History of Free Thought
in Reference to
The Christian Religion
Preached Before The
University of Oxford, in the year M.DCCC.LXII., on the Foundation of the Late Rev. John Bampton, M.A., Canon of Salisbury.
Adam Storey Farrar, M.A.
Michel Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford.
D. Appleton And Company,
443 & 445 Broadway.
Will of Rev. John Bampton. Preface. Analysis of the lectures. Lecture I. On The Subject, Method, And Purpose Of The Course Of Lectures. Lecture II. The Literary Opposition of Heathens Against Christianity in the Early Ages. Lecture III. Free Thought During The Middle Ages, and At The Renaissance; Together With Its Rise in Modern Times. Lecture IV. Deism in England Previous to A.D. 1760. Lecture V. Infidelity in France in the Eighteenth Century, and Unbelief in England Subsequent to 1760. Lecture VI. Free Thought In The Theology Of Germany From 1750-1835. Lecture VII. Free Thought: In Germany Subsequently To 1835; And In France During The Present Century. Lecture VIII. Free Thought in England in the Present Century; Summary of the Course of Lectures; Inferences in Reference to Present Dangers and Duties. Notes. Lecture I. Lecture II. Lecture III. Lecture IV. Lecture V. Lecture VI. Lecture VII. Lecture VIII. Index. Footnotes
WILL OF REV. JOHN BAMPTON.
Extract From The Last Will And Testament Of The Late Rev. John Bampton, Canon Of Salisbury.
"——I give and bequeath my Lands and Estates to the Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the University of Oxford for ever, to have and to hold all and singular the said Lands or Estates upon trust, and to the intents and purposes hereinafter mentioned; that is to say, I will and appoint that the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford for the time being shall take and receive all the rents, issues, and profits thereof, and (after all taxes, reparations, and necessary deductions made) that he pay all the remainder to the endowment of eight Divinity Lecture Sermons, to be established for ever in the said University, and to be performed in the manner following:
"I direct and appoint, that, upon the first Tuesday in Easter Term, a Lecturer be yearly chosen by the Heads of Colleges only, and by no others, in the room adjoining to the Printing-House, between the hours of ten in the morning and two in the afternoon, to preach eight Divinity Lecture Sermons, the year following, at St. Mary's in Oxford, between the commencement of the last month in Lent Term, and the end of the third week in Act Term.
"Also I direct and appoint, that the eight Divinity Lecture Sermons shall be preached upon either of the following Subjects—to confirm and establish the Christian Faith, and to confute all heretics and schismatics—upon the divine authority of the holy Scriptures—upon the authority of the writings of the primitive Fathers, as to the faith and practice of the primitive Church—upon the Divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ—upon the Divinity of the Holy Ghost—upon the Articles of the Christian Faith as comprehended in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds.
"Also I direct, that thirty copies of the eight Divinity Lecture Sermons shall be always printed, within two months after they are preached; and one copy shall be given to the Chancellor of the University, and one copy to the Head of every College, and one copy to the Mayor of the city of Oxford, and one copy to be put into the Bodleian Library; and the expense of printing them shall be paid out of the revenue of the Land or Estates given for establishing the Divinity Lecture Sermons; and the Preacher shall not be paid nor be entitled to the revenue before they are printed.
"Also I direct and appoint, that no person shall be qualified to preach the Divinity Lecture Sermons, unless he hath taken the degree of Master of Arts at least, in one of the two Universities of Oxford or Cambridge; and that the same person shall never preach the Divinity Lecture Sermons twice."
The object of this Preface is to explain the design of the following Lectures, and to enumerate the sources on which they are founded.
What is the province and mode of inquiry intended in a "Critical History of Free Thought"?(1) What are the causes which led the author into this line of study?(2) What the object proposed by the work?(3) What the sources from which it is drawn?(4)—these probably are the questions which will at once suggest themselves to the reader. The answers to most of them are so fully given in the work,(5) that it will only be necessary here to touch upon them briefly.
The word "free thought" is now commonly used, at least in foreign literature(6), to express the result of the revolt of the mind against the pressure of external authority in any department of life or speculation. Information concerning the history of the term is given elsewhere.(7) It will be sufficient now to state, that the cognate term, free thinking, was appropriated by Collins early in the last century(8) to express Deism. It differs from the modern term free thought, both in being restricted to religion, and in conveying the idea rather of the method than of its result, the freedom of the mode of inquiry rather than the character of the conclusions attained; but the same fundamental idea of independence and freedom from authority is implied in the modern term.
Within the sphere of its application to the Christian religion, free thought is generally used to denote three different systems; viz. Protestantism, scepticism, and unbelief. Its application to the first of these is unfair.(9) It is true that all three agree in resisting the dogmatism of any earthly authority; but Protestantism reposes implicitly on what it believes to be the divine authority of the inspired writers of the books of holy scripture; whereas the other two forms acknowledge no authority external to the mind, no communication superior to reason and science. Thus, though Protestantism by its attitude of independence seems similar to the other two systems, it is really separated by a difference of kind, and not merely of degree.(10) The present history is restricted accordingly to the treatment of the two latter species of free thought,—the resistance of the human mind to the Christian religion as communicated through revelation, either in part or in whole, neither the scepticism which disintegrates it, or the unbelief which rejects it: the former directing itself especially against Christianity, the latter against the idea of revelation, or even of the supernatural generally.
An analogous reason to that which excludes the history of Protestantism, excludes also that of the opposition made to Christianity by heresy, and by rival religions:(11) inasmuch as they repose on authorities, however false, and do not profess to resort to an unassisted study of nature and truth.
This account of the province included under free thought will prepare the way for the explanation of the mode in which the subject is treated.
It is clear that the history, in order to rise above a chronicle, must inquire into the causes which have made freedom of inquiry develop into unbelief. The causes have usually been regarded by theologians to be of two kinds, viz. either superhuman or human; and, if of the latter kind, to be either moral or intellectual. Bishop Van Mildert, in his History of Infidelity, restricted himself entirely to the former.(12) Holding strongly that the existence of evil in the world was attributable, not only indirectly and originally, but directly and perpetually, to the operation of the evil spirit, he regarded every form of heresy and unbelief to be the attempt of an invisible evil agent to thwart the truth of God; and viewed the history of infidelity as the study of the results of the operation of this cause in destroying the kingdom of righteousness. Such a view invests human life and history with a very solemn character, and is not without practical value; but it will be obvious that an analysis of this kind must be strictly theological, and removes the inquiry from the province of human science. Even when completed, it leaves unexplored the whole field in which such an evil principle operates, and the agencies which he employs as his instruments.
The majority of writers on unbelief accordingly have treated the subject from a less elevated point of view, and have limited their inquiry to the sphere of the operation of human causes, the media axiomata as it were,(13) which express the motives and agencies which have been manifested on the theatre of the world, and visible in actual history. It will be clear that within this sphere the causes are specially of two kinds; viz. those which have their source in the will, and arise from the antagonism of feeling, which wishes revelation untrue, and those which manifest themselves in the intellect, and are exhibited under the form of difficulties which beset the mind, or doubts which mislead it, in respect to the evidence on which revelation reposes. The former, it may be feared, are generally the ground of unbelief; the latter the basis of doubt. Christian writers, in the wish to refer unbelief to the source of efficient causation in the human will, with a view of enforcing on the doubter the moral lesson of responsibility, have generally restricted themselves to the former of these two classes; and by doing so have omitted to explore the interesting field of inquiry presented in the natural history of the variety of forms assumed by scepticism, and their relation to the general causes which have operated in particular ages:—a subject most important, if the intellectual antecedents thus discovered be regarded as causes of doubt; and not less interesting, if, instead of being causes, they are merely considered to be instruments and conditions made use of by the emotional powers.
A history of free thought seems to point especially to the study of the latter class. A biographical history of free thinkers would imply the former; the investigation of the moral history of the individuals, the play of their will and feelings and character; but the history of free thought points to that which has been the product of their characters, the doctrines which they have taught. Science however no less than piety would decline entirely to separate the two;(14) piety, because, though admitting the possibility that a judgment may be formed in the abstract on free thought, it would feel itself constantly drawn into the inquiry of the moral responsibility of the freethinker in judging of the concrete cases;—science, because, even in an intellectual point of view, the analysis of a work of art is defective if it be studied apart from the personality of the mental and moral character of the artist who produces it. If even the inquiry be restricted to the analysis of intellectual causes, a biographic treatment of the subject, which would allow for the existence of the emotional, would be requisite.(15)
The province of the following work accordingly is, the examination of this neglected branch in the analysis of unbelief. While admitting most fully and unhesitatingly the operation of emotional causes, and the absolute necessity, scientific as well as practical, of allowing for their operation, it is proposed to analyse the forms of doubt or unbelief in reference mainly to the intellectual element which has entered into them, and the discovery of the intellectual causes which have produced or modified them. Thus the history, while not ceasing to belong to church history, becomes also a chapter in the history of philosophy, a page in the history of the human mind.
The enumeration of the causes into which the intellectual elements of doubt are resolvable, is furnished in the text of the first Lecture.(16) If the nature of some of them be obscure, and the reader be unaccustomed to the philosophical study necessary for fully understanding them; information must be sought in the books to which references are elsewhere given, as the subject is too large to be developed in the limited space of this Preface.
