According to Pfleiderer, a new movement in philosophy may be said to have begun in Great Britain in the year 1825, with the publication of Coleridge's Aids to Reflection. In Coleridge's Confessions of an Enquiring Spirit, published six years after his death in 1834, we have a suggestion of the biblical-critical movement which was beginning to shape itself in Germany. In the same years we have evidence in the works of Erskine and the early writings of Campbell, that in Scotland theologians were thinking on Schleiermacher's lines. In those same years books of more or less marked rationalistic tendency were put forth by the Oriel School. Finally, with Pusey's Assize Sermon, in 1833, Newman felt that the movement later to be called Tractarian had begun. We shall not be wrong, therefore, in saying that the decade following 1825 saw the beginnings in Britain of more formal reflexion upon all the aspects of the theme with which we are concerned.
What went before that, however, in the way of liberal religious thinking, though informal in its nature, should not be ignored. It was the work of the poets of the end of the eighteenth and of the beginning of the nineteenth centuries. The culmination of the great revolt against the traditional in state and society and against the conventional in religion, had been voiced in Britain largely by the poets. So vigorous was this utterance and so effective, that some have spoken of the contribution of the English poets to the theological reconstruction. It is certain that the utterances of the poets tended greatly to the dissemination of the new ideas. There was in Great Britain no such unity as we have observed among the Germans, either of the movement as a whole or in its various parts. There was a consecution nothing less than marvellous in the work of the philosophers from Kant to Hegel. There was a theological sequence from Schleiermacher to Ritschl. There was an unceasing critical advance from the days of Strauss. There was nothing resembling this in the work of the English-speaking people. The contributions were for a long time only sporadic. The movement had no inclusiveness. There was no aspect of a solid front in the advance. In the department of the sciences only was the situation different. In a way, therefore, it will be necessary in this chapter merely to single out individuals, to note points of conflict, one and another, all along the great line of advance. Or, to put it differently, it will be possible to pursue a chronological arrangement which would have been bewildering in our study heretofore. With the one great division between the progressive spirits and the men of the reaction, it will be possible to speak of philosophers, critics and theologians together, among their own contemporaries, and so to follow the century as it advances.
In the closing years of the eighteenth century in England what claimed to be a rational supernaturalism prevailed. Men sought to combine faith in revealed religion with the empirical philosophy of Locke. They conceived God and his relation to the world under deistical forms. The educated often lacked in singular degree all deeper religious feeling. They were averse to mysticism and spurned enthusiasm. Utilitarian considerations, which formed the practical side of the empirical philosophy, played a prominent part also in orthodox belief. The theory of the universe which obtained among the religious is seen at its worst in some of the volumes of the Warburton Lectures, and at its best perhaps in Butler's Analogy of Natural and Revealed Religion. The character and views of the clergy and of the ruling class among the laity of the Church of England, early in the nineteenth century, are pictured with love and humour in Trollope's novels. They form the background in many of George Eliot's books, where, in more mordant manner, both their strength and weaknesses are shown. Even the remarks which introduce Dean Church's Oxford Movement, 1891, in which the churchly element is dealt with in deep affection, give anything but an inspiring view.
The contrast with this would-be rational and unemotional religious respectability of the upper classes was furnished, for masses of the people, in the quickening of the consciousness of sin and grace after the manner of the Methodists. But the Methodism of the earlier age had as good as no intellectual relations whatsoever. The Wesleys and Whitefield had indeed influenced a considerable portion of the Anglican communion. Their pietistic trait, combined, for the most part, with a Calvinism which Wesley abhorred and an old-fashioned low church feeling with which also Wesley had no sympathy, shows itself in the so-called evangelical party which was strong before 1830. This evangelical movement in the Church of England manifested deep religious feeling, it put forth zealous philanthropic effort, it had among its representatives men and women of great beauty of personal character and piety. Yet it was completely cut off from any living relation to the thought of the age. There was among its representatives no spirit of theological inquiry. There was, if anything, less probability of theological reconstruction, from this quarter, than from the circles of the older German pietism, with which this English evangelicalism of the time of the later Georges had not a little in common. There had been a great enthusiasm for humanity at the opening of the period of the French Revolution, but the excesses and atrocities of the Revolution had profoundly shocked the English mind. There was abroad something of the same sense for the return to nature, and of the greatness of man, which moved Schiller and Goethe. The exponents of it were, however, almost exclusively the poets, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats and Byron. There was nothing which combined these various elements as parts of a great whole. Britain had stood outside the area of the Revolution, and yet had put forth stupendous efforts, ultimately successful, to make an end of the revolutionary era and of the Napoleonic despotism. This tended perhaps to give to Britons some natural satisfaction in the British Constitution and the established Church which flourished under it. Finally, while men on the Continent were devising holy alliances and other chimeras of the sort, England was precipitated into the earlier acute stages of the industrial revolution in which she has led the European nations and still leads. This fact explains a certain preoccupation of the British mind with questions remote from theological reconstruction or religious speculation.
It may now sound like a contradiction if we assert that the years from 1780 to 1830 constitute the era of the noblest English poetry since the times of great Elizabeth. The social direction of the new theology of the present day, with its cry against every kind of injustice, with its claim of an equal opportunity for a happy life for every man -- this was the forecast of Cowper, as it had been of Blake. To Blake all outward infallible authority of books or churches was iniquitous. He was at daggers drawn with every doctrine which set limit to the freedom of all men to love God, or which could doubt that God had loved all men. Jesus alone had seen the true thing. God was a father, every man his child. Long before 1789, Burns was filled with the new ideas of the freedom and brotherhood of man, with zeal for the overthrow of unjust privilege. He had spoken in imperishable words of the holiness of the common life. He had come into contact with the most dreadful consequences of Calvinism. He has pilloried these mercilessly in his 'Holy Tulzie' and in his 'Holy Willie's Prayer.' Such poems must have shaken Calvinism more than a thousand liberal sermons could have done. What Coleridge might have done in this field, had he not so early turned to prose, it is not easy to say. The verse of his early days rests upon the conviction, fundamental to his later philosophy, that all the new ideas concerning men and the world are a revelation of God. Wordsworth seems never consciously to have broken with the current theology. His view of the natural glory and goodness of humanity, especially among the poor and simple, has not much relation to that theology. His view of nature, not as created of God. in the conventional sense, but as itself filled with God, of God as conscious of himself at every point of nature's being, has still less. Man and nature are but different manifestations of the one soul of all. Byron's contribution to Christian thought, we need hardly say, was of a negative sort. It was destructive rather than constructive. Among the conventions and hypocrisies of society there were none which he more utterly despised than those of religion and the Church as he saw these. There is something volcanic, Voltairean in his outbreaks. But there is a difference. Both Voltaire and Byron knew that they had not the current religion. Voltaire thought, nevertheless, that he had a religion. Posterity has esteemed that he had little. Byron thought he had none. Posterity has felt that he had much. His attack was made in a reckless bitterness which lessened its effect. Yet the truth of many things which he said is now overwhelmingly obvious. Shelley began with being what he called an atheist. He ended with being what we call an agnostic, whose pure poetic spirit carried him far into the realm of the highest idealism. The existence of a conscious will within the universe is not quite thinkable. Yet immortal love pervades the whole. Immortality is improbable, but his highest flights continually imply it. He is sure that when any theology violates the primary human affections, it tramples into the dust all thoughts and feelings by which men may become good. The men who, about 1840, stood paralysed between what Strauss later called 'the old faith and the new,' or, as Arnold phrased it, were 'between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to be born,' found their inmost thoughts written broad for them in Arthur Clough. From the time of the opening of Tennyson's work, the poets, not by destruction but by construction, not in opposition to religion but in harmony with it, have built up new doctrines of God and man and aided incalculably in preparing the way for a new and nobler theology. In the latter part of the nineteenth century there was perhaps no one man in England who did more to read all of the vast advance of knowledge in the light of higher faith, and to fill such a faith with the spirit of the glad advance of knowledge, than did Browning. Even Arnold has voiced in his poetry not a little of the noblest conviction of the age. And what shall one say of Mrs. Browning, of the Rossettis and William Morris, of Emerson and Lowell, of Lanier and Whitman, who have spoken, often with consummate power and beauty, that which one never says at all without faith and rarely says well without art?
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in 1772 at his father's vicarage, Ottery St. Mary's, Devonshire. He was the tenth child of his parents, weak in frame, always suffering much. He was a student at Christ's Hospital, London, where he was properly bullied, then at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he did not take his degree. For some happy years he lived in the Lake region and was the friend of Wordsworth and Southey. He studied in Goettingen, a thing almost unheard of in his time. The years 1798 to 1813 were indeed spent in utter misery, through the opium habit which he had contracted while seeking relief from rheumatic pain. He wrote and taught and talked in Highgate from 1814 to 1834. He had planned great works which never took shape. For a brief period he severed his connexion with the English Church, coming under Unitarian influence. He then reverted to the relation in which his ecclesiastical instincts were satisfied. We read his Aids to Reflection and his Confessions of an Enquiring Spirit, and wonder how they can ever have exerted a great influence. Nevertheless, they were fresh and stimulating in their time. That Coleridge was a power, we have testimony from men differing among themselves so widely as do Hare, Sterling, Newman and John Stuart Mill. He was a master of style. He had insight and breadth. Tulloch says of the Aids, that it is a book which none but a thinker upon divine things will ever like. Not all even of these have liked it. Inexcusably fragmentary it sometimes seems. One is fain to ask: What right has any man to publish a scrap-book of his musings? Coleridge had the ambition to lay anew the foundations of spiritual philosophy. The Aids were but of the nature of prolegomena. For substance his philosophy went back to Locke and Hume and to the Cambridge Platonists. He had learned of Kant and Schleiermacher as well. He was no metaphysician, but a keen interpreter of spiritual facts, who himself had been quickened by a particularly painful experience. He saw in Christianity, rightly conceived, at once the true explanation of our spiritual being and the remedy for its disorder. The evangelical tradition brought religion to a man from without. It took no account of man's spiritual constitution, beyond the fact that he was a sinner and in danger of hell. Coleridge set out, not from sin alone, but from the whole deep basis of spiritual capacity and responsibility upon which sin rests. He asserts experience. We are as sure of the capacity for the good and of the experience of the good as we can be of the evil. The case is similar as to the truth. There are aspects of truth which transcend our powers. We use words without meaning when we talk of the plans of a being who is neither an object for our senses nor a part of our self-consciousness. All truth must be capable of being rendered into words conformable to reason. Theologians had declared their doctrines true or false without reference to the subjective standard of judgment. Coleridge contended that faith must rest not merely upon objective data, but upon inward experience. The authority of Scripture is in its truthfulness, its answer to the highest aspirations of the human reason and the most urgent necessities of the moral life. The doctrine of an atonement is intelligible only in so far as it too comes within the range of spiritual experience. The apostolic language took colour from the traditions concerning sacrifice. Much has been taken by the Church as literal dogmatic statement which should be taken as more figure of speech, borrowed from Jewish sources.
