History of Rationalism Embracing a Survey of the Present State of Protestant Theology
by John F. Hurst
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[TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: Greek words in this text have been transliterated and placed between marks. A complete list of changes follows the text.]







With Appendix of Literature.



Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1865, by CHARLES SCRIBNER & CO., In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.

The Rationalists are like the spiders, they spin all out of their own bowels. But give me a philosopher who, like the bee, hath a middle faculty, gathering from abroad, but digesting that which is gathered by its own virtue.—LORD BACON.

* * * * *

The Bible, I say the Bible only, is the religion of Protestants.... There is no safe certaintie but of Scripture only, for any considering man to build upon. This therefore, and this only I have reason to beleeve; this I will professe; according to this I will live, and for this I will not only willingly, but even gladly loose my life, though I should be sorry that Christians should take it from me. Propose me anything out of this book, and require whether I believe it or no, and secure it never so incomprehensible to humane reason, I will subscribe it hand and heart, as knowing no demonstration can be stronger than this, God hath said so, therefore it is true. In other things I will take no man's libertie of judgment from him; neither shall any man take mine from me. I will think no man the worse man nor the worse Christian. I will love no man the lesse for differing in opinion with me. And what measure I meet to others I expect from them againe. I am fully assured that God does not, and therefore that men out not to require any more of any man, than this: to believe the Scripture to be God's word, to endeavor to finde the true sense of it, and to live according to it.—CHILLINGWORTH.

* * * * *

Are those enthusiasts who profess to follow reason? Yes, undoubtedly, if by reason they mean only conceits. Therefore such persons are now commonly called Reasonists or Rationalists to distinguish them from true reasoners or rational inquirers.—WATERLAND.


There were no prefatory remarks to the first and second editions of the following work. It was thought, when the printer made his final call for copy, that a preface might be written with more propriety if the public should indicate sufficient interest in the book to make its improvement and enlargement necessary. That interest, owing to the theme rather than the treatment, has not been withheld. The investigation of the subject was pursued in the midst of varied and pressing pastoral duties, with a pleasure which no reader of the result of the labor can enjoy; for, first, the author felt that Rationalism was soon to be the chief topic of theological inquiry in the Anglo-Saxon lands; and, second, he regarded the doubt, not less than the faith, of his fellow men as entitled to far more respect and patient investigation than it had usually received at the hands of orthodox inquirers.

The author would probably never have studied the genetic development of Rationalism in Germany, and its varied forms in other countries, if he had not been a personal witness to the ruin it had wrought in the land of Luther, Spener, and Zinzendorf. In compliance with the instruction of a trusted medical adviser, he sailed for Germany in the summer of 1856, as a final resort for relief from serious pulmonary disease. But, through the mercy of God, he regained health so rapidly that he was enabled to matriculate in the University of Halle in the following autumn, and to be a daily attendant upon the lectures of such men as Tholuck, Julius Mueller, Jacobi, and Roediger. From some theologians he heard Rationalism defended with an energy worthy of Wolff and Semler; from others with a devotion worthy of the beloved Neander. In the railroad car, the stage, the counting-room, the workshop, the parlor, and the peasant-hut, Rationalism was found still lingering with a strong, though relaxing grasp. The evangelical churches were attended by only a few listless hearers. His prayer to God was, "May the American Church never be reduced to this sad fate." The history of that movement, resulting in such actual disaster to some lands and threatened ruin to others, took a deep hold upon his mind; and if he has failed in any respect to trace it with an impartial pen, his hope is that his failure will not cause any bright color of the truth to be obscured for a moment. For no man and no cause can ultimately triumph by giving an undue prominence to favorite party or principles; it is only by justice to all that the truth can win its unfading laurels.

Criticism was to have been expected, from the very nature of the topic of investigation. But the author has endeavored, as a student at the feet of his judges, to derive the largest possible benefit from criticism. No word of censure, however wide of the mark, has been unwelcome to him, whether from the sceptical or orthodox press. To all questioned passages he has given a careful re-examination, in some instances finding cause for alteration, but in others seeing his ground more strongly sustained than was at first imagined. He has, for example, been informed by many esteemed persons that his representation of Coleridge was hardly just; and, in obedience to that suggestion, he has given that author's works a more careful study than ever, having previously resolved to completely reverse his judgment of that profound thinker's faith, if he found his own utterances would justify him in that course. The result was, as far as he can now recall, that he could alter but one adjective in the entire section relating to Coleridge. Of course, the author finds no fault with those who differ from him on Coleridge, or on any other writer who has come under treatment; but he must be granted by others what he concedes to them. For the criticism, as a whole, which he has received both through the press and private sources, he owes a debt of gratitude which he cannot hope to pay. It gives him profound pleasure to know, that the highest theological journals in the United States which wage open war against orthodoxy, have conceded, with marked unanimity, the general correctness of his statements, though they naturally take issue with his conclusions.

Every effort has been bestowed on the present edition to make it as free from blemishes as possible. The appendix of literature has been slightly enlarged, many typographical errors—occurring in consequence of the too rapid passage of the work through the press, and the abundance of words of different languages with which the printer was not always well acquainted—have disappeared; and, in many cases, the narrative has been brought down to the present time. In the prosecution of revision, a large number of the stereotype plates have been cancelled; and no labor has been wanting to make this edition worthy of the goodwill expressed toward the two editions which have preceded it.

Through a strange providence the author is now about to commence a term of theological instruction in Germany, where Rationalism first excited his attention, and where his apprehensions were first raised that Great Britain and the United States might be seriously invaded by it. His presence at its old hearthstone leads him to indulge the hope that, in some future though distant day, if life be spared, he may be able to enlarge this history greatly, and thus to render it better adapted to its purpose, more approximative to his first ideal, and more commensurate with the present universal interest in religious and theological themes.

BREMEN, GERMANY, November 5, 1866.


INTRODUCTION. PAGE Systematic History of Infidelity, 2-3 Best Method of refuting Rationalism, 3-4 Rationalism not an unmixed Evil, 4-6 Definitions of Rationalism: Wegscheider, 8 Staeudlin, 11 Hahn, 12 Rose, 13 Bretschneider, 14 McCaul, 16 Saintes, 19 Lecky, 22 Classes of Rationalists, 24-26 Causes of the success of Rationalism, 26-32 Four Considerations in Reference to Rationalism, 32-35



Causes of the Controversial Spirit, 38 The Controversies described, 39, 40 George Calixtus, 40-45 Jacob Boehme, 46-49 John Arndt, 49-51 John Gerhard, 51-53 John Valentine Andreae, 53-55



Description of the Thirty Years' War, 56-59 Religious Decline of the Church, 59-61 Neglect of Children, 62-65 Defects of Theological Literature, 66-68 Low State of Theological Instruction, 68, 69 Imperfect Preaching of the Time, 69-73 Immorality of the Clergy and Theological Professors, 73-77 Religious Indifference of the Upper Classes, 77-80



Philosophy of the Period, 82 Improvement dependent on Individuals, 84, 85 What Pietism proposed to do, 85-88 Principles of Pietism, 88, 89 Philip Jacob Spener, the Founder of Pietism, 89-93 University of Halle, 93 Augustus Hermann Francke, 93-95 The Orphan House at Halle, 95-97 Influence of the University of Halle, 97, 98 Arnold and Thomasius, 98, 99 New Generation of Professors in Halle, 99, 100 Cause of the Decline of Pietism, 102



Leibnitz, Founder of the Wolffian Philosophy, 103, 104 Wolff and the Popular Philosophy, 104-111 The School of Wolff, 111 Toellner, 112 English Deism in Germany, 113-117 English Deism in France 117, 118 Voltaire and Frederic the Great, 119-123 Frederic's Regret at Skepticism in Prussia, 123, 124



Influence of Foreign Skepticism on the German Church, 125, 126 Semler and the Accommodation-Theory, 126-131 Semler's Private Life, 135-137 Influence of Semler's destructive Criticism, 137, 138 Edelmann, 138, 139 Bahrdt,—his Writings, and depraved Character, 139-143



Prevalence of Semler's Opinions, 144, 145 Mental Activity of the Times, 145 Adherents to the Accommodation-Theory, 147, 148 Literary Agencies: Nicolai's Universal German Library, 147, 148 Rationalistic Spirit in Berlin, 148 Wolfenbuettel Fragments, 149-156 Philosophical Agencies: Kant and his System, 156-162 Service rendered by Kant, 162 Jacobi, 162, 163 Fichte, 163 Schelling, 164 Hegel, 164, 165 Grouping of the Philosophical Schools, 165-167



Harmony of the prevalent philosophical Systems, 169 Karl August of Weimar and his literary Circle, 169-171 John Gottfried Herder, 171-179 Schiller, 179-182 Goethe, 182, 183 Deleterious Change in Education, 184 Basedow, and his Philanthropium, 184-187 Campe and Salzmann, 187, 188 Rationalistic Elementary Books, 189-193 Alteration of the German Hymns, 194, 195 Decline of Church Music, 195 Inability of Orthodox Theologians to resist Rationalism, 195, 196



Desolate Condition of the Church, 197, 198 Rationalism without a Common System, 198, 199 Opinions of the Rationalists: Religion, 199 Existence of God, 199, 200 Doctrine of Inspiration, 200-202 Credibility of the Scriptures, 203-206 Fall of Man, 206, 207 Miracles, 207-211 Prophecy, 211-214 Person of Christ, 214-218



Protestant Germany at the Commencement of the Nineteenth Century, 220-222 Fichte, and his Popular Appeal, 222-224 Schleiermacher, 224-229 The Romantic School, 230 Ecclesiastical Reconstruction inaugurated by Frederic William III., 230, 231 The Union of the Lutheran and Reformed Churches, 231, 232 Claus Harms—his 95 Theses, 232-236



