Rationalism

 

 

 

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Rationalism

 The development of this idea in its more proper theological relations bad commenced at an earlier period, but attained (as before remarked) its fullest growth (some may say its perversion) in the early part of the present, century among a school of theologians in Germany, giving birth to the several speculations emphatically termed rationalism; more especially referring to the external historical view of the origin of Christianity and the attempt to obviate the rejection of the miracles by explaining them as real events due to natural causes, according to the ideas of the age described as supernatural, or misunderstood and exaggerated by traditional repetition. These researches, commencing with the limited aInd partial comments of Semler in the last century, and terminating with the more complete theory of Paulus in the present, claimed a relation to the philosophy of the age; and the fartber prosecution of the same primary object in our own day, has been carried out by an entire rejection of those theories, to found a totally different one on critical grounds, by

0

ESSAY TV. RATIONALISM

Strauss 1, and to introduce a peculiar view of the Strauss. mythic nature of the entire New Testament naTrative (and which together with the former theory will be the subject of separate examination in a future

essay), which is here alluded to as professedly connected by Strauss with scientific views and philosophical advance.

Thus, speaking of his own competency for the work he had undertaken, he lays claim to at least one qualification, 11 a disposition and spirit emancipated

from certain religious and dogmatical prepossessions,

which happily the author has acquired by philosophical studies;" while he justly ap~lauds the philosophic spirit which pursues truth 11 with a scientific

indifference to results and consequen~es.ll 2

Again, speaking of the general tendency in certain stages of civilisation, especially in ancient times, to

mix up history with recitals of the marvellous, he adds, 11 There is no such thing as the purely histo

rical sentiment, so long as men do not comprehend the indissolubility of the chain of finite causes, and the impossibility of miracles; a comprehension in

I Life of Jesus, preface to ist ed. p. 8, French tmnel. 2 Ibld. P. 10.

 

1 71 ", ~, , OMMR 7

[777 7 77 77 777 _ 7` ' '': ' I ' ' "

186

HISTORICAL SKETCH. [ESSAY 1. rv.

which so many axe wanting even at the present

day." I

Other in If such have been the results of the direct in

stances of

the same fluence of philosophic studies in reference to this

influences.

material subject, we may recognise their indirect

reflection on a very differently constituted mind, exhi

bited in the declaration of one of the most distin

guished ornaments of the English Church in our

own times, the late excellent Archdeacon Hare;

attesting that such convictions may be perfectly com

patible with the most sincere and devoted adherence

to Christianity, when he emphatically puts the ques

tion, 11 whether in the pure ore of the Gospel, the

physically marvellous be not a separable alloy." I

The whole pf this most important question will

form the express subject of subsequent discussion.

But we may here just observe that many, while they

fully recognise the principle of this last remark, may

equally feel the difficulty of any practical solution of

the question in detail: a difficulty which the same

author perhaps, in some measure, avows when he

affirms it to be "the great problem of the age to

Life of Jesus, 1. p. 79, French transl. Life of Sterling, p. 63.

ESSAY I. XV.3 POSITIVISM.

18.1

Zeconcile faith with knowledge, philosophy with religion29

Nor can we omit to notice another declaration from a writer of a very different stamp, which, on quite an opposite side, practically acknowledges nearly the same thing: Mr. Hugh Miller observes,

the battle of the evidences will have to be fought on the field of physical science; " I in obvious apprehension for the issue, subversive as it must be of that Judaical theology which he adopted.

It may be added, that there appears at the present day, among various eminently religious parties (perhaps without much connection with physical views), a decided recession from the old evidential argument of miracles, to rest their cause on moral and internal grounds of conviction: and even to discuss the nature of miracles in a way which, we cannot but suspect, may evince some indirect reflection of the light of advancing philosophy..

 

. I Life of Sterling, p. 12 1.

2 Footprints, p. 121.

 

 

   

 

 


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