Coleridge feared that his thoughts concerning Scripture might, if published, do more harm than good. They were printed first in 1840. Their writing goes back into the period long before the conflict raised by Strauss. There is not much here that one might not have learned from Herder and Lessing. Utterances of Whately and Arnold showed that minds in England were waking. But Coleridge's utterances rest consistently upon the philosophy of religion and theory of dogma which have been above implied. They are more significant than are mere flashes of generous insight, like those of the men named. The notion of verbal inspiration or infallible dictation of the Holy Scriptures could not possibly survive after the modern spirit of historical inquiry had made itself felt. The rabbinical idea was bound to disappear. A truer sense of the conditions attending the origins and progress of civilisation and of the immaturities through which religious as well as moral and social ideas advance, brought of necessity a changed idea of the nature of Scripture and revelation. Its literature must be read as literature, its history as history. For the answer in our hearts to the spirit in the Book, Coleridge used the phrase: 'It finds me.' 'Whatever finds me bears witness to itself that it has proceeded from the Holy Ghost. In the Bible there is more that finds me than in all the other books which I have read.' Still, there is much in the Bible that does not find me. It is full of contradictions, both moral and historical. Are we to regard these as all equally inspired? The Scripture itself does not claim that. Besides, what good would it do us to claim that the original documents were inerrant, unless we could claim also that they had been inerrantly transmitted? Apparently Coleridge thought that no one would ever claim that. Coleridge wrote also concerning the Church. His volume on The Constitution of Church and State appeared in 1830. It is the least satisfactory of his works. The vacillation of Coleridge's own course showed that upon this point his mind was never clear. Arnold also, though in a somewhat different way, was zealous for the theory that Church and State are really identical, the Church being merely the State in its educational and religious aspect and organisation. If Thomas Arnold's moral earnestness and his generous spirit could not save this theory from being chimerical, no better result was to be expected from Coleridge.
THE ORIEL SCHOOL
It has often happened in the history of the English universities that a given college has become, through its body of tutors and students, through its common-room talk and literary work, the centre, for the time, of a movement of thought which gives leadership to the college. In this manner it has been customary to speak of the group of men who, before the rise of the Oxford Movement, gathered at Oriel College, as the Oriel School. Newman and Keble were both Oriel tutors. The Oriel men were of distinctly liberal tendency. There were men of note among them. There was Whately, Archbishop of Dublin after 1831, and Copleston, from whom both Keble and Newman owned that they learned much. There was Arnold, subsequently Headmaster of Rugby. There was Hampden, Professor of Divinity after 1836. The school was called from its liberalism the Noetic school. Whether this epithet contained more of satire or of complacency it is difficult to say. These men arrested attention and filled some of the older academic and ecclesiastical heads with alarm. Without disrespect one may say that it is difficult now to understand the commotion which they made. Arnold had a truly beautiful character. What he might have done as Professor of Ecclesiastical History in Oxford was never revealed, for he died in 1842. Whately, viewed as a noetic, appears commonplace.
Perhaps the only one of the group upon whom we need dwell was Hampden. In his Bampton Lectures of 1832, under the title of The Scholastic Philosophy considered in its Relation to Christian Theology, he assailed what had long been the very bulwark of traditionalism. His idea was to show how the vast fabric of scholastic theology had grown up, particularly what contributions had been made to it in the Middle Age. The traditional dogma is a structure reared upon the logical terminology of the patristic and mediaeval schools. It has little foundation in Scripture and no response in the religious consciousness. We have here the application, within set limits, of the thesis which Harnack in our own time has applied in a universal way. Hampden's opponents were not wrong in saying that his method would dissolve, not merely that particular system of theology, but all creeds and theologies whatsoever. Patristic, mediaeval Catholic theology and scholastic Protestantism, no less, would go down before it. A pamphlet attributed to Newman, published in 1836, precipitated a discussion which, for bitterness, has rarely been surpassed in the melancholy history of theological dispute. The excitement went to almost unheard of lengths. In the controversy the Archbishop, Dr. Howley, made but a poor figure. The Duke of Wellington did not add to his fame. Wilberforce and Newman never cleared themselves of the suspicion of indirectness. This was, however, after the opening of the Oxford Movement.
ERSKINE AND CAMPBELL
The period from 1820 to 1850 was one of religious and intellectual activity in Scotland as well. Tulloch depicts with a Scotsman's patriotism the movement which centres about the names of Erskine and Campbell. Pfleiderer also judges that their contribution was as significant as any made to dogmatic theology in Great Britain in the nineteenth century. They achieved the same reconstruction of the doctrine of salvation which had been effected by Kant and Schleiermacher. At their hands the doctrine was rescued from that forensic externality into which Calvinism had degenerated. It was given again its quality of ethical inwardness, and based directly upon religious experience. High Lutheranism had issued in the same externality in Germany before Kant and Schleiermacher, and the New England theology before Channing and Bushnell. The merits of Christ achieved an external salvation, of which a man became participant practically upon condition of assent to certain propositions. Similarly, in the Catholic revival, salvation was conceived as an external and future good, of which a man became participant through the sacraments applied to him by priests in apostolical succession. In point of externality there was not much to choose between views which were felt to be radically opposed the one to the other.
Erskine was not a man theologically educated. He led a peculiarly secluded life. He was an advocate by profession, but, withdrawing from that career, virtually gave himself up to meditation. Campbell was a minister of the Established Church of Scotland in a remote village, Row, upon the Gare Loch. When he was convicted of heresy and driven from the ministry, he also devoted himself to study and authorship. Both men seem to have come to their results largely from the application of their own sound religious sense to the Scriptures. That the Scottish Church should have rejected the truth for which these men contended was the heaviest blow which it could have inflicted on itself. Thereby it arrested its own healthy development. It perpetuated its traditional view, somewhat as New England orthodoxy was given a new lease of life through the partisanship which the Unitarian schism engendered. The matter was not mended at the time of the great rupture of the Scottish Church in 1843. That body which broke away from the Establishment, and achieved a purely ecclesiastical control of its own clergy, won, indeed, by this means the name of the Free Church, though, in point of theological opinion, it was far from representing the more free and progressive element. Tulloch pays a beautiful tribute to the character of Erskine, whom he knew. Quiet, brooding, introspective, he read his Bible and his own soul, and with singular purity of intuition generalised from his own experience. Therewith is described, however, both the power and the limitation of his work. His first book was entitled Remarks on the Internal Evidence for the Truth of Revealed Religion, 1820. The title itself is suggestive of the revolution through which the mind both of Erskine and of his age was passing. His book, The Unconditional Freeness of the Gospel, appeared in 1828; The Brazen Serpent in 1831. Men have confounded forgiveness and pardon. They have made pardon equivalent to salvation. But salvation is character. Forgiveness is only one of the means of it. Salvation is not a future good. It is a present fellowship with God. It is sanctification of character by means of our labour and God's love. The fall was the rise of the spirit of freedom. Fallen man can never be saved except through glad surrender of his childish independence to the truth and goodness of God. Yet that surrender is the preservation and enlargement of our independence. It is the secret of true self-realisation. The sufferings of Christ reveal God's holy love. It is not as if God's love had been purchased by the sufferings of his Son. On the contrary, it is man who needs to believe in God's love, and so be reconciled to the God whom he has feared and hated. Christ overcomes sin by obediently enduring the suffering which sin naturally entails. He endures it in pure love of his brethren. Man must overcome sin in the same way.
Campbell published, so late as 1856, his great work The Nature of the Atonement and its Relation to the Remission of Sins and Eternal Life. It was the matured result of the reflections of a quarter of a century, spent partly in enforced retirement after 1831. Campbell maintains unequivocally that the sacrifice of Christ cannot be understood as a punishment due to man's sin, meted out to Christ in man's stead. Viewed retrospectively, Christ's work in the atonement is but the highest example of a law otherwise universally operative. No man can work redemption for his fellows except by entering into their condition, as if everything in that condition were his own, though much of it may be in no sense his due. It is freely borne by him because of his identification of himself with them. Campbell lingers in the myth of Christ's being the federal head of the humanity. There is something pathetic in the struggle of his mind to save phrases and the paraphernalia of an ancient view which, however, his fundamental principle rendered obsolete, He struggles to save the word satisfaction, though it means nothing in his system save that God is satisfied as he contemplates the character of Christ. Prospectively considered, the sacrifice of Christ effects salvation by its moral power over men in example and inspiration. Vicarious sacrifice, the result of which was merely imputed, would leave the sinner just where he was before. It is an empty fiction. But the spectacle of suffering freely undertaken for our sakes discovers the treasures of the divine image in man. The love of God and a man's own resolve make him in the end, in fact, that which he has always been in capacity and destiny, a child of God, possessed of the secret of a growing righteousness, which is itself salvation.