The work however professes to be not merely a narrative, but a "critical history." The idea of criticism in a history imparts to it an ethical aspect. For criticism does not rest content with ideas, viewed as facts, but as realities. It seeks to pass above the relative, and attain the absolute; to determine either what is right or what is true. It may make this determination by means of two different standards. It may be either independent or dogmatic;—independent if it enters upon a new field candidly and without prepossessions, and rests content with the inferences which the study suggests;—dogmatic, when it approaches a subject with views derived from other sources, and pronounces on right or wrong, truth or falsehood, by reference to them.
It is hoped that the reader will not be unduly prejudiced, if the confession be frankly made, that the criticism in these Lectures is of the latter kind. This indeed might be expected from their very character. The Bampton Lecture is an establishment for producing apologetic treatises. The authors are supposed to assume the truth of Christianity, and to seek to repel attacks upon it. They are defenders, not investigators. The reader has a right to demand fairness, but not independence; truth in the facts, but not hesitation in the inferences. While however the writer of these Lectures takes a definite line in the controversy, and one not adopted professionally, but with cordial assent and heartfelt conviction, he has nevertheless considered that it is due to the cause of scientific truth to intermingle his own opinions as little as possible with the facts of the history. A history without inferences is ethically and religiously worthless: it is a chronicle, not a philosophical narrative. But a history distorted to suit the inferences is not only worthless, but harmful. It is for the reader to judge how far the author has succeeded in the result: but his aim has been not to allow his opinions to warp his view of the facts. History ought to be written with the same spirit of cold analysis which belongs to science. Caricature must not be substituted for portrait, nor vituperation for description.(17)
Such a mode of treatment in the present instance was the more possible, from the circumstance that the writer, when studying the subject for his private information, without any design to write upon it, had endeavoured to bring his own principles and views perpetually to the test; and to reconsider them candidly by the light of the new suggestions which were brought before him. Instead of approaching the inquiry with a spirit of hostility, he had investigated it as a student, not as a partisan. It may perhaps be permitted him without egotism to explain the causes which led him to the study. He had taken holy orders, cordially and heartily believing the truths taught by the church of which he is privileged to be an humble minister. Before doing so, he had read thoughtfully the great works of evidences of the last century, and knew directly or indirectly the character of the deist doubts against which they were directed. His own faith was one of the head as well as the heart; founded on the study of the evidences, as well as on the religious training of early years. But he perceived in the English church earnest men who held a different view; and, on becoming acquainted with contemporary theology, he found the theological literature of a whole people, the Germans, constructed on another basis; a literature which was acknowledged to be so full of learning, that contemporary English writers of theology not only perpetually referred to it, but largely borrowed their materials from German sources. He wished therefore fully to understand the character of these new forms of doubt, and the causes which had produced them. He may confess that, reposing on the affirmative verities of the Christian faith, as gathered from the scriptures and embodied in the immemorial teaching of Christ's church, he did not anticipate that he should discover that which would overthrow or even materially modify his own faith; but he wished, while exploring this field, and gratifying intellectual curiosity, to re-examine his opinions at each point by the light of those with which he might meet in the inquiry. The serious wish also to fulfill his duty in the sphere in which he might move, made him desire to understand these new views; that if false, he might know how to refute them when they came before him, and not be first made aware of their existence from the harsh satire of sceptical critics. His own studies were accordingly conducted in a spirit of fairness—the fairness of the inquirer, not of the doubter; and a habit of mind formed by the study of the history of philosophy, was brought to bear upon the investigation of this chapter in church history: first, of modern forms of doubt, and afterwards the consecutive history of unbelief generally. Accordingly, while he hopes that he has taken care to leave the student in no case unguided, who may accompany him in these pages through the history, he has wished to place him, as he strove to place himself, in the position to see the subject in its true light before drawing the inferences; to understand each topic to a certain extent, as it appears when seen from the opposite point of view, as well as when seen from the Christian. And when this has been effected, he has criticised each by a comparison with those principles which form his standard for testing them, the truth of which the study has confirmed to the writer's own mind. The criticism therefore does not profess to be independent, but dogmatic; but it is hoped that the definite character of the results will not be found to have prevented fairness in the method of inquiry. If the student has the facts correctly, he can form his own judgment on the inferences.
The standard of truth here adopted, as the point of view in criticism, is the teaching of Scripture as expressed in the dogmatic teaching of the creeds of the church; or, if it will facilitate clearness to be more definite, three great truths may be specified, which present themselves to the writer's mind as the very foundation of the Christian religion: (1) the doctrine of the reality of the vicarious atonement provided by the passion of our blessed Lord; (2) the supernatural and miraculous character of the religious revelation in the book of God; and (3) the direct operation of the Holy Ghost in converting and communing with the human soul. Lacking the first of these, Christianity appears to him to be a religion without a system of redemption; lacking the second, a doctrine without authority; lacking the third, a system of ethics without spiritual power. These three principles accordingly are the measure, by agreement with which the truth and falsehood of systems of free thought are ultimately tested.(18)
The above remarks, together with those which occur in the text, where fuller explanation is afforded, will illustrate the province of the inquiry, and the spirit in which it is conducted.(19)
The explanation also of the further question concerning the object which the writer proposed to effect, by the treatment of such a subject in a course of Bampton Lectures, is given so fully elsewhere, that a few words may here suffice in reference to it.(20) Experience of the wants of students in this time of doubt and transition, which those who are practically acquainted with the subject will best understand, as well as observation of the tone of thought expressed in our sceptical literature, led him to believe that a history, natural as well as literary, of doubt; an analysis of the forms and a statement of the intellectual causes of it, would have a value, direct and indirect, in many ways. His desire, he is willing to confess, was to guide the student, rather than to refute the unbeliever. He did not expect to furnish the combatant with ready-made weapons, which would make him omnipotent in conflict; but he hoped to give him some suggestions in reference to the tactics for conducting the contest. The Lectures have a polemical aspect, but they seek to obtain their end by means of the educational. The writer has aimed at assisting the student, in the struggle with his doubts, in the inquiry for truth, in the quiet meditative search for light and knowledge, preparatory to ministering to others. The survey of a new region, which ordinary works on the history of infidelity rarely touch, may lay bare unsuspected or undetected causes of unbelief; and thus indirectly offer a refutation of it; for intellectual error is refuted, when the origin of it is referred to false systems of thought. The anatomy of error is the first step to its cure.
In another point of view, independently of the value of the line of inquiry generally, and the special suitability of it to individual minds, there is a further use, which in the present day belongs to it in common with all inquiries into the history of thought.
It is hard to persuade the students of a past generation that the historic mode of approaching any problem is the first step toward its successful solution. Yet a little reflection may at least make the meaning of the assertion understood. If we view the literary characteristic of the present, in comparison with that of past ages, we are perhaps right in stating, that its peculiar feature is the prevalence of the method of historical criticism. If the four centuries since the Renaissance be considered, the critical peculiarity of the sixteenth and seventeenth will be found to be the investigation of ancient literature; in the former directed to words, in the latter to things. The eighteenth century broke away from the past, and, emancipating itself from authority, tried to rebuild truth from its foundations from present materials, independent of the judgment formed by past ages. The nineteenth century unites both methods. It ventures not to explore the universe, unguided by the experience of the past; but, while reuniting itself to the past, it does not bow to it. It accepts it as a fact, not as an authority. The seventeenth century worshipped the past; the eighteenth despised it: the nineteenth mediates, by means of criticism. Accordingly, in literary investigations at present, each question is approached from the historic side, with the belief that the historico-critical inquiry not only gratifies curiosity, but actually contributes to the solution of the problem. Some indeed assert(21) this, because they think that the historic study of philosophy is the whole of philosophy; and, believing that all truth is relative to its age, are hopeless of attaining the absolute and unaltering solution of any problem. We, on the other hand, are content to believe that the history of philosophy is only the entrance to philosophy. But in either case, truth is sought by means of a philosophical history of the past; which, tracking the progress of truth and error in any particular department, lays bare the natural as well as the literary history; the causes of the past, as well as its form. Truth and error are thus discovered, not by breaking with the past, and using abstract speculations on original data, but by tracing the growth of thought, gathering the harvest of past investigations, and learning by experience to escape error.
These considerations bear upon the present subject in this manner: they show not only the special adaptation to the passing tastes of the age, of an historic mode of approaching a subject, but exhibit also that the mode of proof and of refutation must be sought, not on abstract grounds, but historic. The position of an enemy is not to be forced, but turned; his premises to be refuted, not his conclusions; the antecedent reasons which led him into his opinion to be exhibited, not merely evidence offered of the fact that he is in error.
This view, that doubt might be refuted by the historic analysis of its operation, by laying bare the antecedent grounds which had produced it, will explain why the author was led to believe that a chapter of mental and moral physiology might be useful, which would not merely carry out the anatomy of actual forms of disease, but discover their origin by the study of the preceding natural history of the patients.
These remarks will perhaps suffice for explaining the object which was proposed in writing this history; and may justify the hope that this work, thus adapted to the wants of the time, may offer such a contribution to the subject of the Christian evidences, as not only to possess an intellectual value, but to coincide with the purpose contemplated by the founder of the Lectures.
It remains to state the sources which have been used for the literary materials of the history. Though they are sufficiently indicated in the notes, a general description of them may be useful.
They may be distributed under four classes;
1. The histories which have been professedly devoted to the subject.
2. The notices of the history of unbelief in general histories of the church or of literature.
3. (Which ought indeed to rank first in importance;) the original authorities for the facts, i.e. the works of the sceptical writers themselves; or of the contemporary authors who have refuted them.
