Maurice was a fearless thinker, educationalist and social reformer, who made a profound impression upon his contemporaries, but it is mainly as a man of religion that he is remembered. Maurice came to his theological beliefs only after painful inward struggle. He was more than a man of brilliant intellect – he was utterly dedicated – and his religious beliefs were ground out in the mill of his own experience. He was never afraid to look unpleasant facts in the face, and his intellectual honesty challenges modern man as much as it did his own generation.
Maurice’s magnum opus was The Kingdom of Christ, published in 1838, and its relevance is clear at a time when the relationship between Church and State is being discussed. One can find in these pages Maurice’s eager quest for a firm foundation for his own faith, and its expression in the Anglican church. Yet his ideas transcend his churchmanship, and he is regarded as the most significant influence in the religious life and thought of England during the nineteenth century, combining prophetic witness, systematic thought, and creative endeavour, unified and inspired by the ceaseless aspiration of a life consecrated to sanctity. Not for nothing did Gladstone describe him as ‘a spiritual splendour’.