An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 317 pages of information about An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant.


Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in 1772 at his father’s vicarage, Ottery St. Mary’s, Devonshire.  He was the tenth child of his parents, weak in frame, always suffering much.  He was a student at Christ’s Hospital, London, where he was properly bullied, then at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he did not take his degree.  For some happy years he lived in the Lake region and was the friend of Wordsworth and Southey.  He studied in Goettingen, a thing almost unheard of in his time.  The years 1798 to 1813 were indeed spent in utter misery, through the opium habit which he had contracted while seeking relief from rheumatic pain.  He wrote and taught and talked in Highgate from 1814 to 1834.  He had planned great works which never took shape.  For a brief period he severed his connexion with the English Church, coming under Unitarian influence.  He then reverted to the relation in which his ecclesiastical instincts were satisfied.  We read his Aids to Reflection and his Confessions of an Enquiring Spirit, and wonder how they can ever have exerted a great influence.  Nevertheless, they were fresh and stimulating in their time.  That Coleridge was a power, we have testimony from men differing among themselves so widely as do Hare, Sterling, Newman and John Stuart Mill.  He was a master of style.  He had insight and breadth.  Tulloch says of the Aids, that it is a book which none but a thinker upon divine things will ever like.  Not all even of these have liked it.  Inexcusably fragmentary it sometimes seems.  One is fain to ask:  What right has any man to publish a scrap-book of his musings?  Coleridge had the ambition to lay anew the foundations of spiritual philosophy.  The Aids were but of the nature of prolegomena.  For substance his philosophy went back to Locke and Hume and to the Cambridge Platonists.  He had learned of Kant and Schleiermacher as well.  He was no metaphysician, but a keen interpreter of spiritual facts, who himself had been quickened by a particularly painful experience.  He saw in Christianity, rightly conceived, at once the true explanation of our spiritual being and the remedy for its disorder.  The evangelical tradition brought religion to a man from without.  It took no account of man’s spiritual constitution, beyond the fact that he was a sinner and in danger of hell.  Coleridge set out, not from sin alone, but from the whole deep basis of spiritual capacity and responsibility upon which sin rests.  He asserts experience.  We are as sure of the capacity for the good and of the experience of the good as we can be of the evil.  The case is similar as to the truth.  There are aspects of truth which transcend our powers.  We use words without meaning when we talk of the plans of a being who is neither an object for our senses nor a part of our self-consciousness.  All truth must be capable of being rendered into words conformable to reason.  Theologians had declared

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An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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