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bond the too often jarring elements of human society: under the latter, the more palpable because more historical consequences of the intercourse of the Christian clergy with the secular powers of the state. In other words, we shall consider the influence of the priesthood both in their external and in their internal relations, both as they appeared to the powers of this world and as they shewed themselves to the faithful under their banners.
Furthermore, it cannot fail to strike every student of history that in no equal period of the world's existence are included so many distinct distributions of national power, and so many and great changes of national characteristics, as during the first ten centuries of our era. Throughout those eventful years, the stage of history is occupied by every varied form of human society, from the yet stedfast empire of Rome to the roving hordes of Huns and Vandals; and again from the idolatrous followers of Attila and Clovis to the sumptuous paladins of the champion of the holy see. We are called upon to detest or admire every form of sceptred depravity or justice, from a Tiberius to a Charlemagne, from an Arcadius to an Alfred. Hence, though it has ever been the glory of the Christian Church that, while emperors and empires rose and sunk, she alone remained, in principles at least, if alas! not in practice, unaltered, we are compelled to a second partition of our subject, in order to meet the shifting relations of the spiritual and the secular powers. We shall, accordingly, divide the field of our researches into four main periods :
The first, extending from the propagation of Christianity in Judea to its elevation to the imperial throne with Constantine [CHAPTER II.]:
The second, from the age of Constantine to the fall of the Western Empire and the establishment of the Ostrogothic power in Italy [Chapter III.] :
The third, from the settlement of the barbarian tribes on the ruins of the empire to their union under Charlemagne [CHAPTER IV.]:
The fourth, from the accession of Charlemagne to the close of the tenth century, or, as we might perhaps define it, to the age of Hildebrand [CHAPTER V.).
The Christian faith was pre-eminent among all the systems, which commanded the respect of the learned or the unlearned among its early contemporaries, by this great fact in particular, that while it solved the mighty problem of the relations of man to his Infinite Creator, and prescribed ritual laws in accordance with those relations, it proclaimed, what none of its predecessors had attempted, a new era in the moral history of mankind. By bringing the mind of man for the first time into full contact with a perfect Ruler, it impressed upon him a true consciousness of his own imperfections, and he learnt, as no earthly philosophy could have taught him, to know himself, and from such an humiliating knowledge to derive guidance in dealing with beings like himself. And truly the need of a higher standard of action had been too long apparent, as well from the strange vagaries of would-be moral teachers, as from the gigantic cora ruptions which weighed so heavily upon a suffering world. The human intellect, debased from its pristine purity, and forgetful of its divine original", had long ceased to
i For the phraseology of Tertullian, forcible, as coming from his pen, it must needs be, can hardly have represented any religious truth recognized as such by his contemporaries.
“Te quoque palam et tota libertate, qua non licet nobis, domi ac foris audimus ita pronuntiare, ‘Quod deus dederit, et “Si deus ita voluerit'. Ea voce et aliquem esse significas et omnem illi confiteris potestatem ad cujus spectas voluntatem, simul et ceteros
remember or to venerate that moral code once forming part of its very being. Even the noblest philosophers of the purest school, in their searching aspirations after the inscrutable connexion between the finite in man and the Infinite above, had merely refined, not renewed, the ethical theories of the age.
More than this they had accomplished nothing, for
negas deos esse, dum suis vocabulis nuncupas, Saturnum, Jovem, Martem, Minervam. Nam solum deum confirmas quem tantum deum nominas, ut, et cum illos interdum deos appellas, de alieno et quasi pro mutuo usa videaris. De natura quoque Dei, quem prædicamus, nec te latet: 'Deus bonus est', ‘Deus benefacit', tua vox est.” De Test. Anim. c. 2. See also Apologet. c. 17, where with more eloquence than faithfulness he describes the soul as “carcere corporis pressa, institutionibus pravis circumscripta, libidinibus ac concupiscentiis evigorata, falsis diis exancillata ; cum tamen resipiscit, ut ex crapula, ut ex somno, ut ex aliqua valitudine, et sanitatem suam patitur, deum nominat, hoc solo nomine, quia proprio Dei veri. 'Deus magnus', 'Deus bonus', et ‘Quod Deus dederit', omnium vox est. Judicem quoque contestatur illum
Deus videt', et ‘Deo commendo', et 'Deus mihi reddet'. () testimonium animæ naturaliter Christianæ. Denique pronuntians hæc, non ad Capitolium, sed ad cælum respicit. Novit enim sedem Dei vivi: ab illo et inde descendit.”
Similarly Cyprian, after reiterating in almost the same words the argument of Tertullian, adds, “ Atque hæc est sumina delicti, nolle agnoscere quem ignorare non possis.” De Idolorum Vanitate, c. 9. But, as we advance in the field of our researches, we shall find to how very different and far sterner an awakening the mind of man throughout the Roman Empire was destined, than that which the too sanguine African Fathers fancied they foresaw. Very different, too, was the province of the ecclesiastical successors from what the Church leaders of the first three centuries must have pictured it to themselves.
on the practice of their contemporaries they had been utterly powerless. It remained then for a heaven-sent teacher to reveal the only true method by which, in an age sinking into ever deeper depravity, the doctrines of a high morality might be at the same time perfected in theory, and, hopeless as it might seem to be, brought into operation in ordinary life. That such a result was as little to be expected from the religious enthusiasm as from the plausible philosophy of mankind will appear from the fact, that of the countless religious systems framed by ingenuity or superstition not one, whatever be the comparative purity of its ceremonial observances, lays the sure foundation of a healthy ethical code. It would seem to have escaped the notice of legislator or philosopher alike', that it was in the power of an upright priesthood, maintaining unpolluted, by precept and example, the only universally true motives of human action, to render the most enduring support to the creed they professed to uphold. Such a triumph was reserved for the ministers of a more holy faith, [for men, who as one of their own number could most truly declare”, “ philosophi non verbis sed factis sumus, nec vestitu sapientiam sed veritate
| How little the pagan ideas of the day comprehended the relations in which a Christian minister stood to his flock, may be inferred even from the refusal of the Smyrnæan authorities to surrender to his people the remains of Polycarp, “lest they desert the crucified one, and make a god of this man.”—Mart. S. Polycarpi. c. 17.
? Cyprian, De Bono Patientiæ, c. 3; or, in the phrase of [Pseudo-]Justin Martyr, Cohort. ad Gent. c. 35: Où yap év lóyous αλλ' έν έργοις τα της ημετέρας θεοσεβείας πράγματα,