be endowed. Some scholars have gone so far as to suggest that perhaps sensibility - sensibilité - rather than reason was the key term of the period. Sensibility denoted that peculiarly human faculty of feeling, a capacity for refined emotion and an inherent ability to experience compassion for others. Over the course of the century, it was increasingly argued that human beings would be moralized and social progress attained, not just through the faculty of reason, but through these natural sentiments.
Locke's pupil, the third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713), is often considered a founder of the sentimental philosophy. It is important to realize that although Shaftesbury deliberately divorced himself from the Christian tradition, many of those whom he inspired did not. In fact, Shaftesbury's terms and ideas were reinterpreted and incorporated by followers such as Joseph Butler and Francis Hutcheson into an eclectic kind of Christian Shaftesburianism. But the most important vehicle for sentimentalism in the eighteenth century was undoubtedly the novel, in particular, the novels of Laurence Sterne (who was, of course, himself a clergyman), Samuel Richardson and, at mid-century, JeanJacques Rousseau.
French-speaking Switzerland was very receptive to these Enlightenment trends. Literary scholars have noted that the sentimental novel experienced great success there, following the hugely popular works of Sterne and Richardson, which were translated, read, and imitated throughout the century And Jean-Jacques Rousseau caused a veritable sensation with his Nouvelle Héloise and Emile. However, what has not been noted is the extent to which Calvinist theologians and preachers also adopted the language of the sentimental novel. If, by the early part ofthe eighteenth century, they had absorbed the Huguenot, latitudinarian and Lockean language of reasonableness, by mid-century they were increasingly receptive to the language popularized by Shaftesbury's Chris-tianizers. Their very 'reasonable' religion was rapidly turning into a very 'sentimental' one as well.
In 1750, Jacob Vernet, the great advocate of a reasonable religion, promoted the publication of a work entitled Theorie des sentimens agwables. In the preface to this book, Vernet makes a few very interesting statements. God had endowed human beings with several faculties, he writes, all of them with the aim of leading them to happiness. Besides the intellectual faculties, there are bodily (corporelles) ones as well. God created man this way because He wanted to guide us 'not just by way of reasoning, but by way of instinct and sentiment, which is a more prompt and efficient spur [ressort]'. We learn from this preface that by 1750 Vernet had become convinced that what he called 'proofs of
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