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commencing with Lessing and culminating in Baur, grows out of this truth pursued into excess. On the Positivist theory Christianity is the necessary result of previous antecedents. It could not but have arisen out of the contact of Jewish Monotheism
and Greek speculation and Roman Empire. This When the explanation (even if true of a system of dogmas) allowed does not, as we have already seen, account for an
historic Gospel, that is, for the series of facts on which Christian dogmas depend. But the still larger fact that the announcement of the religion of Christ was in accordance with the spirit and antecedents of its time, the culmination of an
Evangelical Preparation ;2 and further, that in its
an history it has followed the course of laws unreevangeli.
servedly accepted in other departments of knowparation
ledge and action, this result should be a confirmation, not an arraignment, of its truth. It is no tenet of the Christian faith to deny that we are the “ heirs of all the ages,” or, in the expressive words of Comte, that “ we who live are ruled by the dead.” The continuity and solidarity of human Gesch. 3. Theil, III. ii. Mr. Buckle, Hist. Civ., II. 21, attributes the first notion of a theory of religious development to the French writer, Charron.
1 See Comte, Phil. Pos., V. 349, and Prof. Westcott's just remarks (Comte on Christianity), Cont. Rev., VI. 404. Dr. Dorner, Hist. Prot. Th., II. 291, traces this view to Eberhard in his Geist des Ur-Christenthums, published in 1807.
2 On this grand theory of Christian development, the contribution of the School of Alexandria to a history of doctrine, see Neander, Ch. Hlist., II. 275, E. T., ed. Clark.
history are ideas which lie at the root of the doctrines of Christ. Time has been when, through an unconscious lack of faith in the ordinary providence of God, the progress of Christianity has been too largely assigned to miraculous and supernatural causes. It was narrowed accordingly to false or unimportant issues. The humbler, if safer, This some
times lost road of regular and ordinary causation was deemed sight of. unmeet for it. The presence of the Divine message and its efficacy were hailed more readily in the rending earthquake and the great strong wind, and in the devouring fire, than in the still small voice of moral conviction and spiritual transformation, borne slowly down the stream of time. But now Present
tendency men think and see differently, and looking back of the age. we seem to catch the breath of a Divine mystery, mingling ever silently with the voices and tones of men, and tempering with a heavenly calm the fevered spirit of the age. It is not now argued that the rise and progress of Christianity are inexplicable: but rather that its results prove
See some good remarks of Dean Merivale, Conversion of Empire, p. 20. “The human mind continued to work by its old accustomed methods; but those methods of thought were themselves of God's original appointment. The Holy Spirit had brooded over their creation, and guided them gently to the end which to Him was present from the beginning." Also Northern Nations, pp. x. 103; and Dorner's remarks on Lessing, Hist. Prot. Th., II. 303.
2 See Mr. Lecky, Hist. Eur, M., I. 412.
3“ Perhaps," says Laud, Conf. p. xxiii., “there may be in voce hominum tuba Dei-in the still voice of men the loud trumpet of God which sounds many ways, sometimes to the ears and sometimes to the hearts of men, and by means which they think not of.”
its permanent and catholic character ; that it is a religion to take part and co-exist with advancing
civilization. Relation $ 12. Thus, in an estimate of the value of Chrislectual tianity as a permanent element in human progress, civiliza- some preliminary inquiry into the relation of intion.
tellectual conditions towards advance in morals and religion must come in. So long as it is maintained that all advance is really intellectual, and that knowledge and civilization tend rather to the extinction than to the promotion of religious sentiment, the situation of Christianity, equally indeed
with all creeds, becomes precarious and doubtful. impor. What, then, is meant in such discussions by civilizatance to the fact of tion ? Not, surely, one thing, but many ; not a the permanence simple, but a highly complex fact. It is, I appretianity. hend, the position or degree of education of the
human race at any given period, in respect not of Definition knowledge only, but of social and political condi
tion, dependent on circumstances of race, climate, and other special antecedents; further, also, in respect of moral and religious beliefs, acting conjointly with art and aesthetical development. All
See Mr. Buckle, Hist. Civ., I. c. iv. (more especially p. 182). His argument is that civilization is indeed the product of moral and intellectual agencies; but that as morality is really stationary and without advance, the intellect is the prime mover and is permanent in its results. In II. 89, he seems after Descartes to ground religion itself on an idea of the intellect. See, on the other hand, Mr. Lecky, Hist. Eur. M., 1. 105, 156, &c.
3 See Mill's Logic, Bk. VI., x. 2. “ What is called a state of society is
these elements may be present in a varying relation and in different proportions of force. All may together be acting feebly ; some vigorously, some a complex scarcely. Industrial and intellectual culture by no many facmeans advances uniformly in all its branches. It fors may, as in Ancient Greece, be far ahead of other elements of true culture, and be before its time. Knowledge may be at a low ebb in a community where religious convictions have a strong hold upon the hearts and affections of a people. Morality including may be weakest in respect of the conduct of the masses, while knowledge flourishes, and a spirit of inquiry is widely diffused. Such a result tends directly against true culture. The conditions of intellectual are not generally favourable to moral growth. Meanwhile, the political circumstances may be auspicious or unfavourable, while the social condition of a nation will exhibit the complex result
the simultaneous state of all the greater social facts or phenomena ... the common beliefs entertained on all the subjects most important to mankind, and the degree of assurance with which those beliefs are held," &c. So also Guizot (Civil. en France, Lec. i., p. 273), “It is not these two principles of themselves, which constitute civilization : to bring it to perfection, their intimate and rapid union, simultaneousness, and reciprocal action are absolutely necessary.” See the whole of the passage. Comp. also Grant's Bamp. Lect., p. 308. Mr. Tylor (Hist. Prim. Cult., I. p. 1) thus defines : “Culture or civilization taken in its wide ethnographic sense is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society."
1 See Mr. Tylor, u. s., I. 24. Comp. Comte, Phil. Pos., V. 252, 257.
? See Guizot, Civ, en France, I. 348: “When the social relations have been described, are the facts whose aggregate constitutes the life of an epoch exhausted ? Certainly not; there remains to be studied the
Ancid distinguished from modern civiliza
of the other elements of its civilization. Hence the differences of ancient and modern culture. They are not only distinct - stages of a common progress or development, to which man's nature points and tends. They have proceeded from different principles. Ancient civilization started from one alone, as in Athens from intellectual culture, in Rome from the principle of public utility, the submission of individual development to common good, the recognition and creation of law. Then, rapidly advancing, it became soon exhausted and monotonous. In modern times, civilization is with more reason held dependent on the due disposition of all the various powers of human nature under social forms. The soul of man has accordingly been stirred upon a larger number of
points and to a greater depth. It has become more Expansion accessible to the power of new ideas. In this result of the religious the amelioration of social conditions has, no doubt,
reacted on humanity. And it may well be that, as man's nature and knowledge rise with culture, his religious sentiment also alters and expands. But, inversely, Christianity by first changing and regenerating human nature, has developed morally, internal, the personal state of men, the state of souls ; that is, on one side the ideas, doctrines, the whole intellectual life of man: on the other, the relations which connect ideas with actions, creeds with the determinations of the will, thought with human liberty." In II, 395 he blames Bossuet for having confined his view of civilization to religious creeds, and Montesquieu to political institutions.
I See Tylor, u. s., I. 25.