4. The monographs, which treat of particular writers, ages, or schools, of sceptical thought.
In approaching the subject, a student would probably commence with the first two classes; and after having thus acquired for himself a carte du pays, would then explore it in detail by the aid of the third and fourth.
1. The works which have professedly treated of the history of infidelity, as a whole, are not of great importance.
One of the earliest was the Historia Univ. Atheismi, 1725, of Reimannus; and the De Atheismo, 1737, of Buddeus. (An explanation of the word Atheism, as employed by them, is given in Note 21. p. 413.) hey furnish, as the name implies, a history of scepticism, as well as of sceptics; yet, though the labours of such diligent and learned men can never be useless, they afford little information now available. Their date also necessarily precluded them from knowing the more recent forms of unbelief. Perhaps under this head we ought also to name the chapters on polemical theology in the great works of bibliography of the German scholars of the same time, such as Pfaff (Hist. Litt. Thol.); Buddeus (Isagoge); Fabricius (Delectus Argum.); Walch's (Biblical Theol. Select.); which contain lists of sceptical works, either directly, or indirectly by naming the apologists who have answered them. The references to these works will be found in Note 39. p. 436.
Among French writers, the only one of importance is Houtteville, who prefixed an Introduction to his work, La Religion Chretienne prouvee par des faits, 1722, containing an account of the writers for and against Christianity from the earliest times. (Translated 1739.) It contains little information concerning the authors or the events, but a clearly and correctly written analysis of their works and thoughts.
Among the English writers who have attempted a consecutive history of the whole subject was Van Mildert, afterwards bishop of Durham, who has been already named. The first volume of his Boyle Lectures, in 1802-4, was devoted to the history of infidelity; the second to a general statement of the evidences for Christianity. This work, on account of its date, necessarily stops short before the existence of modern forms of doubt; and indeed evinces no knowledge concerning the contemporary forms of literature in Germany, which had already attracted the attention of Dr. Herbert Marsh. The point of view of the work, as already described, almost entirely precludes the author from entering upon the analysis of the causes, either emotional or intellectual, which have produced unbelief. Its value accordingly is chiefly in the literary materials collected in the notes; in which respect it bears marks of careful study. Though mostly drawn from second-hand sources, it exhibits wide reading and thoughtful judgment.
A portion of the Bampton Lectures for 1852, by the Rev. J. C. Riddle, was devoted to the subject of infidelity. The author's object, as the title(22) implies, was to give the natural history of unbelief, to the neglect of the literary. Psychological rather than historical analysis was used by him for the investigation; and his examination of the moral causes of doubt is better than of the intellectual. The notes contain a collection of valuable quotations, which supplement those of Van Mildert, but are unfortunately given, for the most part, without references.
This completes(23) the enumeration of the histories professedly devoted to infidelity, with the exception of a small but very creditable production published since several of these lectures were written, Defence of the Faith; Part I. Forms of Unbelief, by the Rev. S. Robins, forming the first part of a work, of which the second is to treat the evidences; the third to draw the moral. It does not profess to be a very deep work;(24) but it is interesting; drawn generally from the best sources, and written in an eloquent style and devout spirit.
2. The transition is natural from these works, which treat of the history of unbelief or give lists of the works of unbelievers, to the notices of sceptical writers contained in general histories of the church or of literature.
In this, as in the former case, it is only in modern times that important notices occur concerning forms of unbelief. The circumstance that in the early ages unbelief took the form of opposition or persecution on the part of heathens, and that in the middle ages it was so rare, caused the ancient church historians and mediaeval church chroniclers to record little respecting actual unbelief, though they give information about heresy. Even in modern times, it is not till the early part of the eighteenth century that any attention is bestowed on the subject. The earlier historians, both Protestant, such as the Magdeburg Centuriators, and Catholic, like Baronius, wrote the history of the past for a controversial purpose in relation to the contests of their own times: and in the next period, in the one church, Arnold confined himself to the history of heresy rather than unbelief; and in the other, Fleury and Tillemont wrote the history of deeds rather than of ideas, and afford no information, except in a few allusions of the latter writer to the early intellectual opposition of the heathens.
But about the middle of the eighteenth century, in the period of cold orthodoxy and solid learning which immediately preceded the rise of rationalism, as well as in that of incipient free thought, we meet not only with the historians of theological literature already named above, but with historians of thought like Brucker, and of the church like Mosheim, possessed of large taste for inquiry, and wide literary sympathies, who contribute information on the subject: and towards the close of the century we find Schroeckh, who, in his lengthy and careful history of the church since the Reformation,(25) has taken so extensive a view of the nature of church history, that he has included in it an account of the struggle with freethinkers. Among the same class, with the exception that he differs in being marked by rationalist sympathies, must be ranked Henke.(26)
In the present century the spread of the scientific spirit, which counts no facts unworthy of notice, together with the attention bestowed on the history of doctrine, and the special interest in understanding the fortunes of free thought, which sympathy in danger created during the rationalist movement, prevented the historians from passing lightly over so important a series of facts. It may be sufficient to instance, in proof, the notices of unbelief which occur in Neander's Church History. General histories also of literature, like Schlosser's History of Literature in the Eighteenth Century, or the more theological one of Hagenbach (Geschichte des 18n Jahrhunderts) incidentally afford information.
The various works just named are the chief of this class which furnish assistance.
3. After a general preliminary idea of the history has been obtained from these sources, in order to prevent being confused with details; it is necessary to resort next to the original sources of information, without careful study of which the history must lack a real basis.
In reference to the early unbelievers, the direct materials are lost; but the contemporary replies to these writings remain. In the case of later unbelievers, both the works and the answers to them exist. It will be presumed that in so large a subject the writer cannot have read all the sceptical works which have been written, and are here named. With the exception however of Averroes and of the Paduan school,(27) in which cases he has chiefly adopted second-hand information, and merely himself consulted a few passages of the original writers, he has in all other instances read the chief works of the sceptical writers, sufficiently at least to make himself acquainted with their doubts, and in many cases has even made an analysis of their works. The reader will perceive by the foot-notes the instances in which this applies.
It may be due to some of the historians who have made a special study of particular periods from original sources, to state, that so far as his limited experience extends he can bear witness to their exactness. Leehler's work on English deism, for example,(28) is a singular example of truthful narrative; and Leland's,(29) though controversial, is worthy of nearly the same praise.
4. There remains a fourth source of materials in the separate monographs on particular men, opinions, or schools of thought. We shall enumerate these according to the order of the lectures; dwelling briefly on the majority of them, as being described elsewhere; and describing at greater length those only which relate to the history of the theological movements in Germany described in Lectures VI. and VII.; inasmuch as references are there frequently made to these works without a specific description of their respective characters.
In relation to the early struggle of Paganism against Christianity,(30) the work of Lardner, Collection of Ancient Jewish and Heathen Testimonies to the Truth of the Christian Religion (1764-7) (Works, vols. vii.-ix.), is well known for carefulness of treatment and the value of its references. Portions also of the works of J. A. Fabricius, especially his Bibliotheca Graeca and Lux Evangelii (1732) are useful in reference to the lost works, and for bibliographical knowledge: also a monograph by Kortholt, Paganus Obtrectator (1703), on the objections made by Christians in the early ages, gathered from the Apologies.
Among recent works it is only necessary to specify one, viz. the second series of the Histoire de l'Eglise Chretienne, by E. de Pressense (1861), containing La Grande Lutte du Christianisme contre le Paganisme, the account of the struggle both of deeds and ideas on the part of the heathens against Christianity, and of the apology of the Christians in reply. The sketches of the arguments used both by the heathens, as recovered from fragments, and by the Christian apologists, are most ably executed. The frequent references to it in the foot-notes will show the importance which the writer attaches to this work.(31)
The long period of the middle ages, together with early modern(32) history, so far as the latter bears upon the present subject, is spanned by the aid of four works; Cousin's Memoir on Abelard (1836); the La Reforme of Laurent (1861), a professor at Ghent; the Averroes of E. Renan (1851), one of the ablest among the younger writers of France; and the Essais de Philosophie Religieuse of E. Saisset (1859). All these works are full of learning; some of them are works of mind as well as of erudition. Cousin's treatise is well known,(33) and may be said to have reopened the study of medieval philosophy. The contents of Laurent's work are specified elsewhere.(34) That of Renan, besides containing a sketch of the life and philosophy of Averroes, studies his influence in the three great spheres where it was felt,—the Spanish Jews, the Scholastic philosophers, and the Peripatetics of Padua. The work of Saisset is a most instructive critical sketch on religious philosophy.
The period of English Deism(35) is treated in two works; the well-known work of Leland above cited, and the one also named above by Lechler, now general superintendent at Leipsic; a work full of information, and exceedingly complete; one of the carefully executed monographs with which many of the younger German scholars first bring their names into notice. Though the interest of the subject is limited, it well merits a translator.(36)
There is a deficiency of any similar work on the history of infidelity in France,(37) treating it separately and exhaustively. The work which most nearly deserves the description is vol. vi. of Henke's Kirchengeschichte.(38) This want however is the less felt, because almost every portion of the period has been treated in detail by French critics of various schools; among which some of the sketches of Bartholmess, Histoire Critique des Doctrines Religieuses de la Philosophie Moderne, 1855; and of Damiron, Memoires pour servir a l'Histoire de Philosophie au 18e siecle;(39) are perhaps the most useful for our purpose. One portion of Mr. Buckle's History of Civilisation, the best written part of his first volume, also affords much information, in the main trustworthy, in reference to the intellectual condition of France of the same period.(40)
A description of the events of a period so complex as that of the German theological movement of the last hundred years(41) would have been an object too ambitious to attempt, especially when it must necessarily, from the size of the subject, be grounded on an acquaintance with single writers of a school, or single works of an author used as samples of the remainder; if it were not that abundant guidance is supplied in the memoirs by German theologians of all shades of opinion, who have studied the history of their country, and not only narrated facts, but investigated causes. A few narratives of it also exist by scholars of other countries; but these are founded on the former. We shall in the main preserve the order of their publication in enumerating these various works.
