The critics of the Church, of course, seized on this evidence with avidity; it did but confirm the conclusion at which they had arrived from a study of classical antiquity. Within the Church, on the other hand, people witnessed the emergence in some quarters of a world-historical perspective. The rationalism of the eighteenth century operated with the same materials but produced a different structure. It denied an original revelation from which the race had fallen away, and had therefore to work with the hypothesis of a development, truth lying in the future rather than the past. The overcoming of rationalism had begun with Lessing, when he formulated the idea of a historical process in which each of the religions had its part to play. But he was not able to develop this, and he fell back in the end on the poverty of natural religion.