Scottish books seem to have been but little read in England in that day. It was Maurice who first made the substance of Campbell's teaching known in England. Frederick Denison Maurice was the son of a Unitarian minister, educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, at a time when it was impossible for a Nonconformist to obtain a degree. He was ordained a priest of the Church of England in 1834, even suffering himself to be baptised again. He was chaplain of Lincoln's Inn and Professor of Theology in King's College, London. After 1866 he was Professor of Moral Philosophy in Cambridge, though his life-work was over. At the heart of Maurice's theology lies the contention to which he gave the name of universal redemption. Christ's work is for every man. Every man is indeed in Christ. Man's unhappiness lies only in the fact that he will not own this fact and live accordingly. Man as man is the child of God. He cannot undo that fact or alter that relation if he would. He does not need to become a child of God, as the phrase has been. He needs only to recognise that he already is such a child. He can never cease to bear this relationship. He can only refuse to fulfil it. With other words Erskine and Coleridge and Schleiermacher had said this same thing.
For the rest, one may speak briefly of Maurice. He was animated by the strongest desire for Church unity, but at the back of his mind lay a conception of the Church and an insistence upon uniformity which made unity impossible. In the light of his own inheritance his ecclesiastical positivism seems strange. Perhaps it was the course of his experience which made this irrational positivism natural. Few men in his generation suffered greater persecutions under the unwarranted supposition on the part of contemporaries that he had a liberal mind. In reality, few men in his generation had less of a quality which, had he possessed it, would have given him peace and joy even in the midst of his persecutions. The casual remark above made concerning Campbell is true in enhanced degree of Maurice. A large part of the industry of a very industrious life was devoted to the effort to convince others and himself that those few really wonderful glimpses of spiritual truth which he had, had no disastrous consequences for an inherited system of thought in which they certainly did not take their rise. His name was connected with the social enthusiasm that inaugurated a new movement in England which will claim attention in another paragraph.
Allusion has been made to a revision of traditional theology which took place in America also, upon the same general lines which we have seen in Schleiermacher and in Campbell. The typical figure here, the protagonist of the movement, is William Ellery Channing. It may be doubted whether there has ever been a civilisation more completely controlled by its Church and ministers, or a culture more entirely dominated by theology, than were those of New England until the middle of the eighteenth century. There had been indeed a marked decline in religious life. The history of the Great Awakening shows that. Remonstrances against the Great Awakening show also how men's minds were moving away from the theory of the universe which the theology of that movement implied. One cannot say that in the preaching of Hopkins there is an appreciable relaxation of the Edwardsian scheme. Interestingly enough, it was in Newport that Channing was born and with Hopkins that he associated until the time of his licensure to preach in 1802. Many thought that Channing would stand with the most stringent of the orthodox. Deism and rationalism had made themselves felt in America after the Revolution. Channing, during his years in Harvard College, can hardly have failed to come into contact with the criticism of religion from this side. There is no such clear influence of current rationalism upon Channing as, for example, upon Schleiermacher. Yet here in the West, which most Europeans thought of as a wilderness, circumstances brought about the launching of this man upon the career of a liberal religious thinker, when as yet Schleiermacher had hardly advanced beyond the position of the Discourses, when Erskine had not yet written a line and Campbell was still a child. Channing became minister of the Federal Street Church in Boston in 1803. The appointment of Ware as Hollis Professor of Divinity in Harvard College took place in 1805. That appointment was the first clear indication of the liberal party's strength. Channing's Baltimore Address was delivered in 1819. He died in 1847.
In the schism among the Congregational Churches in New England, which before 1819 apparently had come to be regarded by both parties as remediless, Channing took the side of the opposition to Calvinistic orthodoxy. He developed qualities as controversialist and leader which the gentler aspect of his early years had hardly led men to suspect. This American liberal movement had been referred to by Belsham as related to English Unitarianism. After 1815, in this country, by its opponents at least, the movement was consistently called Unitarian. Channing did with zeal contend against the traditional doctrine of the atonement and of the trinity. On the other hand, he saw in Christ the perfect revelation of God to humanity and at the same time the ideal of humanity. He believed in Jesus' sinlessness and in his miracles, especially in his resurrection. The keynote of Channing's character and convictions is found in his sense of the inherent greatness of man. Of this feeling his entire system is but the unfolding. It was early and deliberately adopted by him as a fundamental faith. It remained the immovable centre of his reverence and trust amid all the inroads of doubt and sorrow. Political interest was as natural to Channing's earlier manhood as it had been to Fichte in the emergency of the Fatherland. Similarly, in the later years of his life, when evils connected with slavery had made themselves felt, his participation in the abolitionist agitation showed the same enthusiasm and practical bent. He had his dream of communism, his perception of the evils of our industrial system, his contempt for charity in place of economic remedy. All was for man, all rested upon supreme faith in man. That man is endowed with knowledge of the right and with the power to realise it, was a fundamental maxim. Hence arose Channing's assertion of free-will. The denial of free-will renders the sentiment of duty but illusory. In the conscience there is both a revelation and a type of God. Its suggestions, by the very authority they carry with them, declare themselves to be God's law. God, concurring with our highest nature, present in its action, can be thought of only after the pattern which he gives us in ourselves. Whatever revelation God makes of himself, he must deal with us as with free beings living under natural laws. Revelation must be merely supplementary to those laws. Everything arbitrary and magical, everything which despairs of us or insults us as moral agents, everything which does not address itself to us through reason and conscience, must be excluded from the intercourse between God and man. What the doctrines of salvation and atonement, of the person of Christ and of the influence of the Holy Spirit, as construed from this centre would be, may without difficulty be surmised. The whole of Channing's teaching is bathed in an atmosphere of the reverent love of God which is the very source of his enthusiasm for man.
A very different man was Horace Bushnell, born in the year of Channing's licensure, 1802. He was not bred under the influence of the strict Calvinism of his day. His father was an Arminian. Edwards had made Arminians detested in New England. His mother had been reared in the Episcopal Church. She was of Huguenot origin. When about seventeen, while tending a carding-machine, he wrote a paper in which he endeavoured to bring Calvinism into logical coherence and, in the interest of sound reason, to correct St. Paul's willingness to be accursed for the sake of his brethren. He graduated from Yale College in 1827. He taught there while studying law after 1829. He describes himself at this period as sound in ethics and sceptical in religion, the soundness of his morals being due to nature and training, the scepticism, to the theology in which he was involved. His law studies were complete, yet he turned to the ministry. He had been born on the orthodox side of the great contention in which Channing was a leader of the liberals in the days of which we speak. He never saw any reason to change this relation. His clerical colleagues, for half a life-time, sought to change it for him. In 1833 he was ordained and installed as minister of the North Church in Hartford, a pastorate which he never left. The process of disintegration of the orthodox body was continuing. There was almost as much rancour between the old and the new orthodoxy as between orthodox and Unitarians themselves. Almost before his career was well begun an incurable disease fastened itself upon him. Not much later, all the severity of theological strife befell him. Between these two we have to think of him doing his work and keeping his sense of humour.
His earliest book of consequence was on Christian Nurture, published in 1846. Consistent Calvinism presupposes in its converts mature years. Even an adult must pass through waters deep for him. He is not a sinful child of the Father. He is a being totally depraved and damned to everlasting punishment. God becomes his Father only after he is redeemed. The revivalists' theory Bushnell bitterly opposed. It made of religion a transcendental matter which belonged on the outside of life, a kind of miraculous epidemic. He repudiated the prevailing individualism. He anticipated much that is now being said concerning heredity, environment and subconsciousness. He revived the sense of the Church in which Puritanism had been so sadly lacking. The book is a classic, one of the rich treasures which the nineteenth century offers to the twentieth.
Bushnell, so far as one can judge, had no knowledge of Kant. He is, nevertheless, dealing with Kant's own problem, of the theory of knowledge, in his rather diffuse 'Dissertation on Language,' which is prefixed to the volume which bears the title God in Christ, 1849. He was following his living principle, the reference of doctrine to conscience. God must be a 'right God.' Dogma must make no assertion concerning God which will not stand this test. Not alone does the dogma make such assertions. The Scripture makes them as well. How can this be? What is the relation of language to thought and of thought to fact? How can the language of Scripture be explained, and yet the reality of the revelation not be explained away? There is a touching interest which attaches to this Hartford minister, working out, alone and clumsily, a problem the solution of which the greatest minds of the age had been gradually bringing to perfection for three-quarters of a century.
In the year 1848 Bushnell was invited to give addresses at the Commencements of three divinity schools: that at Harvard, then unqualifiedly Unitarian; that at Andover, where the battle with Unitarianism had been fought; and that at Yale, where Bushnell had been trained. The address at Cambridge was on the subject of the Atonement; the one at New Haven on the Divinity of Christ, including Bushnell's doctrine of the trinity; the one at Andover on Dogma and Spirit, a plea for the cessation of strife. He says squarely of the old school theories of the atonement, which represent Christ as suffering the penalty of the law in our stead: 'They are capable, one and all of them, of no light in which they do not offend some right sentiment of our moral being. If the great Redeemer, in the excess of his goodness, consents to receive the penal woes of the world in his person, and if that offer is accepted, what does it signify, save that God will have his modicum of suffering somehow; and if he lets the guilty go he will yet satisfy himself out of the innocent?' The vicariousness of love, the identification of the sufferer with the sinner, in the sense that the Saviour is involved by his desire to help us in the woes which naturally follow sin, this Bushnell mightily affirmed. Yet there is no pretence that he used vicariousness or satisfaction in the same sense in which his adversaries did. He is magnificently free from all such indirection. In the New Haven address there is this same combination of fire and light. The chief theological value of the doctrine of the trinity, as maintained by the New England Calvinistic teachers, had been to furnish the dramatis personae for the doctrine of the atonement. In the speculation as to the negotiation of this substitutionary transaction, the language of the theologians had degenerated into stark tritheism. Edwards, describing the councils of the trinity, spoke of the three persons as 'they.' Bushnell saw that any proper view of the unity of God made the forensic idea of the atonement incredible. He sought to replace the ontological notion of the trinity by that of a trinity of revelation, which held for him the practical truths by which his faith was nourished, and yet avoided the contradictions which the other doctrine presented both to reason and faith. Bushnell would have been far from claiming that he was the first to make this fight. The American Unitarians had been making it for more than a generation. The Unitarian protest was wholesome. It was magnificent. It was providential, but it paused in negation. It never advanced to construction. Bushnell's significance is not that he fought this battle, but that he fought it from the ranks of the orthodox Church. He fought it with a personal equipment which Channing had not had. He was decades later in his work. He took up the central religious problem when Channing's successors were following either Emerson or Parker.