The materials for the condition of Germany at the beginning of the last century, antecedently to the introduction of the new influences which created rationalism,(42) are conveyed in Weismann, Introductio in Memorabilia Eccl. Hist. (1718), and in Schroeckh, Christliche Kirchengeschichte (1768-1812). The first distinct examination however of the peculiar character of the movement which ensued, called Rationalism, occurred in the discussion as to its meaning and province; in which Tittmann, Roehr, Stauedlin, Bretschneider, Hahn, &c., were engaged; an account of which, with a list of their works,(43) is given under the explanation of the word "Rationalism" in Note 21, p. 416. The chief value of these works at present is, partly to enable us to understand how contemporaries viewed the movement while in progress; partly to reproduce the state of belief which existed in the older school of rationalists, and its opponents, before the reaction toward orthodoxy had fully altered theological thought.
Whilst the dispute between rationalism and supernaturalism was still going on, and the latter was gradually gaining the victory, through the reaction under Schleiermacher just alluded to, an English writer, Mr. Hugh James Rose,(44) published some sermons preached at Cambridge in 1825, which were the means of directing attention to the subject both at home and abroad, and stimulating investigation into the history. As this work, and especially the reply of one writer to it, are often here quoted, it may be well to narrate the interesting literary controversy, now forgotten, which ensued upon its publication.
Mr. Rose described the havoc made by the rationalist speculations, alike in dogma, in interpretation, and in church history, and attributed the evil chiefly to the absence of an efficient system of internal church government which would have suppressed such a movement. He was answered (1828) by Mr. (now Dr.) Pusey, then a junior Fellow of Oriel, who, having visited Germany, and become acquainted with the forms of German thought, and the circumstances which had marked its development, conceived justly that the reasons of a moral phenomenon like the overthrow of religious faith in Germany must be sought in intrinsic causes, and not merely in an extrinsic cause, such as the absence of efficient means of ecclesiastical repression. In this work,(45) marked by great knowledge of the subject, and characterized by just and philosophical reflections, the author pointed out an internal law of development in the events of the history, and traced the ultimate cause of the movement to the divorce between dogma and piety which had characterized the age preceding the rise of rationalism. His motive for entering the contest was, not the wish to defend the movement, for his own position was fixed upon the faith of the creeds; but seems to have been partly a love of truth, which did not like to see an imperfect view of a great question set forth; and partly the wish to prevent attention being diverted by Mr. Rose's explanation, from perceiving the extreme resemblance of the contemporary time in England to that of the age which preceded rationalism.
To this work Mr. Rose replied in a Letter to the Bishop of London, misunderstanding Mr. Pusey's object, and conveying the impression that he had made himself responsible for the rationalism which it had been the object of the sermons to condemn. He felt himself however compelled, in a second edition of the sermons,(46) to enter more largely into proofs from German literature of the position which he had assumed; and produced a collection of literary facts, of value in reference to the movement.
Mr. Pusey replied (1830) with a triumphant vindication alike of his own meaning, and the truth of his own position.(47) The work is necessarily less interesting than the former, as it turns more upon personal questions, and is more polemical; but the literary information conveyed is equally valuable.
If we may be permitted to form an opinion concerning the controversy, it may perhaps be true to say, that Mr. Rose's fault (if indeed we may say so of one who so worthily received honour in his generation) was, that he approached the subject from the polemic and practical instead of the historic side. His work is like the description of a battle-field, which gives an idea of the mangled remains that strew the field, but does not recount the causes of contest, nor the progress of the action. The work of his opponent describes the mustering of the forces preparatory to the action, and the causes which led to the struggle. Perhaps, in a few matters of detail, the former writer has taken a truer, though a less hopeful, view than his opponent, of certain classes of opinions, or of certain men; but the latter has better preserved the historical perspective. The former saw mainly the old forms of rationalism, the latter descried the partial return toward the faith which had already begun, and has since gone forward so energetically.(48)
These works must always afford much information on the topics which they embrace. It is proper however to add, that Dr. Pusey, some years ago, recalled the remaining copies of the edition of his work. On this account the writer of these lectures, when he has had occasion to give references to it, has taken care not to quote it for opinions, but only for facts.(49)
The attack of Mr. Rose on German theology caused replies abroad as well as at home. Several German theologians were led to a more careful study of their own history and position, to which references will be found in Mr. Rose's replies.(50)
Previously to the publication of Dr. Pusey's treatises, a work had been written with a purpose less directly controversial, by Tholuck: Abriss Einer Geschichte der umwaelzung, welche seit 1750, auf dem Gebiete der Theologie in Deutschland statt gefunden, now contained in his Vermischte Schriften, 1839, vol. 2.(51) It is valuable for the earlier history of Rationalism. The spirit of it is very similar to that of Dr. Pusey's work. Indeed the latter author, though not aware of the publication of Tholuck's work, was cognisant of his views on these questions, through lectures heard from him abroad.
These works however were all previous to the great agitation in German theology, which ensued in consequence of Strauss's Leben Jesu, in 1835. After the first excitement of that event had passed, we meet with three works, two French and one German, in which the history is brought down to a later period. The French ones were, the Histoire Critique du Rationalisme, 1841, of Amand Saintes, translated 1849; and the Etudes Critiques sur le Rationalisme Contemporain, of the Abbe H. de Valroger, 1846; the latter of which works the writer of these lectures has been unable to see. The German one was, Der Deutsche Protestantismus, 1847,(52) and is attributed to Hundeshagen, professor at Heidelberg.
The Critical History of Amand Saintes, though thought by the Germans(53) to be defective, in consequence of want of sufficiently separating between the various forms of rationalism, is more replete than any other book with stores of information, and extracts arranged in a very clear form.(54) It is very useful, if the reader first possesses a better scheme into which to arrange the materials. It is written also in a truly evangelical spirit.
The work of Hundeshagen had a political object as well as a religious. It was composed just before the revolution of 1848, when Germany was panting for freedom; and its object was to defend the position of the constitutional party in church and state; and with a view to establish the importance of their moral and doctrinal position, he surveyed the recent history of his country.
Hagenbach's Dogmengeschichte (translated), which was published nearly about the same time, also contains a very interesting sketch, with valuable notes, of the chief writers and works in the movement of German theology.
The view of the history given in Tholuck and Hundeshagen is that which is taken by the school called the "Mediation school" in German theology.(55) The general cause assigned by them for scepticism was the separation of dogma and piety; the recovery from the rationalistic state being due to the reunion of these elements, which Hundeshagen shows to have been also the great feature of the German reformation.
After an interval of about ten years, when the tendencies created by Strauss's movement had become definitely manifest, the history was again surveyed in two works, the one, Geschichte des Deutschen Protestantismus, by Kahnis (translated 1856), who belongs to the Lutheran reactionary party; the other, Geschichte der neuesten Theologie, 1856, by C. Schwarz, whose work is so candid and free from party bias, that it is unimportant to remark the party to which he belongs.(56)
The narrative of Kahnis, originally a series of papers in a magazine, is very full of facts, and generally fair; but it wants form. The author's view is, that the sceptical movement arose from abandoning the dogmatic expression of revealed truth, contained in the old Confessions of the Lutheran church; and he considers the reaction of the Mediation school in favour of orthodoxy to be imperfect; the true restoration being only found by returning to the Confessions.
The work of Schwarz is restricted to the latest forms of German theology, and goes back no farther than the circumstances which led to the work of Strauss. It is unequalled in clearness; bearing the mark of German exactness and fulness, and rivalling French histories in didactic power. These two works differ from most of those previously named, in being histories of modern German theology generally, and not merely of the rationalist forms of it.
Such are the chief sources in which a student may learn the view taken by the German critics of different schools, concerning the recent church history of their country at various moments of its progress. The fulness of this account will be excused, if it provide information concerning works to which reference is made in the foot-notes of those lectures which treat of this period.
In describing the doubts of the present century in France,(57) considerable help has been found in the Hist. de la Litterature, &c. written by Nettement,(58) and in the Essais of Damiron,(59) as well as in criticisms by recent French writers; which are cited in the foot-notes to the lecture which treats of the period.
The subject of the contemporary doubt in England(60) has been felt to be a delicate one. It has however been thought better to carry the history down to the present time, and to deal frankly in expressing the writer's own opinion. Delicacy forbade the introduction of the names(61) of writers into the text of this part of the Sermons, but they have been inserted in the foot-notes.
The mention of one additional source of information will complete the examination which was proposed.
