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Title: A Short History of Christianity - Second Edition, Revised, With Additions
Author: Robertson, J. M. (John Mackinnon)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                                A SHORT

                        HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY

                                   BY

                            J. M. ROBERTSON



                SECOND EDITION, REVISED, WITH ADDITIONS

        [ISSUED FOR THE RATIONALIST PRESS ASSOCIATION, LIMITED]

                                London:
                              WATTS & CO.,
                 17 JOHNSON'S COURT, FLEET STREET, E.C.
                                  1913



CONTENTS


                                                                   PAGE

    Preface to the First Edition                                     ix

    Preface to the Second Edition                                  xiii



    Part I

    PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY

    Chap. I--The Beginnings

        § 1. Documentary Clues                                        1
        § 2. The Earliest Christian Sects                             5
        § 3. Personality of the Nominal Founder                      10
        § 4. Myth of the Twelve Apostles                             16
        § 5. Primary Forms of the Cult                               20
        § 6. Rise of Gentile Christism                               28
        § 7. Growth of the Christ Myth                               36

    Chap. II--The Environment

        § 1. Social and Mental Conditions in the Roman Empire        41
        § 2. Jewish Orthodoxy                                        46
        § 3. Jewish Sects: the Essenes                               49
        § 4. Gentile Cults                                           51
        § 5. Ethics: Popular and Philosophic                         60

    Chap. III--Conditions of Survival

        § 1. Popular Appeal                                          67
        § 2. Economic Causation                                      69
        § 3. Organization and Sacred Books                           72
        § 4. Concession and Fixation                                 75
        § 5. Cosmic Philosophy                                       78



    Part II

    CHRISTIANITY FROM THE SECOND CENTURY TO THE RISE OF ISLAM

    Chap. I--Developments in the Unestablished Church

        § 1. Numbers and Inner Life                                  81
        § 2. Growth of the Priesthood                                87
        § 3. The Gnostic Movement in the Second Century              91
        § 4. Marcionism and Montanism                                97
        § 5. Rites and Ceremonies                                   101
        § 6. Strifes over Primary Dogma                             102

    Chap. II--Relations of Church and State

        § 1. Persecutions                                           106
        § 2. Establishment and Creed-Making                         114
        § 3. Reaction under Julian                                  127
        § 4. Re-establishment: Disestablishment of Paganism         133

    Chap. III--Failure with Survival

        § 1. The Overthrow of Arianism                              142
        § 2. The Cost of Orthodoxy                                  146
        § 3. Moral and Intellectual Stagnation                      153
        § 4. The Social Failure                                     159



    Part III

    MEDIEVAL CHRISTIANITY

    Chap. I--Expansion and Organization

        § 1. Position in the Seventh Century                        165
        § 2. Methods of Expansion                                   168
        § 3. Growth of the Papacy                                   174

    Chap. II--Religious Evolution and Strife

        § 1. Growth of Idolatry and Polytheism                      184
        § 2. Doctrines of the Eucharist, Purgatory, and Confession  189
        § 3. Rationalistic Heresies                                 194
        § 4. Anti-clerical Heresies                                 197

    Chap. III--The Social Life and Structure

        § 1. The Clergy, Regular and Secular                        205
        § 2. The Higher Theology and its Effects                    211
        § 3. Christianity and Feudalism                             213
        § 4. Influence of the Crusades                              218

    Chap. IV--The Intellectual Life

        § 1. Superstition and Intolerance                           224
        § 2. The Inquisition                                        227
        § 3. Classic Survivals and Saracen Contacts                 231
        § 4. Religion and Art                                       236

    Chap. V--Byzantine Christianity                                 238



    Part IV

    MODERN CHRISTIANITY

    Chap. I--The Reformation

        § 1. Moral and Intellectual Forces                          245
        § 2. Political and Economic Forces                          249
        § 3. Social and Political Results                           257
        § 4. Intellectual Results                                   265

    Chap. II--Progress of Anti-Christian Thought

        § 1. The Physical Sciences                                  278
        § 2. Philosophy, Cosmic and Moral                           283
        § 3. Biblical and Historical Criticism                      286

    Chap. III--Popular Acceptance

        § 1. Catholic Christianity                                  292
        § 2. Protestant Christianity                                296
        § 3. Greek Christianity                                     303

    Chap. IV--The Relation to Progress

        § 1. Moral Influence                                        310
        § 2. Intellectual Influence                                 315
        § 3. Conclusion and Prognosis                               319



    Synopsis of Literature                                          323

    Index                                                           339



CORRIGENDA


P. 55, line 2, and p. 56, footnote: Miss Harrison has latterly
(in Themis, 1912) given up the etymologies on which this opinion
was founded.

P. 251, line 4 from bottom, for "that" read "than."



PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION


An attempt to write the history of Christianity in the space of
an average novel is so obviously open to objections that, instead
of trying to parry them, I will merely state what seems to me the
possible compensation of brevity in such a matter. It is or may be
conducive to total comprehension, to coherence of judgment, and in a
measure even to the understanding of details. A distinguished expert
in historical and philological research has avowed that specialists
sometimes get their most illuminating ideas from a haphazard glance
into a popular and condensed presentment of their own subject. Without
hoping so to help the experts, I humbly conceive that the present
conspectus of Christian history may do an occasional service even
to an opponent by bringing out a clear issue. Writers of a different
way of thinking have done as much for me.

The primary difficulty is of course the problem of origins. In my
treatment of this problem, going as I do beyond the concessions
of the most advanced professional scholars, I cannot expect much
acquiescence for the present. It must here suffice to say, first,
that the data and the argument, insofar as they are not fully set
forth in the following pages, have been presented in the larger
work entitled Christianity and Mythology, [1] or in the quarters
mentioned in the Synopsis of Literature appended to this volume; and,
secondly, to urge that opponents should read the study on the Gospels
by Professor Schmiedel in the new Encyclopædia Biblica before taking
up their defensive positions.

One of the drawbacks of short histories is that in them at times a
disputable proposition has to be summarily put. I doubt, however,
whether this occurs oftener in the following pages than in lengthy
treatises, where full discussion is fairly to be expected. For
instance, I have held that the reference in Rev. ii, 8, to "the
blasphemy of them which say they are Jews and are not, but are
a synagogue of Satan," is to the Pauline or other Gentilizing
Jew-Christists. That is the view of Renan. Harnack, who passes for a
more solid authority, pronounces summarily that the phrase is cast by
Jew-Christists at orthodox Jews. Such a decision seems to me to be
irrational, but it is impossible in such a work to give space to a
refutation, where Harnack has offered no argument on the other side
in a monumental treatise. The same authority has justified masses
of conformist historiography by the simple dogmatic assertion that
the time is near at hand when men will universally recognize, in
matters of Christian origins, "the essential rightness of tradition,
with a few important exceptions." In putting forth a sketch which
so little conforms to that opinion, I would but claim that it is not
more unjudicial in its method than more conservative performances.

After the period of "origins" has been passed, there is happily less
room for demur on any grounds. The statements of facts in the second
and third parts are for the most part easily to be supported from
the testimony of standard ecclesiastical historians; and the general
judgments sometimes cited in inverted commas, in all four parts, are
nearly always from orthodox writers. What is special to the present
treatise is the sociological interpretation. It was indeed to the
end of such interpretation that the researches here summarized were
begun, over sixteen years ago; and in a documented work on The Rise
of Christianity, Sociologically Considered, I hope more fully to
present it. But as my first perplexity was to ascertain the real
historical processus, I have never subordinated that need to the
desire for explanation.