The Andover address consisted in the statement of Bushnell's views of the causes which had led to the schism in the New England Church. A single quotation may give the key-note of the discourse: -- 'We had on our side an article of the creed which asserted a metaphysical trinity. That made the assertion of the metaphysical unity inevitable and desirable. We had theories of atonement, of depravity, of original sin, which required the appearance of antagonistic theories. On our side, theological culture was so limited that we took what was really only our own opinion for the unalterable truth of God. On the other side, it was so limited that men, perceiving the insufficiency of dogma, took the opposite contention with the same seriousness and totality of conviction. They asserted liberty, as indeed they must, to vindicate their revolt. They produced, meantime, the most intensely human and, in that sense, the most intensely opinionated religion ever invented.'
THE CATHOLIC REVIVAL
The Oxford Movement has been spoken of as a reaction against the so-called Oriel Movement, a conservative tendency over against an intellectualist and progressive one. In a measure the personal animosities within the Oxford circle may be accounted for in this way. The Tractarian Movement, however, which issued, on the one hand, in the going over of Newman to the Church of Rome and, on the other, in a great revival of Catholic principles within the Anglican Church itself, stands in a far larger setting. It was not merely an English or insular movement. It was a wave from a continental flood. On its own showing it was not merely an ecclesiastical movement. It had political and social aims as well. There was a universal European reaction against the Enlightenment and the Revolution. That reaction was not simple, but complex. It was a revolt of the conservative spirit from the new ideals which had been suddenly translated into portentous realities. It was marked everywhere by hatred of the eighteenth century with all its ways and works. On the one side we have the revolutionary thesis, the rights of man, the authority of reason, the watchwords liberty, equality, fraternity. On the other side stood forth those who were prepared to assert the meaning of community, the continuity of history, spiritual as well as civil authority as the basis of order, and order as the condition of the highest good. In literature the tendency appears as romanticism, in politics as legitimism, in religion as ultramontanism. Le Maistre with his L'Eglise gallicane du Pape; Chateaubriand with his Genie du Christianisme; Lamennais with his Essai sur l'Indifference en Matiere, de Religion, were, from 1820 to 1860, the exponents of a view which has had prodigious consequences for France and Italy. The romantic movement arose outside of Catholicism. It was impersonated in Herder. Friedrich Schlegel, Werner and others went over to the Roman Church. The political reaction was specifically Latin and Catholic. In the lurid light of anarchy Rome seemed to have a mission again. Divine right in the State must be restored through the Church. The Catholic apologetic saw the Revolution as only the logical conclusion of the premises of the Reformation. The religious revolt of the sixteenth century, the philosophical revolt of the seventeenth, the political revolt of the eighteenth, the social revolt of the nineteenth, are all parts of one dreadful sequence. As the Church lifted up the world after the first flood of the barbarians, so must she again lift up the world after the devastations made by the more terrible barbarians of the eighteenth century. England had indeed stood a little outside of the cyclone which had devastated the world from Coronna to Moscow and from the Channel to the Pyramids, but she had been exhausted in putting down the revolution. Only God's goodness had preserved England. The logic of Puritanism would have been the same. Indeed, in England the State was weaker and worse than were the states upon the Continent. For since 1688 it had been a popular and constitutional monarchy. In Frederick William's phrase, its sovereign took his crown from the gutter. The Church was through and through Erastian, a creature of the State. Bishops were made by party representatives. Acts like the Reform Bills, the course of the Government in the matter of the Irish Church, were steps which would surely bring England to the pass which France had reached in 1789. The source of such acts was wrong. It was with the people. It was in men, not in God. It was in reason, not in authority. It would be difficult to overstate the strength of this reactionary sentiment in important circles in England at the end of the third decade of the nineteenth century.
THE OXFORD MOVEMENT
In so far as that complex of causes just alluded to made of the Oxford Movement or the Catholic revival a movement of life, ecclesiastical, social and political as well, its history falls outside the purpose of this book. We proposed to deal with the history of thought. Reactionary movements have frequently got on without much thought. They have left little deposit of their own in the realm of ideas. Their avowed principle has been that of recurrence to that which has already been thought, of fidelity to ideas which have long prevailed. This is the reason why the conservatives have not a large place in such a sketch as this. It is not that their writings have not often been full of high learning and of the subtlest of reasoning. It is only that the ideas about which they reason do not belong to the history of the nineteenth century. They belong, on the earnest contention of the conservatives themselves -- those of Protestants, to the history of the Reformation -- and of Catholics, both Anglican and Roman, to the history of the early or mediaeval Church.
Nevertheless, when with passionate conviction a great man, taking the reactionary course, thinks the problem through again from his own point of view, then we have a real phenomenon in the history of contemporary thought. When such an one wrestles before God to give reason to himself and to his fellows for the faith that is in him, then the reactionary's reasoning is as imposing and suggestive as is any other. He leaves in his work an intellectual deposit which must be considered. He makes a contribution which must be reckoned with, even more seriously, perhaps, by those who dissent from it than by those who may agree with it. Such deposit Newman and the Tractarian movement certainly did make. They offered a rationale of the reaction. They gave to the Catholic revival a standing in the world of ideas, not merely in the world of action. Whether their reasoning has weight to-day, is a question upon which opinion is divided. Yet Newman and his compeers, by their character and standing, by their distinctively English qualities and by the road of reason which they took in the defence of Catholic principles, made Catholicism English again, in a sense in which it had not been English for three hundred years. Yet though Newman brought to the Roman Church in England, on his conversion to it, a prestige and qualities which in that communion were unequalled, he was never persona grata in that Church. Outwardly the Roman Catholic revival in England was not in large measure due to Newman and his arguments. It was due far more to men like Wiseman and Manning, who were not men of argument but of deeds.
John Henry Newman was born in 1801, the son of a London banker. His mother was of Huguenot descent. He came under Calvinistic influence. Through study especially, of Romaine On Faith he became the subject of an inward conversion, of which in 1864 he wrote: 'I am still more certain of it than that I have hands and feet.' Thomas Scott, the evangelical, moved him. Before he was sixteen he made a collection of Scripture texts in proof of the doctrine of the trinity. From Newton On the Prophecies he learned to identify the Pope with anti-Christ -- a doctrine by which, he adds, his imagination was stained up to the year 1843. In his Apologia, 1865, he declares: 'From the age of fifteen, dogma has been a fundamental principle of my religion. I cannot enter into the idea of any other sort of religion.' At the age of twenty-one, two years after he had taken his degree, he came under very different influences. He passed from Trinity College to a fellowship in Oriel. To use his own phrase, he drifted in the direction of liberalism. He was touched by Whately. He was too logical, and also too dogmatic, to be satisfied with Whately's position. Of the years from 1823 to 1827 Mozley says: 'Probably no one who then knew Newman could have told which way he would go. It is not certain that he himself knew.' Francis W. Newman, Newman's brother, who later became a Unitarian, remembering his own years of stress, speaks with embitterment of his elder brother, who was profoundly uncongenial to him.
The year 1827, in which Keble's Christian Year was published, saw another change in Newman's views. Illness and bereavement came to him with awakening effect. He made the acquaintance of Hurrell Froude. Froude brought Newman and Keble together. Henceforth Newman bore no more traces either of evangelicalism or of liberalism. Of Froude it is difficult to speak with confidence. His brother, James Anthony Froude, the historian, author of the Nemesis of Faith, 1848, says that he was gifted, brilliant, enthusiastic. Newman speaks of him with almost boundless praise. Two volumes of his sermons, published after his death in 1836, make the impression neither of learning nor judgment. Clearly he had charm. Possibly he talked himself into a common-room reputation. Newman says: 'Froude made me look with admiration toward the Church of Rome.' Keble never had felt the liberalism through which Newman had passed. Cradled as the Church of England had been in Puritanism, the latter was to him simply evil. Opinions differing from his own were not simply mistaken, they were sinful. He conceived no religious truth outside the Church of England. In the Christian Year one perceives an influence which Newman strongly felt. It was that of the idea of the sacramental significance of all natural objects or events. Pusey became professor of Hebrew in 1830. He lent the movement academic standing, which the others could not give. He had been in Germany, and had published an Inquiry into the Rationalist Character of German Theology, 1825. He hardly did more than expose the ignorance of Rose. He was himself denounced as a German rationalist who dared to speak of a new era in theology. Pusey, mourning the defection of Newman, whom he deeply loved, gathered in 1846 the forces of the Anglo-Catholics and continued in some sense a leader to the end of his long life in 1882.
The course of political events was fretting the Conservatives intolerably. The agitation for the Reform Bill was taking shape. Sir Robert Peel, the member for Oxford, had introduced a Bill for the emancipation of the Roman Catholics. There was violent commotion in Oxford. Keble and Newman strenuously opposed the measure. In 1830 there was revolution in France. In England the Whigs had come into power. Newman's mind was excited in the last degree. 'The vital question,' he says, 'is this, how are we to keep the Church of England from being liberalised?' At the end of 1832 Newman and Froude went abroad together. On this journey, as he lay becalmed in the straits of Bonifacio, he wrote his immortal hymn, 'Lead, Kindly Light.' He came home assured that he had a work to do. Keble's Assize Sermon on the National Apostasy, preached in July 1833, on the Sunday after Newman's return to Oxford, kindled the conflagration which had been long preparing. Newman conceived the idea of the Tracts for the Times as a means of expressing the feelings and propagating the opinions which deeply moved him. 'From the first,' he says, 'my battle was with liberalism. By liberalism I mean the anti-dogmatic principle. Secondly, my aim was the assertion of the visible Church with sacraments and rites and definite religious teaching on the foundation of dogma; and thirdly, the assertion of the Anglican Church as opposed to the Church of Rome.' Newman grew greatly in personal influence. His afternoon sermons at St. Mary's exerted spiritual power. They deserved so to do. Here he was at his best. All of his strength and little of his weakness shows. His insight, his subtility, his pathos, his love of souls, his marvellous play of dramatic as well as of spiritual faculty, are in evidence. Keble and Pusey were busying themselves with the historical aspects of the question. Pusey began the Library of the Fathers, the most elaborate literary monument of the movement. Nothing could be more amazing than the uncritical quality of the whole performance. The first check to the movement came in 1838, when the Bishop of Oxford animadverted upon the Tracts. Newman professed his willingness to stop them. The Bishop did not insist. Newman's own thought moved rapidly onward in the only course which was still open to it.
