Imagens das páginas

But while we acknowledge the pre-eminent moral authority of the Christian pulpit, we must not forget the intellectual results which we undoubtedly owe to it. Long after ancient elocution had vanished from its favourite haunts in the Pnyx and the Forum, when the masterpieces of Cicero and Demosthenes were little read, oratory arose again, in a form, truly, cramped and mutilated, and bearing but the faintest reflection of its former glory, but yet living and prolific of life in others.

Rough and untutored as it often was, it possessed over its polished predecessors this manifest advantage, that whatever might be wanting in the fluency of diction was supplied by the intrinsic dignity of the subject; and even when most wanting in external allurements it smote with an equal force of application upon the ears alike of senator and of serfl. Every man had an opportunity of

virtute magna, præbente tibi auxilium ipso rege virtutum Domino nostro Jesu Christo. Quod ita rite perficies si, ubicunque perveneris, mox collectis ad te ejusdem loci incolis, verbum illis exhortationis exhibueris, simul et exemplum vivendi una cum omnibus qui tecum venerint quasi cælestis militiæ ductor ostenderis.”

1“Enimvero etsi plerique sanctorum Patrum, a puriori recedentes Latinitate, nedum receptis verum etiam barbaris usi sint vocabulis, non ideo tamen elegantiæ omnis atque literaturæ expertes fuisse sunt censendi. Cum id affectatione quadam vulgarem sermonem præferrent cultiori, ut ad eorum captum, quos Christianæ religionis imbuere præceptis, aut a quibus volebant in concionibus intelligi, orationes suas componerent, quemadmodum Julianum, recens Imperatorem creatum, 'verbis, ut intelligi posset, simplicibus,' milites in tribunali allocutum, refert Ammianus. (Lib. xx. [c. 5]).

Græcam facundiam, quod de S. Paulo dicebat Hieronymus,

hearing, in language which, if not polished, was at least adorned with all the fervour of religious enthusiasm, the glorious deeds of the men whom the Church reveres. He might learn from the mouths of an erudite and enlightened clergy those leading principles of our Religion which fully to appreciate is in itself an education; and the use of exact metaphysical terms and of a scrupulous logic, though too often perverted to sectarian purposes, could not but tend to reanimate through the world the expiring sparks of Greek philosophy. Indeed the ultimate effect of public clerical teaching in restoring, both in the Roman Empire and in the subsequent barbarian states, a taste for high intellectual pursuits, and for abstruser speculations, can hardly be ignored by one who traces the mental development of the European nations. contemnebant, vel certe quod est humilitatis dissimulabant, ut prædicatio eorum non in persuasione verborum, sed in signorum virtute consisteret; spernentes alienas opes, qui in suis divites erant; cum præterea, ‘nollent ea cavere, quæ sano intellectui nihil detrahunt.' (Aug. De Doctr. Christ. (ii. § 20] c. 13.)” Preface to Ducange's Glossary, c. 60.

In discussing the fifth period of Roman literature, and speaking of the degeneracy of eloquence and philosophy along with the advance of mere grammatical studies, Baehr (Geschichte d. Röm. Litter. i. $ 23) says, “ Dass die Ausbreitung des Christenthums zu diesem Verfall beigetragen, indem es die Erhaltung und das Fortbestehen eines besseren Geschmacks in Literatur und Sprache verhindert, lässt sich keineswegs nachweisen; es ist vielmehr die allgemeine Verbreitung der christlichen Religion im Abendlande als ein Hauptmittel anzusehen, durch welches bei dem Ruin des Reichs und dem Untergang der politischen Gestaltung nicht blos die Erhaltung und selbst Ausbreitung der römischen Sprache, die nun die Sprache der Kirche und Religion ward,