It hardly needs actual experience of the risks of error and oversight
in a condensed narrative to convince one of the difficulty of escaping
them. Where no single authority is found infallible, I must at times
have miscarried, were it only because I have aimed at something beyond
a condensation of current accounts. No criticism, therefore, will be
more highly valued by me than one which corrects my errors of fact.

In order to cover the ground within the compass taken, it was
absolutely necessary to digest the subject-matter under general heads;
and the chronological movement may in consequence be less clear than
in histories which proceed by centuries. As a partial remedy, dates
have been frequently inserted in the narrative, and it is hoped that
the full index will help to meet the difficulty which may sometimes
be felt as to where a given name or episode should be looked for.

It is perhaps needless to add that the appended Synopsis of Literature
does not in the least pretend to be a bibliography for professed
students. It is designed merely as a first help to painstaking readers
to search and judge for themselves on the problems under notice.


                                                         December, 1901.



PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION


In the dozen years that have passed since this book was written there
has probably been some change in the outlook of the more critical of
the readers to whom it might be said to be addressed. It challenges
criticism on two main issues: that of Christian origins, and that of
the sociological interpretation of Christian history. Twelve years ago,
the thesis of the non-historicity of the gospel story in respect of its
"natural" no less than of its supernatural matter found few serious
listeners, even among Rationalists; while the strictly naturalistic
study of Christian history incurred a good deal of resentment. To-day,
perhaps, the thesis as to origins may receive more attention; while
the historic narrative may arouse less impatience. On both issues,
critical thought appears to be at work.

The primary problem may be left to the fortunes of discussion: the
question as to how Christian history is fitly to be presented in
summary is perhaps worth some introductory treatment.

An attentive reading of the reviews of the first edition left the
author impressed by the fact that censure was generally passed
without any attempt to prove error of statement. Error there may
well have been; but it was not pointed out or founded on in the
hostile judgments passed by religious reviewers. One German Catholic
ecclesiastic was ironical at great length on the account given of
the history of the Catholic Church; but he did not seem to impugn any
particular historical statement. More serious reviewers made nothing
clear save that they resented the selection made of facts and the
summing-up from these. So far as the author could gather, they claimed
that another set of data should have been given, and another general
impression set up. If he understood them aright, they held that the
way to write Christian history is to look for all the utterances of
good feeling, all the instances of humane action, all the items of
political, social, and intellectual betterment that have occurred in
the Christian era, and to call the general statement of these--with,
of course, a sympathetic account of doctrinal evolution--a history
of Christianity. The things on the other side of the shield--the
religious wars, the consecration of error, the strangling of truth,
the persecutions, the propagandist massacres, the countless cruelties
wrought in the name and on the sanction of the faith--are from this
point of view external to its history: things to be set down to the
perversity of men. All the good that has happened is to be credited
to Christianity; all the bad to human nature.

It seems necessary to explain that this is a wholly puerile conception
of historical science, and that the notion of historical causation
so reached is profoundly false. Impartially applied, the method
would yield equivalent panegyric for all religions alike. All that is
beautiful and heroic in pre-Christian and non-Christian history would
be shown to be due to the creeds of the different times and races; all
the harm would be set down, as before, to human nature. The rational
statement is that human nature evolved all the religions in turn; that
creeds, once established, become special factors; that their varying
fortunes are due to the reciprocal reactions of creed and environment;
and that to write the history of any one religion it is necessary
to consider narrowly how it specifically reacts on conduct in given
circumstances of culture and socio-political structure. If it can be
shown specifically to promote right action on any line, let that be
duly credited to the religion in question as the determinant. If,
on the other hand, it can be shown to promote wrong action, the
fact must on the same principle be put to its discredit. But no
Christian historian, broadly speaking, ever thinks of crediting to
Greek polytheism the fairer aspects of Greek life, or to Islam the
virtues of veracity and courage sometimes ascribed to Turks and Arabs;
though professedly Christian historians have been known to contrast
the comparative decency of the execution of Sokrates with the savage
horrors of political executions in Christendom down to recent times.

Aristotle and Plato are still founded on for the purposes of higher
education in Christian countries; but no Christian writer suggests
that what is good or true in their thought is ascribable to paganism
qua paganism; though modern ethical development is constantly set
down to the score of Christianity. In the same fashion, hospitals in
Christian countries are constantly credited to the Christian account,
without a thought of admitting that Moslem hospitals are the product
of the Koran, or that the mutual helpfulness of Eskimos is a specific
result of their heathenism. Paganism is made to figure in general
as promoting vice and human sacrifices and slavery; Christianity as
putting these things down. The impartial historian pronounces that
it has indeed beneficently availed for the suppression of human
sacrifice in general, in virtue of its primary dogma; but that qua
religion it has no more told against slavery than has Islam; that
the slavery maintained till last century under Christian sanctions
and auspices has been as cruel as any seen in human history; that the
persistence of vice within the sphere of Christianity is the despair
of its devotees; and that even in the matter of human sacrifice the
hideous massacre wrought on that pretext by the crusaders at Jerusalem
tells of a terrible per contra to the account of the faith. To claim
for Christianity the latter-day curtailment of slavery, finally,
would be to ignore alike the potent economic and the political
causation, and to overlook the fact that the strongest defence ever
made of slavery as an institution was founded on the Christian sacred
books. These facts belong to the "history of Christianity," like the
facts of missionary enterprise and the establishment of universities
by the Papacy in the Middle Ages: a mere recital of all the forms of
progress made in the Christian era has no claim to such a title.

Doubtless it is difficult to trace all the reactions of creed upon
society and polity; and it is not to be pretended that a general
sketch can even establish the main critical principles to be applied,
any more than it can complete the outline of the facts. But inasmuch
as the popular fashion of doing both is wholly fallacious, a concise
statement which aims at both is necessary, and may lead to fuller and
better elucidations. In the preface to the first edition, a hope was
expressed that such a conspectus might do an occasional service even
to an opponent by bringing out a clear issue; and one hostile German
critic was good enough to say that this service had been done.

If there has been more repudiation of the main historic statement than
the author expected, it may not unfairly be attributed to the temper of
dislike of all innovating judgment which has always marked religious
discussion. Spontaneous resentment operates in advance of critical
reflection; and blame is so much more simple than refutation. Even men
who have made concessions to one line of reasoned objection are often
slow to listen to another; and the practice of "the higher criticism"
leaves many at an uncritical standpoint in regard to sociological
problems. To readers who may be under the sway of such prepossession,
the author can but offer the reminder that this history proceeds
upon a definite view of historical science. It is not an attempt
to indicate all the good or all the evil wrought by Christians,
any more than a work of "natural history" so-called is an attempt
to summarize the lives of myriads of plants or animals. It is an
attempt, in terms of the data, to establish principles of causation,
to trace broadly the reactions of a given creed on polity, conduct,
and thought, and to summarize the reactions of those on the formation
and fortunes of the creed itself. To the adherents of the creed it will
naturally figure as "an attack" insofar as it gives an unflattering
or subversive account of the historical process. It is none the less
a work of scientific investigation, written with the object, first
and last, of getting at the historic truth.