Newman had been bred in the deepest reverence for Scripture. In a sense that reverence never left him, though it changed its form. He saw that it was absurd to appeal to the Bible in the old way as an infallible source of doctrine. How could truth be infallibly conveyed in defective and fallible expressions? Newman's own studies in criticism, by no means profound, led him to this correct conclusion. This was the end for him of evangelical Protestantism. The recourse was then to the infallible Church. Infallible guide and authority one must have. Without these there can be no religion. To trust to reason and conscience as conveying something of the light of God is impossible. To wait in patience and to labour in fortitude for the increase of that light is unendurable. One must have certainty. There can be no certainty by the processes of the mind from within. This can come only by miraculous certification from without.
According to Newman the authority of the Church should never have been impaired in the Reformation. Or rather, in his view of that movement, this authority, for truly Christian men, had never been impaired. The intellect is aggressive, capricious, untrustworthy. Its action in religious matters is corrosive, dissolving, sceptical. 'Man's energy of intellect must be smitten hard and thrown back by infallible authority, if religion is to be saved at all.' Newman's philosophy was utterly sceptical, although, unlike most absolute philosophical sceptics, he had a deep religious experience. The most complete secularist, in his negation of religion, does not differ from Newman in his low opinion of the value of the surmises of the mind as to the transcendental meaning of life and the world. He differs from Newman only in lacking that which to Newman was the most indefeasible thing which he had at all, namely, religious experience. Newman was the child of his age, though no one ever abused more fiercely the age of which he was the child. He supposed that he believed in religion on the basis of authority. Quite the contrary, he believed in religion because he had religion or, as he says, in a magnificent passage in one of his parochial sermons, because religion had him. His scepticism forbade him to recognise that this was the basis of his belief. His diremption of human nature was absolute. The soul was of God. The mind was of the devil. He dare not trust his own intellect concerning this inestimable treasure of his experience. He dare not trust intellect at all. He knew not whither it might lead him. The mind cannot be broken to the belief of a power above it. It must have its stiff neck bent to recognise its Creator.
His whole book, The Grammar of Assent, 1870, is pervaded by the intensest philosophical scepticism. Scepticism supplies its motives, determines its problems, necessitates its distinctions, rules over the succession and gradation of its arguments. The whole aim of the work is to withdraw religion and the proofs of it, from the region of reason into the realm of conscience and imagination, where the arguments which reign may satisfy personal experience without alleging objective validity or being able to bear the criticism which tests it. Again, he is the perverse, unconscious child of the age which he curses. Had not Kant and Schleiermacher, Coleridge and Channing sought, does not Ritschl seek, to remove religion from the realm of metaphysics and to bring it within the realm of experience? They had, however, pursued the same end by different means. One is reminded of that saying of Gretchen concerning Mephistopheles: 'He says the same thing with the pastor, only in different words.' Newman says the same words, but means a different thing.
Assuming the reduction of religion to experience, in which Kant and Schleiermacher would have agreed, and asserting the worthlessness of mentality, which they would have denied, we are not surprised to hear Newman say that without Catholicism doubt is invincible. 'The Church's infallibility is the provision adopted by the mercy of the Creator to preserve religion in the world. Outside the Catholic Church all things tend to atheism. The Catholic Church is the one face to face antagonist, able to withstand and baffle the fierce energy of passion and the all-dissolving scepticism of the mind. I am a Catholic by virtue of my belief in God. If I should be asked why I believe in God, I should answer, because I believe in myself. I find it impossible to believe in myself, without believing also in the existence of him who lives as a personal, all-seeing, all-judging being in my conscience.' These passages are mainly taken from the Apologia, written long after Newman had gone over to the Roman Church. They perfectly describe the attitude of his mind toward the Anglican Church, so long as he believed this, and not the Roman, to be the true Church. He had once thought that a man could hold a position midway between the Protestantism which he repudiated and the Romanism which he still resisted. He stayed in the via media so long as he could. But in 1839 he began to have doubts about the Anglican order of succession. The catholicity of Rome began to overshadow the apostolicity of Anglicanism. The Anglican formularies cannot be at variance with the teachings of the authoritative and universal Church. This is the problem which the last of the Tracts, Tract Ninety, sets itself. It is one of those which Newman wrote. One must find the sense of the Roman Church in the Thirty-Nine Articles. This tract is prefaced by an extraordinary disquisition upon reserve in the communication of religious knowledge. God's revelations of himself to mankind have always been a kind of veil. Truth is the reward of holiness. The Fathers were holy men. Therefore what the Fathers said must be true. The principle of reserve the Articles illustrate. They do not mean what they say. They were written in an uncatholic age, that is, in the age of the Reformation. They were written by Catholic men. Else how can the Church of England be now a Catholic Church? Through their reserve they were acceptable in an uncatholic age. They cannot be uncatholic in spirit, else how should they be identical in meaning with the great Catholic creeds? Then follows an exposition of every important article of the thirty-nine, an effort to interpret each in the sense of the Roman Catholic Church of to-day. Four tutors published a protest against the tract. Formal censure was passed upon it. It was now evident to Newman that his place in the leadership of the Oxford Movement was gone. From this time, the spring of 1841, he says he was on his deathbed as regards the Church of England. He withdrew to Littlemore and established a brotherhood there. In the autumn of 1843 he resigned the parochial charge of St. Mary's at Oxford. On the 9th of October 1845 he was formally admitted to the Roman Church. On the 6th of October Ernest Renan had formally severed his connexion with that Church.
It is a strange thing that in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, written in 1845, Newman himself should have advanced substantially Hampden's contention. Here are written many things concerning the development of doctrine which commend themselves to minds conversant with the application of historical criticism to the whole dogmatic structure of the Christian ages. The purpose is with Newman entirely polemical, the issue exactly that which one would not have foreseen. Precisely because the development of doctrine is so obvious, because no historical point can be found at which the growth of doctrine ceased and the rule of faith was once for all settled, therefore an infallible authority outside of the development must have existed from the beginning, to provide a means of distinguishing true development from false. This infallible guide is, of course, the Church. It seems incredible that Newman could escape applying to the Church the same argument which he had so skilfully applied to Scripture and dogmatic history. Similar is the case with the argument of the Grammar of Assent. 'No man is certain of a truth who can endure the thought of its contrary.' If the reason why I cannot endure the thought of the contradictory of a belief which I have made my own, is that so to think brings me pain and darkness, this does not prove my truth. If my belief ever had its origin in reason, it must be ever refutable by reason. It is not corroborated by the fact that I do not wish to see anything that would refute it. This last fact may be in the highest degree an act of arbitrariness. To make the impossibility of thinking the opposite, the test of truth, and then to shut one's eyes to those evidences which might compel one to think the opposite, is the essence of irrationality. One attains by this method indefinite assertiveness, but not certainty. Newman lived in some seclusion in the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Birmingham for many years. A few distinguished men, and a number of his followers, in all not more than a hundred and fifty, went over to the Roman Church after him. The defection was never so great as, in the first shock, it was supposed that it would be. The outward influence of Newman upon the Anglican Church then ceased. But the ideas which he put forth have certainly been of great influence in that Church to this day. Most men know the portrait of the great cardinal, the wide forehead, ploughed deep with horizontal furrows, the pale cheek, down which 'long lines of shadow slope, which years and anxious thought and suffering give.' One looks into the wonderful face of those last days -- Newman lived to his ninetieth year -- and wonders if he found in the infallible Church the peace which he so earnestly sought.
[Footnote 8: Fairbairn, Catholicism, Roman and Anglican, p.157.]
It was said that the Oxford Movement furnished the rationale of the reaction. Many causes, of course, combine to make the situation of the Roman Church and the status of religion in the Latin countries of the Continent the lamentable one that it is. That position is worst in those countries where the Roman Church has most nearly had free play. The alienation both of the intellectual and civil life from organised religion is grave. That the Roman Church occupies in England to-day a position more favourable than in almost any nation on the Continent, and better than it occupied in England at the beginning of the nineteenth century, is due in large measure to the general influence of the movement with which we have been dealing. The Anglican Church was at the beginning of the nineteenth century preponderantly evangelical, low-church and conscious of itself as Protestant. At the beginning of the twentieth it is dominantly ritualistic and disposed to minimise its relation to the Reformation. This resurgence of Catholic principles is another effect of the movement of which we speak. Other factors must have wrought for this result besides the body of arguments which Newman and his compeers offered. The argument itself, the mere intellectual factor, is not adequate. There is an inherent contradiction in the effort to ground in reason an authority which is to take the place of reason. Yet round and round this circle all the labours of John Henry Newman go. Cardinal Manning felt this. The victory of the Church was not to be won by argument. It is well known that Newman opposed the decree of infallibility. It cannot be said that upon this point his arguments had great weight. If one assumes that truth comes to us externally through representatives of God, and if the truth is that which they assert, then in the last analysis what they assert is truth. If one has given in to such authority because one distrusts his reason, then it is querulous to complain that the deliverances of authority do not comport with reason. There may be, of course, the greatest interest in the struggle as to the instance in which this authority is to be lodged. This interest attaches to the age-long struggle between Pope and Council. It attaches to the dramatic struggle of Doellinger, Dupanloup, Lord Acton and the rest, in 1870. Once the Church has spoken there is, for the advocate of authoritative religion, no logic but to submit.
