Religious Reaction and Revival
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Religious Reaction and Revival book
Though religion is the most stationary of all human institutions, preserving like fossils primeval rites and primitive creeds, yet it does change under the impact of social forces. So greatly did Christianity alter its mind and temper in the eighteenth century that some church historians have seen in the Enlightenment a more decisive break with the past than was made even by the Reformation. The design of Christianity is not to make good riddle-solvers or good mystery-mongers, but good men, good magistrates, and good subjects. The scandal of religious conflict that redounded to the advantage of the unbeliever was felt keenly by many Christians. As early as 1679 Leibniz planned an apology for Christianity which should conciliate Catholics while convincing atheists. Sapped by worldliness, bombarded by rationalism, crippled by internecine warfare, and oppressed by the state, Christianity, at least in its Protestant branch, evinced remarkable powers of recovery, of revival, of expansion, and of conquest.