This, it must be observed, is a different thing from the purpose of
what is called "edification," so often acted on, and even professed,
by professional theologians. Recently, for instance, the Dean of
Durham preached a special sermon to miners, in which he urged, not
that the Christian religion is true and the disregard of it fatal to
future salvation, but that "we are so fashioned that a religion we must
have." All the while, the confessed motive for the declaration was that
so many actually feel no such need; and the "You can't do without it"
thus approximated to the advertisement of a new typewriter. Men who
assert and claim to prove that the given religion is "not true" were
at the same time represented by Dr. Henson as merely urging their
fellows to "give no thought to religion." Here we have not merely a
negative but a positive indifference to truth.

Unfortunately such indifference--at least the negative--is countenanced
in the name of science by some "men of science" whose qualifications,
however high, are gained in the physical and not in the "human"
sciences, and who apply to the latter critical standards of a laxity
which they would refuse to recognize in their own province. By
such propagandists, ultimate questions of historic truth are never
subjected to scientific examination at all, and tradition is at many
points accepted more uncritically than by many of the more scrupulous
theological scholars. At the same time the expediency of cultivating
"religious fervour" is taken for granted without any ostensible inquiry
as to how religious fervour has affected society in the past. In
the following survey, the historical and the sociological problems
are alike sought to be treated as scientific issues, calling for
strictly scientific examination. The only relevant answer, therefore,
from the author's point of view, will be one which shows either that
the historical statement is false or that the sociological inferences
are fallacious.

Yet another phase of the professional defence of the faith calls for
notice. At the close of a very comprehensive and catholic survey of
the religions of the world, Professor J. E. Carpenter writes:--


    There is no doubt whatever of the dependence of Christianity
    upon Jewish Messianic expectation. Its pictures of human destiny
    ... are pictures drawn by Jewish hands. Its promises of the
    Advent of the Son of Man ... are couched in the language of
    earlier Jewish books. For one religion builds upon another, and
    must use the speech of its country and its time. Its forms must
    therefore change from age to age.... But it will always embody
    man's highest thought concerning the mysteries that surround him,
    and will express his finest attitude to life. Its beliefs may be
    gradually modified; ... but history shows it to be among the most
    permanent of social forces, and the most effective agent for the
    slow elevation of the race. [2]


We have here two typical assumptions: first, that religion always
did, and always will, "embody man's highest thought" and "express
his finest attitude to life"; second, that it is "the most effective
agent for the slow elevation of the race." No pretence is made of
proving the latter proposition; it is taken for granted, like the
other. And the writer has previously declared (p. 34) that "Theologies
may be many, but religion is one": all religions, therefore, are
included in the closing panegyric. We are thus presented with the
profoundly pessimistic proposition that the welfare of humanity
has always depended mainly upon the acceptance of illusory beliefs;
for neither the writer nor anyone else pretends to believe that the
mass of credences in question are aught else. Yet he brings them all
within his generalization. Of the old Aztec religion he writes (p. 57)
that "out of the fusion of nationalities in Mexico rose a developed
polytheism in which lofty religious sentiment seems strangely blended
with a hideous and sanguinary ritual."

It becomes necessary to challenge emphatically the moral and
sociological science which thus certificates as "lofty" beliefs
admittedly bound up with systematic atrocity of action, and sees
an elevating force in creeds directly productive of immeasurable
evil. The religion last referred to was destroying the Aztec State,
morally and economically, when both alike were destroyed by Christian
invaders. Lay moral sense, now as so often in the past, must correct
the sacerdotal; and a false sociological generalization must be
confronted with the historic facts.

The chapters which follow challenge, by simple historic representation,
both the ethical and the sociological judgments under notice. If
the reader is disposed, in deference to "authority," to assent
to either, let him turn to another volume in the same series with
that of Professor Carpenter, the History of Freedom of Thought, by
Professor Bury; and he will see presented, from a strictly historical
point of view, the negation of the doctrine that religion has been
"the most effective agent for the slow elevation of the race." The
sociological verdict of the specialist in history is presumably as
weighty as that of the specialist in religion on the question of the
causation of progress.

But I am far from suggesting that the question is to be settled by
"authority" of any kind. The prime necessity is detached, independent,
self-consistent thinking upon a broad scrutiny of the facts. If these
pages in any degree promote that process, they will have justified
their production.


                                                        September, 1913.



PART I

PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY


CHAPTER I

THE BEGINNINGS


§ 1. Documentary Clues

In the ancient history of religions, as in the ancient history of
nations, the first account given of origins is almost always a myth. A
divine or worshipful founder is craved by the primitive imagination
no less for cults and institutions, tribes and polities, than for
the forms of life and the universe itself; and history, like science,
may roughly be said to begin only when that craving for first causes
has been discredited, or controlled, by the later arising instinct
of exact observation. Such a check or control tends to be set up by
the presence of intelligently hostile forces, as in the case of the
religion of Mohammed, whose teaching warred with and was warred on
by rival faiths from the first, and whose own written and definite
doctrine forbade his apotheosis. Some of the early Christian sects,
which went far towards setting up independent cults, had their origins
similarly defined by the pressure of criticism from the main body. But
even in some such cases, notably in that of the Manichæan movement,
the myth-making process has partly eluded hostile scrutiny; [3]
and earlier growths incurred much less of critical inquiry. Before
the Christian system had taken organised historic form, in virtue of
having come into the heritage of literary and political method embodied
in the Greco-Roman civilization, it is rarely possible to trust the
record of any cult's beginnings, even where it professes to derive
from a non-supernatural teacher; so ungoverned is the myth-making
instinct in the absence of persistent criticism. Buddha, Zoroaster,
and Moses are only less obviously mythical figures than Krishna,
Herakles, and Osiris. Of the Christian cult it can at best be said
that it takes its rise on the border-land between the historical and
the unhistorical, since any rational defence of it to-day admits that
in the story of its origins there is at least an element of sheer myth.

The oldest documents of the cult are ostensibly the Epistles of Paul;
and concerning these there are initial perplexities, some being more
or less clearly spurious--that is, very different from or much later
in character than the rest--while all of the others show signs of
interpolation. Taken as they stand, however, they reveal a remarkable
ignorance of the greater part of the narratives in the gospels,
and of the whole body of the teachings there ascribed to Jesus. In
three respects only do the Pauline writings give any support to the
histories later accepted by the Christian Church. They habitually speak
of Jesus as crucified, and as having risen from the dead; they contain
one account of the institution of the Lord's Supper, in agreement with
the gospel account; and they make one mention of "the twelve." But the
two latter allusions occur in passages (1 Cor. xi and xv) which have
plain marks of interpolation; and when they are withdrawn the Pauline
letters tell only of a cult, Jewish in origin, in which a crucified
Jesus--called the Messiah or Christos or Anointed One--figures as a
saving sacrifice, but counts for absolutely nothing as a teacher or
even as a wonder-worker. Yet he is a God or Demigod who has risen from
the dead. A eucharist or religious meal is celebrated in his name,
but no mention is made of any teaching uttered by the founder. And
nothing in the epistles enables us even to date them independently of
the gospel narratives, which they so strangely fail to confirm. Thus
the case stands with the New Testament very much as with the Old. As
the Book of Judges reveals a state of Hebrew life quite incompatible
with that described in the Pentateuch as having preceded it, so do the
epistles of Paul reveal a stage of Christist propaganda incompatible
with any such prior development as is set forth in the gospel. And
the reasonable conclusion in the two cases seems to be the same: that
the documents setting forth the prior developments are, as they now
stand, not only later in composition but substantially fictitious,
even where they do not tell of supernatural events. The only tenable
alternative is the hypothesis of two separate movements of Christism,
which ignored or discredited each other.

