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contemptuously of positive religion, but taught that it was to be judged critically and philosophically, and also that the positive and historical doctrines of Christianity could be viewed as the sensible and figurative covering of simple and universal religious and moral doctrines. This philosophy had great influence upon every department of theological knowledge, and introduced more of speculation, depth, research, life and interest into studies of this nature. By it the tendency of the eighteenth century to deism was made perfectly manifest.
From this species of deism, various others arose, which agreed in nothing, but in entirely rejecting miracles, properly so called, as the foundation or any essential part of religion. During this century almost every system of philosophical religion or natural theology which had formerly prevailed among the Greeks and Romans was waked up and found its advocates, who have disputed with as much warmth as the most zealous theologians could have done. All these systems were of course set in opposition to any supernatural revelation. Every attempt, however, to make rational or natural religion the public and acknowledged form of religion, failed. The Bible was retained as the public standard of religion and morals, the historical foundation of the church, and the ancient symbols were not rejected ; but men endeavoured to derive as much of simple deism from the Bible as possible, and introduced it as far as they could into positive religion and church creeds. The later philosophical systems which have arisen in Germany, ascribe much more philosophical truth to Christianity, and even to church theology, than the previous systems had done, although in their definitions and explanations they differ much from each other. Kant explained the philosophical sense of Christianity differently from SCHELLING ; both, however, wished to honour Christianity as the public religion, and to unite it with reason, with which, from its origin, it was congenial.
The French nation had great influence in a variety of ways upon European literature, and upon theology, during the eighteenth century. This has already been alluded to, but it deserves to be presented in a different light. Among the Hugonots, whom Lewis XIV. expelled from France, and who settled in Holland, Germany, England and other parts of Europe were many learned men, who carried with them the refinement, to which the French language and literature had then attained ; and imparted much from this source to the literature of the several countries in which they settled. Among these were many learned theologians, who wrote upon the subjects of religion, with more taste, with greater knowledge of men, with more ease, grace and eloquence than were then usual, and which were united in most cases, with erudition and research. These men laboured and were initated in foreign lands. Bayle, Saurin, Beausobre, Lenfant, and others, are illustrious names in the history of theological literature. From France the custom spread itself still further, of writing upon learned subjects in vernacular tongues. This especially in theological knowledge produced a great revolution. With the old Latin terminology, which the public generally could not understand, and which scarcely admitted of translation, many old doctrines and opinions passed away. In living languages much could be expressed, for which no proper term was to be found in those that are dead. By thus writing in vernacular tongues, religious and theological doctrines came before the public generally, which they could not only learn, but upon which they also could sit in judgment, and thus they eould to a certain degree controul the learned theological order.
Theology became more popular and practical, though less profound.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a polemical spirit pervaded all departments of theology. As the different Christian parties persecuted and combate:
each other, thus also the learned theologians acted in presenting and promoting their opinions. But as by degrees, toleration, justice, equity and forbearance towards those who held a different faith, and professed a different system of Christianity made greater progress, so a more peaceful spirit extended itself in all theological matters. Polemics themselves, fell into disuse, and what still remained of them, was very different from what they had previously been, they were a mere critique and comparison of different systems. Men sought in their theological opinions and principles, to understand and coincide with each other; whilst before almost every discussion of the kind was undertaken with the view to destroy the opposite party, to cover it with obloquy, and widen the existing breach. The zealous controversy became more and more assimilated, to the mild discussion; and even this refrained from less important subjects, and concerned itself more with things than with persons. Men attended to theology more for their own improvement, than for the injury of their adversaries.
Deism which had gradually pervaded all branches of theology, was a kind of centrepoint for the different parties. It promoted toleration, because it was itself benefited by its prevalence.
But with the increasing spirit of toleration, a coldness and indifference towards religion, christianity, church order, and unity, gradually extended itself; resulting from causes which it is not my present business to unfold. This disposition has by degrees mingled itself with theology. Upon the whole, the earnest ness, the attention, the zeal, the diligence, the strong religious interest with which, formerly, this species of knowledge was cultivated, have declined. In both the previous centuries, the sources and treasures of theology were investigated with the greatest labour, and innumerable and generally very voluminous works were written ; during the eighteenth, these materials, thus prepared, were used and applied to more general purposes, and employed with more judgment ; although really erudite theology became gradually less rich. The different subjects of theology were indeed more separated, and in general they were reduced to more regularity of form ; they were treated with more philosophy and taste ; they were presented in union with more learning, and enriched with the literary treasures of the foregoing centuries. The directions for theological study, works prescribing the course the student should pursue, and theological cyclopedias became more numerous and important. Works of greater or less dimensions were composed, in which were given a systematic view of theological literature, an account of the contents of important books, and notices of the lives of ecclesiastical writers. Periodical works on theology, in every department, Journals, Bibliothecæ, Reviews, &c., commenced with the eighteenth century, and are still continued.
An account of Introductions to the study of Theology,
of Theological Cyclopedias, &c.
In the evangelical church, great changes have occurred during this period. The old Lutheran system, the centre of all theological knowledge and effort, lost by degrees its friends and defenders; as this was the result, in part, of the more extensive cultivation of other branches of theology, so it operated on the manner in which these branches were treated. The spirit of reform was constantly active in every department of theology, and gave rise to opinions in striking contrast with the symbolical books which men either would not or could not remove. All this happened first and principally in Germany, which was the most important evangelical country, as it regards theological science. Here, where the new evangelical system arose, it
was first undermined. Here have diligence, effort, research and erudition been devoted to this branch of knowledge, and more numerous aids been secured in its cultivation than in any other country. Here have appeared numerous works for prescribing the course of study, cyclopedias, and works which not only prescribe the course to be pursued, but the books the student ought to read.
Immediately after the commencement of this period, the important influence of the school of Spener upon the spirit and method of theological pursuits began to manifest itself. According to the principles of this school, more was to be expected in the formation of a genuine theologian, from true piety of heart and life, than from learning; that true theology was not merely a matter of speculative knowledge, but an inward light derived from God, through spiritual experience; that only those who have been regenerated could attain to this genuine theology ; that this new birth itself depended upon faith in the divinely revealed doctrines of the Holy Scriptures ; that although learning was not to be entirely neglected by the theologian, it possessed for him only a limited and subordinate importance ; and that it should in him always receive a practical tendency ; that between the formation of a learned theologian and a church pastor a difference should be made ; and that the course of public instruction should be accommodated to the latter class, as the most numerous ; that to the former a moderate and discrete study of philosophy should be permitted, and a deeper knowledge of theology should be made necessary ; yet the purely Biblical doctrines, as to faith and morals, were to be received and presented. They admitted a difference between theology and religion, but maintained that the former should be thoroughly pervaded by the latter. The most important means to be used in the education of a genuine theologian and teacher, should be practical, familiar and instructive lectures, joined with suitable instructions, exhortations, and warnings.