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classes -- philosophers and statesmen - had completely emerged from the ancient modes of thought. To them, the national legends, so jealously guarded by Religious conthe populace, had become mere fictions. The dition of the miraculous conception of Rhea Sylvia by the god classes in Mars, an event from which their ancestors had Rome. deduced with pride the celestial origin of the founder of their city, had dwindled into a myth; as a source of actual reliance and trust, the intercession of Venus, that emblem of female loveliness, with the father of the gods in behalf of her human favourites, was abandoned; the Sibylline books, once believed to contain all that was necessary for the prosperity of the republic, were suspected of an origin more sinister than celestial ; nor were insinuations wanting that from time to time they had been tampered with to suit the expediency of passing interests, or even that the true ones were lost and forgeries put in their stead. The Greek mythology was to them, as it is to us, an object of reverence, not because of any inherent truth, but because of the exquisite embodiments it can yield in poetry, in painting, in marble. The existence of those illustrious men who, on account of their useful lives or excellent example, had, by the pious ages of old, been sanctified or even deified, was denied, or, if admitted, they were regarded as the exaggerations of dark and barbarous times. It was thus with Æsculapius, Bacchus, and Hercules. And as to the various forms of worship, the multitude of sects into which the pagan nations were broken up offered themselves as a spectacle of imbecile and inconsistent devotion altogether unworthy of attention, except so far as they might be of use to the interests of the state.

Such was the position of things among the educated. In one sense they had passed into liberty, in another they were in bondage. Their indisposition to encounter those inflictions with which their illiterate contem- Their irresoporaries might visit them may seem to us surprizing: they acted as if they thought that the public was à wild beast that would bite if awakened too abruptly from its dreăm ; but their pusillanimity, at the most, could only postpone for a little an inevitable day. The ignorant classes, whom they had so much feared, awoke

lution.

Surrender of

illiterate classes,

in due season spontaneously, and saw in the clear light how matters stood.

Of the Roman emperors there were some whose intellectual endowments were of the highest kind; yet, though it must have been plain to them, as to all who turned their attention to the matter, in what direction society was drifting, they let things take their course, and no one

lifted a finger to guide. It may be said that the affairs to the genius of Rome manifested itself rather in phy

sical than in intellectual operations; but in her

best days it was never the genius of Rome to abandon great events to freedmen, eunuchs, and slaves. By such it was that the ancient gods were politically cast aside, while the government was speciously yielding a simulated obedience to them, and hence it was not at all surprizing that, soon after the introduction of Christianity, its pure doctrines were debased by a commingling with ceremonies of the departing creed. It was not to be expected that the popular mind could spontaneously extricate itself from the vicious circle in which it was involved. Nothing but philosophy was competent to deliver it, and philosophy failed of its duty at the critical moment. The classical scholar need scarcely express his

surprize that the Feriæ Augusti were continued quent debase in the Church as the Festival St. Petri in

vinculis; that even to our own times an image

of the holy Virgin was carried to the river in the same manner as in the old times was that of Cybele, and that many pagan rites still continue to be observed in Rome. Had it been in such incidental particulars only that the vestiges of paganism were preserved, the thing would have been of little moment; but, as all who have examined the subject very well know, the evil was far more general, far more profound. When it was announced to the Ephesians that the Council of that place, headed by Cyril, had decreed that the Virgin should be called “the Mother of God," with tears of joy they embraced the knees of their bishop; it was the old instinct peeping out; their ancestors would have done the same for Diana. If Trajan, after ten centuries, could have revisited Rome, he would, without difficulty, have recognized the drama, though the

and conse

ment of Christianity in Rome.

actors and scenery had all changed; he would have reflected how great a mistake had been committed in the legislation of his reign, and how much better it is, when the intellectual basis of a religion is gone, for a wise government to abstain from all compulsion in behalf of what has become untenable, and to throw itself into the new movement so as to shape the career by assuming the lead. Philosophy is useless when misapplied in support of things which common sense has begun to reject; she shares in the discredit which is attaching to them. The opportunity of rendering herself of service to humanity once lost, ages may elapse before it occurs again. Ignorance and low interests seize the moment, and fasten a burden on man which the struggles of a thousand years may not suffice to cast off. Of all the duties of an enlightened government, this of allying itself with Philosophy in the critical moment in which society is passing through so serious a metamorphosis of its opinions as is involved in the casting off of its ancient investiture of Faith, and its assumption of a new one, is the most important, for it stands connected with things that cutlast all temporal concerns.

