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the course of historic events.
and physical, of which those cities had once been the scene; the preaching, and penances, and prayers so lavishly expended in them, had not produced the anticipated, the asserted result. In theology and morality the people had pursued a descending course. Patriotism was extinct. They surrendered the state to preserve their sect; their treason was rewarded by subjugation. From these melancholy events we may learn that the
principles on which the moral world is governed Reflexions on
are analogous to those which obtain in the physical. It is not by incessant divine inter
positions, which produce breaches in the continuity of historic action; it is not by miracles and prodigies that the course of events is determined; but affairs follow each other in the relation of cause and effect. The maximum development of early Christianity coincided with the boundaries of the Roman empire; the ecclesiastical condition depended on the political, and, indeed, was its direct consequence and issue. The loss of Africa and Asia was, in like manner, connected with the Arabian movement, though it would have been easy to prevent that catastrophe, and to preserve those continents to the faith by the smallest of those innumerable miracles of which Church history is full, and which were often performed on unimportant and obscure occasions. But not even one such miracle was vouchsafed, though an angel might have worthily descended. I know of no event in the history of our race on which a thoughtful man may more profitably meditate than on this loss of Africa and Asia. It may remove from his mind many erroneous ideas, and lead him to take a more elevated, a more philosophical, and, therefore, more correct view of the course of earthly affairs.
THE AGE OF FAITH IN THE WEST.
The Age of Faith in the West is marked by Paganism.-The Arabian
military Attacks produce the Isolation and permit the Independence of
the Bishop of Rome. GREGORY THE GREAT organizes the Ideas of his Age, materializes Faith,
allies it to Art, rejects Science, and creates the Italian Form of Religion. An Alliance of the Papacy with France diffuses that Form.–Political History of the Agreement and Conspiracy of the Frankish Kings and the Pope.—The resulting Consolidation of the new Dynasty in France, and Diffusion of Roman Ideas.- Conversion of Europe. The Value of the Italian Form of Religion determined from the papal
From the Age of Faith in the East, I have now to turn to the Age of Faith in the West. The former, as we have seen, ended prematurely, through a metamor
The Age of phosis of the populations by military operations, Faith in the conquests, polygamy; the latter, under more favourable circumstances, gradually completed its predestined phases, and, after the lapse of many centuries, passed into the Age of Reason.
If so many recollections of profound interest cluster round Jerusalem, "the Holy City" of the East, many scarcely inferior are connected with Rome, “the Eternal City” of the West.
The Byzantine system, which, having originated in the policy of an ambitious soldier struggling for is essentially supreme power, and in the devices of ecclesiastics marked by
the paganizaintolerant of any competitors, had spread itself tion of reall over the eastern and southern portions of the ligion.
Effects of the
Roman empire, and with its hatred of human knowledge and degraded religious ideas and practices, had been adopted at last even in Italy. Not by the Romans, for they had ceased to exist, but by the medley of Goths and half-breeds, the occupants of that peninsula. Gregory the Great is the incarnation of the ideas of this debased population. That evil system, so carefully nurtured by Constantine and cherished by all the Oriental bishops, had been cut down by the axe of the Vandal, the Persian, the Arab, in its native seats, but the offshoot of it that had been planted in Rome developed spontaneously with unexpected luxuriance, and cast its dark shadow over Europe for many centuries. He who knew what Christianity had been in the apostolic days, might look with boundless surprise on what was now ingrafted upon it, and was passing under its name. In the last chapter we have seen how, through the
Vandal invasion, Africa was lost to the empireloss of Africa a dire calamity, for, of all the provinces, it had
been the least expensive and the most proItaly.
ductive; it yielded men, money, and, what was perhaps of more importance, corn for the use of Italy. A sudden stoppage of the customary supply rendered impossible the usual distributions in Rome, Ravenna, Milan. A famine fell upon Italy, bringing in its train an inevitable diminution of the population. To add to the misfortunes, Attila, the King of the Huns, or, as he called himself, “the Scourge of God,” invaded the empire. The battle of Chalons, the convulsive death-throe of the Roman empire, arrested his career, A.D. 451.