It will be observed, that references have been very frequently given in the notes, to the Reviews, English and French, and occasionally German, for papers which treat on the subjects embraced in the history. When the writer studied the subject for publication, he took care to consult these, as affording a kind of commentary by contemporaries on the different portions of the history. It is hoped that the references to those written in the two former languages will be found to be tolerably complete. The enormous number of those which exist in German, together with the absence for the most part of indexes to them, renders it probable that many separate papers of great value, the special studies by different scholars of passages in the literary history of their own nation, have been left unenumerated. The German literary periodicals are indeed the solitary source of information which the writer considers has not been fully worked for these lectures.(62)
Among the articles in English Reviews, many bear marks of careful study; and it is a pleasure to have the opportunity of rescuing them from the neglect which is likely to occur to papers written without name, and in periodicals. The freethinking Reviews have discussed the opinions of the friends of free thought more frequently than the others; but those here cited are of all shades of opinion; and the writer has found many to be of great use, even when differing widely from the conclusions drawn. He is glad indeed to take this opportunity of expressing his thanks to the unknown authors of these various productions, which have afforded him so much instruction, and often so much help. He trusts that he has in all cases candidly and fully acknowledged his obligations when he has borrowed their materials, or condensed their thoughts. If he has in any case, through inadvertence, failed to do so, he hopes that this acknowledgment will be allowed to compensate for the unintentional omission.
The reader being now in possession both of the purpose designed in the lectures, and of the sources of the information used in their composition, it only remains to add a few miscellaneous remarks.
In the delivery of the lectures, several portions were omitted, on account of the excessive length to which they would have run. It has not been thought necessary to indicate these passages by brackets; but, as those who heard them may perhaps wish to have an enumeration, a list is here subjoined.(63)
The notes, it will be perceived, are placed, some at the foot of the text, others at the end. Those are put as foot-notes which either were very brief, or which supplied information that the reader might be supposed to desire in connection with the text. Most of those which are appended are of the same character as the foot-notes; i.e. sources of information in reference to the subjects discussed in the text. A few however supply information on collateral subjects. The Notes 4, 5, and 49, will be found to contain a history of Apologetic Literature parallel with the history of Free Thought; and Note 21 discusses the history of some technical terms commonly employed in the history of doubt.
The size of the subject has precluded the possibility of giving many extracts from other works; but it may be permitted to remark, that the literary references given are designed to supply sources of real and valuable information on the various points in relation to which they are cited. It can hardly be necessary to state, that the writer must not in any way be held responsible for the sentiments expressed in the works to which he may have given references. In a subject such as that which is here treated, many of the works cited are neutral in character, and many are objectionable. But it is right to supply complete literary materials, as well as references to works which state both sides of the questions considered.
The index appended is brief, and devoted chiefly to Proper Names; the fulness of the Table of Contents seeming to render a longer one unnecessary, which should contain references to subjects.
The writer wishes to express his acknowledgments to the chief Librarian of the Bodleian, the Rev. H. O. Coxe, for his kindness in procuring for his use a few foreign works which were necessary. He avails himself also of this opportunity of expressing publicly his thanks to the same individual, for the perseverance with which he has accomplished the scheme of providing a reading-room in connection with the Bodleian Library, open to students in an evening. Those whose time and strength are spent in college or private tuition during the mornings, are thus enabled to avail themselves of the treasures of a library, which until this recent alteration was in a great degree useless to many of the most active minds and diligent students in the university.
Thanks are also due to a few other persons for their advice and courtesy in the loan of scarce books; also, in some instances, for assistance in the verification of a reference;(64) and in one case, to a distinguished scholar, for his kindness in revising one of the Notes.
The spirit in which the writer has composed the history has been stated elsewhere.(65) His work now goes forth with no extraneous claims on public attention. If it be, by the Divine blessing, the means of affording instruction, guidance, or comfort, to a single mind, the writer's labour will be amply recompensed.
ANALYSIS OF THE LECTURES.
On the subject, method, and purpose of the course of Lectures.
The subject stated to be the struggle of the human mind against the Christian revelation, in whole or in part. (p. 1.) Explanation of the points which form the occasion of the conflict. (pp. 1-3.)
The mode of treatment, being that of a critical history, includes (p. 3) the discovery of (1) the facts, (2) the causes, and (3) the moral.
The main part of this first lecture is occupied in explaining the second of these divisions.
Importance, if the investigation were to be fully conducted, of carrying out a comparative study of religions and of the attitude of the mind in reference to all doctrine that rests on authority. (pp. 4-6.)
The idea of causes implies,
I. The law of the operation of the causes.
II. The enumeration of the causes which act according to this assumed law.
The empirical law, or formula descriptive of the action of reason on religion, is explained to be one form of the principle of progress by antagonism, the conservation or discovery of truth by means of inquiry and controversy; a merciful Providence leaving men responsible for their errors, but ultimately overruling evil for good. (p. 7.)
This great fact illustrated in the four Crises of the Christian faith in Europe, viz. In the struggle
(1) With heathen philosophy, about A.D. 160-360. (p. 8.)
(2) With sceptical tendencies in Scholasticism, in the middle ages (1100-1400). (p. 8.)
(3) With literature, at the Renaissance, in Italy (1400-1625). (p. 9.)
(4) With modern philosophy in three forms (p. 11): viz. English Deism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (p. 11); French Infidelity in the eighteenth century; German Rationalism in the eighteenth and nineteenth.
Proposal to study the natural as well as literary history of these forms of doubt.—The investigation separated from inquiries into heresy as distinct from scepticism. (p. 13.)
The causes, seen to act according to the law just described, which make free thought develope into unbelief, stated to be twofold. (p. 13.)
1. Emotional causes.—Necessity for showing the relation of the intellectual causes to the emotional, both per se, and because the idea of a history of thought, together with the comparative rarity of the process here undertaken, implies the restriction of the attention mainly to the intellectual. (p. 13.)
Influence of the emotional causes shown, both from psychology and from the analysis of the nature of the evidence offered in religion (pp. 14, 15).—Historical illustrations of their influence. (pp. 15-17.)
Other instances where the doubt is in origin purely intellectual (p. 17), but where nevertheless opportunity is seen for the latent operation of the emotional. (p. 18.)
Explanation how far religious doubt is sin. (pp. 19, 20.)
2. Intellectual causes, which are the chief subject of these lectures; the conjoint influence however of the emotional being always presupposed.
The intellectual causes shown to be (p. 20):
(α) the new material of knowledge which arises from the advance of the various sciences; viz. Criticism; Physical, Moral, and Ontological science. (p. 21.)
(β) the various metaphysical tests of truth or grounds of certitude employed. (p. 22.)
An illustration of the meaning (pp. 22, 23), drawn from literature, in a brief comparison of the types of thought shown in Milton, Pope, and Tennyson.
Statement of the exact position of this inquiry in the subdivisions of metaphysical science (pp. 24, 25), and detailed explanation of the advantages and disadvantages of applying to religion the tests of Sense, subjective Forms of Thought, Intuition, and Feeling, respectively; as the standard of appeal. (pp. 25-32.)
Advantage of a biographic mode of treatment in the investigation of the operation of these causes in the history of doubt. (pp. 32-34.)
Statement of the utility of the inquiry:
(1) Intellectually, (α) in a didactic and polemical point of view, in that it refers the origin of the intellectual elements in error to false philosophy and faulty modes of judging, and thus refutes error by analysing it into the causes which produce it; and also (β) in an indirect contribution to the Christian evidences by the historic study of former contests. (p. 36.)
(2) Morally, in creating deep pity for the sinner, united with hatred for the sin. (p. 36.)
Concluding remarks on the spirit which has influenced the writer in these lectures. (pp. 37, 38.)
The literary opposition of Heathens against Christianity in the early ages.
The first of the four crises of the faith. (pp. 39-74.) Agreement and difference of this crisis with the modern. (p. 40.) Sources for ascertaining its nature, the original writings of unbelievers being lost. (pp. 41, 42.)
Preliminary explanation of four states of belief among the heathens in reference to religion, from which opposition to Christianity would arise: (pp. 43-118) viz.
(1) the tendency to absolute disbelief of religion, as seen in Lucian and the Epicurean school. (p. 43.) (2) a reactionary attachment to the national creed,—the effect of prejudice in the lower orders, and of policy in the educated. (pp. 45, 46.) (3) the philosophical tendency, in the Stoics, (p. 44) and Neo-Platonists. (pp. 45, 46.) (4) the mystic inclination for magic rites. (p. 47.)
Detailed critical history of the successive literary attacks on Christianity. (p. 48 seq.)
1. that of Lucian, about A.D. 170, in the Peregrinus Proteus. (pp. 48-50.) 2. that of Celsus, about the same date. (pp. 50-55.) 3. that of Porphyry, about 270. (pp. 56-61.) 4. that of Hierocles about 303, founded on the earlier work of Philostratus respecting the life of Apollonius of Tyana. (pp. 62-64.) 5. that of Julian, A.D. 363; an example of the struggle in deeds as well as in ideas. (pp. 65-68.)
(Account of the Philopatris of the Pseudo-Lucian. (p. 67.))
Conclusion; showing the relation of these attacks to the intellectual tendencies before mentioned (p. 69), and to the general intellectual causes sketched in Lect. I. (p. 69.)—Insufficiency of these causes to explain the whole phenomenon of unbelief, unless the conjoint action of emotional causes be supposed. (pp. 71, 72.)
Analogy of this early conflict to the modern. Lessons from consideration of the means by which the early Church repelled it. (pp. 72-74.)
Free Thought during the middle ages, and at the Renaissance; together with its rise in modern times.
This period embraces the second and third of the four epochs of doubt, and the commencement of the fourth. Brief outline of the events which it includes. (pp. 75, 76.)