What needs to be explained in both cases is the way in which the later
narratives came to be compiled. Within a hundred years from the date
commonly assigned to the Crucifixion, there are Gentile traces of a
Jesuist or Christist movement deriving from Jewry, and possessing a
gospel or memoir as well as some of the Pauline and other epistles,
both spurious and genuine; but the gospel then current is seen to
have contained some matter not preserved in the canonical four,
and to have lacked much that those contain. Of those traces the
earliest are found in one epistle of Clement called Bishop of Rome
(fl. about 100), which, whether genuine or not, is ancient, and
in the older form of the epistles ascribed to the Martyr Ignatius
(d. about 115?) of which the same may be said. About the middle of
the second century the writings of Justin Martyr tell of a Christist
memoir, but show no knowledge of the Pauline epistles. All alike tell
of a spreading cult, with a theology not yet coherently dogmatic,
founding mainly on a crucified Jesus, faith in whom ensures salvation.

Like the letters of Paul, those ascribed to Clement and Ignatius tell
of schisms and bitter strifes in the churches: that is the constant
note of Christian history from first to last. As to rites, we have
but a bare mention of the eucharist and of baptism; the story of
the founder's parentage is still unknown to the makers of documents,
and his miracles are as unheard of as most of his teachings. There
is nothing in Clement, or in the older Ignatian epistles, or in that
ascribed to Polycarp (circa 150), or in that of Barnabas (same period),
to show knowledge of the existing gospels of Luke or John; a solitary
parallel to Luke being rather a proof that the passage echoed had
been taken from some earlier document; and the gospel actually cited
as late as Justin is certainly not identical with either Mark or
Matthew. Even from Paul there is hardly any quotation; and Clement,
who mentions or is made to mention his epistles to the Corinthians,
pens a long passage in praise of love which has no quotation from the
apostle's famous chapter on that head, though it would have seemed made
for his purpose. In view of their lax way of quoting the Old Testament
we may infer that the early Fathers or forgers had few manuscripts;
and it is plain that they set no such store by Christian documents
as they did by the Jewish; but the fact remains that they fail to
vouch for much even of those Pauline epistles which commonly rank as
incontestable. At times, as in the Pauline use of the word ektroma (1
Cor. xv, 8), which occurs in a similar phrase in one of the Ignatian
epistles, there is reason to suspect that the "apostolic" writing
has been interpolated in imitation of the "post-apostolic." In the
latter the expression is appropriate; in the former it is not.

It does not indeed follow that documents or chapters not quoted or
utilized by the Fathers were in their day non-existent. The letters
of Paul, supposing them to be genuine, would in any case be only
gradually made common property. All the evidence goes to show that
the early Christians were for the most part drawn from the illiterate
classes; and the age of abundant manuscripts would begin only with the
age of educated converts. But what is inconceivable is that one so
placed as Paul should never once cite the teachings of the founder,
if such teachings were current in his day in any shape; and what
is extremely improbable is that one so placed as Clement, or one
forging or interpolating in his name, should possess Paul's First
Epistle to the Corinthians as it now stands, and yet should barely
mention it in a letter to the same church dealing with almost the same
problems. In the first case, we are almost forced to conclude that
the gospel narratives were non-existent for the writer or writers of
the Pauline epistles up to the point of the two interpolations which
allege an accepted tradition; and, in the second, that the Pauline
epistles themselves are nowhere to be taken as certainly genuine. [4]
Such irremovable doubt is the Nemesis of the early Christian habits
of forgery and fiction.

There emerges, however, the residual fact that Paul ranked in the
second century as a historical and natural personage, in whose name it
was worth while to forge. For Paul's period, again, Jesus was possibly
a historical personage, since he was not declared to be supernaturally
born, though credited with a supernatural resurrection. Broadly
speaking, the age of an early Christian document is found to be in
the ratio of its narrative bareness, its lack of biographical myth,
its want of relation to the existing gospels. As between the shorter
and the longer form of the Ignatian epistles, the question of priority
is at once settled by the frequent citations from the gospels and from
Paul in the latter, and the lack of them in the former. But all the
documents alike appear to point to a movement which remotely took
its rise among the Jews long before the destruction of the temple
of Jerusalem by Titus in the year 70, and subsisted in Jewry long
afterwards; and, as the Jewish environment lacked many of the forces
of change present in the Gentile, it is to the Jewish form of the
cult that we must first look if we would trace its growth.



§ 2. The Earliest Christian Sects

The first properly historical as distinct from the "scriptural"
notices of the Church at Jerusalem tell of a quasi-Christian sect
there, known as Ebionites or Ebionim, a Hebrew word which signified
simply "the poor." From the point of view of the Gentile Christians
of the end of the second century they were heretics, seeing that
they used a form of the Gospel of Matthew lacking the first two
chapters, denied the divinity of Jesus, and rejected the apostleship
of Paul. As they likewise rejected the Hebrew prophets, accepting only
the Pentateuch, there is some reason to suppose that they were either
of Samaritan derivation or the descendants of an old element in the
Judean population which, from the time of Ezra onwards, had rejected
the later Biblical writings as the Samaritans did. On either view it
would follow that the Jesuist movement rooted from the first in a lower
stratum of the population, hostile to orthodox or Pharisaic Judaism,
as were the Sadducees among the upper classes. The Samaritans made
special account of Joshua (=Jesus), having a book which bore his name;
and we shall see later that that name was anciently a divine one for
some Syrian populations.

Later notices bring to light the existence of a smaller sect, called
by the Greeks Nazoraioi, Nazarites or Nazaræans, the term said in
the Acts of the Apostles (xxiv, 5) to have been applied to the early
Jesuists, and often applied in that book as well as in the gospels
to Jesus. According to one account this sect objected to be called
Christians, though it appears to have been on the assumption of
their derivation from the first Christians that they had not earlier
been stamped as heretics. Through the two sects under notice may be
gathered the probable development of early Jesuism.

It cannot have been from the place-name Nazareth that any Jesuist
sect were first called Nazaræans, a term standing either for the
variously-spelt Nazir (Nazarite, or, properly, Nazirite) of the Old
Testament, or for a compound of the term netzer (=a branch), used
in the passage of Isaiah (xi, 1), supposed to be cited in the first
gospel (ii, 23). Even the form "Nazarene," sometimes substituted in the
gospels for the other, could not conceivably have been, to start with,
the name for a sect founded by a man who, like the gospel Jesus, was
merely said to have been reared at a village called Nazareth or Nazara,
and never taught there. In none of the Pauline or other canonical
epistles, however, is Jesus ever called Nazarite, or Nazarene, or
"of Nazareth"; and the Ebionite gospel, lacking the Nazareth story,
would lack any such appellation. The Ebionite sect, then, appears
to have stood for the first form of the cult, and to have developed
the first form of gospel; while the later Nazaræan sect appears to
be either a post-Pauline but Judaic growth from the Ebionite roots,
or a post-Pauline grafting of another movement on the Jesuism of
the Ebionites.