The Task before the New Church, 237 Rationalism strengthened by Roehr and Wegscheider, 238 The terms, Rationalism and Supernaturalism, 239 Tittmann, 239, 240 Tzschirner, 240 Schott, 241 Schleiermacher's System of Doctrines, 241-244 Effect of Schleiermacher's Teaching, 245, 246 De Wette, 246-249 Neander, 249-253 His personal Appearance, 253-254



Hyper-criticism of the Rationalists, 255, 256 Influence of Schleiermacher and Hegel, 256, 257 The threefold Division of the Hegelian School, 257, 258 David Frederic Strauss, and his Life of Jesus, 258-269 Replies to the Life of Jesus: Harless, 271 Hoffman, 271 Neander, 272 Ullmann, 273 Schweizer, 273 Wilke, 273 Schaller, 273 Dorner, 273, 274 Literature occasioned by Strauss' Life of Jesus, 274, 275 Strauss' New Life of Jesus for the People, 275-278 The Tuebingen School, conducted by Ferdinand Christian Baur, 278-280 The Influence of the French Revolution, 280, 281 Strauss' System of Doctrine, 281, 282 Feuerbach, 282 The Halle Year-Books, 282, 283 The "Friends of Light," 283, 284 The "Free Congregations," 284, 285 Rationalistic Leaders of the Revolution of 1848, 285, 286 Their Failure, and its Cause, 286, 287



The Mediation Theologians, or Evangelical School, grouped: Ullmann, 288, 289 Dorner, 289-292 Tholuck, 292-295 Lange, 295, 296 Twesten, 297 Nitzsch, 297-299 Rothe, 299-303 Schenkel—his recent Adoption of Rationalism, 303-305 Hengstenberg, 305-307 Theological Journals, 307 Improved Theological Instruction, 307-310



Charities of German Protestantism, 311 Relation of Philanthropy to Religious Life, 312 John Falk, 312-316 Theodore Fliedner, 316-318 Evangelical Church Diet, 318-323 Immanuel Wichern, 324-329 Louis Harms, 329, 330 The Gustavus Adolphus Union, 330, 331



Former Political Influence of Holland, 332, 333 Rise of Rationalism in Holland, 333 Influence of the Synod of Dort, 334 Corruption of Ethics, 335 Low state of Homiletic Literature, 335, 336 Cocceius, 336-339 Voetius, 339, 340 Controversy between the Cocceians and Voetians, 340-343 Favorable Influence of the Huguenot Immigrants, 343, 344 Popular Acquaintance with Theology, 345, 346 Bekker, 347, 348 Roell, 348, 349 Van Os, 349 Influence of English Deism, 350-353 Influence of French Skepticism, 353, 354 Napoleon Bonaparte's domination, 354, 355



The Political Subjugation of Holland, 356 Inactivity of Orthodoxy, 356, 357 Rupture produced by the New Hymn-Book, 357, 358 The Revival and the Secession: Bilderdyk, Da Costa, Capadose, Groen Van Prinsterer, 359-361 De Cock, the Leader of the Secession 362, 363 Failure of the Secession, 363, 364 The Groningen School: 364 Its Characteristic, 364 Hofstede de Groot, and Pareau, 365, 366 Doctrines of the Groningens, 366, 367 The School of Leyden: 367 Scholten, 368-371 The School of Empirical-Modern Theology: Opzoomer, 371 Pierson, 371-374 Doctrines of this School, 374, 375 The Ethical Irenical School: 375 Chantepie de la Saussaye, 375-377 Van Oosterzee, 377-379 The Present Crisis and its Causes, 381-383 Increase of Evangelizing Agencies, 383-385



Present Activity of Religious Thought in France, 386, 387 Coldness of Orthodoxy at the Commencement of the Nineteenth Century, 387, 388 Influence of Wesleyan Missionaries, 388, 389 Cartesianism and the Positive Philosophy, 390 Light French Literature, 391 The Critical School of Theology: 391-394 Reville, 394-396 Scherer, 396-400 Larroque, 400 Rougemont, 400, 401 Colani 401, 402 Pecaut, 402, 403 Grotz, 403 Renan, and his Life of Jesus, 403-406 A. Coquerel, jr., 406-409 Influence of French Skepticism upon the Young, 409, 410



Agencies Opposing Rationalism, 411 De Pressense, 411-416 Guizot, 416-419 Success of the Evangelical School, 419-421 Improvement of the French Protestant Church, 422, 423 Charitable and Evangelizing Societies, 423, 424



Prostration of the Swiss Church at the Commencement of the Nineteenth Century, 425, 426 Neglect of Theological Instruction, 426, 427 The Theological Academy in Geneva, 428 The Evangelical Dissenting Church, 428 Gaussen, 428, 429 Vinet, 429 Present Religious Condition of Geneva, 429, 430 Lectures in the Genevan Theological Academy, 431, 432 Religious Declension of Zuerich, 432 Zuerich the Centre of Swiss Rationalism: 433-435 The Speculative Rationalism: The Holy Scriptures, 435 Christ, 435-437 Sin, 438 Faith, 438, 439 German Switzerland influenced by German Theology, 439



English Deism and German Rationalism Contrasted, 440 Literature of England in the Eighteenth Century, 440, 441 The Writers of that Period, 441 Influence of the French Spirit, 441, 442 Bolingbroke, 442, 443 Hume, 444-447 Gibbon, 447, 448 The moral Prostration of the Church, 448-450 Influence of the Wesleyan Movement, 450-452



Compensations of History, 453 Rise of a Disposition in England to consult German Theology and Philosophy, 453, 454 Philosophical Rationalism: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 455-462 Julius Charles Hare, 462-465 F. D. Maurice, 465-468 Charles Kingsley, 468-471 Literary Rationalism: Influence of Philosophy on Literature, 472 Thomas Carlyle, 473-477 The Westminster Review, 477-480 Necessity of active Protestantism, 480



Relation of the Bible to Christianity, 481 Critical Rationalism: Professor Jowett, 481 The "Essays and Reviews," 482-497 Judicial Proceedings against the Writers of that Work, 497-499 Criticism of Bishop Colenso, 499-503 Judicial Proceedings against Colenso, 503-505



Unity of the Church of England, 507 The Evangelical and Sacramentalist Parties, 507 The Low Church: Cambridge University, 508 Activity of the Founders of the Low Church, 508, 509 Missionary Zeal, 509, 510 Parties in the Low Church, 510 The High Church: Rise of the Tractarian Movement, 511, 512 Doctrines of the High Church, 512-515 Service rendered by the High Church, 515 John H. Newman, 516, 517 Francis William Newman, 517-519 The First Broad Church: Indefiniteness of Creed, 519, 520 Thomas Arnold, 520-523 Arthur P. Stanley, 523-529 Doctrines of the First Broad Church, 529, 530 The Second Broad Church: Difference between the First and Second Broad Churches, 530, 531 Classification of Church Parties, 531, 532 Skepticism in various Sects, 532, 533



Novelty in American History, 534 Separation of Church and State, 534-536 Relations between the Old World and the United States, 536, 537 The Unitarian Church: The Venerable Stoddard, 537, 538 Jonathan Edwards, 538 The Half-Way Covenant, 538 James Freeman, 538, 539 Early Unitarian Publications, 539, 540 Unitarianism in Harvard University, 540 Andover Theological Seminary, 540, 541 Controversy between Channing and Worcester, 541 William Ellery Channing, 541-544 The Unitarian Creed, 544-553 The Christian Examiner, 553 The Young Men's Christian Union, 553-558 The Unitarian National Convention, 558-560 Present state of the Unitarian Church, 560 Universalism: Rise in America, 560, 561 Doctrines of Universalism, 561, 562 Present state of Universalism, 562, 563



Early Attachment of the Unitarians to the Doctrine of Miracles, 564 Theodore Parker: His Personal History, 564, 565 His Course toward Orthodoxy, 566 His Opinions, 566-571 Influence of American Skepticism, 571, 572 Frothingham's juvenile Work, 572, 573 "Liberal Christianity," 573-575 Duty of the American Church, 575, 576



Great Success the Result of strong Opposition, 577-579 Biblical Study indirectly benefited by the Attacks of Rationalism, 580, 581 Improvement of Church History, 581-583 Estimate of the Life of Christ, 583-586 The Evangelical Church: Necessity of an impartial View of Science, 586, 587 The proper Way to combat Skepticism, 587, 588 Unity a Requisite of Success, 588, 589


Literature of Rationalism: Germany, Holland, Switzerland, 590-595 Rationalistic Periodicals in Germany, 595 France, 595-598 Rationalistic Periodicals in France, 598 Great Britain and the United States, 599-606 Literature of Unitarianism and Universalism: 606-609 Unitarian Periodicals, 609 Universalist Periodicals, 609-610

INDEX, 611-623




Rationalism is the most recent, but not the least violent and insidious, of all the developments of skepticism. We purpose to show its historical position, and to present, as faithfully as possible, its antagonism to evangelical Christianity. The guardians of the interests of the church cannot excuse themselves from effort toward the eradication of this error by saying that it is one which will soon decay by the force of its natural autumn. Posterity will not hesitate to charge us with gross negligence if we fail to appreciate the magnitude of Rationalism, and only deal with it as the growth of a day. We have half conquered an enemy when we have gained a full knowledge of his strength.