Second crisis, from A.D. 1100-1400. (pp. 76-92.) It is a struggle political as well as intellectual, Ghibellinism as well as scepticism. (p. 76.)
The intellectual tendencies in this period are four:
1. The scepticism developed in the scholastic philosophy, as seen in the Nominalism of Abelard in the twelfth century. Account of the scholastic philosophy, pp. 77-80; and of Abelard as a sceptic in his treatise Sic et Non. (pp. 81-85.) 2. The mot of progress in religion in the Franciscan book called The Everlasting Gospel in the thirteenth century. (pp. 86, 87.) 3. The idea of the comparative study of religion, as seen in the legend of the book De Tribus Impostoribus in the thirteenth century; and in the poetry of the period. (pp. 88, 89.) 4. The influence of the Mahometan philosophy of Averroes in creating a pantheistic disbelief of immortality. (pp. 90, 91.)
Remarks on the mode used to oppose these movements; and critical estimate of the period. (pp. 91, 92.)
Third crisis, from 1400-1625. (pp. 93-105.) Peculiarity of this period as the era of the Renaissance and of "Humanism," and as the transition from mediaeval society to modern. (p. 93.)
Two chief sceptical tendencies in it:
(1) The literary tendency in Tuscany and Rome in the fifteenth century; the dissolution of faith being indicated by (a) the poetry of the romantic epic. (p. 94.) (b) the revival of heathen tastes. (p. 95.)
Estimate of the political and social causes likely to generate doubt, which were then acting. (pp. 97, 98.) the unbelief was confined to Italy.—Reasons why so vast a movement as the Reformation passed without fostering unbelief. (p. 99.)
2. The philosophical tendency in the university of Padua in the sixteenth century. (p. 99 seq.) The spirit of it, pantheism (p. 100), in two forms; one arising from the doctrines of Averroes; the other seen in Pomponatius, from Alexander of Aphrodisias. (p. 101.) The relation of other philosophers, such as Bruno and Vanini, to this twofold tendency. (pp. 102-104.)
Remarks on the mode used to oppose doubt (p. 104); and estimate of the crisis. (p. 105.)
Fourth crisis; (pp. 105-339) commencing in the seventeenth century, through the effects of the philosophy of Bacon and Descartes. (p. 106.)
The remainder of the lecture is occupied with the treatment of the influence of Cartesianism, as seen in Spinoza.
Examination of Spinoza's philosophy (pp. 106-110); of his criticism in the Theologico-Politicus (pp. 109-113); and of his indirect influence. (p. 113, 114.)
Concluding remarks on the government of Providence, as witnessed in the history of large periods of time, such as that comprised in this lecture. (p. 115.)
Deism in England previous to A.D. 1760.
This lecture contains the first of the three forms which doubt has taken in the fourth crisis. (p. 116.)—Sketch of the chief events, political and intellectual, which influenced the mind of England during the seventeenth century (p. 117); especial mention of the systems of Bacon and Descartes, as exhibiting the peculiarity that they were philosophies of method. (pp. 117, 118.)
The history of Deism studied:
I. Its rise traced, 1640-1700. (pp. 119-125.) In this period the religious inquiry has a political aspect, as seen (1) in Lord Herbert of Cherbury (De Veritate and Religio Laici) in the reign of Charles I. (pp. 119, 120.) (2) In Hobbes's Leviathan. (pp. 121, 122.) (3) In Blount (Oracles of Reason, and Life of Apollonius), in the reign of Charles II., in whom a deeper political antipathy to religion is seen. (pp. 123, 124.)
II. The maturity of Deism (1700-1740), pp. 125-144. This period includes (p. 127):
1. The examination of the first principles of religion, on its doctrinal side, in Toland's Christianity not Mysterious, &c. (pp. 126-130.) 2. Ditto, on its ethical side, in Lord Shaftesbury. (pp. 130, 131.) 3. An attack on the external evidences, viz. On prophecy, by Collins, Scheme of Literal Prophecy, &c. (pp. 132-136). On Miracles, by Woolston, Discourses on Miracles. (pp. 136-138); and by Arnobius. (p. 143.) 4. The substitution of natural religion for revealed, in Tindal, Christianity as old as the Creation. (pp. 138-140.), in Morgan, Moral Philosopher. (pp. 140, 141.), and in Chubb, Miscellaneous Works. (pp. 142, 143.)
III. The decline of Deism, 1740-1760. (pp. 144-153): 1. in Bolingbroke, a combined view of deist objections. (pp. 143-147.) 2. in Hume, an assault on the evidence of testimony, which substantiates miracles. (pp. 147-153.)
Remarks on the peculiarities of Deism, the intellectual causes which contributed to produce it (pp. 154, 155); and a comparison of it with the unbelief of other periods. (p. 156.)
Estimate of the whole period; and consideration of the intellectual and spiritual means used for repelling unbelief in it (pp. 157-161); the former in the school of evidences, of which Butler is the type, the mention of whom leads to remarks on his Analogy (pp. 157-159); and the latter in spiritual labours like those of Wesley. (pp. 160, 161.)
Infidelity in France in the eighteenth century; and unbelief in England subsequent to 1760.
INFIDELITY IN FRANCE (pp. 163-194).—This is the second phase of unbelief in the fourth crisis of faith.
Sketch of the state of France, ecclesiastical, political (pp. 164, 165,) and intellectual (partly through the philosophy of Condillac, pp. 166, 167), which created such a mental and moral condition as to allow unbelief to gain a power there unknown elsewhere.—The unbelief stated to be caused chiefly by the influence of English Deism, transplanted into the soil thus prepared. (p. 203.)
The history studied (1) in its assault on the Church; as seen in Voltaire; the analysis of whose character is necessary, because his influence was mainly due to the teacher, not the doctrine taught. (pp. 169-176.) (2) in the transition to an assault on the State, in Diderot, (pp. 179, 180); the philosophy of the Encyclopaedists (p. 177); Helvetius (p. 180); and D'Holbach. (p. 181.) (3) in the attack on the State, in Rousseau (pp. 183-187).—Analysis of the Emile for his views on religion, (p. 185), and comparison with Voltaire. (p. 188.) (4) in the Revolution, both the political movement and blasphemous irreligion (pp. 188, 189); and the intellectual movement in Volney (Analysis of the Ruines, pp. 191, 192).
Estimate of the period (pp. 193, 194).
UNBELIEF IN ENGLAND, from 1760 to a date a little later than the end of the century (pp. 194-209), continued from Lecture IV.
These later forms of it stated to differ slightly from the former, by being partially influenced by French thought. (p. 195.)
The following instances of it examined:
(1) Gibbon viewed as a writer and a critic on religion (pp. 196-199). (2) T. Paine: account of his Age of Reason (pp. 199-201). (3) The socialist philosophy of R. Owen (p. 202). (4) The scepticism in the poetry of Byron and Shelley (pp. 203-207).
The last two forms of unbelief, though occurring in the present century, really embody the spirit of the last.
Statement of the mode used to meet the doubt in England during this period. Office of the Evidences (pp. 207-209).
Free Thought in the Theology of Germany, from 1750-1835.
This is the third phase of free thought in that which was called the fourth crisis of faith.—Importance of the movement, which is called "rationalism," as the theological phase of the literary movement of Germany (p. 210).—Deviation from the plan previously adopted, in that a sketch is here given of German theological inquiry generally, and not merely of unbelief (p. 211).
Brief preliminary sketch of German theology since the Reformation. Two great tendencies shown in it during the seventeenth century (p. 211).
(1) The dogmatic and scholastic, science without earnestness (p. 212). (2) The pietistic, earnestness without science (p. 213).
In the first half of the eighteenth century, three new influences are introduced (pp. 213, 214), which are the means of creating rationalism in the latter half: viz.
(α) The philosophy of Wolff, explained to be a formal expression of Leibnitz's principles; and the evil effect of it, accidental and indirect (pp. 214-216). (β) The works of the English deists (p. 216). (γ) The influence of the colony of French infidels at the court of Frederick II. of Prussia (p. 217).
The subsequent history is studied in three periods (p. 218); viz.
PERIOD I. (1750-1810).—Destructive in character, inaugurated by Semler (pp. 218-234). PERIOD II. (1810-1835).—Reconstructive in character, inaugurated by Schleiermacher (pp. 239-261). PERIOD III. (1835 to present time)—Exhibiting definite and final tendencies, inaugurated by Strauss (Lect. VII).
PERIOD I. (1750-1810), is studied under two Sub-periods:
Sub-period I. (1750-1790, pp. 219-228), which includes three movements; (1) Within the church (p. 219 seq.); dogmatic; literary in Michaelis and Ernesti; and freethinking in Semler (pp. 221-224), the author of the historic method of interpretation. (2) External to the church (pp. 224-226); literary deism in Lessing, and in the Wolfenbuettel fragments of Reimarus (p. 225). (3) External to the church; practical deism, in the educational institutions of Basedow (p. 227).
Sub-period II. (1790-1810, pp. 227-234); the difference caused by the introduction of two new influences; viz,
(α) The literary, of the court of Weimar and of the great men gathered there (p. 228). (β) The philosophy of Kant, (the effect of which is explained, pp. 229, 230); the home of both of which was at Jena.
As the result of these new influences, three movements are visible in the Church (p. 230); viz,
(1) The critical "rationalism" of Eichhorn and Paulus, the intellectual successors of Semler (pp. 231, 232). (2) The dogmatic, more or less varying from orthodoxy, seen towards the end of this period in Bretschneider, Roehr, and Wegscheider (pp. 233, 234). (3) The supernaturalism of Reinhardt and Storr (p. 231).