But the cause of learning and philosophy was at the same time promoted by more direct means than these ; the pagan schools of Alexandria and Antioch, as the teachers of the old superstition disappeared, became

sondern auch die Bildung einer neuen, dem Dienste des Christenthums und der Religion gewidmeten Literatur, welche auf die fortgesetzten Studien der älteren classischen Literatur begründet war, möglich geworden ist.” And again, (1. $ 24): “Mit dem Ende dieser fünften Periode [A. D. 410] lässt sich gewissermassen auch das Ende der römischen Literatur festsetzen, wenn auch gleich die Sprache noch fort im Munde der Besiegten sich erhielt, oder auch selbst auf die Sieger übergieng, schon durch die Nothwendigkeit, die Verbindungen mit den Besiegten zu unterhalten; was freilich aber auch wieder diesselbe mannichfachen Veränderungen aussetzte, welche die Sprache verschlimmerten und auf ihre Reinheit nachtheilig einwirkten. Andererseits muss freilich auch der Umstand berücksichtigt werden, dass die durch den Einfluss des Christenthums veränderte Begriffs- und Denksweise nicht mehr in den älteren beschränkten Formen und Ausdrucksweisen sich halten oder vielmehr damit sich begnügen könnte, und dadurch eine Erweiterung der zum Ausdruck der neuen Begriffe und Ideen anzupassenden Sprache hervorrief, wodurch allerdings die Sprache selbst einen veränderten Charakter, der der veränderten geistigen Auschauung und dem christlichen Ideenkreise entsprach, annehmen musste. So zeigt allerdings die Sprache der christlichen Schriftsteller, welche zunächst solche in den Bereich des Christenthums fallende Gegenstände behandelten, einen eigenthümlichen Charakter, und im einzelnen bei den sorgfältigen Studien älterer Muster, die wir theilweise wahrnehmen, selbst noch einen gewissen Fluss der Rede und eine ziemliche Reinheit. Die lateinische Sprache war noch immer die Sprache der Regierung, wie sie die der Geistlichkeit war, deren Sprache, einzelne Ausnahmen abgerechnet, noch immer reiner und besser als diejenige war, worin die Documente der weltlichen Herrn abgefasst wurden.”

renowned nurseries of theological lore: and the literary annals of France* celebrate the learning which still flourished in the Episcopal city of Irenæus, and the religious zeal which in every district of Gaul, maintained in the most troubled days the studies of which that country was destined to become so prolific. Moreover, in addition to the regular provision by which the clergy secured the learning and piety of their successors, a most important source of additional instruction was to be found in the “clerus” of each worthy occupant of an Episcopal see; we cannot doubt that the clergy, for example, wlio sat at the feet of Augustine, learnt from his unfailing judgment and from the true Christianity of his demeanour lessons far more practically beneficial than they could have derived from the exegetical or metaphysical speculations of Alexandria.

We should far exceed the legitimate boundaries of our subject were we to specify the enduring intellectual treasures handed down by the Church Fathers of those days to the latest posterity ; but in general we cannot but remark the prevailing tendency of the mental activity of the age to direct itself more and more every year into the channels of theological speculation. We may gather from the Confessions of Augustine, a work from which more than from any other we obtain an insight into the theological and philosophical extravagancies of the fifth century, how in many a powerful but ill-regulated mind the true knowledge of divine things was attained only

* See the Histoire Littéraire de la France. t. 11. p. 4, &c.

after a long experience of the futility of all mere earthly substitutes : indeed the picture there presented to us of the workings of an individual intellect may be considered not inadequately to represent the various forms assumed by the world of ideas both among the clergy and the laity.

It must however be observed here (though this fact will come more fully before us in treating of the monastic orders) that no two theories of clerical life and influence could be more diametrically opposite to each other than those of the Eastern and Western extremities of the Empire during this period. The priesthood of the East, following out in a great measure the principles of stern asceticism and enthusiasm which were supported by the great authority of Jerome, held the literature and philosophy of heathendom in an abhorrence closely akin to that which aroused their denunciations of lurking idolatry. The estimation in which the writings of Cicero were held by the great leaders of the Eastern and Western * clergy supplies us with a satisfactory test of their theological scruples. But if from Africa we direct our glance to

* See Jerome, Ep. 22. [t. i. col. 112 D. ed. Vall.] and August. Confess. (iii. 7. ed. Ben.“ Perveneram in librum quemdam cujusdam Ciceronis, cujus linguam fere omnes mirantur, pectus non ita. Sed liber ille ipsius exhortationem continet ad philosophiam, et vocatur Hortensius. Ille vero liber mutavit affectum meum, et ad teipsum, Domine, mutavit preces meas, et vota ac desideria mea fecit alia. Viluit mihi repente omnis vana spes, et immortalitatem sapientiæ concupiscebam æstu cordis incredibili : et surgere cæperam ut ad te redirem."]

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