effects of the division of the churches was the separation
of the education of the clergy from the universities,
the entrusting it to isolated theological schools
under denominational control. The system has
done less harm than might have been expected.
Yet at present there would appear to be a general
movement of recurrence to the elder tradition.
The maintenance of the religious life is to some extent
a matter of nurture and observances, of religious
habit and practice. This truth is one which liberals,
in their emphasis upon liberty and the individual,
are always in danger of overlooking. The great
revivals of religion in this century, like those of
the century previous, have been connected with a form
of religious thought pronouncedly pietistic. The
building up of religious institutions in the new regions
of the West, and the participation of the churches
of the country in missions, wear predominantly this
cast. Antecedently, one might have said that the
lack of ecclesiastical cohesion among the Christians
of the land, the ease with which a small group might
split off for the furtherance of its own particular
view, would tend to liberalisation. It is doubtful
whether this is true. Isolation is not necessarily
a condition of progress. The emphasis upon trivial
differences becomes rather a condition of their permanence.
The middle of the nineteenth century in the United
States was a period of intense denominationalism.
That is synonymous with a period of the stagnation
of Christian thought. The religion of a people
absorbed in the practical is likely to be one which
they at least suppose to be a practical religion.
In one age the most practical thing will appear to
men to be to escape hell, in another to further socialism.
The need of adjustment of religion to the great intellectual
life of the world comes with contact with that life.
What strikes one in the survey of the religious thought
of the country, by and large, for a century and a
quarter, is not so much that it has been reactionary,
as that it has been stationary. Almost every
other aspect of the life of our country, including
even that of religious life as distinguished from
religious thought, has gone ahead by leaps and bounds.
This it is which in a measure has created the tension
which we feel.
B. THE BACKGROUND
In England before the end of the Civil War a movement
for the rationalisation of religion had begun to make
itself felt. It was in full force in the time
of the Revolution of 1688. It had not altogether
spent itself by the middle of the eighteenth century.
The movement has borne the name of Deism. In
so far as it had one watchword, this came to be ‘natural
religion.’ The antithesis had in mind was
that to revealed religion, as this had been set forth
in the tradition of the Church, and particularly under
the bibliolatry of the Puritans. It is a witness
to the liberty of speech enjoyed by Englishmen in