There was a time when Rationalism was a theme of interest to the Protestant church of Germany alone. But that day is now past. Having well nigh run its race in the land of Luther, it has crossed the Rhine into France and the Netherlands, invaded England, and now threatens the integrity of the domain of Anglo-Saxon theology. Thus it has assumed an importance which should not be overlooked by British and American thinkers who love those dearly-bought treasures of truth that they have received as a sacred legacy from the martyrs and reformers of the English church. The recent writings of the exegetical Rationalists of England are sufficient to induce us to gather up our armor and adjust it for immediate defence. Delay will entail evil. The reason why skepticism has wrought such fearful ravages at various stages during the career of the church has been the tardiness of the church in watching the sure and steady approach, and then in underrating the real strength of her adversary. The present History will be written for the specific purpose of awakening an interest in the danger that now threatens us. We have no ambition to deal with the past, further than to enable it to minister to the immediate demands of the present. We all belong to this generation; it calls for our energies; it has its great wants; and we shall be held justly responsible if we neglect to contribute our share toward the progress of our contemporaries.

The three principles which have influenced us to undertake a discussion of the present theme—and of the truth of which we are profoundly convinced—are the following:

I. THAT INFIDELITY PRESENTS A SYSTEMATIC AND HARMONIOUS HISTORY. Our customary view of error is, that its history is disjointed, rendered so by the ardent, but unsteady, labors of the doubters of all periods since the origin of Christianity. We have ignored the historical movement of skepticism. Even the storms have their mysterious laws. The work of Satan is never planless. He adapts his measures to the new dangers that arise to threaten his dominion. The analogy between the Rationalism of to-day and the infidelity of past ages is so striking that we can with difficulty recognize the interval of centuries. We see the new faces, but the foes are old. Rationalism has repeatedly varied its method of attack; but if we follow the marches of its whole campaign we shall find that the enemy which stands at our fortress-gate with the Essays and Reviews and Notes on Pentateuch and Joshua in hand, is the same one that assailed Protestant Germany with the Accommodation-theory and the Wolfenbuettel Fragments.

II. A HISTORY OF A MISCHIEVOUS TENDENCY IS THE VERY BEST METHOD FOR ITS REFUTATION AND EXTIRPATION. We can learn the full character of the good or evil of any abstract principle only by seeing its practical workings. The tree is known by its fruits. Rationalism may be of evil character, but we must see the results it has produced,—the great overthrow of faith it has effected, and its influence upon the pulpit and press of the countries invaded by it, before we can comprehend the vastness of our danger. An enumeration of the evil doings of a public enemy is the best plan to forestall his future misdeeds. We are not to judge Rationalism by its professions. The question is not, What does it wish? At what does it aim? or, What is its creed? But the true way to measure, understand, and judge it, is by answering the inquiry, What has it done? Its work must determine its character. This work has been most injurious to the faith and life of the church, and its deeds must therefore be its condemnation. There are those who say, "Tell us nothing about skepticism; we know too much about it already." Would it be a prudent request, if, before penetrating the jungles of Asia, we should say, "Tell us nothing of the habits of the lion"; or, before visiting a malarious region of Africa, we should beg of the physician not to inform us of the prevalent fever and its appropriate remedy? Forewarned is forearmed. We are surrounded by Rationalism in many phases; it comes to us in the periodical and the closely-printed volume. Even children are reading it in some shape or other. Shall we know its danger; then we must know its deeds.

III. OF RATIONALISM IT MAY BE AFFIRMED, AS OF ALL THE PHASES OF INFIDELITY, THAT IT IS NOT IN ITS RESULTS AN UNMIXED EVIL, SINCE GOD OVERRULES ITS WORK FOR THE PURIFICATION AND PROGRESS OF HIS CHURCH. A nation is never so pure as when emerging from the sevenfold-heated furnace. It was not before Manasseh was caught among thorns, bound with fetters, and carried to Babylon, that he "besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers;" nor was it before this humiliation that the Lord "brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom." The whole history of religious error shows that the church is cold, formal, and controversial before the visitation of skepticism. When every power is in full exercise, infidelity stands aloof. God has so provided for his people that he has even caused the delusion by which they have suffered to contribute great benefits but little anticipated by the deluded or the deluders themselves. The intellectual labors of the German Rationalists have already shed an incalculable degree of light on the sacred books, and upon almost every branch of theology. But thus has God ever caused the wrath of man to praise him.

Taking this view of the indirect benefits resulting from skepticism, we cannot lament, without an admixture of solace, that the path of Truth has always been rough. The Master, who declared himself "The Truth," premonished us by his own life that his doctrines were not destined to pervade the mind and heart of our race without encountering violent blows, and passing through whole winters of frost and storm. Many things attending the origin and planting of Christianity gave omen of antagonism to its claims in coming generations. Nor could it be expected that the unsanctified reason of man would accept as the only worthy guide of faith and life what Judaism, Paganism, and Philosophy had long since decidedly rejected. But the spirit of Christianity is so totally at variance with that of the world that it is vain to expect harmony between them. Truth, however, will not suffer on that account; and when the issues appear it will shine all the brighter for the fires through which it has passed. The country where Rationalism has exerted its first and chief influence is Germany, than which no nation of modern times has been more prospered or passed through deeper affliction. At one time she was the leader of religious liberty and truth, not only in Europe, but throughout the world. She was thirty years fighting the battles of Protestantism, but the end of the long conflict found her victorious. Since that day, however, she has lost her prestige of adherence to evangelical Christianity; and her representative theologians and thinkers have distorted the Bible which she was the very first to unseal. We rejoice that her condition is more hopeful to-day than it was twenty-five years ago; but recovery is not easy from a century-night of cold, repulsive Rationalism. As a large number of those stupendous battles that have decided the political and territorial condition of Europe have been fought on the narrow soil of Belgium, so has Germany been for ages the contested field on which were determined the great doctrinal and ecclesiastical questions of the European continent and of the world. Happily, the result has generally been favorable; and let no friend of evangelical truth fear that Rationalism will not meet its merited fate.

We must not imagine that, because the term Rationalism has been frequently employed within the last few years, it is of very recent origin either as a word or skeptical type. The Aristotelian Humanists of Helmstedt were called Rationalists in the beginning of the seventeenth century, and Comenius applied the same epithet to the Socinians in 1688.[1] It was a common word in England two hundred years ago. Nor was it imported into the English language from the German, either in a theological or a philosophical sense. There was a sect of Rationalists, in the time of the Commonwealth, who called themselves such exactly on the same grounds as their successors have done in recent years. Some one writing the news from London under date of October 14, 1646, says: "There is a new sect sprung up among them [the Presbyterians and Independents], and these are the Rationalists, and what their reason dictates them in church or state stands for good until they be convinced with better."[2] But Rationalists, in fact if not in name, existed on the Continent long anterior to this date. The Anti-Trinitarians, and Bodin, and Pucci were rigid disciples of Reason; and their tenets harmonize with those of a later day.[3]

In order to arrive at a proper definition of Rationalism we should consult those authors who have given no little attention to this department of theological inquiry. Nor would we be impartial if we adduced the language of one class to the exclusion of the other. We shall hear alike from the friends and adversaries of the whole movement, and endeavor to draw a proper conclusion from their united testimony. It was Selden's advice to the students of ecclesiastical history, "to study the exaggerated statements of Baronius on the one side, and of the Magdeburg Centuriators on the other, and be their own judges." Fortunately enough for a proper understanding of Rationalism, there is no such diversity of statement presented by our authorities. On the contrary, we shall perceive an unexpected and gratifying harmony.

In Wegscheider's Institutiones Dogmaticae, a work which for nearly half a century has stood as an acknowledged and highly respected authority on the systematic theology of the Rationalists, we read language to this effect: "Since that doctrine (of supernaturalism) is encumbered with various difficulties, every day made more manifest by the advances of learning, especially historical, physical, and philosophical, there have been amongst more recent theologians and philosophers not a few who, in various ways, departing from it, thought it right to admit, even in the investigation and explanation of divine things, not only that formal use of human reason which regards only the method of expounding dogmas, but also the material use, by which the subject-matter of the particular doctrines is submitted to inquiry.

"Thus arose that of which the generic name is Rationalism, or that law or rule of thinking, intimately united with the cultivation of talent and mind, by which we think that as well in examining and judging of all things presented to us in life and the range of universal learning, as in those matters of most grave importance which relate to religion and morals, we must follow strenuously the norm of reason rightly applied, as of the highest faculty of the mind; which law of thinking and perceiving, if it be applied to prove any positive religion (theological Rationalism) lays it down as an axiom that religion is revealed to men in no other manner than that which is agreeable both to the nature of things and to reason, as the witness and interpreter of divine providence; and teaches that the subject-matter of every supposed supernatural revelation, is to be examined and judged according to the ideas regarding religion and morality, which we have formed in the mind by the help of reason.... Whosoever, therefore, despising that supremacy of human reason, maintains that the authority of a revelation, said to have been communicated to certain men in a supernatural manner, is such that it must be obeyed by all means, without any doubt,—that man takes away and overturns from the foundation the true nature and dignity of man, at the same time cherishes the most pernicious laziness and sloth, or stirs up the depraved errors of fanaticism.... As to that which is said to be above reason, the truth of which can by no means be understood, there is no possible way open to the human mind to demonstrate or affirm it; wherefore to acknowledge or affirm that which is thought to be above reason is rightly said to be against reason and contrary to it.