Similarly as to the Encyclical and Syllabus of Errors of 1864, which forecast the present conflict concerning Modernism. The Syllabus had a different atmosphere from that which any Englishman in the sixties would have given it. Had not Newman, however, made passionate warfare on the liberalism of the modern world? Was it not merely a question of degrees? Was Gladstone's attitude intelligible? The contrast of two principles in life and religion, the principles of authority and of the spirit, is being brought home to men's consciousness as it has never been before. One reads Il Santo and learns concerning the death of Fogazzaro, one looks into the literature relating to Tyrrell, one sees the fate of Loisy, comparing the really majestic achievement in his works and the spirit of his Simple Reflections with the Encyclical Pascendi, 1907. One understands why these men have done what they could to remain within the Roman Church. One recalls the attitude of Doellinger to the inauguration of the Old Catholic Movement, reflects upon the relative futility of the Old Catholic Church, and upon the position of Hyacinthe Loyson. One appreciates the feeling of these men that it is impossible, from without, to influence as they would the Church which they have loved. The present difficulty of influencing it from within seems almost insuperable. The history of Modernism as an effective contention in the world of Christian thought seems scarcely begun. The opposition to Modernism is not yet a part of the history of thought.
In no life are reflected more perfectly the spiritual conflicts of the fifth decade of the nineteenth century than in that of Frederick W. Robertson. No mind worked itself more triumphantly out of these difficulties. Descended from a family of Scottish soldiers, evangelical in piety, a student in Oxford in 1837, repelled by the Oxford Movement, he undertook his ministry under a morbid sense of responsibility. He reacted violently against his evangelicalism. He travelled abroad, read enormously, was plunged into an agony which threatened mentally to undo him. He took his charge at Brighton in 1847, still only thirty-one years old, and at once shone forth in the splendour of his genius. A martyr to disease and petty persecution, dying at thirty-seven, he yet left the impress of one of the greatest preachers whom the Church of England has produced. He left no formal literary work such as he had designed. Of his sermons we have almost none from his own manuscripts. Yet his influence is to-day almost as intense as when the sermons were delivered. It is, before all, the wealth and depth of his thought, the reality of the content of the sermons, which commands admiration. They are a classic refutation of the remark that one cannot preach theology. Out of them, even in their fragmentary state, a well-articulated system might be made. He brought to his age the living message of a man upon whom the best light of his age had shone.
Something of the same sort may be said concerning Phillips Brooks. He inherited on his father's side the sober rationalism and the humane and secular interest of the earlier Unitarianism, on his mother's side the intensity of evangelical pietism with the Calvinistic form of thought. The conflict of these opposing tendencies in New England was at that time so great that Brooks's parents sought refuge with the low-church element in the Episcopal Church. Brooks's education at Harvard College, where he took his degree in 1855, as also at Alexandria, and still more, his reading and experience, made him sympathetic with that which, in England in those years, was called the Broad Church party. He was deeply influenced by Campbell and Maurice. Later well known in England, he was the compeer of the best spirits of his generation there. Deepened by the experience of the great war, he held in succession two pulpits of large influence, dying as Bishop of Massachusetts in 1893. There is a theological note about his preaching, as in the case of Robertson. Often it is the same note. Brooks had passed through no such crisis as had Robertson. He had flowered into the greatness of rational belief. His sermons are a contribution to the thinking of his age. We have much finished material of this kind from his own hand, and a book or two besides. His service through many years as preacher to his university was of inestimable worth. The presentation of ever-advancing thought to a great public constituency is one of the most difficult of tasks. It is also one of the most necessary. The fusion of such thoughtfulness with spiritual impulse has rarely been more perfectly achieved than in the preaching of Phillips Brooks.
THE BROAD CHURCH
We have used the phrase, the Broad Church party. Stanley had employed the adjective to describe the real character of the English Church, over against the antithesis of the Low Church and the High. The designation adhered to a group of which Stanley was himself a type. They were not bound together in a party. They had no ecclesiastical end in view. They were of a common spirit. It was not the spirit of evangelicalism. Still less was it that of the Tractarians. It was that which Robertson had manifested. It aimed to hold the faith with an open mind in all the intellectual movement of the age. Maurice should be enumerated here, with reservations. Kingsley beyond question belonged to this group. There was great ardour among them for the improvement of social conditions, a sense of the social mission of Christianity. There grew up what was called a Christian Socialist movement, which, however, never attained or sought a political standing. The Broad Church movement seemed, at one time, assured of ascendancy in the Church of England. Its aims appeared congruous with the spirit of the times. Yet Dean Fremantle esteems himself perhaps the last survivor of an illustrious company.
The men who in 1860 published the volume known as Essays and Reviews would be classed with the Broad Church. In its authorship were associated seven scholars, mostly Oxford men. Some one described Essays and Reviews as the Tract Ninety of the Broad Church. It stirred public sentiment and brought the authors into conflict with authority in a somewhat similar way. The living antagonism of the Broad Church was surely with the Tractarians rather than with the evangelicals. Yet the most significant of the essays, those on miracles and on prophecy, touched opinions common to both these groups. Jowett, later Master of Balliol, contributed an essay on the 'Interpretation of Scripture.' It hardly belongs to Jowett's best work. Yet the controversy then precipitated may have had to do with Jowett's adherence to Platonic studies instead of his devoting himself to theology. The most decisive of the papers was that of Baden Powell on the 'Study of the Evidences of Christianity.' It was mainly a discussion of the miracle. It was radical and conclusive. The essay closes with an allusion to Darwin's Origin of Species, which had then just appeared. Baden Powell died shortly after its publication. The fight came on Rowland Williams's paper upon Bunson's Biblical Researches. It was really upon the prophecies and their use in 'Christian Evidences.' Baron Bunsen was not a great archaeologist, but he brought to the attention of English readers that which was being done in Germany in this field. Williams used the archaeological material to rectify the current theological notions concerning ancient history. A certain type of English mind has always shown zeal for the interpretation of prophecy. Williams's thesis, briefly put, was this: the Bible does not always give the history of the past with accuracy; it does not give the history of the future at all; prophecy means spiritual teaching, not secular prognostication. A reader of our day may naturally feel that Wilson, with his paper on the 'National Church,' made the greatest contribution. He built indeed upon Coleridge, but he had a larger horizon. He knew the arguments of the great Frenchmen of his day and of their English imitators who, in Benn's phrase, narrowed and perverted the ideal of a world-wide humanity into that of a Church founded on dogmas and administered by clericals. Wilson argued that in Jesus' teaching the basis of the religious community is ethical. The Church is but the instrument for carrying out the will of God as manifest in the moral law. The realisation of the will of God must extend beyond the limits of the Church's activity, however widely these are drawn. There arose a violent agitation. Williams and Wilson were prosecuted. The case was tried in the Court of Arches. Williams was defended by no less a person than Fitzjames Stephen. The two divines were sentenced to a year's suspension. This decision was reversed by the Lord Chancellor. Fitzjames Stephen had argued that if the men most interested in the church, namely, its clergy, are the only men who may be punished for serious discussion of the facts and truths of religion, then respect on the part of the world for the Church is at an end. By this discussion the English clergy, even if Anglo-Catholic, are in a very different position from the Roman priests, over whom encyclicals, even if not executed, are always suspended.
Similar was the issue in the case of Colenso, Bishop of Natal. Equipped mainly with Cambridge mathematics added to purest self-devotion, he had been sent out as a missionary bishop. In the process of the translation of the Pentateuch for his Zulus, he had come to reflect upon the problem which the Old Testament presents. In a manner which is altogether marvellous he worked out critical conclusions parallel to those of Old Testament scholars on the Continent. He was never really an expert, but in his main contention he was right. He adhered to his opinion despite severe pressure and was not removed from the episcopate. With such guarantees it would be strange indeed if we could not say that biblical studies entered in Great Britain, as also in America, on a development in which scholars of these nations are not behind the best scholars of the world. The trials for heresy of Robertson Smith in Edinburgh and of Dr. Briggs in New York have now little living interest. Yet biblical studies in Scotland and America were incalculably furthered by those discussions. The publication of a book like Supernatural Religion, 1872, illustrates a proclivity not uncommon in self-conscious liberal circles, for taking up a contention just when those who made it and have lived with it have decided to lay it down. However, the names of Hatch and Lightfoot alone, not to mention the living, are sufficient to warrant the assertions above made.
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More than once in these chapters we have spoken of the service rendered to the progress of Christian thought by the criticism and interpretation of religion at the hands of literary men. That country and age may be esteemed fortunate in which religion occupies a place such that it compels the attention of men of genius. In the history of culture this has by no means always been the case. That these men do not always speak the language of edification is of minor consequence. What is of infinite worth is that the largest minds of the generation shall engage themselves with the topic of religion. A history of thought concerning Christianity cannot but reckon with the opinions, for example, of Carlyle, of Emerson, of Matthew Arnold -- to mention only types.
Carlyle has pictured for us his early home at Ecclefechan on the Border; his father, a stone mason of the highest character; his mother with her frugal, pious ways; the minister, from whom he learned Latin, 'the priestliest man I ever beheld in any ecclesiastical guise.' The picture of his mother never faded from his memory. Carlyle was destined for the Church. Such had been his mother's prayer. He took his arts course in Edinburgh. In the university, he says, 'there was much talk about progress of the species, dark ages, and the like, but the hungry young looked to their spiritual nurses and were bidden to eat the east wind.' He entered Divinity Hall, but already, in 1816, prohibitive doubts had arisen in his mind. Irving sought to help him. Irving was not the man for the task. The Christianity of the Church had become intellectually incredible to Carlyle. For a time he was acutely miserable, bordering upon despair. He has described his spiritual deliverance: 'Precisely that befel me which the Methodists call their conversion, the deliverance of their souls from the devil and the pit. There burst forth a sacred flame of joy in me.' With Sartor Resartus his message to the world began. It was printed in Fraser's Magazine in 1833, but not published separately until 1838. His difficulty in finding a publisher embittered him. Style had something to do with this, the newness of his message had more. Then for twenty years he poured forth his message. Never did a man carry such a pair of eyes into the great world of London or set a more peremptory mark upon its notabilities. His best work was done before 1851. His later years were darkened with much misery of body. No one can allege that he ever had a happy mind.
