« Arnold, Nikolaus Arnold, Thomas Arnoldi, Bartholomæus »

Arnold, Thomas

ARNOLD, THOMAS: Master of Rugby and “Broad Church” leader; b. at West Cowes, Isle of Wight, June 13, 1795; d. at Rugby June 12, 1842. He studied at Warminster and Winchester schools and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, becoming a fellow of Oriel in 1815. He was ordained deacon in 1818, and in 1819 settled at Laleham, on the Thames near Staines, where he undertook to prepare a small number of young men for the universities. In 1828 he was ordained priest and appointed head master of Rugby; in 1841 be was made regius professor of modern history at Oxford, but delivered only one course of lectures. He is best known as one of the greatest of English schoolteachers; but he should be remembered no less as a keen-thinking and sharp-sighted leader of religious thought. Like Newman, Keble, and others of the reactionary High-church party, he was alarmed by the troubles political and otherwise, which appeared to be threatening the Church. But he sought safety by advocating that its doors should be opened so that all English Christians could find room within it. Differences of doctrine, constitution, and ritual he maintained were minor matters and should be disregarded; the essential thing in Christianity is practical godliness, manifesting itself in individual and social life. Church and State alike exist to help realise this ideal and each needs the other. 55It is Thomas Arnold, if any one, who must be regarded as the pioneer of free theology in England. . . . He was the first to show to his countrymen the possibility, and to make the demand, that the Bible should be read with honest human eyes, without the spectacles of orthodox dogmatic presuppositions, and that it can, at the same time be revered with Christian piety and made truly productive in moral life. He was the first who dared to leave on one side the traditional phraseology of the High-churchmen and the Evangelicals, and to look upon Christianity, not as a sacred treasure of the Churches and the sects, but as a divine beneficent power for every believer; not as a dead heritage from the past, but as a living spiritual power for the moral advancement of individuals and nations in the present. . . . He showed how classical and general historical studies may be pursued in the light of the moral ideas of Christianity, and how, on the other hand, a free and clear way of looking at things may be obtained by means of wide historical knowledge, and then applied to the interpretation of the Bible and the solution of current ecclesiastical questions. Thus he began to pull down the wall of separation which had out off the religious life of his fellow countrymen, with their sects and Churches and rigid theological formulas and usages, from the general life and pursuits of the nation. It is also clear as day that, if longer life had been granted him, the result of the further prosecution of his historical studies . . . would have been further insight and courage to apply his historical and critical principles to the Bible. At all events, his work was subsequently further prosecuted in this direction by his friends and pupils.—Pfleiderer, The Development of Theology in Germany since Kant and its Progress in Great Britain since 1825 (London, 1890), 367–368. His views were expressed 304in two pamphlets, The Principles of Church Reform (London, 1833) and Fragment on the Church (1844); his religious writings also include six volumes of Sermons. His historical works comprise an edition of Thucydides (3 vols., 1830–35); the History of Rome (3 vols., 1838–43, unfinished); History of the Later Roman Commonwealth (2 vols., 1845); Lectures on Modern History (Oxford, 1842).

Bibliography: A. P. Stanley, Life and Correspondence of Thomas Arnold, latest unabridged ed., London, 1901; Stanley collected also his Miscellaneous Works, 1845, and his Travelling Journals, 1852; DNB, ii. 113–117; J. Fitch, Thomas and Matthew Arnold and their Influence on English Education, London, 1897.

« Arnold, Nikolaus Arnold, Thomas Arnoldi, Bartholomæus »
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