PERIOD II. (1810-1835.)—Introduction of four new influences (p. 235), which completely altered the theological tone; viz. (α) New systems of speculative philosophy; of Jacobi, who followed out the material element of Kant's philosophy (p. 235); and of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, who followed out the formal (p. 238). (β) The "romantic" school of poetry (p. 239). (γ) The moral tone, generated by the liberation wars of 1813. (p. 240.) (δ) The excitement caused by the theses of Harms at the tercentenary of the Reformation in 1817. (pp. 240, 241.)
The result of these is seen (p. 241) in
(1) An improved doctrinal school under Schleiermacher (pp. 241-250), (description of his Glaubenslehre, p. 245 seq.); and under his successors, Neander, &c. (pp. 250-252.) (2) An improved critical tone (p. 252 seq.) as seen in De Wette and Ewald, which is illustrated by an explanation of the Pentateuch controversy (pp. 254-258).
Concluding notice of two other movements to be treated in the next lecture (p. 259); viz.
(1) an attempt, different from that of Schleiermacher, in the school of Hegel, to find a new philosophical basis for Christianity; and (2) the return to the biblical orthodoxy of the Lutheran church.
Remarks on the benevolence of Providence in overruling free inquiry to the discovery of truth. (pp. 259-261).
Free Thought in Germany subsequently to 1835; and in France during the present century.
FREE THOUGHT IN GERMANY (continued).—History of the transition from Period II. named in the last lecture, to Period III. (pp. 262-274.)
Explanation of the attempt, noticed pp. 242, 259, of the Hegelian school to find a philosophy of Christianity. Critical remarks on Hegel's system, (pp. 263-267-267); its tendency to create an "ideological" spirit in religion (p. 264):—the school which it at first formed is seen best in Marheinecke. (p. 265.)
The circumstance which created an epoch in German theology was the publication of Strauss's Leben Jesu in 1835 (p. 266). Description of it (α) in its critical aspect (pp. 267, 270), which leads to an explanation of the previous discussions in Germany concerning the origin and credibility of the Gospels (pp. 268, 269); and (β) in its philosophical, as related to Hegel (p. 270); together with an analysis of the work (p. 271). Statement of the effects produced by it on the various theological parties. (pp. 272, 273.)
PERIOD III. As the result of the agitation caused by Strauss's work, four theological tendencies are seen; viz.
(1) One external to the church, thoroughly antichristian, as in Bruno Bauer, Feuerbach, and Stirner. (pp. 274-276.) (2) The historico-critical school of Tuebingen, founded by Chr. Bauer. (pp. 277-279.) (3) The "mediation" school, seen in Dorner and Rothe, (pp. 279-282.) (4) A return to the Lutheran orthodoxy, (pp. 282-285,) at first partly created by an attempt to unite the Lutheran and Reformed churches, (p. 282); seen in the "Neo-Lutheranism" of Hengstenberg and Haevernick, (p. 282), and the "Hyper-Lutheranism" of Stahl and the younger members of the school. (pp. 283, 285.)
Mention of the contemporaneous increase of spiritual life in Germany. (p. 285.)
Concluding estimate of the whole movement, (pp. 286, 287); and lessons for students in reference to it. (pp. 288, 289.)
FREE THOUGHT IN FRANCE during the present century (pp. 290-305), (continued from Lect. IV. p. 194.)
In its tone it is constructive of belief, if compared with that of the eighteenth century.
The speculative thought has exhibited four distinct forms. (p. 290.)
(1) The ideology of De Tracy, in the early part of the century. (2) The theological school of De Maistre, &c. to re-establish the dogmatic authority of the Romish church. (3) Socialist philosophy, St. Simon, Fourier, Comte. (4) The Eclectic school (Cousin, &c.)
Remarks on the first school.—The recovery of French philosophy and thought from the ideas of this school, partly due to the literary tone of Chateaubriand. (pp. 290, 291.)
Influence of the Revolution of 1830 in giving a stimulus to thought. (p. 291.)
Remarks on the third school.—Explanation of socialism as taught by St. Simon (pp. 292, 293); as taught by Fourier (pp. 293, 294); and difference from English socialism. (p. 294.)
Positivism, both as an offshoot of the last school, and in itself as a religion and a philosophy. (pp. 295, 296.)
Remarks on the fourth school.—Eclecticism as taught by Cousin, viewed as a philosophy and a religion. (pp. 297-299.)
Remarks on the second school; viewed as an attempt to refute the preceding schools. (p. 300.)
New form of eclecticism under the empire (p. 302), viz. the historic method, based on Hegel, as Cousin's was based on Schelling.—E. Renan the type. (pp. 302-304.)
Free thought in the Protestant church (pp. 304, 305) regarded as an attempt to meet by concession doubts of contemporaries.
Free Thought in England in the present century: Summary of the Course of Lectures: and Inferences in reference to present dangers and duties.
MODERN UNBELIEF IN ENGLAND (continued from Lect V.):—Introductory remarks on the alteration of its tone. (pp. 306, 307.)—The cause of which is stated to be a general one, the subjective tone created (p. 308) by such influences as, (1) the modern poetry (p. 309), and (2) the two great attempts by Bentham and Coleridge to reconstruct philosophy. (pp. 309, 310.)
The doubt and unbelief treated in the following order (p. 311):
(1) That which appeals to Sensational experience and to Physical science as the test of truth; viz. (α) Positivism among the educated (p. 312). (β) Secularism or Naturalism among the masses (p. 313); and in a minor degree, (γ) The doubts created by Physical science (p. 314). (2) That which appeals to the faculty of Intuition (p. 315);—expressed in literature, by Carlyle, (pp. 316, 317); and by the American, Emerson. (p. 317.) Influence also of the modern literature of romance, (p. 318.) (3) Direct attacks on Christianity, critical rather than philosophical: viz. (α) The examination of the historic problem of the development of religious ideas among the Hebrews, by R. W. Mackay (pp. 319, 320). (β) A summary of objections to revelation, by Mr. Greg, The Creed of Christendom (p. 321). (γ) The examination of the psychical origin of religion and Christianity, by Miss S. Hennell, Thoughts in aid of Faith, (p. 323.) (4) The deism, and appeal to the Intuitional consciousness, expressed by Mr. Theodore Parker (pp. 325, 326), and Mr. F. Newman (pp. 326-329). (5) The traces of free thought within the Christian church (p. 330); viz.: (α) The philosophical tendency which originates with Coleridge. (pp. 330-333.) (β) The critical tendency, investigating the facts of revelation. (pp. 334-336.) (γ) The critical tendency, the literature which contains it. (pp. 336, 337.)
This completes the history of the fourth crisis of faith (p. 339), the history of which began near the end of Lect. III. at p. 105.
SUMMARY of the course of lectures. (pp. 339-41.)—Recapitulation of the original purpose, which is stated to have been, while assuming the potency of the moral, to analyse the intellectual causes of doubt, which have been generally left uninvestigated.
Refutation of objections which might be made; such as
(1) One directed against the utility of the inquiry. (p. 342.) (2) One directed against its uncontroversial character.
A critical history shown to be useful in the present age, (1) in an educational point of view for those who are to be clergymen, and to encounter current forms of doubt by word or by writing (pp. 342-345); and (2) in a controversial point of view, by resolving the intellectual element in many cases of unbelief into incorrect metaphysical philosophy; the value of which inquiry is real, even if such intellectual causes be regarded only as the conditions, and not the causes, of unbelief. (p. 345.)
Further objections anticipated and refuted in reference (3) to the candour of the mode of inquiry, and the absence of vituperation which is stated not to be due to indifference to Christian truth, but wholly to the demands of a scientific mode of treatment (p. 346); (4) to the absence of an eager advocacy of any particular metaphysical theory; which is due to the circumstance that the purpose was to exhibit errors as logical corollaries from certain theories, without assuming the necessary existence of these corollaries in actual life (p. 347); (5) to the insufficiency of the causes enumerated to produce doubt without taking account of the moral causes; which objection is not only admitted, but shown to be at once the peculiar property which belongs to the analysis of intellectual phenomena, and also a witness to the instinctive conviction that the ultimate cause of belief and unbelief is moral, not intellectual; which had been constantly assumed. (p. 347.)
THE LESSONS derived from the whole historical survey. (p. 348 seq.)
I. What has been the office of doubt in history? (p. 348.)
Opposite opinions on this subject stated. (p. 348.) Examination of the ordinary Christian opinion on the one hand, which regards it as a mischief (p. 348), and of Mr. Buckle's on the other, which regards it as a good. (p. 349.)
1. The office is shown to be, to bring all truths to the test. (p. 349.) Historical instances of its value in destroying the Roman catholic errors. (p. 350.)
2. Free inquiry also shown in some cases to be forced on man by the presentation of new knowledge, which demands consideration. (p. 350.) Denial of the statement that the doubts thus created are an entire imitation of older doubt. (p. 352.)
3. The office of it in the hands of Providence to elicit truth by the very controversies which it creates (p. 352); the responsibility of the inquirer not being destroyed, but the overruling providence of God made visible. (p. 353.)
II. What does the history teach, as to the doubts most likely to present themselves at this time, and the best modes of meeting them? (p. 353.)
The materials shown to be presented for a final answer to these questions. (p. 354.)