"The persuasion concerning the supernatural and miraculous, and at the same time immediate, revelation of God, cannot be reconciled with the idea of God eternal, always consistent with himself, omnipotent, omniscient, and most wise, by whose power, operative through all eternity and exerted in perfect harmony with the highest wisdom, we rightly teach that the whole nature of things exists and is preserved.... This being so, it seems that the natural revelation or manifestation of God, made by the works of nature, is the only one which can be rightly defended, and this may be divided into universal or common, and particular or singular. The universal indeed is affected by the natural faculties of the mind, and other helps of the universal nature of things, by which man is led to conceive and cultivate the knowledge of divine things. That we call particular and mediate, in a sense different from the elder writers, which is contained in the compass of things happening according to nature, by which, God being the author, some men are excited above others to attain the principles of true religion, and to impart with signal success those things, accommodated indeed to the desires of their countrymen, and sanctioned by some particular form of religious instruction. A revelation of this kind consists as well in singular gifts of genius and mind, with which the messenger, and, as it were, its interpreter, is perceived to be furnished, as in illustrious proofs of divine providence, conspicuous in his external life. But the more agreeably to the will of that same God he uses these helps to be ascribed to God, and full of a certain divine fervor, and excelling in zeal for virtue and piety, the more he scatters the seeds of a doctrine truly divine, i. e., true in itself, and worthy of God, and to be propagated by suitable institutions, the more truly will he flourish amongst other men with the authority of a divine teacher or ambassador. For as our mind partakes of the divine nature and disposition (2 Peter i. 4), so without the favor and help of the Deity it is not carried out to a more true species of religion.

"But whatever narrations especially accommodated to a certain age, and relating miracles and mysteries, are united with the history and subject-matter of revelation of this kind, these ought to be referred to the natural sources and true nature of human knowledge. By how much the more clearly the author of the Christian religion, not without the help of Deity, exhibited to men the idea of reason imbued with true religion, so as to represent as it were an apaugasma of the divine reason, or the divine spirit, by so much the more diligently ought man to strive to approach as nearly as possible to form that archetype in the mind, and to study to imitate it in life and manners to the utmost of his ability. Behold here the intimate and eternal union and agreement of Christianity with Rationalism."

Staeudlin, at first a Rationalist, but in later life more inclined to supernaturalism, says: "I do not now look to the various meanings in which the word Rationalism has been used. I understand by it here only generally the opinion that mankind are led by their reason and especially by the natural powers of their mind and soul, and by the observation of nature which surrounds them, to a true knowledge of divine and sensible things, and that reason has the highest authority and right of decision in matters of faith and morality, so that an edifice of faith and morals built on this foundation shall be called Rationalism. It still remains undecided whether this system declares that a supernatural revelation is impossible and ought to be rejected. That notion rather lies in the word Naturalism, which however is sometimes used as synonymous with Rationalism. It has been well said that Naturalism is distinguished from Rationalism by rejecting all and every revelation of God, especially any extraordinary one through certain men. This, however, is not the case with many persons called Naturalists both by themselves and others. Supernaturalism consists in general in the conviction that God has revealed himself supernaturally and immediately. What is revealed might perhaps be discovered by natural methods, but either not at all or very late by those to whom it is revealed. It may also be something which man could never have known by natural methods; and then arises the question, whether man is capable of such a revelation. The notion of a miracle cannot well be separated from such a revelation, whether it happens out of, on, or in men. What is revealed may belong to the order of nature, but an order higher and unknown to us, which we could never have known without miracles, and cannot bring under the law of nature."[4]

Professor Hahn, in speaking of the work just referred to, and of the subject in general, makes the following remarks: "In very recent times, during which Rationalism has excited so much attention, two persons especially, Bretschneider and Staeudlin, have endeavored to point out the historical use of the word, but both have failed. It is therefore worth while to examine the matter afresh. With respect to the Rationalists, they give out Rationalism as a very different matter from Naturalism. Roehr, the author of the Letters on Rationalism, chooses to understand by Naturalism only Materialism; and Wegscheider, only Pantheism. In this way those persons who have been usually reckoned the heads of the Naturalists; namely, Herbert, Tindal, and others; will be entirely separated from them, for they were far removed from Pantheism or Materialism. Bretschneider, who has set on foot the best inquiry on this point, says that the word Rationalism has been confused with the word Naturalism since the appearance of the Kantian philosophy, and that it was introduced into theology by Reinhard and Gabler. An accurate examination respecting these words gives the following results: The word Naturalism arose first in the sixteenth century, and was spread in the seventeenth. It was understood to include those who allowed no other knowledge of religion except the natural, which man could shape out of his own strength, and consequently excluded all supernatural revelation. As to the different forms of Naturalism, theologians say there are three; the first, which they call Pelagianism, and which considers human dispositions and notions as perfectly pure and clear by themselves, and the religious knowledge derived from them as sufficiently explicit. A grosser kind denies all particular revelation; and the grossest of all considers the world as God. As to Rationalism, this word was used in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by those who considered reason as the source and norm of faith. Amos Comenius seems first to have used this word in 1661, and it never had a good sense. In the eighteenth century it was applied to those who were in earlier times called by the name of Naturalist."[5]

Of all writers on the subject of Rationalism we give the palm of excellence to the devout and learned Hugh James Rose, of Cambridge University. As far as we know he was the first to expose to the English-speaking world the sad state to which this form of skepticism had reduced Germany. Having visited that country in 1824, he delivered four discourses on the subject before the university, which were afterward published under the title of The State of Protestantism in Germany. Thus far, in spite of the new works which may have appeared, this account of Rationalism has not been superseded. We shall have occasion more than once to refer to its interesting pages. Of Rationalism he says:

"The word has been used in Germany in various senses, and has been made to embrace alike those who positively reject all revelation and those who profess to receive it. I am inclined, however, to believe that the distinction between Naturalists and Rationalists is not quite so wide, either, as it would appear to be at first sight, or as one of them assuredly wishes it to appear. For if I receive a system, be it of religion, of morals, or of politics, only so far as it approve itself to my reason, whatever be the authority that presents it to me, it is idle to say that I receive the system out of any respect to that authority. I receive it only because my reason approves it, and I should of course do so if an authority of far inferior value were to present the system to me. This is what that division of Rationalists, which professes to receive Christianity and at the same time to make reason the supreme arbiter in matters of faith, has done. Their system, in a word, is this: they assume certain general principles, which they 'maintain to be the necessary deductions of reason from an extended and unprejudiced contemplation of the natural and moral order of things, and to be in themselves immutable and universal. Consequently anything which, on however good authority, may be advanced in apparent opposition to them must either be rejected as unworthy of rational belief, or at least explained away, till it is made to accord with the assumed principles,—and the truth or falsehood of all doctrines proposed is to be decided according to their agreement or disagreement with those principles.' When Christianity, then, is presented to them, they inquire what there is in it which agrees with their assumed principles, and whatsoever does so agree, they receive as true. But whatever is true comes from God, and consequently all of Christianity which they admit to be true, they hold to be divine.

"'Those who are generally termed Rationalists,' says Dr. Bretschneider, 'admit universally, in Christianity, a divine, benevolent, and positive appointment for the good of mankind, and Jesus as a Messenger of divine Providence, believing that the true and everlasting word of God is contained in the Holy Scripture, and that by the same the welfare of mankind will be obtained and extended. But they deny therein a supernatural and miraculous working of God, and consider the object of Christianity to be that of introducing into the world such a religion as reason can comprehend; and they distinguish the essential from the unessential, and what is local and temporary from that which is universal and permanent in Christianity.' There is, however, a third class of divines, which in fact differs very little from this, though very widely in profession. They affect to allow 'a revealing operation of God,' but establish on internal proofs rather than on miracles the divine nature of Christianity. They allow that revelation may contain much out of the power of reason to explain, but say that it should assert nothing contrary to reason, but rather what may be proved by it. This sounds better, but they who are acquainted with the writings of the persons thus described, know that by establishing Christianity on internal proofs, they only mean the accepting those doctrines which they like, and which seem to them reasonable, and that though they allow in theory that revelation may contain what are technically called much above reason, yet in practice they reject the positive doctrines of Christianity (I mean especially the doctrines of the Trinity, the Atonement, the Mediation and Intercession of our Lord, Original Sin, and Justification by Faith), because they allege that those doctrines are contrary to reason. The difference between them and the others is therefore simply this, that while the others set no limits at all to the powers of reason in matters of faith, they set such a limit in theory but not in practice, and consequently cannot justly demand to be separated from the others."[6]

One of the ablest advocates of Supernaturalism among English divines is the late Dr. A. McCaul, of London. He joins issue successfully with the Rationalists. We quote a specimen of his method of argument. His definition of Rationalism is beautifully lucid and logical. He says:

"This doctrine then plainly denies the existence and the possibility of a supernatural and immediate revelation from the Almighty, and maintains that to claim supreme authority for any supposed supernatural religion is degrading to the dignity and the nature of man. It enters into direct conflict with the statements of the Old Testament writers, who clearly and unmistakably assert the existence of a divine communication which is called 'The law of the Lord,' 'The law of his mouth,' 'The testimony of God,' 'The saying of God,' 'The word of the Lord,' 'The word that goeth forth out of his mouth,' 'The judgment of the Lord,' 'The commandment of the Lord.'

"Now it is not intended to strain the allusion to the mouth or lips of the Lord beyond that which the figure may fairly bear. But the expression does certainly mean that there is some direct, immediate, and therefore supernatural communication from the great Creator of all things. The writers who used these expressions did not mean that as reason is given by God, so whatever reason may excogitate is the word of God. They would not have used these expressions concerning Truth that may be found in heathen writers. They believed and recorded that God had manifested himself audibly to the ears, and visibly to the eyes of men. They did not therefore hold the doctrine that supernatural revelation is impossible, or derogatory to reason or inconsistent with the nature and attributes of Him who is eternal.

