurst, offered an equal resistance is the idea of sin. Gunsaulus, an American critic of much competency, says that "Coleridge and his followers have so infringed upon the fundamental idea that their idea of sin is . . . possible only in Pantheism." Jowett's idea of sin has frequently been said to be Pantheistic. Gunsaulus says of him that "he buries his orthodoxy, with all the ideas of sin and a personal God it has cherished, in his essay on ‘Predestination and Free-will.'"[1] As we have seen previously, they all agreed that sin was not a matter of guilt or of responsibility, not a positive consequence of transgression of a divine law. Its character was "negative" and "unreal," it was merely a regrettable condition of life.

  1. "The Metamorphoses of a Creed," by F. W. Gunsaulus.