The probability shown from consideration of the state of the various sciences, mechanical, physiological (p. 355), and mental (p. 355), that no new difficulties can be suggested hereafter, distinct in kind from the present; nor any unknown kinds of evidence presented on behalf of Christianity.
Analogy of the present age as a whole, in disintegration of belief, to the declining age of Roman civilization. (p. 356.)
The doubts which beset us in the present age stated to be chiefly three (p. 357), viz.:
1. The relation of the natural to the supernatural. This doubt is sometimes expressed in a spirit of utter unbelief; sometimes in a tone of sadness (p. 358), arising from mental struggles, of which some are enumerated (p. 358). The intellectual and moral means of meeting these doubts. (p. 359.)
2. The relation of the atoning work of Christ to the human race. (p. 360.) Explanation of the defective view which would regard it only as reconciling man to God, and would destroy the priestly work of Christ; and statement of the modes in which its advocates reconcile it with Christianity. (p. 361.)
The importance that such doubts be answered by reason, not merely silenced by force. (p. 362.)
An answer sought by studying the various modes used in other ages of the church (p. 362); especially by those who have had to encounter the like difficulties, e.g. the Alexandrian fathers in the third century, and the faithful in Germany in the present. (p. 363.)
This method shown to have been to present the philosophical prior to the historical evidence, in order to create the sense of religious want, before exhibiting Christianity as the divine supply for it. (p. 364.)
In regard to the historic evidence, three misgivings of the doubter require to be met for his full satisfaction (p. 366); viz.
(α) The literary question of the trustworthiness of the books of the New Testament.
The mode of meeting this explained, with the possibility of establishing Christian dogmas, even if the most extravagant rationalism were for argument's sake conceded. (p. 367.)
(β) The doubt whether the Christian dogmas, and especially the atonement, are really taught in the New Testament. The value of the fathers, and the progress of the doctrine in church history, shown in reference to this question. (p. 368.)
(γ) The final difficulty which the doubter may put, whether even apostolic and miraculous teaching is to overrule the moral sense. (p. 369.)
The possibility shown of independent corroboration of the apostolic teaching, in the testimony of the living church, and the experience of religious men. (p. 371.)
The utter improbability of error in this part of scriptural teaching, even if the existence of error elsewhere were for argument's sake conceded. (p. 370.)
Difference of this appeal from that of Schleiermacher to the Christian consciousness.
3. The relation of the Bible to the church, whether it is a record or an authority. (p. 372.)
Statement of the modes of viewing the question in different ages. (p. 373.)
The Bible an authority; but the importance shown of using wisdom in not pressing the difficulties of scripture on an inquirer, so as to quench incipient faith. (p. 374.)
The mention of the emotional causes of doubt conjoined with the intellectual, a warning that, in addition to all arguments, the help of the divine Spirit to hallow the emotions must be sought and expected. (p. 375.)
Final lesson to Christian students, that in all ages of peril, earnest men have found the truth by the method of study united to prayer. (pp. 376-379.)
LECTURE I. ON THE SUBJECT, METHOD, AND PURPOSE OF THE COURSE OF LECTURES.
LUKE vii. 51.
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, nay; but rather division.
The present course of lectures relates to one of the conflicts exhibited in the history of the Church; viz. the struggle of the human spirit to free itself from the authority of the Christian faith.
Christianity offers occasion for opposition by its inherent claims, independently of accidental causes. For it asserts authority over religious belief in virtue of being a supernatural communication from God, and claims the right to control human thought in virtue of possessing sacred books which are at once the record and the instrument of this communication, written by men endowed with supernatural inspiration. The inspiration of the writers is transferred to the books, the matter of which, so far as it forms the subject of the revelation, is received as true because divine, not merely regarded as divine because perceived to be true. The religion, together with the series of revelations of which it is the consummation, differs in kind from ethnic religions, and from human philosophy; and the sacred literature differs in kind from other books. Each is unique, a solitary miracle of its class in human history.
The contents also of the sacred books bring them into contact with the efforts of speculative thought. Though at first glance they might seem to belong to a different sphere, that of the soul rather than the intellect, and to possess a different function, explaining duties rather than discovering truth; yet in deep problems of physical or moral history, such as Providence, Sin, Reconciliation, they supply materials for limiting belief in the very class of subjects which is embraced in the compass of human philosophy.
A conflict accordingly might naturally be anticipated, between the reasoning faculties of man and a religion which claims the right on superhuman authority to impose limits on the field or manner of their exercise; the intensity of which at various epochs would depend, partly upon the amount of critical activity, and partly on the presence of causes which might create a divergence between the current ideas and those supplied by the sacred literature.
The materials are wanting for detecting traces of this struggle in other parts of the world than Europe; but the progress of it may be fully observed in European history, altering concomitantly with changes in the condition of knowledge, or in the methods of seeking it; at first as an open conflict, philosophical or critical, with the literary pagans, subsiding as Christianity succeeded in introducing its own conceptions into every region of thought; afterwards reviving in the middle ages, and gradually growing more intense in modern times as material has been offered for it through the increase of knowledge or the activity of speculation; varying in name, in form, in degree, but referable to similar causes, and teaching similar lessons.
It is the chief of these movements of free thought in Europe which it is my purpose to describe, in their historic succession and their connection with intellectual causes.
We must ascertain the facts; discover the causes; and read the moral. These three inquiries, though distinct in idea, cannot be disjoined in a critical history. The facts must first be presented in place and time: the history is thus far a mere chronicle. They must next be combined with a view to interpretation. Yet in making this first combination, taste guides more than hypothesis. The classification is artistic rather than logical, and merely presents the facts with as much individual vividness as is compatible with the preservation of the perspective requisite in the general historic picture. At this point the artistic sphere of history ceases, and the scientific commences as soon as the mind searches for any regularity or periodicity in the occurrence of the facts, such as may be the effect of fixed causes. If an empirical law be by this means ascertained to exist, an explanation of it must then be sought in the higher science which investigates mind. Analysis traces out the ultimate typical forms of thought which are manifested in it; and if it does not aspire to arbitrate on their truth, it explains how they have become grounds on which particular views have been assumed to be true. The intellect is then satisfied, and the science of history ends. But the heart still craves a further investigation. It demands to view the moral and theological aspects of the subject, to harmonize faith and discovery, or at least to introduce the question of human responsibility, and reverently to search for the final cause which the events subserve in the moral purposes of providence. The drama of history must not develope itself without the chorus to interpret its purpose. The artistic,—the scientific,—the ethical,—these are the three phases of history. (1)
The chief portion of the present lecture will be devoted to explain the mode of applying the plan just indicated; more especially to develop the second of these three branches, by stating the law which has marked the struggle of free thought with Christianity, and illustrating the intellectual causes which have been manifested in it.
In searching for such a law, or such causes, we ought not to forget that, if we wished to lay a sound basis for generalization, it would be necessary not to restrict our attention to the history of Christianity, but to institute a comparative study of religions, ethnic or revealed, in order to trace the action of reason in the collective religious history of the race. Whether the religions of nature be regarded as the distortion of primitive traditions, or as the spontaneous creation of the religious faculties, the agreement or contrast suggested by a comparison of them with the Hebrew and Christian religions, which are preternaturally revealed, is most important as a means of discovering the universal laws of the human mind; the exceptional character which belongs to the latter member of the comparison increasing rather than diminishing the value of the study. All alike are adjusted, the one class naturally and accidentally, the other designedly and supernaturally, to the religious elements of human nature. All have a subjective existence as aspirations of the heart, an objective as institutions, and a history which is connected with the revolutions of literature and society. (2)
Comparative observation of this kind gives some approach to the exactness of experiment; for we watch providence as it were executing an experiment for our information, which exhibits the operations of the same law under altered circumstances. If, for example, we should find that Christianity was the only religion, the history of which presented a struggle of reason against authority, we should pronounce that there must be peculiar elements in it which arouse the special opposition; or if the phenomenon be seen to be common to all creeds, but to vary in intensity with the activity of thought and progress of knowledge, this discovery would suggest to us the existence of a law of the human mind.
Such a study would also furnish valuable data for determining precisely the variation of form which alteration of conditions causes in the development of such a struggle. In the East, the history of religion, for which material is supplied by the study of the Zend and Sanskrit literature, (3) would furnish examples of attempts made by philosophers to find a rational solution of the problems of the universe, and to adjust the theories of speculative thought to the national creed deposited in supposed sacred books. And though, in a western nation such as Greece, the separation of religion from philosophy was too wide to admit of much parallel in the speculative aspect of free thought, yet in reference to the critical, many instances of the application of an analogous process to a national creed may be seen in the examination made of the early mythology, the attempt to rationalize it by searching for historical data in it, or to moralize it by allegory.(66) Again, within the sphere of the Hebrew religion which, though supernaturally suggested, developed in connexion with human events so as to admit the possibility of the rise of mental difficulties in the progress of its history, how much hallowed truth, both theoretical and practical, might be learned from the divine breathings of pious inquirers, such as the sacred authors of the seventy-third Psalm, or of the books of Job and Ecclesiastes, which give expression to painful doubts about Providence, not fully solved by religion, but which nevertheless faith was willing to leave unexplained.(67) If in the Oriental systems free thought is seen to operate on a national creed by adjusting it to new ideas through philosophical dogmatism; if in the Greek by explaining it away through scepticism; in the Hebrew it is hushed by the holier logic of the feelings. The two former illustrate steps in the intellectual progress of free thought; the last exhibits the moral lesson of resignation and submission in the soul of the inquirer.