"It is almost needless to refer to instances. God spake with Adam, with Cain, with Noah. In the latter case the communication led to such actions, and was followed by such results, that without rejecting the history altogether, there can be no doubt of a miraculous communication. Noah knew of the coming flood—built an ark for himself and a multitude of animals—prepared food—was saved with his family, while the world perished—floated for months on the waters, and when he came out, had again a manifestation of the Deity. So Abraham, so Moses, not now to recount any more. Indeed the writer referred to does not deny this. He admits that in Scripture the knowledge of divine things is referred immediately to the Revelation of God, and that though the modes of this Revelation are various, they appear often to overstep the laws and course of nature. He enumerates as modes of revelation, Epiphanies of God himself, of angels—heavenly voices—dreams—afflatus, or the Holy Spirit.

"How then does he reconcile this with his denial of all supernatural revelation, or show that these Epiphanies of God and angels, were mere developments of reason? He does not try to reconcile them at all. He simply rejects them as false. He comes directly into collision with the credibility and veracity of the Scripture narratives, and therefore leaves us no alternative but to disbelieve the Bible as fabulous, or to reject Rationalism as inconsistent with our rule of faith. This system not only generally denies the possibility of supernatural revelation, but asserts that all the particular narratives of all such communications from God are incredible; nothing better than ghost stories or fairy tales; equally unworthy of God and man, the offspring of an ignorant and unenlightened age and nation, and therefore rejected by these men of reason and science. How this differs from the doctrine of Deists and open opposers of Christianity, it is difficult to conceive, except that it seems to be rather worse. Even Bolingbroke admits supernatural Revelation to be possible. Tom Paine himself says, 'Revelation when applied to religion means something immediately communicated from God to man. No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication if he pleases.' Spinoza asserts that the 'Israelites heard a true voice at the delivery of the ten commandments; that God spoke face to face with Moses; and generally, that God can communicate immediately with men, and that though natural science is divine, yet its propagators cannot be called prophets.' That the Rationalist view of revelation is contrary to the popular belief of Christians generally, and of Christian churches and divines particularly, there can be no doubt. It is intended so to be....

"The Rationalist professes to believe that all the knowledge of truth at which man arrives is owing to the original wisdom, will, and power of the Almighty in giving man a certain intellectual constitution, to be unfolded by the circumstances of human history and necessities—that therefore moral and religious truth, such as the Rationalists acknowledge, is still to be ascribed to the purposes and power and efficacy of the Great Spirit, acting upon that which is material and compound.

"Why, then, should it be impossible for the Creator to shorten the process, to help man in his painful and often unsuccessful search after truth, and to make known that which exists in the Divine mind and purpose? To say that he cannot, is in fact to depose him from the throne of omnipotence, and to bring us back either to two eternal independent principles, incapable of all communication, or to drive us to Pantheism. If there ever was a period in duration in which God could act upon matter, or endue infinite intelligences with the means and capability of knowledge, he can do so still."[7]

M. Saintes, who has investigated the history of this subject more thoroughly than any other writer, says of the significations and limits of Rationalism:

"I myself at first imagined that it signified the wise and constant exercise of reason on religious subjects, but in studying the matter historically I soon found that it is the same with this word as with many others which, having lost their original meaning, now express an idea directly contrary to that which their etymology seems to indicate. It is indisputably true that God, in granting reason to man, has not forbidden its exercise. As religion, the queen of all minds, possesses indestructible rights over them, so has human reason also rights which cannot be disputed. Kant has justly said, the faith which should oppose itself to reason could not longer exist. With this view we form an idea of Rationalism similar to that conceived by the great Leibnitz, which, with our present ideas of truth, we cannot regard as unreasonable. But this right of human reason to examine and discuss differs widely from its self-constitution as supreme judge on religious matters, and from the wish to submit God and conscience to its own tribunal, which it declares to be infallible. This, however, has been the case in modern times when Philosophy has openly avowed itself the enemy of Christianity, and when those who were terrified by its rash demands have sought to confound them by the devices of Rationalism—thus hastening to ruin the edifice which they aspired to restore.... Rationalism must not, therefore, be understood to signify the use which theologians have made of reason in matters of faith. Did the reader thus interpret it he would mistake our aim. He would be deceived as to the character of the labors which it is our wish to describe. He would attribute to the author of this history intentions which he could not entertain, and religious opinions which his respect for human reason would compel him to disavow. The apostles of the gospel continually appeal to the reason of their hearers, and Christ himself argues the increasing exercise of the eye of the soul, as he calls conscience, in judging of the truth which he announces—Matt. vi. 23. For a good conscience is always better disposed to rise to the knowledge of the truth; while one heavy laden and harassed is exceedingly prone to receive dogmas without properly understanding their import, because it feels their truth through the consolations which they offer. In no age of Christianity has there arisen a serious discussion on this subject, though the extravagant pretensions of Rationalism have provoked some exaggerations which can never prevail over the ancient Christian system. That system by no means forbade the exercise of human intelligence in religious matters, though it employed a superior and only infallible reason—the divine reason, the doctrinal expression of which is found in the books which all Christians have hitherto considered divine, and whose authenticity and truth cannot be disputed without overturning that Christianity, which has been professed during eighteen centuries. But modern Rationalism has done more than assert the right of exercising reason; it has pretended that to this faculty alone belongs the privilege of deciding on man's religious belief and his moral duty; and that if, from long custom, any respect is still due to revelation, it should only receive it when it is not opposed to the judgments of reason. But if this reason were sufficient for mankind, why should divine revelation be in any case opposed to it?

"Rationalism is not a systematic incredulity as to religious truths. Far from being so, it makes pretensions of developing the religious feelings to the highest degree; and there is in the writings of its most distinguished disciples something which arouses even the most lethargic minds. But it is far from attaining its end; for although it constitutes itself the supreme judge of Christianity, it does not really adopt one of the leading doctrines of that religion which alone has power over the moral nature of man. Its influence, if we observe it closely, extends only over his feelings; it fails to penetrate into the depths of his being; and can we forget that one of its essential characteristics is to wage deadly war against the supernatural element which abounds in the Bible, and which Rationalism would wholly eradicate? An enlightened Supernaturalist will then very willingly confess that Naturalism may be professed with a semblance of reason and in good faith, and he can even consider it as a system of philosophy wherein are to be found fewer philosophical elements than in any other. But simple good sense forbids him to imagine it possible to profess Rationalism and at the same time to retain the name of Christian."[8]

The most recent defence of Rationalism is by Mr. Lecky.[9] He has written in great calmness, taken great pains to generalize his investigations, and followed closely in the steps of the late Mr. Buckle, in his fragment of the History of Civilization. But his argument is false. According to Mr. Lecky, human reason is the only factor of history. The agency of the Holy Spirit is ignored. Elaborate creeds and liturgical services are a barrier to the mind's progress, because they shackle the intellect by impure traditions. Rationalism is the only relief of these later times. "Its central conception," says our author, "is the elevation of conscience into a position of supreme authority as the religious organ, a verifying faculty discriminating between truth and error. It regards Christianity as designed to preside over the moral development of mankind, as a conception which was to become more and more sublimated and spiritualized as the human mind passed into new phases, and was able to bear the splendor of a more unclouded light. Religion it believes to be no exception to the general law of progress, but rather the highest form of its manifestation, and its earlier systems but the necessary steps of an imperfect development. In its eyes the moral element of Christianity is as the sun in heaven, and dogmatic systems are as the clouds that intercept and temper the exceeding brightness of its rays. The insect, whose existence is but for a moment, might well imagine that these were indeed eternal, that their majestic columns could never fail, and that their luminous folds were the very source and centre of light. And yet they shift and vary with each changing breeze; they blend and separate; they assume new forms and exhibit new dimensions; as the sun that is above them waxes more glorious in its power, they are permeated and at last absorbed by its increasing splendor; they recede, and wither, and disappear, and the eye ranges far beyond the sphere they had occupied into the infinity of glory that is before them.... Rationalism is a system which would unite in one sublime synthesis all the past forms of human belief, which accepts with triumphant alacrity each new development of science, having no stereotyped standard to defend, and which represents the human mind as pursuing on the highest subjects a path of continual progress toward the fullest and most transcendent knowledge of the Deity.... It clusters around a series of essentially Christian conceptions—equality, fraternity, the suppression of war, the elevation of the poor, the love of truth, and the diffusion of liberty. It revolves around the ideal of Christianity, and represents its spirit without its dogmatic system and its supernatural narratives. From both of these it unhesitatingly recoils, while deriving all its strength and nourishment from Christian ethics."[10]

The present age, if we hearken to Mr. Lecky, is purely Rationalistic, because purely progressive. The world has emerged from its blindness and ignorance by the innate force of the mind. Reason, the great magician, has uplifted its wand; and lo, the creatures of night disappear! It has dispelled the foolish old notions of magic, witchcraft, and miracles. It has overcome the spirit of persecution, the childish conception of original sin, and the doctrine of eternal punishment. It has put an end to bull-baiting, cock-fighting, and all the lower forms of vicious pleasure. It has secularized politics, overthrown the notion of the divine right of kings, and now creates and fosters all the industrial developments of the age. Protestantism is excellent when allied to Rationalism; but when opposed to it, it is no better than any other conglomeration of creeds and liturgies. There is no such thing as a fixed notion of God and Providence. The conceptions of man on these subjects will change with the progress of the race. Human reason, therefore, and not revelation, is the sole arbiter of truth.

Thus Mr. Lecky places himself beside his predecessors in ignoring the agency of the Holy Spirit, either in giving inspired truth to the world, or in educating the church.

