While at the beginning of the eighteenth century, Turrettini and his disciples were keen to argue that Christian revelation was a necessary buttress to the findings of natural reason - in other words, that revelation confirmed and supported natural religion - by mid-century we find with increasing frequency the argument that revelation is necessary to buttress 'inner sentiment'. At about the same time, a new view of Jesus also emerged. Jesus had earlier been portrayed as a reasonable person, a moral teacher and guide, whose precepts were intelligible to thinking people and useful to society. Now we are told that Jesus speaks not so much to our reason as to our hearts; he speaks to us not just as intelligent creatures, but as sensitive souls. He is described as a generous and tender 'friend' who moves people to tears of compassion.
The sermons of this new crop of Genevan pastors are full of what we might call Enlightened Christian sentimentalism. They celebrate the 'sweet communication of sensitive hearts' that are 'the charm of society'.31 Insensitivity, rather than irrationality, is now the main problem in society. Insensitive people are unsociable people; they are 'hard' and 'cold'. They calculate rather than feel. They are unmoved by tender scenes, untouched by the sweet tears of compassion. While Christianity is useful to society because it functions as a 'bridle' to the passions, it is equally so by providing a 'spur' to the generous emotions.
The language ofthese sermons could be surprisingly sensual. The contemplation of the divine causes 'delicious' sentiments, pleasurable 'sensations', 'warm' feelings, overwhelming 'impressions'. Speaking of the experience triggered by reading the New Testament, Rochemont explains: you can 'feel' it 'penetrate' and 'warm up the heart'.32 Contemplating the divine stimulates and heightens all the natural penchants and inner sentiments implanted in human beings by God. 'Religion', we are told, 'only asks of you that you follow the sweetest and most beautiful of your natural penchants . . . [It] is the most beautiful privilege that could ever be given to reasonable and sensitive beings.'33
The language of Christian sentimentalism also became widespread in France during the latter half of the eighteenth century. There, too, a rationalist apologetics gradually gave way to a sentimentalist one. Thus, one finds that a popular manual on preaching advised priests to appeal more to the hearts of their parishioners. It was not enough to 'instruct' them; one had to 'move' them as well. Proofs of reason were simply inadequate without an appeal to 'the sentiments'. 'The multitude' was unswayed by intellectual arguments; they needed to be 'swept away' by their emotions. Man was much like a 'machine',
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