Four years after this event, through intrigues in the Fall and pil- imperial family, Genseric, the Vandal king, was lage of Rome. invited from Africa to Rome, The atrocities which of old had been practised against Carthage under the auspices of the senate were now avenged. For fourteen days the Vandals sacked the city, perpetrating unheard-of cruelties. Their ships, brought into the Tiber, enabled them to accomplish their purpose of pillage far more effectually than would have been possible by any land expedition. The treasures of Rome, with multitudes of noble captives, were transported to Carthage. In twenty
on events in
Effects of the
one years after this time, A.D. 476, the Western Empire became extinct.
Thus the treachery of the African Arians not only brought the Vandals into the most important of all the provinces, so far as Italy was concerned, it also furnished an instrument for the ruin of Rome. wars of JusBut hardly had the Emperor Justinian reconquered Africa when he attempted the subjugation of the Goths now holding possession of Italy. His general, Belisarius, captured Rome, Dec. 10, A.D. 556. In the military operations ensuing with Vitiges, Italy was, devastated, the population sank beneath the sword, pestilence, famine. In all directions the glorious remains of antiquity were destroyed; statues, as those of the Mole of Hadrian, were thrown upon the besiegers of Rome. These operations closed by the surrender of Vitiges to Belisarius at the capture of Ravenna.
But, as soon as the military compression was withdrawn, revolt broke out. Rome was retaken by the Goths; its walls were razed; for forty days it was deserted by its inhabitants, an emigration that in the end proved its ruin. Belisarius, who had been sent back by the emperor, reentered it, but was too weak to retain it. During four years Italy was ravaged by the Franks and the Goths. At, last Justinian sent the eunuch Narses with a wellappointed army. The Ostrogothic monarchy was overthrown, and the emperor governed Italy by his exarchs at Ravenna.
But what was the cost of all this? We may reject the statement previously made, that Italy lost fifteen millions of inhabitants, on the ground that such computations were beyond the ability of the survivors, but, from the asserted number we may infer that there had been a horrible catastrophe. In other directions the relics of civilization were fast disappearing; the valley of the Danube had relapsed into a barbarous state; the African shore had become a wilderness ; Italy a hideous desert; and the necessary consequence of the extermina- of the intion of the native Italians by war, and their coming Age of replacement by barbarous adventurers, was the falling of the sparse population of that peninsula into a
Debased ideas gress of the
lower psychical state. It was ready for the materialized religion that soon ensued. An indelible aspect was stamped on the incoming Age of Faith. The East and the West had equally displayed the imbecility of ecclesiastical rule. Of both, the Holy City had fallen; Jerusalem had been captured by the Persian and the Arab, Rome had been sacked by the Vandal and the Goth.
But, for the proper description of the course of affairs, I must retrace my steps a little. In the important political events coinciding with the death of Leo the Great, and the constitution of the kingdom of Italy by the barbarian Odoacer, A.D. 476–490, the bishops of Rome seem to have
taken but little interest. Doubtless, on one side, Steady pro
they perceived the transitory nature of such papacy to su- incidents, and, on the other, clearly saw for
themselves the road to lasting spiritual domination. The Christians everywhere had long expressed a total carelessness for the fate of old Rome; and in the midst of her ruins the popes were incessantly occupied in laying deep the foundations of their power. Though it mattered little to them who was the temporal ruler of Italy, they were vigilant and energetic in their relations with their great competitors, the bishops of Constantinople and Alexandria. It had become clear that Christendom must have a head; and that headship, once definitely settled, implied the eventual control over the temporal power. Of all objects of human ambition, that headship was best worth struggling for.
Steadily pursuing every advantage as it arose, Rome inexorably insisted that her decisions should be carried out in Constantinople itself. This was the case especially in the affair of Acacius, the bishop of that city, who,
having been admonished for his acts by Felix, the bishop of Rome, was finally excommunicated. A difficulty arose as to the manner in which the process should be served; but an adventurous monk fastened it to the robe of Acacius as he entered the church. Acacius, undismayed, proceeded with his services, and, pausing deliberately, ordered the name of Felix, the Bishop of Rome, to be struck from the roll of bishops in communion with the East. Constantinople and Rome thus mutually excommunicated one another. It is