From the foregoing authorities it is very apparent that the Rationalists do not deny the special features of skepticism with which their opponents charge them. They admit frankly that they give the precedence to Reason, when the alternative is Reason or Revelation, instead of adopting a positive creed from the principle, that, if we would ascertain the character of Revelation, we must begin our inquiry by examining the doctrines it contains, and then by comparing them with our notions of what a Revelation ought to be. Thus the capricious dictates of reason are made to decide the quality of revealed truth. Besides, wherever a mysterious account is contained in a book which in the main is accepted, such mystery is cast out as altogether unlikely, probably the poetic version of some early legend. A miracle is recounted; one of the best attested of all. "It could never have happened," the Rationalists say, "for Nature has made it impossible."

There have been several classes of Rationalists. Some were men of very worthy character; and, save in their opinions, were entitled to the high respect of their generation. Semler lived a beautiful life; and his glowing utterance on his daughter's death exhibited not only a father's love, but a Christian's faith. Bretschneider, himself a Rationalist, gives the following classification of his confreres:

The first class consider Revelation a superstition, and Jesus either an enthusiast or a deceiver. To this class belong Wuensch and Paalzow, but no divine. The second class do not allow that there was any divine operation in Christianity in any way, and refer the origin of Christianity to mere natural causes. They make the life of Christ a mere romance, and himself a member of secret associations; and consider the Scriptures as only human writings in which the word of God is not to be found. To this class belong Bahrdt, Reimarus, and Venturini (the last two not divines), and Brennecke. The third class comprise the persons usually called Rationalists. They acknowledge in Christianity an institution divine, beneficent, and for the good of the world; and Jesus as a messenger of God; and they think that in Scripture is found a true and eternal word of God,—only they deny any supernatural and miraculous working of God, and make the object of Christianity to be the introduction of religion into the world, its preservation, and extension. They distinguish between what is essential and non-essential in Christianity, between what is local and temporal, and what is universal. That is to say, they allow that there is good in Christianity—that all that is good comes from God; but miracles, inspiration, everything immediately coming from God, they wholly disbelieve. Among this class are Kant, Steinbart, Krug, as philosophers; and, as divines, W. A. Teller, Loeffler, Thiess, Henke, J. E. C. Schmidt, De Wette, Paulus, Wegscheider, and Roehr. The fourth class go a little higher. They consider the Bible and Christianity as a divine revelation in a higher sense than the Rationalists. They assume a revealing operation of God distinguishable from his common providence; carefully distinguish the periods of this divine direction; found the divinity of Christianity more on its internal evidence than on miracles; but especially separate church belief from the doctrines of Scripture; reform it according to the sentiments of the Divine Word; and require that Reason should try Revelation, and that Revelation should contain nothing against, though it may well have much above, Reason. Doederlein, Morus, Reinhard, Ammon, Schott, Niemeyer, Bretschneider, and others, belong to this class.

The only objection to this classification is the one urged by Rose; namely, that only a few of the theological writers would appear to have been violent Rationalists, while the larger class would seem to have held the moderate opinions which Bretschneider himself professes to adopt. The contrary is the fact, as any one at all acquainted with the number of theological writers of the period in question can determine. The spirit of the Rationalistic literature of the time was decidedly violent and destructive.

In glancing at some of the general causes which have made Rationalism so successful in its hold upon the popular mind, we find that it has possessed many advantages over almost any other form of skepticism that has appeared during the history of the church.

Prominent among these causes were its multiplied affiliations with the church. It had thus a fine vantage-ground on which to wage deadly war against the text and doctrines of the Bible. The first antagonists of Christianity came from without; and they dealt their heaviest blows with a deep and thorough conviction that the whole system they were combating was absolutely false, absurd, and base. And, in fact, many later enemies of Revelation have come from without the pale of Christianity. But the great Coryphaei of Rationalism have sprung from the very bosom of the church, were educated under her maternal care; and, at the same time that they were endeavoring to demolish the superstructure of divine inspiration, they were, in the eyes of the people, its strongest pillars, the accredited spiritual guides of the land, teaching in the most famed universities of the Continent, and preaching in churches which had been hallowed by the struggles and triumphs of the Reformation.

German Protestantism cannot complain that Rationalism was the work of acknowledged foes; but is bound to confess, with confusion of face, that it has been produced by her own sons; and that English Deism and French Atheism were welcomed, and transmuted into far more insidious and destructive agencies than they had ever been at home. The Rationalists did not discard the Bible, but professed the strongest attachment to it. They ever boasted that their sole object was the defence and elevation of it. "Because we love it," they said, "we are putting ourselves to all this trouble of elucidating it. It grieves us beyond measure to see how it has been suffering from the vagaries of weak minds. We are going to place it in the hands of impartial Reason; so that, for once at least, it may become plain to the masses. We will call in all the languages and sciences to aid us in exhuming its long-buried treasures, in order that the wayfaring man, though a fool, may appropriate them. And as to the church, who would say aught against our venerable mother? We love her dearly. We confess, indeed, that we love the green fields and gray mountain-rocks better than her Sabbath services; nor do we have much respect for her Sabbath at all. But we cherish her memories, and are proud of her glory. Yet the people do not understand her mysteries well enough. They do not love her as much as we do. Therefore we will stir them up to the performance of long-neglected duties. They ignorantly cling too proudly to her forms and confessions. But we will aid them to behold her in a better light. We know the true path of her prosperity, for do you not see that we have been born and bred within her dear fold? Let everybody follow us. We will bring you into light." Had outspoken enemies of the church and inspiration, though doubly gifted and multiplied in number, set themselves to the same destructive work that engaged the labors of these so-called friends, they could not have inflicted half the injury. They had razed to the ground tower after tower of the popular faith before their designs were discovered. And yet we must do them the credit to say that they did not intend to do the harm that they eventually accomplished. But human agencies achieve their legitimate results without regard to the motives that give them impulse. No doubt, many a Rationalist, as he looked back from his death-bed on the ruin to which he had contributed, trembled with astonishment at the poisonous fruit of his labors. Christ beheld a broader field than we can see, when he said, "A man's foes shall be they of his own household."

This religious exterior has been a powerful auxiliary to the growth of Rationalism. In the earlier stages of its history, every utterance regarding the authenticity of any books of Scripture was carefully guarded. The boldest stroke that this species of skepticism has made has been a recent one, Strauss' Life of Jesus; but that work was only the outgrowth of long doubt, and the honest, frank expression of what a certain class of Rationalists had been burning to say for a century. Parents who sent their sons to the university to listen to such men as Semler, Thomasius, and Paulus, had not the remotest idea that institutions of such renown for learning and religion were at that very time the hotbeds of rank infidelity. Even the State cabinets that controlled the professorial chairs could not believe for a long time that men who had been chosen to teach theology were spending all their power in corrupting the religious sentiment of the land. Large congregations were sometimes startled with strange announcements from their pastors, to the effect that the supposed miraculous dividing of the Red Sea was only occasioned by certain natural forces of wind and tide; that all the rest of the Old Testament miracles were pure myths; and that many parts of the New Testament were written at a later time and by other authors than those whose names are usually associated with them. "Heterodoxy," was whispered. But the reply was, "Better have heterodoxy than these miserable disputes on Election and the Lord's Supper, to which we have been compelled to listen almost ever since Luther laid his body down to die." Fledgling theologians would come home from the university, and read aloud to the family-group the notes of lectures which they had heard during the last semester. The aged pair, looking up in wonder, would say, "The good and great doctors of our Reformation never taught such things as these." But their sons would answer, "Oh, the world has grown much wiser since their day. New discoveries in philosophy and science have opened new avenues of truth, and our eyes are blessed that we see, and our ears that we hear. Just wait until we get into the pulpit, and we will set the people to thinking in a new way." Thus the enemy was sowing tares while the church was dreaming of a plenteous harvest.

Rationalism was very adroit in its initial steps. Its method of betrayal was, Judas-like, to sit in friendly intercourse beside its victim, and afterwards, when the fulness of malevolent inspiration had come, to give the fatal kiss in the presence of enemies. The people did not know the ills they were about to suffer until deliverance was well-nigh hopeless. Had Rationalism begun by laying down its platform and planning the work of proof, the forces of the opposition might have been organized. But it commenced without a platform, and worked long without one. The systematic theology of Bretschneider would by no means be accepted by the entire class of Rationalistic divines. To get a fair conception of what has been the aggregate sentiment of the whole class, one must wander through hundreds of volumes of exegesis, history, philosophy, and romance; and these covering a space of many years. Even when you hold up your treasure, and cry "Eureka!" your shrewd opponent will coolly say that you have given a false interpretation, and have drawn wrong conclusions,—that his masters never claimed such an absurdity. Rationalism looked upon Revelation as a tottering edifice, and set itself busily at work to destroy the entire superstructure. But sometimes it is the surrounding vines and trees that shake in the autumn storm, and not the building itself; and often beneath the worm-eaten bark there is a great oaken heart, which no arm is strong enough and no axe sufficiently keen to cleave.

Rationalism has been striving to destroy a house which was built upon a rock; and if it fell not, the fault lay not in the absence of ingenuity and strength of attack, but in the undecayed material and deeply-grounded solidity of the structure.

We are not blind to the extenuating circumstances that are adduced for Rationalism. The motives of its founders seemed pure enough, for these men held their life-task to be the purification of faith from the misconceptions of inspiration, and the deliverance of the church from the thraldom of stiff formularies. Some of their successors held that their labors were only philosophical, and hence could not affect theology. They all claimed relationship with the Reformers, and with the good and great of all ages. Bretschneider says that Luther talked of miracles as only fit for the ignorant and vulgar, as apples and pears are for children.