CHAPTER IX.

THE EUROPEAN AGE OF INQUIRY.

THE PROGRESSIVE VARIATION OF OPINIONS CLOSED BY THE INSTITUTION

OF COUNCILS AND THE CONCENTRATION OF POWER IN A PONTIFF, RISE, EARLY VARIATIONS, CONFLICTS, AND FINAL ESTABLISHMENT OF

CHRISTIANITY.

Rise of Christianity.--Distinguished from ecclesiastical Organization.

It is demanded by the deplorable Condition of the Empire.-Its brief Conflict with Paganism.-Character of its first Organization.Variations of Thought

and Rise of Sects: their essential Difference in the East and West.The three primitive Forms of Christianity: the Judaic Form, its End--the Gnostic Form, its Endthe African

Form, continues. Spread of Christianity from Syria.-Its Antagonism to Imperialism; their Conflicts.Position of Affairs under Diocletian.The Policy of

Constantine.He avails himself of the Christian Party, and through it attains supreme Power.--His personal Relations to it. The Trinitarian Controversy.--Story of Arius.The Council of Nicea. The Progress of the Bishop of Rome to Supremacy. - The Roman Church ; its primitive subordinate Position.--Causes of its increasing Wealth, Influence, and Corruptions. Stages of its Advancement through the Pelagian, Nestorian, and Eutychian Disputes.

Rivalry of the Bishops of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Rome. Necessity of a Pontif

in the West and ecclesiastical Councils in the East. -Nature of those Councils and of pontifical Power. The Period closes at the Capture and Sack of Rome by Alaric.-Defence

of that Event by St. Augustine.-Criticism on his Writings. Character of the Progress of Thought through this Period.-Destiny of

the three great Bishops. From the decay of Polytheism and the decline of Subject of the philosophy, from the moral and social dischapter.

organization of the Roman empire, I have now to turn to the most important of all events, the rise of

Introduction

Distinction

Christianity. I have to show how a variation of opinion proceeded and reached its culmination ; how it was closed by the establishment of a criterion of truth, under the form of ecclesiastical councils, and a system developed which supplied the intellectual wants of Europe for nearly, a thousand years.

The reader, to whom I have thus offered a representation of the state of Roman affairs, must now prepare to look at the consequences thereof. Together we must trace out the progress of Christianity, examine the adaptation of its cardinal principles to the to the study of

Christianity. wants of the empire, and the variations it exhibited—a task supremely difficult, for even sincerity and truth will sometimes offend. For my part, it is my intention to speak with veneration on this great topic, and yet with liberty, for freedom of thought and expression is to me the first of all earthly things.

But, that I may not be misunderstood, I here, at the outset, emphatically distinguish between Christianity and ecclesiastical organizations. The between former is the gift of God; the latter are the Christianity product of human exigencies and human tical organizainvention, and therefore open to criticism, or, if need be, to condemnation.

From the condition of the Roman empire may be indicated the principles of any new system adapted to its amelioration. In the reign of Augustus, Moral state of violence paused only because it had finished its the world at

this period. work. Faith was dead; morality had disappeared. Around the shores of the Mediterranean the conquered nations looked at one another—partakers of a common misfortune, associates in a common lot. Not one of them had found a god to help her in her day of need, Europe, Asia, and Africa were tranquil, but it was the silence of despair.

Rome never considered man as an individual, but only as a thing. Her way to political greatness was Unpitying pursued utterly regardless of human suffering. tyranny of If advantages accrued to the conquered under her dominion, they arose altogether from incident, and never from her purposed intent. She was no self-conscious,

tions.

Rome,

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