Ebionism, to begin with, whether ancient and quasi-Samaritan or
a product of innovation in the immediately pre-Roman period, is
intelligible as the label of a movement which held by the saying
"Blessed are ye poor" or "poor in spirit," found in the so-called
Sermon on the Plain and Sermon on the Mount (Luke vi, 20; Matt. v,
3). In poverty-stricken Jewry, with a prophetic and proverbial
literature in which, as generally in the East, the poor are treated
with sympathy, such a label would readily grow popular, as it had done
for the Buddhist "mendicants" in India. Its association, however,
with the cult of a slain and Messianic Jesus raises the question
whether the latter was not the germ of the movement; and there are
some grounds for surmising that the sect may have arisen around one
Jesus the son of Pandira, who is mentioned in the Talmud as having
been hanged on a tree and stoned to death at Lydda, on the eve of
a Passover, in the reign of Alexander Jannæus. It was customary to
execute important offenders at that season; and as the Paschal feast
had a specifically atoning significance, a teacher then executed
might come to be regarded as an atoning sacrifice. But there are
traces in the Old Testament of a Messianic movement connected with
the name Jesus at some uncertain period before the Christian era. In
the book of Zechariah, of which the first six chapters appear to be
much later than the rest, there is named one Jesus (Heb. Joshua),
a high priest, who figures Messianically as "the Branch," and is
doubly crowned as priest and king. In the obscurity which covers most
of the prophetic literature, it is difficult to say for what historic
activities this piece of symbolism stands; but it must have stood for
something. From it, in any case, we gather the fact that much stress
was laid on the symbol of "the Branch" (or "sprout"), called in the
present text of Zechariah tsemach, but in Isaiah nazar or netzer. Among
the Gentiles that symbol belonged to the worships of several Gods and
Goddesses--as Mithra, Attis, Apollo, and Dêmêtêr--and appears to have
meant the principle of life, typified in vegetation; among the Jews
it was certainly bound up with the general belief in a coming Messiah
who should restore Jewish independence. It is not impossible, then,
that a Messianic party were early called "Netzerites" or "Nazaræans"
on that account; and such a sect could in the Judaic fashion find
all manner of significances in the name of the high priest, since
"Jesus" (=Joshua) signified Saviour, and the ancient and mythical
Joshua was a typical deliverer. The Mosaic promise (Deut. xviii, 15)
of a later prophet and leader, which in the Acts is held to apply
to the crucified Jesus, had formerly been held by Jews to apply to
the Joshua who succeeded Moses; and in that case there is reason to
surmise that an older myth or cult centring round the name had given
rise to the historical fiction of the Hebrew books. In some very
ancient MSS. the text of the epistle of Jude, verse 5, reads "Jesus"
where our version has "the Lord," a circumstance which suggests yet
another Joshuan myth. But the subject remains obscure. There is even
some doubtful evidence of the later existence of a sect of "Jesseans,"
possibly distinct from the historical "Essenes," who may have founded
on Isaiah's "Branch from the roots of Jesse."

The following, then, are the historical possibilities. A poor sect
or caste of Ebionim, marked off from orthodox Jewry, and akin to the
population of Samaria, may have subsisted throughout the post-exilic
period, and may either have preserved an old Jesuist cult with a
sacrament or adopted a later Samaritan movement. From that might have
been developed the "Nazarene" sect of Christist history. On the other
hand, a sect of "Nazaræans," holding by the Messianic name of Jesus,
may have existed in the pre-Roman period, but may have come to figure
specially as Ebionim or "poor" when the earlier or political form
of Messianic hope waned. Their name may also have led to their being
either confused or conjoined with the "Nazarites" of Jewry, a numerous
but fluctuating body, under temporary vows of abstention. But that
body, again, may have become generally Messianist, and may have adopted
the Messianic "Branch" in the verbalizing spirit so common in Jewry,
while continuing to call itself Nazarite in the old sense. It is indeed
on record that some Jews made vows to "be a Nazarite when the Son of
David should come"; and such were free to drink wine on Sabbaths,
though not on week days. Such Nazarites could have constituted the
first sacramental assemblies of the Christists. And as the Hebrew Nazir
(Sept. Gr. Nazoraios) had the meaning of "consecrated" or "holy to
the Lord," the early Gentile Christians may very well have translated
the word into their own languages instead of transliterating it. On
that view the hagioi or "saints" of the Acts and the epistles and the
Apocalypse may have strictly stood for "the Nazirites," "the devoti."

Seeing, however, that the later Nazaræans are reported to have
adopted the (obviously late) first and second chapters of Matthew,
while the Ebionites rejected them; and seeing that these chapters,
embodying the story of the flight into Egypt, make Jesus at once
a Jewish and a Gentile Christ, it would appear that the Gentile
movement had then reacted on the Jewish, and that the ultra-Jewish
Jesuists had now relinquished the name of Nazaræan to the less rigid,
who at this stage probably used a Greek gospel. Finally, as the
original sense of "Nazirite" implied either a Judaic vow--irksome
to the Gentile Christians, and probably to many of the Jewish--or
a specially Judaic character in the founder, and as the political
implication of the "netzer" (supposing that to have adhered to the
sect-name) was anti-Roman, there would arise a disposition to seek
for the term another significance. This, presumably on the suggestion
of Gentiles accustomed to hear Jewish sectaries called "Galileans,"
was found in the figment that the founder, though declared to have
been Messianically born in Bethlehem, had been reared in the Galilean
village of Nazareth or Nazara. Instead of being a historical datum,
as is assumed by so many rationalizing historians, that record appears
to be really a pragmatic myth superimposed on the Bethlehem myth. The
textual analysis shows that wherever it occurs in the gospels and
Acts the name Nazareth has been foisted on the documents.

Hence, however, arose the Greek form "Nazarenos," which finally became
to a certain extent imposed on the canonical gospels, but especially on
that of Mark, which appears to have been redacted under Roman authority
in the interests of ecclesiastical order. Naturally, the Latin Vulgate
adopted the same term throughout the gospels and Acts, save in the
crucial text, Matt. ii, 23. Otherwise the texts are almost wholly in
favour of the form "Nazoraios"--that is, Nazaræan or Nazirite.



§ 3. Personality of the Nominal Founder

Even for minds wont to see mere myth in the idea of such
long-worshipped Saviours as Apollo and Osiris, Krishna and Mithra,
it cannot but be startling to meet for the first time the thought
that there is no historic reality in a figure so long revered and
beloved by half the human race as the Jesus of the gospels. It was
only after generations of scrutiny that modern rationalism began to
doubt the actuality of the Teacher it had unhesitatingly surmised
behind the impossible demigod of the records. The first, indeed,
to see in him sheer myth were the students who were intent chiefly
on the myths of action in the story: to return to the teaching as
such was to recover the old impression of a real voice. It is only
after a further analysis--a scrupulous survey of the texts--that the
inquirer can realise how illusory that impression really is.