Paulus tries to prove the great Saxon a Rationalist by the following circumstance. The Elector of Brandenburg having asked Luther if it were true that he had said he should not stop unless convinced from Scripture, received this reply: "Yes, my lord, unless I am convinced by clear and evident reasons!" It was a favorite view of the Rationalists that the Reformation had been produced by Reason asserting her rights; and it was then an easy step to take, when they claimed as much right to use Reason within the domain of Protestantism as their fathers possessed when within the pale of Catholicism.

But there were wide points of difference between the Reformers and Rationalists. The former would return to the spirit and letter of the Word of God, while the latter did not hesitate to depart from both. The former accepted the Bible as it is, making Faith its interpreter; the latter would only construe its utterances as Reason would dictate.

With the Reformers there was a conflict between the Bible and the Roman church, but harmony between Reason and the Bible; hence these two homogeneous elements should be united and the rebellious one forever discarded. But with the Rationalists there was an irreconcilable difference between Reason and Revelation, and the latter must be moulded into whatever shape the former chose to mark out. The Reformers celebrated the reunion of both; but the Rationalists never rested as long as there was any hope of putting asunder those whom they believed God had never joined together. But the later Rationalists, least of all, could claim consanguinity with the Reformers. How could they who banished miracles from the Scriptures and reduced Christ to a much lower personality than even the Ebionites declared him to be, dare to range themselves in the circle of the honored ones who had unsealed the long-locked treasures of inspiration, and declared that Christ, instead of being an inferior Socrates, was divine, and the only worthy mediator between God and man? After we accept every reasonable apology for this destructive skepticism there will still be found a large balance against it. There are four considerations which must always be borne in mind when we would decide on the character of any development of religious doubt and innovation. 1. The necessity for its origin and development; 2. Its point of attack; 3. The spirit with which it conducts its warfare; and 4. The success which it achieves.

Let us see how Rationalism stands the test of these criteria. It must be confessed that the German Protestant church, both the Lutheran and Reformed, called loudly for reinvigoration. But it was Faith, not Reason, that could furnish the remedy. The Pietistic influence was gaining ground and fast achieving a good work; but it was reprobated by the idolaters of Reason, and the tender plant was touched by the fatal frost. Had Pietism, with all its extravagances, been fostered by the intellect of the pulpits and universities it would have accomplished the same work for Germany in the seventeenth that the Wesleys and Whitefield wrought in England in the eighteenth century. There was no call for Rationalism, though its literary contributions to the church and the times will eventually be highly useful; but they were ill-timed in that season of remarkable religious doubt. It was the warmth of the heart, and not the cold logic of the intellect that could rejuvenate the church.

Nor do we find the position of Rationalism to be any better when we call to mind that it really acknowledges no hallowed ground. It attacked the most endeared doctrines of our faith, and applied its enginery to those very parts of our citadel which we would be most likely to defend the longest. Had it contented itself with the mere discussion of minor points, with here and there a quibble about a miracle or a prophecy, we could excuse many of its vagaries on the score of enthusiasm. But its premiss was, "We will accept nothing between the two lids of this Book if our Reason cannot fathom it." Hence, all truth, every book of the Bible, even the sacraments of the church, came in for their share of discussion and pruning. In this respect Rationalism takes rank as one of the most corrupt tendencies of infidelity which appears anywhere upon the page of ecclesiastical history. But do we find its spirit mild and amiable? Some of the Rationalists were naturally men of admirable temperament, but this was no effect of their faith. The most lamentable feature of this whole system was the ruthless character of its warfare. The professions of love for the Scriptures and the church, which we so often meet with in the writings of the early Rationalistic divines, were soon laid aside. The demon of destruction presided over the storm. And the work of ruin was rapid, by forced marches and through devious paths,—in the true military style. When the hour of fight came there was no swerving. Men full of the spirit of a bad cause will sometimes fight as valiantly as others for a good one; but it is then that God determines the victor. The evangelical Christians of Protestant Germany saw their banner captured by their foes. And it was their foes who gave the first fire; but they will not be so fortunate in the last encounter. We challenge Deism and even Atheism itself, to furnish proof of a more malignant antipathy to some of the cardinal doctrines of the common faith of Christendom than Rationalism has produced in certain ones of its exponents, and which we shall strive to expose in future pages of this work. Some of the Rationalists were John-like in all they did, save when they discussed the holy truths of inspiration. Then they were possessed by the evil spirit. Nowhere can we find a more deplorable example of the disastrous effects of a false creed on the human character. It is an infallible law of our nature that the mind, not less than the body, becomes depraved by an impure diet. Many persons have been permanently injured by reading the Briefe ueber den Rationalismus, and other works which Rationalism has published against the doctrines of Revelation.

As far as the completeness and speed of the work of Rationalism are concerned we shall find that it ranks with the most rapid and destructive errors that have ever risen in conflict with the church. Instead of striving to build up a land that had so long been cursed with the blight of Papacy, and had not yet been redeemed a full century, this evil brought its quota of poison into the university, the pulpit, and the household circle. Nor did it cease, as we shall see, until it corrupted nearly all the land for several generations. To-day the humblest peasant who steps on our shore at Castle Garden will stare in wonder as you speak of the final judgment, the immortality of the soul, and the authenticity of the Scriptures. Naturalism could not live thus long in Italy, nor Deism in England, nor the blind Atheism of the Encyclopaedists in France; neither in either land was the work of destruction so complete.

But the church has proved herself able to depose many corruptions of her faith; yet this attack upon her faith she has still to vanquish thoroughly. It is not works on the evidences of Christianity that she needs for the consummation of her great aim; and we trust that, by the divine blessing, the inquiry into the vagaries of Reason upon which we are now entering will not be without its effect upon the young mind of America. Our task is simply to lift the finger of warning against the increasing influx of Rationalistic tendencies from France and England; which lands had first received them from Germany. One of our great dangers lies in permitting Reason to take our premises and build her own conclusions upon them. There is an intimate union between theology and philosophy; and anything less than the pursuit and cultivation of a sound philosophy will endanger our theology. Tennyson gives a beautiful word of advice when he says:

"Hold thou the good: define it well: For fear divine Philosophy Should push beyond her mark, and be Procuress to the Lords of Hell."


[1] Tholuck, Herzog's Real-Encyclopaedie. Art. Rationalismus.

[2] Trench, Study of Words, p. 147.

[3] As a fair specimen of the extent to which philological criticism is often carried by some of our German friends, when advocating a doubtful cause, we quote a paragraph in point from Dr. Rueckert's work, Der Rationalismus, one of the latest and feeblest apologies for neological thought:

"What is Rationalism? We must try to get the meaning from the term itself. And what sort of a term is it? Barbarous enough! Its root is ratio, but it is directly from rationalis that the word in question is derived. Now this word is good enough in itself, for it signifies what is conformable to reason, that which possesses the attributes and methods of reason. Man is a rational animal, and it is his rationality that distinguishes him from all other animals. So much for this part of the word Rationalism. Now for the barbarous part of it, the -ism. This termination belongs to another language, the Greek -ismos, and is derived from a verbal ending which cannot be expressed in Latin, namely—izein. Now if we examine certain intransitive verbs, such as medizein, lakonizein, rhomaizein, attikizein, we shall find their common peculiarity is that the persons meant are not the real persons which the words seem to signify, but only act in their capacity. Not a real Mede medizei; no true Spartan lakonizei; and so of all the rest. But those Greeks who would rather belong to the Medes than be freemen, act like Medes, would prefer to be under Median rulemedizousin. This -ismos is a termination from this class of verbs, and is employed in reproach and not in praise. Hence Rationalist is a term of contempt, and means not one who is really reasonable, but would like to pass for such." Of course the Doctor concludes that the word is a most flagrant and unrighteous misnomer; but we accept his philology and return him our thanks for his etymological study.

[4] Geschichte des Rationalismus und Supernaturalismus, pp. 3-4.

[5] De Rationalismi: A Disputation at Leipzig.

[6] State of Protestantism in Germany. pp. XXII-XXVI.

[7] Thoughts on Rationalism. pp. 23-32.

[8] Histoire du Rationalisme. pp. 1-6.

[9] History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe. By W. E. H. Lecky, M. A. 2 vols. Longmans, London, 1865.

[10] History of the Rise and Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, vol. I., pp. 183-185.



A work of such magnitude as the Reformation could not easily be consummated in one generation. The real severance from the Roman Catholic church was effected by Luther and Melanchthon; but these men did not live long enough to give the symmetry and polish to their work which it really needed. Unfortunately, their successors failed to perform the necessary task. But lofty as our ideas of the Reformation should be, we must not be blind to the fact that German Protestantism bears sad evidences of early mismanagement. To-day, the Sabbath in Prussia, Baden, and all the Protestant nationalities is hardly distinguishable from that of Bavaria, Austria, Belgium, or France. But a few bold words from Martin Luther on the sanctity of that day, as the Scriptures declare it, would have made it as holy in Germany as it now is in England and the United States. Another error, not so great in itself as in the evils it induced, was the concessions which Protestantism granted to the civil magistrate. The friendly and heroic part which the Elector of Saxony took in the labors of the Reformers, made it a matter of deference to vest much ecclesiastical authority in the civil head. But when, in later years, this confidence was abused, it was not so easy to alter the conditions of power. We see in this very fact one of the underlying causes of the great Rationalistic defection. The individual conscience was allowed almost no freedom at certain periods. The slightest deviation from the mere expression of doctrine was visited with severe penalty. Strigel was imprisoned; Hardenberg was deposed and banished; Peucer doomed to ten years' imprisonment; Cracau put to death on the slightest pretenses; and Huber was deposed and expatriated for a mere variation in stating the Lutheran doctrine that none are excluded from salvation.[11]

There were several causes which contributed to the intemperate controversies that sprang up immediately after the Reformation. The Reformers were involved in serious disputes among themselves. Had Luther and Zwinglius never uttered the word Consubstantiation they would have gained multitudes to the cause they both loved so dearly. Many other questions, which unfortunately occupied so much public attention, caused minute divisions among those who should have stood firm and united in that plastic period of the great movement. But it is to the numerous confessions of faith that we must attribute most of these controversies. Perhaps the grave character of the master-points at issue with Romanism demanded these closely-succeeding expressions of doctrinal opinion; but we question if the advantage was not much less than the outlay. First of all came Melanchthon's celebrated Augsburg Confession, in 1530. The Roman Catholics replied by their Confutation, which, in turn, was answered by Melanchthon in the Apology of the Confession. Luther followed in 1536-'37 with his Articles of Smalcald, and still later by his two Catechisms. In 1577 came the Formula Concordiae, and in 1580 the symbolical canon entitled Liber Concordiae.