He was a true prophet, but, Elijah-like, he seemed to himself to be alone. His derision of the current religion seems sometimes needless. Yet even that has the grand note of sincerity. What he desired he in no small measure achieved -- that his readers should be arrested and feel themselves face to face with reality. His startling intuition, his intellectual uprightness, his grasp upon things as they are, his passion for what ought to be, made a great impression upon his age. It was in itself a religious influence. Here was a mind of giant force, of sternest truthfulness. His untruths were those of exaggeration. His injustices were those of prejudice. He invested many questions of a social and moral, of a political and religious sort with a nobler meaning than they had had before. His French Revolution, his papers on Chartism, his unceasing comment on the troubled life of the years from 1830 to 1865, are of highest moment for our understanding of the growth of that social feeling in the midst of which we live and work. In his brooding sympathy with the downtrodden he was a great inaugurator of the social movement. He felt the curse of an aristocratic society, yet no one has told us with more drastic truthfulness the evils of our democratic institutions. His word was a great corrective for much 'rose-water' optimism which prevailed in his day. The note of hope is, however, often lacking. The mythology of an absentee God had faded from him. Yet the God who was clear to his mature consciousness, clear as the sun in the heavens, was a God over the world, to judge it inexorably. Again, it is not difficult to accumulate evidence in his words which looks toward pantheism; but what one may call the religious benefit of pantheism, the sense that God is in his world, Carlyle often loses.
Materialism is to-day so deeply discredited that we find it difficult to realise that sixty years ago the problem wore a different look. Carlyle was never weary of pouring out the vials of his contempt on 'mud-philosophies' and exalting the spirit as against matter. Never was a man more opposed to the idea of a godless world, in which man is his own chief end, and his sensual pleasures the main aims of his existence. His insight into the consequences of our commercialism and luxury and absorption in the outward never fails. Man is God's son, but the effort to realise that sonship in the joy and trust of a devout heart and in the humble round of daily life sometimes seems to him cant or superstition. The humble life of godliness made an unspeakable appeal to him. He had known those who lived that life. His love for them was imperishable. Yet he had so recoiled from the superstitions and hypocrisies of others, the Eternal in his majesty was so ineffable, all effort to approach him so unworthy, that almost instinctively he would call upon the man who made the effort, to desist. So magnificent, all his life long, had been his protest against the credulity and stupidity of men, against beliefs which assert the impossible and blink the facts, that, for himself, the great objects of faith were held fast to, so to say, in their naked verity, with a giant's strength. They were half-querulously denied all garment and embodiment, lest he also should be found credulous and self-deceived. From this titan labouring at the foundations of the world, this Samson pulling down temples of the Philistines on his head, this cyclops heaving hills at ships as they pass by, it seems a long way to Emerson. Yet Emerson was Carlyle's friend.
Arnold said in one of his American addresses: 'Besides these voices -- Newman, Carlyle, Goethe -- there came to us in the Oxford of my youth a voice also from this side of the Atlantic, a clear and pure voice which, for my ear at any rate, brought a strain as new and moving and unforgetable as those others. Lowell has described the apparition of Emerson to your young generation here. He was your Newman, your man of soul and genius, speaking to your bodily ears, a present object for your heart and imagination.' Then he quotes as one of the most memorable passages in English speech: 'Trust thyself. Accept the place which the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, confiding themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying a perception which was stirring in their hearts, working through their hands, dominating their whole being.' Arnold speaks of Carlyle's grim insistence upon labour and righteousness but of his scorn of happiness, and then says: 'But Emerson taught happiness in labour, in righteousness and veracity. In all the life of the spirit, happiness and eternal hope, that was Emerson's gospel. By his conviction that in the life of the spirit is happiness, by his hope and expectation that this life of the spirit will more and more be understood and will prevail, by this Emerson was great.'
Seven of Emerson's ancestors were ministers of New England churches. He inherited qualities of self-reliance, love of liberty, strenuous virtue, sincerity, sobriety and fearless loyalty to ideals. The form of his ideals was modified by the glow of transcendentalism which passed over parts of New England in the second quarter of the nineteenth century, but the spirit in which Emerson conceived the laws of life, reverenced them and lived them, was the Puritan spirit, only elevated, enlarged and beautified by the poetic temperament. Taking his degree from Harvard in 1821, despising school teaching, stirred by the passion for spiritual leadership, the ministry seemed to offer the fairest field for its satisfaction. In 1825 he entered the Divinity School in Harvard to prepare himself for the Unitarian ministry. In 1829 he became associate minister of the Second Unitarian Church in Boston. He arrived at the conviction that the Lord's Supper was not intended by Jesus to be a permanent sacrament. He found his congregation, not unnaturally, reluctant to agree with him. He therefore retired from the pastoral office. He was always a preacher, though of a singular order. His task was to befriend and guide the inner life of man. The influences of this period in his life have been enumerated as the liberating philosophy of Coleridge, the mystical vision of Swedenborg, the intimate poetry of Wordsworth, the stimulating essays of Carlyle. His address before the graduating class of the Divinity School at Cambridge in 1838 was an impassioned protest against what he called the defects of historical Christianity, its undue reliance upon the personal authority of Jesus, its failure to explore the moral nature of man. He made a daring plea for absolute self-reliance and new inspiration in religion: 'In the soul let redemption be sought. Refuse the good models, even those which are sacred in the imagination of men. Cast conformity behind you. Acquaint men at first hand with deity.' He never could have been the power he was by the force of his negations. His power lay in the wealth, the variety, the beauty and insight with which he set forth the positive side of his doctrine of the greatness of man, of the presence of God in man, of the divineness of life, of God's judgment and mercy in the order of the world. One sees both the power and the limitation of Emerson's religious teaching. At the root of it lay a real philosophy. He could not philosophise. He was always passing from the principle to its application. He could not systematise. He speaks of his 'formidable tendency to the lapidary style.' Granting that one finds his philosophy in fragments, just as one finds his interpretation of religion in flashes of marvellous insight, both are worth searching for, and either, in Coleridge's phrase, finds us, whether we search for it or not.
What shall we say of Matthew Arnold himself? Without doubt the twenty years by which Arnold was Newman's junior at Oxford made a great difference in the intellectual atmosphere of that place, and of the English world of letters, at the time when Arnold's mind was maturing. He was not too late to feel the spell of Newman. His mind was hardly one to appreciate the whole force of that spell. He was at Oxford too early for the full understanding of the limits within which alone the scientific conception of the world can be said to be true. Arnold often boasted that he was no metaphysician. He really need never have mentioned the fact. The assumption that whatever is true can be verified in the sense of the precise kind of verification which science implies is a very serious mistake. Yet his whole intellectual strength was devoted to the sustaining, one cannot say exactly the cause of religion, but certainly that of noble conduct, and to the assertion of the elation of duty and the joy of righteousness. With all the scorn that Arnold pours upon the trust which we place in God's love, he yet holds to the conviction that 'the power without ourselves which makes for righteousness' is one upon which we may in rapture rely.
Arnold had convinced himself that in an ago such as ours, which will take nothing for granted, but must verify everything, Christianity, in the old form of authoritative belief in supernatural beings and miraculous events, is no longer tenable. We must confine ourselves to such ethical truths as can be verified by experience. We must reject everything which goes beyond these. Religion has no more to do with supernatural dogma than with metaphysical philosophy. It has nothing to do with either. It has to do with conduct. It is folly to make religion depend upon the conviction of the existence of an intelligent and moral governor of the universe, as the theologians have done. For the object of faith in the ethical sense Arnold coined the phrase: 'The Eternal not ourselves which makes for righteousness.' So soon as we go beyond this, we enter upon the region of fanciful anthropomorphism, of extra belief, aberglaube, which always revenges itself. These are the main contentions of his book, Literature and Dogma, 1875.
One feels the value of Arnold's recall to the sense of the literary character of the Scriptural documents, as urged in his book, Saint Paul and Protestantism, 1870, and again to the sense of the influence which the imagination of mankind has had upon religion. One feels the truth of his assertion of our ignorance. One feels Arnold's own deep earnestness. It was his concern that reason and the will of God should prevail. Though he was primarily a literary man, yet his great interest was in religion. One feels so sincerely that his main conclusion is sound, that it is the more trying that his statement of it should be often so perverse and his method of sustaining it so precarious. It is quite certain that the idea of the Eternal not ourselves which makes for righteousness is far from being the clear idea which Arnold claims. It is far from being an idea derived from experience or verifiable in experience, in the sense which he asserts. It seems positively incredible that Arnold did not know that with this conception he passed the boundary of the realm of science and entered the realm of metaphysics, which he so abhorred.
He was the eldest son of Thomas Arnold of Rugby. He was educated at Winchester and Rugby and at Balliol College. He was Professor of Poetry in Oxford from 1857 to 1867. He was an inspector of schools. The years of his best literary labour were much taken up in ways which were wasteful of his rare powers. He came by literary intuition to an idea of Scripture which others had built up from the point of view of a theory of knowledge and by investigation of the facts. He is the helpless personification of a view of the relation of science and religion which has absolutely passed away. Yet Arnold died only in 1888. How much a distinguished inheritance may mean is gathered from the fact that a grand-daughter of Thomas Arnold and niece of Matthew Arnold, Mrs. Humphry Ward, in her novels, has dealt largely with problems of religious life, and more particularly of religious thoughtfulness. She has done for her generation, in her measure, that which George Eliot did for hers.
As the chapter and the book draw to their close we can think of no man whose life more nearly spanned the century, or whose work touched more fruitfully almost every aspect of Christian thoughtfulness than did that of James Martineau. We can think of no man who gathered into himself more fully the significant theological tendencies of the age, or whose utterance entitles him to be listened to more reverently as seer and saint. He was born in 1805. He was bred as an engineer. He fulfilled for years the calling of minister and preacher. He gradually exchanged this for the activity of a professor. He was a religious philosopher in the old sense, but he was also a critic and historian. His position with reference to the New Testament was partly antiquated before his Seat of Authority in Religion, 1890, made its appearance. Evolutionism never became with him a coherent and consistent assumption. Ethics never altogether got rid of the innate ideas. The social movement left him almost untouched. Yet, despite all this, he was in some sense a representative progressive theologian of the century.
