The student of history who approaches his subject in the light of Christian Science is early impressed with the evidence that underneath the surface conflict in human affairs, the steady, orderly, and irresistible unfolding of good is in process. As the clouds of conflicting theories clear away from any age and the proper perspective is obtained, the constructive work of Principle lies revealed to the seeing eye. Even in the mists of transition periods it is quite possible to discover the animating spirit of the forward urge, while the outlines of definite movements are yet veiled in obscurity. The advantage of such discovery lies in the fact that it enables one intelligently to cooperate with rather than resist the age current.
In the early nineteenth century it was evident that Anglo-Saxon thought was strongly setting toward new channels and was leading the world toward a transition period of great import. By the middle of the century every line of activity was beginning to respond to the new impulse. The most obvious manifestation of the tide was a constantly increasing number of mechanical inventions which were revolutionizing industry. By this time the spirit of the incoming period was definitely definable as "scientific" and the dominating movement was called an industrial revolution.
The thought of the preceding period was keyed to the Renaissance mood. It found expression in an ardent appreciation of the classics, an outburst of speculative philosophy, and in literature it reached its highest note in the Shakespearean drama. A generous devotion to authority, philosophic theorizing, and keen imagination characterized the mental attitude. Quite the reverse was the new scientific attitude. It cared not a whit for tradition, or what its ancestors thought. It met every theory with the blunt challenge, Will it work? Imagination found little range except in constructing hypotheses as a basis for experimentation. It was definitely in search of demonstrable truth, and its angle of vision was primarily the practical. Throughout the latter half of the century the Renaissance spirit rapidly ebbed, while the scientific was approaching flood tide and the opening years of the twentieth century found it dominating all development.