Amid this mass of doctrinal opinion in which many conflicting points were easy enough to find, it was no small task to know what to accept. The air was filled with the sounds of strife. Those who had fought so steadfastly against Papacy were now turning their weapons in deadly strife against each other.

The very names by which Church History has recorded the memory of these strifes indicate the real littleness of many of the points in question. The Antinomian Controversy originated with John Agricola during Luther's life-time. Agricola, in many severe expressions, contended against the utility of the Law; though Mosheim thinks he intended to say nothing more than that the ten laws of Moses were intended chiefly for the Jews, and that Christians are warranted in laying them aside. The Adiaphoristic Controversy was caused by the difference between the moderate views of Melanchthon and the more rigid doctrines of the orthodox Lutherans. We have next the controversy between George Major and Nicolas Amsdorf, as to whether good works are necessary to salvation, or whether they possess a dangerous tendency. The Synergistic Controversy considered the relations of divine grace and human liberty. The dispute between Victorin Strigel and Matthias Flacius was on the nature of Original Sin. Then we have the Osiandric Controversy, on the relation of justification to sanctification; and the Crypto-Calvinistic Controversy, concerning the Lord's Supper, which extended through the Palatinate to Bremen and through Saxony. The Formula Concordiae thus sums up the Lutheran controversies: 1. Against the Antinomians insisting on the preaching of the law. 2. Justification as a declarative act, against Osiander; good works are its fruits. 3. Synergism is disavowed, but the difficulty left indefinite. 4. Adiaphora are admitted, but in times of trial declared to be important. 5. Consubstantiation, and ubiquity of Christ's body.

The Reformed or Calvinistic church was likewise engaged in doctrinal disputation, but there was more internal unity. Hence, while Calvinism was rooting itself in England, Scotland, and Holland, Lutheranism was spending itself in internal strife.

The Syncretistic Controversy was remarkable on account of the great men who engaged in it and the noble purpose which caused it. It arose from an attempt to reconcile all the disputants under the Apostles' Creed.

George Calixtus was the chief actor in the movement. He was a most cultivated theologian. But, like so many of his fellow countrymen, whose merits have not yet been appreciated by the English-speaking people, he is little known to our readers of ecclesiastical history. He applied himself first to the study of the Church Fathers, poring over their voluminous productions with all the zeal of an enthusiast. He was eager to gain an insight into contemporaneous theology as it was believed and practised by all the sects. He concluded that he could gain his object only by travel and personal observation. Consequently, he commenced a tour through Belgium, England, France, and various parts of Germany. Nor did he hasten from one place to another, but continued a length of time, in order to become imbued with the local spirit, make the acquaintance of the most illustrious men, hold conversations with them, and commit his thoughts to writing. On his return he commenced the labors of a professor of theology at Helmstedt. Thus, few men ever brought to their aid more extensive acquirements than Calixtus. Besides the advantages he derived from his travels, he was possessed of strong and brilliant natural talents. He was bold and striking in his style; had great originality of conception, and remarkable logical acuteness. Yet he received but little justice from his generation; for almost everything he wrote was made the theme of mad disputes and violent abuse.

The controversies of the period made a profound impression on the mind of Calixtus. The anger and personality with which they were conducted were sufficient proof to him of the little service they were able to contribute to either the improvement of theology or the religious growth of the people. To reconcile the various sects was the dream of his whole life. Referring to his early desires in this direction, he thus wrote in later years: "I was cogitating methods, even at that early age, for mitigating the feuds and dissensions of Christians.... One thing, however, is clear, that if men's minds were not bound by prejudices, they would remit a great deal of rigor."[12] Those were sincere words, too, which he said on beholding the rancor of sectarianism: "If I may but help towards the healing of our schisms, I will shrink from no cares and no night-watchings; no effort and no dangers; ... nay, I will never spare either my life or my blood, if so be I may purchase the peace of the church. For nothing can ever be laid upon me so heavy but that I would undertake it, not only with readiness, but also with gladness." The abuses of preaching, then prevalent, were also a theme of intense sorrow to him. What some of them were may be easily gathered from a passage in his course of lectures on the Four Evangelists to the students of Helmstedt. "It is evident," he says, "that in every interpretation the chief heed is to be given to the literal sense. In every address to the people this must be made the principal point—so to explain the text of Scripture that men may understand what the Holy Spirit chiefly and primarily intends to teach by it. Inasmuch, too, as the language is addressed to the people, it is the part of prudence to decide what words may suit their capacity. We should strive to state the fact on the doctrine itself in words as fitting and simple as possible, and (omitting all controversial subtleties) to prove the truth as far as it is necessary for salvation to be known, by a few words of Scripture:—few, that they may not escape the memory of the hearers; evident and convincing, lest the proofs seem doubtful, and the minds of the more intelligent be left in suspense and be disturbed to their very exceeding harm. The words of the Fathers (if used by way of evidence) should be used sparingly and with caution; lest the ignorant should confound the Apostles and Prophets with the Fathers, and persuade themselves that all have equal authority. For it is to be borne in mind that sermons are preached not so much for the benefit of the learned as for the sake of the people generally; that they may be rightly instructed in the doctrine of salvation and of Christian morals. In the meantime we must do our best to satisfy all; that the simple be not left without needful teaching; the more acute find no want of force and argument; nor the learned charge the preacher with a pride of knowledge foreign to the occasion and not always thorough."[13]

In his first controversial work, Chief Points of the Christian Religion, Calixtus gave expression to many solid thoughts, which subsequently produced an abundant harvest. His Theological Apparatus was written for young ministers, and designed to meet the immediate necessities of the times. But it is to his great work, the Desire and Effort for Ecclesiastical Concord, that we must turn to find the true man spending his greatest power toward the unification of Christians. In terms of communion, he contends, we must distinguish between what is, and what is not, essential to salvation. In all that relates to the Christian mysteries we must content ourselves with the quod and not dispute about the quo modo. In stating these mysteries we should use the simplest language. There is a natural brotherhood of men, and this should bind them together in matters of religion. We must love all men, even idolaters, in order to save them. The Jews and Mohammedans stand nearer to us than they, and we should cherish affection also for them. Those who are most closely united to us are all who believe that they can be saved only by the merits of Christ. All who thus recognize the saving power of Christ are members of his body, brothers and sisters with him. We should live, therefore, as members of one family, though adhering to different sects.

But we must not be neutral. Every one should join the church to which his own conscientious convictions would lead him. Yet when we do this, we must love all who think differently. Those who have been martyrs for the Christian faith were in the right path; we cannot do better than to follow them in love and doctrine. The outpouring of the Spirit would be meagre indeed if the church existed for the stringent Lutherans alone.[14]

But the intense desire of Calixtus to unite the various Christian bodies was poorly rewarded by the sympathy of his contemporaries. He was charged with religious indifference because he looked with mildness on those who differed from him. Though a strict Lutheran, he was accused of secretly favoring the Reformed church; and Arianism and Judaism were imputed to him, because he thought that the doctrine of the Trinity was not revealed with equal clearness in the Old and New Testaments! When he affirmed that the epithets Lutheran, Reformed, and Romanist should not destroy the idea of Christian in each, he was foully vilified for opening the gate of heaven to the abandoned of all the earth. A friendly man said that he was "a good and venerable theologian," and for this utterance the offender was subjected to a heavy fine. The friends of Calixtus were termed by one individual "bloodhounds and perjurers." Another declared that "he tuned his lyre to Judaizers and Arianizers and Romanizers and Calvinizers, and that he showed a spirit so coarse and shameless that never the like had been before." Still another compared him to Julian the Apostate.

But previous controversies and the ever-increasing points of divergence had so estranged the different churches that the labors of Calixtus to unite them proved unavailing. His influence was lessened because of the disputes into which his bold undertaking led him. But he quickened national thought, turned theologians to looking deeper into the Scriptures than had been the practice since the Reformation, and established the difference between the essential and non-essential in matters of faith. The cause of his failure to unite the discordant church was his fearless attack on popular error. But his disappointment detracts nothing from the grandeur of his work; and his name is one which will not be denied its meed of praise when theological peace is once more restored to Germany. No generation can duly value a character whose life is not in consonance with the prevailing spirit of that generation. As the military hero must not expect his greenest laurels in time of peace, and as the sage must not dream of praise in an uncultivated period, so must such men as George Calixtus wait for a coming day whose untainted atmosphere will be in harmony with their own pure life and thoughts.

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