The proposition is not that the mere lateness of the gospels deprives
them of authority as evidence (for they proceeded on earlier
documents), but that throughout they are demonstrably results
of accretion through several generations, and that the earliest
sections were put together long after the period they profess to deal
with. The older portions of the Pauline epistles show no knowledge of
any Jesuine biography or any Jesuine teaching--a circumstance which
suggests that the Jesus of Paul is much more remote from Paul's day
than is admitted by the records. Later, the Christian writers are
found to have certain narratives, evidently expanded from generation
to generation, till at the end of the second century there exist the
four canonical gospels, which, however, are not known to have been even
then completed. Celsus, in his anti-Christian treatise, supposed to
have been written between 170 and 180, speaks of the gospels as having
undergone endless alteration; and additions were still possible after
the time of Origen, who weakly replied to Celsus that the alterations
were the work of heretics. Side by side with the four there had grown
up a number of "apocryphal" gospels, of which some were long as popular
as the canonical, though all were ultimately discarded by the Councils
of the Church. The principle of exclusion was essentially that of
the tentative criticism of modern times--the critical sense of the
inferiority of mere tales of wonders to narratives which contained,
besides wonders, elements of moral instruction.

In natural course criticism first rejects miraculous episodes, next
excludes teachings which purport to come from a God-man, and then
seeks to infer a personality from those which are left; but inasmuch
as those, like the rest, are disparate and even contradictory, the
process usually ends in an avowedly arbitrary selection. And to all
such selection the loyal study of the texts is fatal. To put aside,
as some still do, the fourth gospel, and then take a stand on the
synoptics, is merely to arrest factitiously the critical process,
which, when consistently pursued, leads to the conviction that the
synoptics were built up by the same order of impulses, under the
same conditions of unchecked invention and interpolation, as gave
rise to the most obvious fictions in the gospel of "John." We are
led without escape to the conclusion that no strain of teaching in
the gospels can be fathered on the shadowy founder, who for Paul
is only a crucified phantom. The humanistic teachings are no more
primordial, no less capable of interpolation, than the mystical and
the oracular. Some of the best sayings are among the very latest;
some of the narrowest belong to the earliest tradition. Collectively,
they tell of a hundred hands.

Surmising that the nominal founder of Paul's Jesuism may possibly
be the slain Jesus Pandira of the Talmud, a hundred years "before
Christ," we next ask whether any such founder must not be supposed to
have taught something, to make men see in him a Messiah and preserve
his name. The answer is that the name alone was a large part of the
qualification for a Jewish Messiah; that the chance of his execution
on the eve of the Passover would give it for some Jews a mystic
significance; and that a story of his resurrection, a story easily
floated in case of an alleged sorcerer, such as the Talmudic Jesus,
would complete the conditions required for the growth of a myth
and a cult, seeing that the Jews traditionally expected the Messiah
to come at midnight of the day of Passover. Doubtless the alleged
sorcerer may have been an innovating teacher. It is quite possible,
indeed, that as a bearer of the fated name he may have made Messianic
claims: the form of death said to have been inflicted on him suggests
energetic priestly or political hostility. But of his utterances
history preserves no trace: even in the Talmud his story has passed
into legendary form. Thus it is not even certain that "pre-Christian"
Jesuism took shape round the memory of an actual man. The mythic Joshua
(Jesus) of the Old Testament is seen to have been in all likelihood,
like Samson, an ancient Semitic Sun-God, his name, "the Saviour,"
being a common divine epithet; and as he is in Perso-Arab tradition
the son of the mythic Miriam (Mary), it may be that the roots of the
historic Christian cult go back to an immemorial Semitic antiquity,
when already the name of Jesus was divine. [5] In the shadow of that
name its origins are hidden.

What is clear is that the central narrative of the gospel biography,
the story of the Last Supper, the Agony, Betrayal, Trial, and
Crucifixion, is neither a contemporary report nor a historical
tradition, but the simple transcript of a Mystery-Drama. The proof
lies in the very structure of the document.

Anyone who will attentively follow the account of the Last Supper
and its sequelæ in the first gospel will see that it reproduces a
series of closely-continuous dramatic scenes, with no room given to
such considerations as would naturally occur to a narrator of real
events, and no sign of perception of the extreme improbability of
the huddled sequence set forth. A more or less unnatural compression
of events is the specific mark of drama, even in the hands of great
masters, as Shakespeare and Ibsen; and the primitive mystery-play,
as might be expected, is excessively compressed, so as to conform to
the recognised Greek rule that the action of a drama should be limited
to twenty-four hours. Jesus is made to take the Passover after dark;
then to go forth in the night for no reason given with his disciples,
who sleep while he prays; then to be captured in the darkness by a
"multitude"; then to be taken straight to the high priest, "where
the scribes and elders were gathered together." These now proceed,
in the dead of the night, to "seek false witnesses," and "many false
witnesses" come, to no purpose, till "afterward" come two who testify
to his words about destroying the temple; whereupon he is judged and
buffeted, and the night's history ends with the episode of Peter's
denial. No hint is ever given of anything said or done or felt by
Jesus on the way from the Supper to the Mount, or in the interval
between the Jewish and the Roman trials.

Such a narrative cannot have been originally composed for reading. A
writer, whether inventing or reproducing hearsay, would have sought
to explain the strangely protracted midnight procedure of the high
priest and scribes and elders; would have given some thought to
the time necessary between event and event; would have thought of
the Lord in his dungeon. The story before us yields exactly what
could be scenically enacted, nothing more; and where on the stage
the successive scenes would originally raise no question of the time
taken, the unreflecting narrative loses all verisimilitude by making
everything happen in unbroken sequence, and by making the Master
utter words of prayer which, apart from the audience of the drama,
there was no one to hear. In the play the "false witnesses" would of
necessity be sent for and introduced without lapse of time, and the
action would raise in a popular audience no perplexity, where the
narrative loses all semblance of probability by turning the dramatic
act into a historical process. After the unspecified slight pause till
"the morning was come," the action is resumed before Pilate with the
same dramatic speed, and the execution impossibly follows immediately
on the trial. We are reading the bare transcript of a mystery-drama;
a transcript so bare that, in the scene of the Passion, the speech
beginning "Sleep on now," and that beginning "Arise, let us be going,"
are put together as if they were one utterance, without specification
of the required exit and entrance between.

Such a clearly dramatic composition can be accounted for only as a
development, after the fashion of the pagan mystery-dramas, from
a remote, primitive rite of human sacrifice, such as we know to
have been long habitual among the Jews as among other Semites. To
the ancient rite the very name of Jesus probably belonged; and the
existing document is presumptively an adaptation, made after the fall
of Jerusalem by Gentile Christists, of a simpler and earlier Judaic
ritual-drama. We are thus left facing a myth, not a history--a Jesus
who compares not with Mohammed but with Dionysos and Osiris.

