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persecuted us, gave the example by establishing his residence at Nicomedia. As to the sentiment of patriotism of which you vaunt, was it not destroyed by your own emperors ? When they had made Roman citizens of Gauls and Egyptians, Africans and Huns, Spaniards and Syrians, how could they expect that such a motley crew would remain true to the interests of an Italian town, and that town their hated oppressor. Patriotism depends on concentra
it cannot bear diffusion. Something more than such a worldly tie was wanted to bind the diverse nations together; they have found it in Christianity. A common language imparts community of thought and feeling; but what was to be expected when Greek is the language of one half of the ruling classes, and Latin of the other ? we say nothing of the thousand unintelligible forms of speech in use throughout the Roman world. The fall of the senate preceded,
by a few years, the origin of Christianity; you surely will not say that we were the inciters of the usurpations of the Cæsars ? What have we had to do with the army, that engine of violence, which in ninetytwo years gave you thirty-two emperors and twenty-seven pretenders to the throne ? We did not suggest to the Prætorian Guards to put up the empire to auction.
“Can you really wonder that all this should come to an end? We do not wonder; on the contrary, we thank God for it. It is time that the human race had rest. The sighing of the prisoner, the prayer of the captive, are heard at last. Yet the judgment has been tempered with mercy. Had the pagan Rhadogast taken Rome, not a life would have been spared, no stone left on another. The Christian Alaric, though a Goth, respects his Christian brethren, and for their sakes you are saved. As to the gods, those dæmons in whom you trust, did they always save you from calamity ? How long did Hannibal insult them? Was it a goose or a god that saved the Capitol from Brennus ? Where were the gods in all the defeats, some of them but recent, of the pagan emperors ? It is well that the purple Babylon has fallen, the harlot who was drunk with the blood of nations.
“In the place of this earthly city, this vaunted mistress, of the world, whose fall closes a long career of superstition
and sin, there shall arise “the City of God.” The purifying fire of the barbarian shall remove her heathenish defilements, and make her fit for the kingdom of Christ. Instead of a thousand years of that night of crime, to which in your despair look back, there is before her the day of the millennium, predicted by the prophets of old. In her regenerated walls there shall be no taint of sin, but righteousness and peace; no stain of the vanities of the world, no conflicts of ambition, no sordid hunger for gold, no lust after glory, no desire for domination, but holiness to the Lord.” Of those who in such sentiments defended the cause of
the new religion St. Augustine was the chief. St. Augustine's “ City of In his great work, “ the City of God,” which
may be regarded as the ablest specimen of the early Christian literature, he pursues this theme, if not in the language, at least in the spirit here presented, and through a copious detail of many books. On the later Christianity of the Western churches he has exerted more influence than any other of the fathers. To him is due much of the precision of our views on original sin, total depravity, grace, predestination, election.
In his early years St. Augustine had led a frivolous and evil life, plunging into all
the dissipations of the gay city of Carthage. Through the devious paths of writings of St. Manichæism, astrology, and scepticism, he at Augustine.
last arrived at the truth. It was not, however, the Fathers, but Cicero, to whom the good change was due; the writings of that great orator won him over to a love of wisdom, weaning him from the pleasures of the theatre, the follies of divination and superstition. From his Manichæan errors, he was snatched" by Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, who baptized him, together with his illegitimate son Adeodatus. In his writings we may, without difficulty, recognize the vestiges of Magianism, not as regards the duality of God, but as respects the division of mankind—the elect and lost; the kingdoms of grace and perdition, of God and the devil; answering to the Oriental ideas of the rule of light and darkness. From Ambrose, St. Augustine learned those high Trinitarian doctrines which were soon enforced in the West.
In his philosophical disquisitions on Time, Matter, Memory, this far-famed writer is, however, always unsatisfactory, often trivial. His doctrine that Scripture, as the word of God, is capable of a manifold meaning, led him into many delusions, and exercised, in subsequent ages, a most baneful influence on true science. Thus he finds in the Mosaic account of the creation proofs of the Trinity ; that the firmament spoken of therein is the type of God's word; and that there is a correspondence between creation itself and the Church. His numerous books have often been translated, especially his Confessions, a work that has delighted and edified fifty generations, but which must, after all, yield the palm, as a literary production, to the writings of Bunyan, who, like Augustine, gave himself up to all the agony of unsparing personal examination and relentless self-condemnation, anatomizing his very soul, and dragging forth every sin into the face of day.
The ecclesiastical influence of St. Augustine has so completely eclipsed his political biography, that but little attention has been given to his conduct in the interesting time in which he lived. Sismondi recalls to his disadvantage that he was the friend of Count Boniface, who invited Genseric and his Vandals into Africa; the bloody consequences of that conspiracy cannot be exaggerated. It was through him that the count's name has been transmitted to posterity without infamy. Boniface was with him when he died, at Hippo, August 28th, A.D. 440.
When Rome thus fell before Alaric, so far from the provincial Christians bewailing her misfortune, Propitious they actually gloried in it. They critically effect of distinguished between the downfall of the purple pagan harlot and the untouched city of God. The vengeance of the Goth had fallen on the temples, but the churches had been spared. Though in subsequent and not very distant calamities of the city these triumphant disti could scarcely be maintained, there can be no doubt that that catastrophe singularly developed papal power. The abasement of the ancient aristocracy brought into relief the bishop. It has been truly said that, as Rome rose from
her ruins, the bishop was discerned to be her most conspicuous man. Most opportunely, at this period Jerome had completed his Latin translation of the Bible. The Vulgate henceforth became the ecclesiastical authority of the West. The influence of the heathen classics, which that austere ancho had in early lis admired, but had vainly attempted to free himself from by unremitting nocturnal flagellations, appears in this great version. It came at a critical moment for the West.
In the politic non-committalism of Rome, it was not expedient that a pope should be an author. The Vulgate was all that the times required. Henceforth the East might occupy herself in the harmless fabrication of creeds and of heresies ; the West could develop her practical talent in the much more important organization of ecclesiastical power.
Doubtless not without interest will the reader of these pages remark how closely the process of ecclesiastical events resembles that of civil. In both there is an irresistible tendency to the concentration of power. As in Roman history we have seen a few families, and, indeed, at last, one man grasp the influence which in earlier times was disseminated among the people, so in the Church the congregations are quickly found in subordination to their bishops, and these, in their, turn, succumbing to a perpetually diminishing number of their compeers. In
the period we are now considering, the minor
episcopates, such as those of Jerusalem, Antioch, bishops.
Carthage, had virtually lost their pristine force, everything having converged into the three great sees of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Rome. The history of the time is a record of the desperate struggles of the three chief bishops for supremacy,
In this conflict Rome possessed many advantages; the two others were more immediately under the control of the imperial government, the clashing of interests between them more frequent, their rivalry more bitter. The control of ecclesiastical power was hence perpetually in Rome, though she was, both politically and intellectually, inferior to her competitors. As of old, there was a triumvirate in the world destined to concentrate into a despotism. And, as if to remind men that the principles involved in the movements of the
The fate of the three great
Church are of the same nature as those involved in the movements of the state, the resemblances here pointed out are sometimes singularly illustrated in trifling details. The Bishop of Alexandria
was not the first triumvir who came to an untimely end on the banks of the Nile; the Roman pontiff was not the first who consolidated his power by the aid of Gallic legions.