but look at the facts; why not in eternity? “Morality,” as others have confessed, is “the nature of things”! Not the Being of God is discussed—Butler will not waste words on triflers (as he thinks them) who deny that—but God’s character. Unfortunately (perhaps) Butler prefers to argue on admitted principles; holds much of his own moral belief in reserve; tries to reduce everything to a question of probable fact. If this hampers him in part i., the situation appears still worse in part ii., which is directly occupied with the defence of Christianity. Butler says nothing about incomprehensible mysteries, and protests that reason is the only ground we have to proceed upon. But by treating the atonement simply as revealed (and unexplained) matter of fact—in spite of some partial analogies in human experience, a thing essentially anomalous—Butler repeats, and applies to the moral contents of Christianity, what Aquinas said of its speculative doctrines. (Whether one calls the unknowable a revealed mystery or an unexplained and inexplicable fact makes little difference.) William Paley (1743-1805) borrows from many writers; he borrows Lardner’s learning and Butler’s “particular evidence for Christianity,” viz. miracles, prophecy and “history”; and he states his points with perfect clearness. No man ever filled a typical position more exactly than Paley. Eighteenth-century ethics—Hedonism, with a theological background. Empiricist Natural Theology—the argument from Design. Christian Evidences—the strong probability of the resurrection of Christ and the consequent authority of his teaching. Horae Paulinae—mutual confirmations of Acts and Epistles; better, though one-sided. When such exclusively “external” arguments are urged, the contents of Christianity go for next to nothing.
VI. Later Modern Period.—Towards the end of the 18th century a new epoch of reconstruction begins in the thought and life of civilization. The leader in speculative philosophy is Immanuel Kant, though he includes many agnostic elements, and draws the inference (which some things in the letter of Butler might seem to warrant) that the essence of Christianity is an ethical theism. While he thus created a new and more ethical “rationalism,” Kant’s many-sided influence, alike in philosophy and in theology, worked to further issues. He (and other Germans, but not G. W. F. Hegel) was represented in England in a fragmentary way by S. T. Coleridge (1772-1834), probably the most typical figure of his period—another layman. His general thought was that “rationalism” represents an uprising of the lower reason or “understanding” against the higher or true “reason.” The mysteries of theology are its best part—not alien to reason but of its substance, the “logos.” This is to upset the compromise of Aquinas and go back to a Christian platonism. Of course the difficulty revives again: If a philosophy, why supernaturally revealed? Thomas Arnold, criticizing Edward Hawkins, appeals rather to the atonement as deeper neglected truth. So in Scotland, Thomas Erskine and Thomas Chalmers—the latter in contradiction to his earlier position—hold that the doctrine of salvation, when translated into experience, furnishes “internal evidence”—a somewhat broader use of the phrase than when it applies merely to evidence of date or authorship drawn from the contents of a book. This gives a new and moral filling to the conception of “supernatural revelation” The attempt to work out either of the reactions against Thomism in new theological systems is pretty much confined to Germany. Hegel’s theological followers, of every shade and party, represent the first, and Schleiermacher’s the second. Schleiermacher rejects natural religion in favour of the positive religions, while the school of A. Ritschl and W. Herrmann reject natural theology outright in favour of revelation—a striking external parallel to early Socinianism. British and American divines, on the other hand, are slow to suspect that a new apologetic principle may mean a new system of apologetics, to say nothing of a new dogmatic. Among the evangelicals, for the most part, natural theology, far from being rejected, is not even modified, and certain doctrines continue to be described as incomprehensible mysteries. No Protestant, of course, can agree with Roman Catholic theology that (supernatural) faith is an obedient assent to church authority and the mysteries it dictates. To Protestantism, faith is personal trust. But the principle is hardly ever carried out to the end. Mysterious doctrines are ascribed by Protestants to scripture; so half of revelation is regarded as matter for blind assent, if another half is luminous in experience. The movement of German philosophy which led from Kant to Hegel has indeed found powerful British champions (T. H. Green, J. and E. Caird, &c.), but less churchly than Coleridge (or F. D. Maurice or B. F. Westcott), though churchly again in J. R. Illingworth and other contributors to Lux Mundi (1890). Before this wave of thought, H. L. Mansel tried (1858) to play Pascal’s game on Kantian principles, developing the sceptical side of Kant’s many-faceted mind. But as he protested against relying on the human conscience—the one element of positive conviction spared by Kant—his ingenuity found few admirers except H. Spencer, who claims him as justifying anti-Christian agnosticism. Butler’s tradition was more directly continued by J. H. Newman—with modifications on becoming a Roman Catholic in the light of the church’s decision in favour of Thomism. A. M. Fairbairn (Catholicism, Roman and Anglican, ch. v., and elsewhere) and E. A. Abbott (Philomythus, and elsewhere) suspect Newman of a sceptical leaven and extend the criticism to Butler’s doctrine of “probability.” Yet it seems plain that any theology, maintaining redemption as historical fact (and not merely ideal), must attach religious importance to conclusions which are technically probable rather than proven. If we transfer Christian evidence from the “historical” to the “philosophical” with H. Rashdall—we surely cut down Christianity to the limits of theism. And the inner mind of Butler has moral anchorage in the Analogy, quite as much as in the Sermons. It is in part ii. more than in part i. of his masterpiece that the light seems to grow dim. Another of the Oxford converts to Rome, W. G. Ward, made vigorous contributions to natural theology.
VII. Contents of Modern Apologetics.—Superficially regarded, philosophy ebbs and flows, whatever progress the debate may reveal to speculative insight. Old positions re-emerge from forgetfulness, and there is always a philosophy to back every “case.” More visible dangers arise for the apologist in the region of science, historical or physical. There the progress of truth, within whatever limits, is manifest. Essays and Reviews (1860) was a vehement announcement of scientific results—startling English conservatism awake for the first time. And in the scientific region the great apologetic classics, like Butler, are hopelessly out of date. The modern apologist must do ephemeral work—unless it should chance that he proves to be the skirmisher, pioneering for a modified dogmatic. He holds a watching brief. While he must beware of hasty speech, he has often to plead that new knowledge does not really threaten faith; or that it is not genuinely established knowledge at all; or else, that faith has mistaken its own grounds, and will gain strength by concentrating on its true field. The work is not always well done; but the Christian church needs it.
1. Apologetics and Philosophy.—The main part of this subject is discussed under Theism. Some notes may be added on special points, (a) Freewill is generally assumed on the Christian side (R. C. Church; Scottish philosophy; H. Lotze; J. Martineau; W. G. Ward. Not in a libertarian sense; Leibnitz. New and obscure issues raised by Kant). But there is no continuous tradition or steady trend of discussion. (b) Personal immortality is affirmed as philosophically certain by the Church of Rome and many Protestant writers. Others teach “conditional immortality.” Others base the hope on belief in the resurrection of Christ, (c) Theodicy—the tradition of Leibnitz is preserved (on libertarian lines) by Martineau (A Study of Religion, 1883). See also F. R. Tennant’s Origin and Propagation of Sin (1902)—sin a “bye-product” of a generally good evolution. Others find in the gospel of redemption the true theodicy. (d) The problem of Christian apologetic has been simplified in the past by the prevalence of the Christian ethics and temper even among many non-Christians (e.g. J. S. Mill). But hereafter it may not prove possible for the apologist to assume as unchallenged the Christian