When the historic Church set about a statement of its history it could
not even fix satisfactorily the year of its supposed founder's birth;
and the "Christian era" was made to begin some years--two, three, four,
five, or eight--after that on which the chronologists were later fain
to fix, by way of conforming to their most precise document. Their
data, however, have no more value than any other guess. So little
of the semblance of historical testimony do the gospels yield that
it is impossible to establish from them any proposition as to the
duration of the God-man's ministry; and the early Church in general
held by the tradition that it lasted exactly one year, an opinion
which again points straight to myth, since it is either a dogmatic
assumption based on the formula of "the acceptable year of the Lord,"
or a simple reversion to the story of the Sun-God. Of the life of the
alleged teacher from the age of twelve to thirty--another mythological
period--there is not a single trace, mythical or non-mythical, though
at his death he is represented as the centre of a large and adoring
following. Ultimately, his birth was placed at the winter solstice,
the birth-day of the Sun-God in the most popular cults; and while
that is fixed as an anniversary, the date of his crucifixion is made
to vary from year to year in order to conform to the astronomical
principle on which the Jews, following the sun-worshippers, had fixed
their Passover. Between those fabulous points everything the gospels
affirm as biographical fact is fortuitous or purposive invention,
which on scientific analysis "leaves not a wrack behind" in the nature
of objective history.

Before accepting such a verdict the sympathetic seeker is apt to
grasp at the old argument that such a figure as the gospel Jesus
cannot have been created either by fortuitous fable or by fictions;
that its moral stature is above that of any of the men we can trace
in the gospel-making period; that its spiritual unity excludes the
theory of a literary mosaic. It must first be answered that these
positions beg the question and falsify the data. That the figure of
the gospel Jesus is actually devoid of moral unity is made clear by
the very attempts to unify it, since they one and all leave out much of
the records; and the claim to moral superiority collapses, even apart
from the obvious fact that the texts are aggregations, as soon as we
compare them with the contemporary and previous ethical literature
of the Jews, Greeks, Romans, and Hindus. There is not one teaching in
the gospels that is not there paralleled; and the passages which have
been claimed as most characteristic--for instance, the Sermon on the
Mount--are mere compilations of earlier Jewish utterances. Thus the
unity credited to the records, and the personality ascribed to the
founder, are but creations of the same sympathetic human imagination
that wove tissues of poetry and pathos round the figures of Dionysos
and Buddha, and framed for the cult of Krishna its most impressive
document when the cult was already ancient beyond reckoning. As man
has made his Gods, so he has made his Christs: it would be strange
indeed if the faculty which wrought the one could not create the other.



§ 4. Myth of the Twelve Apostles

In one of the Pauline epistles, which are usually understood to belong
to the second generation after that of the founder, there is mention
of three chief Apostles with whom Paul had disputes, but none of any
contemporary group of Twelve; and the only historical allusion to the
latter number is in one of the interpolations in First Corinthians,
where it appears to be a patch upon a patch. In the Acts of the
Apostles, which though a fraudulent is an ancient compilation,
there is a preliminary story of the election of an apostle to fill
the place of Judas, deceased and disgraced; but not only is there
no further pretence of such a process of completion, the majority
of the twelve themselves speedily disappear from the history. Once
more we are dealing with a myth. In the Apocalypse, again, after the
original Judaic document has pictured a New Jerusalem with twelve
gates and angels, named after the twelve tribes, the Christian
interpolator has betrayed himself by the awkward invention of twelve
"basement courses" named after the "twelve Apostles of the Lamb,"
where an original Christian author would have given the apostles
the gates if anything, had a list of twelve Jesuist apostles existed
for him. In heaven the Lamb is surrounded, not by twelve disciples,
but by the "four and twenty presbyters" of an older cult, probably
that of Babylonia, which had twenty-four "Counsellor Gods."

In the gospels the lack of historic foundation is no less
decisive. Circumstantial but irreconcilable accounts, obviously
mythical, are given of the selection of four or five apostles,
whereafter the narratives, without a word of preparation or
explanation, proceed to a sudden constitution of the group of twelve,
with only the mythological detail, in one case, that they were "called"
by the Master on a mountain. Thus the element of the Twelve is not
even an early item in the records. It has been imposed on documents
which set out with no such datum, but with primary groups of five,
four, and three.

The historical solution of the problem as to the source of the fiction
is now tolerably certain. It is on record that the Jewish High Priest
of the latter days of the Temple, and after him the Patriarch at
Tiberias, employed certain "Apostles" as tribute-collectors and
supervisors of the many faithful Jews scattered throughout the
neighbouring kingdoms. By common Jewish usage these would number
twelve. As the dispersed Jewish race multiplied abroad after the fall
of the Temple, it is probable that under the upper grade of twelve
there was created a body of seventy-two collectors, who answered
to the traditional number of "the nations" in Jewish lore. Such a
body is the probable basis for the admittedly mythical "seventy"
or "seventy-two" of the third gospel. At this stage the twelve
appear to have exercised chiefly teaching and regulative functions,
for it is clear that the quasi-Christian document, The Teaching
of the Twelve Apostles, recovered in 1873 and published in 1883,
was originally a purely Jewish manual of moral exhortation, and as
such bore its existing title. To the six or seven purely Judaic and
non-Jesuist chapters which seem to constitute the original document,
and which contain passages copied in the so-called Sermon on the Mount,
there were gradually added others, introducing the rites of baptism
and the eucharist, the name of Jesus, the doctrine of the Trinity,
and various rules of economic procedure. In this gradual fashion
a Jesuist cult, in which Jesus is called the "servant" of God, was
grafted on an originally Judaic moral teaching, the prestige of the
Jewish "Twelve Apostles" being all the while carried on. It was to
give a Christian origin for this document, or for the institution
pointed to by its title, that the gospel myth of the Twelve Apostles
was framed. After the time of Athanasius, the expanded document,
being still unduly Judaic and otherwise unsuitable for the purposes
of the organized Church, passed into disuse; but the myth remained.

As regards the three "chief" apostles named in one of the Pauline
epistles, there is a reasonable presumption that they were either
leading propagandists of the Jesuist cult as it existed at the
time of the writing, or so reputed by later tradition; but the
assumption that they had been associates and disciples of the founder
must be abandoned with the rest of the gospel tradition. They were
necessarily woven into the gospel narrative by the later compilers;
but the Epistle to the Galatians lies under the general suspicion of
having been interpolated, if not wholly forged; and its very naming
of the Judaic apostles is as much a ground for question as a datum for
construction. It is probable, further, that the title "brethren of the
Lord" was originally a group-name, and that the literal construction
of it was a misconception by the later readers or interpolators of
the epistles and the gospels. Nothing in the gospels or the Acts
can make intelligible the appearance of certain actual brothers of
the gospel Jesus at the head of a Jesuist cult. The name of Peter,
finally, became a nucleus for many myths; and the two epistles which
bear his name have so little relation to the personality set forth
in the gospels that both have been widely discredited as forgeries;
the second having indeed been so reputed in the days of Eusebius. The
Simon-Petros (Cephas) of the gospels, however, is in himself a mere
literary creation. Represented there as basely denying his captured
Master, he figures in the Acts as the supernatural slayer of Ananias
and Sapphira for a much slighter sin. The gospel story must be one
of the products of the anti-Judaic animus of later Gentile Jesuists,
for even the Ananias story is late. All that holds good is the fact
that a tradition grew round the names in question, both of which
hint of mythology--Petros ("the Rock") being the name of an Egyptian
God and of the popular Eastern deity Mithra; and Simon the name of
a no less popular Semitic God. In his final aspect as leader of the
twelve, basis of the Church, and keeper of the heavenly keys, Peter
combines the attributes of Mithra and of Janus, both official deities
of the Roman military class, as well as of the Egyptian Petra--who
is door-keeper of heaven, earth, and the underworld.