There is a parallel between Newman and Martineau. Both busied themselves with the problem of authority. Criticism had been fatal to the apprehension which both had inherited concerning the authority of Scripture. From that point onward they took divergent courses. The arguments which touched the infallible and oracular authority of Scripture, for Newman established that of the Church; for Martineau they had destroyed that of the Church four hundred years ago. Martineau's sense, even of the authority of Jesus, reverent as it is, is yet no pietistic and mystical view. The authority of Jesus is that of the truth which he speaks, of the goodness which dwells in him, of God himself and God alone. A real interest in the sciences and true learning in some of them made Martineau able to write that wonderful chapter in his Seat of Authority, which he entitled 'God in Nature.' Newman could see in nature, at most a sacramental suggestion, a symbol of transcendental truth.
The Martineaus came of old Huguenot stock, which in England belonged to the liberal Presbyterianism out of which much of British Unitarianism came. The righteousness of a persecuted race had left an austere impress upon their domestic and social life. Intellectually they inherited the advanced liberalism of their day. Harriet Martineau's earlier piety had been of the most fervent sort. She reacted violently against it in later years. She had little of the politic temper and gentleness of her brother. She described one of her own later works as the last word of philosophic atheism. James was, and always remained, of deepest sensitiveness and reverence and of a gentleness which stood in high contrast with his powers of conflict, if necessity arose. Out of Martineau's years as preacher in Liverpool and London came two books of rare devotional quality, Endeavours after the Christian Life, 1843 and 1847, and Hours of Thought on Sacred Things, 1873 and 1879. Almost all his life he was identified with Manchester College, as a student when the college was located at York, as a teacher when it returned to Manchester and again when it was removed to London. With its removal to Oxford, accomplished in 1889, he had not fully sympathised. He believed that the university itself must some day do justice to the education of men for the ministry in other churches than the Anglican. He was eighty years old when he published his Types of Ethical Theory, eighty-two when he gave to the world his Study of Religion, eighty-five when his Seat of Authority saw the light. The effect of this postponement of publication was not wholly good. The books represented marvellous learning and ripeness of reflection. But they belong to a period anterior to the dates they bear upon their title-pages. Martineau's education and his early professional experience put him in touch with the advancing sciences. In the days when most men of progressive spirit were carried off their feet, when materialism was flaunted in men's faces and the defence of religion was largely in the hands of those who knew nothing of the sciences, Martineau was not moved. He saw the end from the beginning. There is nothing finer in his latest work than his early essays -- 'Nature and God,' 'Science, Nescience and Faith,' and 'Religion as affected by Modern Materialism.' He died in 1900 in his ninety-fifth year.
It is difficult to speak of the living in these pages. Personal relations enforce reserve and brevity. Nevertheless, no one can think of Manchester College and Martineau without being reminded of Mansfield College and of Fairbairn, a Scotchman, but of the Independent Church. He also was both teacher and preacher all his days, leader of the movement which brought Mansfield College from Birmingham to Oxford, by the confession both of Anglicans and of Non-conformists the most learned man in his subjects in the Oxford of his time, an historian, touched by the social enthusiasm, but a religious philosopher, par excellence. His Religion and Modern Life, 1894, his Catholicism, Roman and Anglican, 1899, his Place of Christ in Modern Theology, 1893, his Philosophy of the Christian Religion, 1902, and his Studies in Religion and Theology, 1910, indicate the wideness of his sympathies and the scope of the application, of his powers. If imitation is homage, grateful acknowledgment is here made of rich spoil taken from his books.
Philosophy took a new turn in Britain after the middle of the decade of the sixties. It began to be conceded that Locke and Hume were dead. Had Mill really appreciated that fact he might have been a philosopher more fruitful and influential than he was. Sir William Hamilton was dead. Mansel's endeavour, out of agnosticism to conjure the most absurdly positivistic faith, had left thinking men more exposed to scepticism, if possible, than they had been before. When Hegel was thought in Germany to be obsolete, and everywhere the cry was 'back to Kant,' some Scotch and English scholars, the two Cairds and Seth Pringle-Pattison, with Thomas Hill Green, made a modified Hegelianism current in Great Britain. They led by this path in the introduction of their countrymen to later German idealism. By this introduction philosophy in both Britain and America has greatly gained. Despite these facts, John Caird's Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, 1880, is still only a religious philosophy. It is not a philosophy of religion. His Fundamental Ideas of Christianity, 1896, hardly escapes the old antitheses among which theological discussion moved, say, thirty years ago. Edward Caird's Critical Philosophy of Kant, 1889, and especially his Evolution of Religion, 1892, marked the coming change more definitely than did any of the labours of his brother. Thomas Hill Green gave great promise in his Introduction to Hume, 1885, his Prolegomena to Ethics, 1883, and still more in essays and papers scattered through the volumes edited by Nettleship after Green's death. His contribution to religious discussion was such as to make his untimely end to be deeply deplored. Seth Pringle-Pattison's early work, The Development from Kant to Hegel, 1881, still has great worth. His Hegelianism and Personality, 1893, deals with one aspect of the topic which needs ever again to be explored, because of the psychological basis which in religious discussion is now assumed.
The greatest contribution of America to religious discussion in recent years is surely William James's Varieties of Religious Experience, 1902. The book is unreservedly acknowledged in Britain, and in Germany as well, to be the best which we yet have upon the psychology of religion. Not only so, it gives a new intimation as to what psychology of religion means. It blazes a path along which investigators are eagerly following. Boyce, in his Phi Beta Kappa address at Harvard in 1911, declared James to be the third representative philosopher whom America has produced. He had the form of philosophy as Emerson never had. He could realise whither he was going, as Emerson in his intuitiveness never did. He criticised the dominant monism in most pregnant way. He recurred to the problems which dualism owned but could not solve. We cannot call the new scheme dualism. The world does not go back. Yet James made an over-confident generation feel that the centuries to which dualism had seemed reasonable were not so completely without intelligence as has been supposed by some. No philosophy may claim completeness as an interpretation of the universe. No more conclusive proof of this judgment could be asked than is given quite unintentionally in Haeckel's Weltrathsel.
At no point is this recall more earnest than in James's dealing with the antithesis of good and evil. The reaction of the mind of the race, and primarily of individuals, upon the fact of evil, men's consciousness of evil in themselves, their desire to be rid of it, their belief that there is a deliverance from it and that they have found that deliverance, is for James the point of departure for the study of the actual phenomena and the active principle of religion. The truest psychological and philosophical instinct of the ago thus sets the experience of conversion in the centre of discussion. Apparently most men have, at some time and in some way, the consciousness of a capacity for God which is unfulfilled, of a relation to God unrealised, which is broken and resumed, or yet to be resumed. They have the sense that their own effort must contribute to this recovery. They have the sense also that something without themselves empowers them to attempt this recovery and to persevere in the attempt. The psychology of religion is thus put in the forefront. The vast masses of material of this sort which the religious world, both past and present, possesses, have been either actually unexplored, or else set forth in ways which distorted and obscured the facts. The experience is the fact. The best science the world knows is now to deal with it as it would deal with any other fact. This is the epoch-making thing, the contribution to method in James's book. James was born in New York in 1842, the son of a Swedenborgian theologian. He took his medical degree at Harvard in 1870. He began to lecture there in anatomy in 1872 and became Professor of Philosophy in 1885. He was a Gifford and a Hibbert Lecturer. He died in 1910.
When James's thesis shall have been fully worked out, much supposed investigation of primitive religions, which is really nothing but imagination concerning primitive religions, will be shown in its true worthlessness. We know very little about primitive man. What we learn as to primitive man, on the side of his religion, we must learn in part from the psychology of the matured and civilised, the present living, thinking, feeling man in contact with his religion. Matured religion is not to be judged by the primitive, but the reverse. The real study of the history of religions, the study of the objective phenomena, from earliest to latest times, has its place. But the history of religions is perverted when it takes for fact in the life of primitive man that which never existed save in the imagination of twentieth century students. Early Christianity, on its inner and spiritual side, is to be judged by later Christianity, by present Christianity, by the Christian experience which we see and know to-day, and not conversely, as men have always claimed. The modern man is not to be converted after the pattern which it is alleged that his grandfather followed. For, first, there is the question as to whether his grandfather did conform to this pattern. And beyond that, it is safer to try to understand the experience of the grandfather, whom we do not know, by the psychology and experience of the grandson, whom we do know, with, of course, a judicious admixture of knowledge of the history of the nineteenth century, which would occasion characteristic differences. The modern saint is not asked to be a saint like Francis. In the first place, how do we know what Francis was like? In the second place, the experience of Francis may be most easily understood by the aid of modern experience of true revolt from worldliness and of consecration to self-sacrifice, as these exist among us, with, of course, the proper background furnished by the history of the thirteenth century. Souls are one. Our souls may be, at least in some measure, known to ourselves. Even the souls of some of our fellows may be measurably known to us. What are the facts of the religious experience? How do souls react in face of the eternal? The experience of religion, the experience of the fatherhood of God, of the sonship of man, of the moving of the spirit, is surely one experience. How did even Christ's great soul react, experience, work, will, and suffer? By what possible means can we ever know how he reacted, worked, willed, suffered? In the literature we learn only how men thought that he reacted. We must inquire of our own souls. To be sure, Christ belonged to the first century, and we live in the twentieth. It is possible for us to learn something of the first century and of the concrete outward conditions which caused his life to take the shape which it did. We learn this by strict historical research. Assuredly the supreme measure in which the spirit of all truth and goodness once took possession of the Nazarene, remains to us a mystery unfathomed and unfathomable. Dwelling in Jesus, that spirit made through him a revelation of the divine such as the world has never seen. Yet that mystery leads forth along the path of that which is intelligible. And, in another sense, even such religious experience as we ourselves may have, poor though it be and sadly limited, leads back into the same mystery.
It was with this contention that religion is a fact of the inner life of man, that it is to be understood through consciousness, that it is essentially and absolutely reasonable and yet belongs to the transcendental world, it was with this contention that, in the person of Immanuel Kant, the history of modern religious thought began. It is with this contention, in one of its newest and most far-reaching applications in the work of William James, that this history continues. For no one can think of the number of questions which recent years have raised, without realising that this history is by no means concluded. It is conceivable that the changes which the twentieth century will bring may be as noteworthy as those which the nineteenth century has seen. At least we may be grateful that so great and sure a foundation has been laid.