« ElőzőTovább »
with a moral movement,' exhibited in a mystic pietism opposed in its own nature to doctrinal limitations. Its subsequent phases are well known; and the difference in the prevailing moral sentiment, before and after this vast doctrinal revolution, is too marked to be ignored or attributed to any but its true causes. How completely varied were the Nor can moral forces introduced by the doctrines of Chris- of Christ tianity is evident from the difficulty and slowness thusex? with which its standard of duty asserted itself, plained, failing in many parts of the world to become fairly established, even when the recognition of some of its abstract dogmas gave a show of power and predominance to its position. It is thus no valid though
dependent objection to urge against the truth or importance in its proof Christianity that in its operation it has been ethical constantly limited by ethical conditions. So was it in the East with the false, subtle, contentious natures of the Greek and Asiatic.3 Religion in
1 For the moral effects of the doctrinal principles of the Reformation, see Ullmann (Vol. I. p. 10, E. T.), Martensen, Christian Dogmatics, p. 26, E. T., and on the transition from the moral to the doctrinal movement, Gieseler, V. 216, E.T. On the relation of the Mystics to the Reformation compare Milman, Latin Christianity, VI. 379, and particularly Dorner, Person of Christ, Div. II., Vol. I. p. 377, and Vol. II. sub init., and Hist. Prot. Th., Vol. I. p. 51, E. T.
2 So M. Comte views the Byzantine Church as an example of the impotence of dogma, as such, to rule mankind. It lent itself, he thinks, too much to the side of reason. Dorner, Hist. Prot. Th., 1. 18, has some excellent remarks on the purely intellectual character of the Christianity of the Oriental Church.
8 Cicero's verdict is well known (De Orat., I. xi.),“ verbi enim controversia jam diu torquet Græculos homines contentionis cupidiores quam
tion from Eastern Christianity,
Oriental Christianity was represented mainly by
use the words of Montalembert, have reproduced a kind of Christian China.' So was it in the West from the when, after centuries of power, Paganism was tions of the found to have corrupted its teacher with the Church. taint of an inbred superstition. The fact was no new one; it had been already observed and commented on in the days of Augustine. “It was in vain that Christianity had taught a simple doctrine and enjoined a simple worship. The minds of men were too backward for so great a step, and required more complicated forms and a more complicated belief.” 3 This has been remarked, I am aware, to the disparagement of the efficacy of the faith of Christ. It proves, at least, that Chris- The
gress of tianity was not dependent on the existing standard Chris"
tianity due of morals for its advance. How, in such case, to the a were the changes, effected plainly through its nature of means in the absence of knowledge and culture, to tions, ela be accounted for? Further, its morality however estimated, was its own, and its type of character
1 Monks of the West, I. 275, Eng. Tr.
? August. c. Faustum, XX.c. iv. “Sacrificia eorum vertistis in agapes : idola in Martyres, quos votis similibus colitis : defunctorum umbras vino placatis et dapibus : solemnes Gentium dies cum ipsi celebratis, ut Kalendas et solstitia, de vitâ certe mutâstis nihil.” On the reaction of Paganism on Christianity in the fourth and fifth centuries, see Beugnot, Histoire de la destruction du Paganisme, II. 92, and Merivale, n. Nations, pp. 57-74.
3 Buckle, Hist. Civ., I. 259. Prof. Tyndall writes (Cont. Rev., XX. 766), “Christianity varies with the nature upon which it falls. The faith that simply adds to the folly and ferocity of one, is turned to enduring sweetness, holiness, abounding charity, and self-sacrifice by another."
was an advance upon the highest level of
heathenism. It presents a difference not of dewhich were gree merely, but of kind. But Religion, if asin advance of the ex- sumed to be the product of Revelation, may very isting civiliza. well be, and, in fact, must be, in advance of
existing civilization. It was so when the Hebrews accepted monotheism, whether this be or be not a Semitic tenet. It was so when the Jews rejected
the teaching of the Gospel. It has been so in the and of development of Gentile Christianity. But the actual practice. fact of the distance between its ideal and the
actual, between its code of action and existing practice, between Christianity in the abstract and as displayed in history, “ that rich treasury of man's dishonour;” between the lives of men and the spirit of the Gospel ;? this difference must surely be allowed for under any system. It is the consciousness of this anomaly in the in
1 “Nothing,” says Mr. Lecky, “can, as I conceive, be more erroneous or superficial than the reasonings of those who maintain that the moral element of Christianity has in it nothing distinctive or peculiar.”—Hist. Rat., I. 338. See this subject continued in II. 110.
2“Quid si tale quiddam est vera religio? Quid si multitudo imperitorum frequentat ecclesias, sed nullum argumentum est ideo neminem illis mysteriis factum esse perfectum ?”—August. de Util. Cred., c. vii. M. Guizot, while depicting the moral aspect of the Middle Ages, remarks finally: “A certain moral idea hovers over this rude, tempestuous society, and attracts the regard, obtains the respect of men whose life scarcely ever reflects its image. Christianity must doubtless be ranked among the number of the principal causes of this fact. Its precise characteristic is to inspire men with a great moral ambition, to hold constantly before their eyes a type infinitely superior to human reality and to excite them to reproduce it.”—Civ. en France, III. 115, ed, Bohn.
dividual which forms the stimulus of all earnest souls. “As a matter of fact, Christianity has probably done more to quicken the affections of mankind, to promote pity, to create a pure and merciful ideal than any other influence that has ever acted on the world.” 1 And yet the Inquisi- Hence
apparent tion named itself with the name of Christ. Prin- historical
contradicciples must ever be of more general account than tions actions. The first value of the Christian, as of any, religion is in the loftiness and purity of its standard; its secondary worth is in the degree in which this operates. Hence, the fallacy of an appeal to periods when the apparent zeal in the diffusion of religion is greater and the moral re- and dissults less, as proof of its general inadequacy to reactions. impart moral truth in any effective degree. If the religion itself be corrupted, its results, in point of moral effect, must needs suffer in proportion, and this in amount corresponding to the power which it wields. Thus, if the Middle Ages be State of cited as an instance of the smallness of moral morals results obtained with a large and prevailing pro-Cedieva fession of religion," it may be replied, without cism.
1 Lecky, Hist. Rat., I. 358.
2 Condorcet, Euvres, VI. 234, quoted by Mr. Morley, remarks that the religion of books and that of the people may so differ that the effects absolutely cease to answer to the public and recognized causes. This is not allowing enough for an average practical influence, which may be compared to the tenor of administration in politics,
3 Buckle, Hist, Civ., I. 191.
* See Dr. Mozley's remarks, Bamp. Lect., p. 115. Mr. Lecky, Hist. Rat., II. 32, does justice to the services of Medieval Catholicism. In