The Epistle of James, by whomsoever written, is in no sense a
Christist document--containing as it does not a single Jesuist or
Christian doctrine, save perhaps the appended invective against
the rich, which is Ebionitic. Of its two namings of Jesus, one is
clearly an interpolation, and the other is presumptively so. There
remains only a moral exhortation to Jews meeting in synagogues, a
teaching strictly comparable to that of the original and pre-Jesuine
"Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," though the epistle makes no mention
of any other apostles. Such writing tells of an essentially different
propaganda from that of the Christists proper; and its preservation by
them testifies to its priority. The epistles ascribed to John, on the
contrary, belong to a considerably later period; telling as they do of
a fanatical movement which swears by the name of Jesus the Christ as
one who has died to take away sin, but which is full of apprehension
as to the advent and functions of a number of Anti-Christs.

Judas (Ioudas), of whom there is no mention in any of the epistles, and
whose traditional treason is not recognized in the lately-recovered
"Gospel of Peter," or in the pseudo-Pauline reference to "the
twelve," is a late creation; having probably taken shape first as
a simple Ioudaios, "a Jew," in an early Christian mystery-play of
the crucifixion and resurrection. Mythologically, the conception may
derive from the Diabolos or "Adversary" of Persian lore, as Judas in
the gospels is called "a devil"; and the tradition which gave him red
hair assimilated him to Typhon, the slayer of the Egyptian Saviour-God,
Osiris. On the other hand, the name may have a mythological connection
with the story of the betrayal of Joseph by his eleven brethren, of
whom Judas was the ringleader. [6] The story of the betrayal in the
gospels is in any case plainly fabulous. The hired help of Judas is
represented as necessary to identify a teacher who figured daily in
the temple, and was a familiar figure to the populace. Such a myth can
be best explained on the theory that a Jesuist mystery-play, arising
or becoming modified among the Gentiles, would readily represent
a Jew as betraying the Lord, even as the twelve were represented
as forsaking their master. A bag to hold the blood-money would be a
dramatic accessory, and would originate the view that Judas had been
the treasurer of the apostolic group.



§ 5. Primary Forms of the Cult

In its first traceable historic form Christianity was simply a phase
of Judaism, being the creed of a small number of Jews and Jewish
proselytes who believed that the long-desired Messiah had come in
the person of one Jesus, who had been so slain as to constitute
an atoning sacrifice. Such believers were wont to meet at simple
religious banquets, of a kind common in the Greco-Roman world, where
they ate and drank in a semi-ceremonial way. A sacrificial banquet of
this kind was one of the most universal features of ancient religion,
being originally the typical tribal ceremony; and though among the
Jews it had been to a remarkable extent superseded by sacrifices
without communion, the usage was once as general with them as with
the Gentiles. If grown rare in their life, the idea was abundantly
preserved in their sacred books. The presumption is that such a
banquet was connected with the Semitic God-name Jesus or Joshua
before the Christian era; otherwise we must conclude that a sect of
Jesuists, starting from the bare belief in the sacrificial death,
adopted arbitrarily a kind of rite which was identified with the
heathen worships of the surrounding Gentiles, and adopted also the
Gentile sun-worshippers' practice of assembling by night. Paul's
Corinthian converts are described as frequenting indifferently the
table of Jesus ("the Lord") and the table of "dæmons"--that is,
of heathen Gods or Demigods. As the less orthodox Jews had long [7]
dabbled in similar "mysteries," there is every probability that private
"Holy Suppers" had been practised even in Jewry by some groups long
before the Christian period, whether or not in connection with the
name of Jesus "the Saviour." The gospel phrase "blood of the covenant"
points to a standing usage, the original form of which was probably
the mutual drinking of actual human blood by the parties to a solemn
pledge. In the Hebrew system some such covenant was held to be set
up between the Deity and the worshippers on the one hand, and among
the latter themselves on the other, when a sacrifice was partaken
of. But it is further probable that the idea of a mystical partaking
of an atoning or inspiring "body and blood" was of old standing in
the same kind of connection. Such a practice was certainly part of
the great Asiatic cults of Dionysos and Mithra; and as the ancient
idea of a sacrificial banquet in honour of a God usually was that
in some sense the worshipped power was either eaten, or present as
partaker, it is more than likely that any banquets in connection with
the Syrian worships of Adonis and (or) Marnas (each name = "the Lord")
carried with them the same significance. In early Christian usage the
ministrant of the eucharist spoke in the person of the founder, using
the formulas preserved in the gospels; and as the priest in the cult
of Attis also personated the God, there is a strong presumption that
the same thing had been done in Jewry in the pre-Christian period,
by way of modifying a still older usage in which a deified victim
was actually slain and eaten.

For such an ancient Jesuine eucharist (revived, perhaps, as old
mysteries were apt to be among the Jews, no less than among other
ancient peoples, in times of national disaster) a new meaning may
have been found in the story of an actually slain man Jesus, whose
death took a sacrificial aspect from its occurrence at the time of the
atoning feast. In the earliest written teaching, certainly, Jesus is
not a God; he is merely the Jewish God's "holy servant." The eating of
his symbolic body and blood, however, was on a par with the rituals
in which Pagans mystically partook of their deities, and it thus lay
in the nature of the eucharist that he should become divine if he
were not so originally. The expression "Son of God," once of common
application, would in his case come to have a special force, in terms
of the ancient Semitic doctrine that the great God Kronos or Saturn
or El had sacrificed his "only begotten Son." Abraham undertakes to
do the same thing in the legend in Genesis; and Abraham and Isaac as
well as Jacob were presumptively ancient deities. On the other hand,
the evolution of a fabulous hero from man to demigod, and thence to a
status among the highest Gods, is a common phenomenon in the ancient
religions (Herakles and Dionysos being typical cases), and among the
recognized Syrian worships there was already one of a Theandrios or
God-man. Even for the Jews the name Jehovah was applicable to the
Messiah. It lay, too, in the nature of the religious instinct that
the man-like and man-loving God should gradually take the foremost
place in a cult in which he was at first subordinate, as happened in
the worships of Dionysos, Mithra, Herakles, and Krishna. Some such
tendency is seen in the worship of Demigods among the earlier Hebrews
(Deut. xxxii, 17; Heb.).

It is not necessary to suppose that the Christian cult arose solely by
way of a mystic sacrament. There may have been a blending of the usage
of quasi-commemorative banquets, the simpler Agapæ or love-feasts
of antiquity, with that of a special "mystery"; and in the case
of the latter there may have been many varieties, as there were
later in the matter of liturgies. The humble Corinthian banquets
appear to have combined the features of Agapæ and Eucharistia,
and in the former aspect they were anything but solemn; some of
the members sleeping, some drinking too much--a pathetic picture of
the dim yearning for communion among a heavy-laden caste. But the
nature of the eucharist proper, the claim to present an immortal
"body and blood" for regenerative eating and drinking, involved a
striving after sacro-sanctity; and as soon as a regular ministrant
was appointed by any group he would tend to develop into a priest of
the Christist mysteries, magnifying his office.

The great feature of the Jewish Feast of the Passover being the eating
of a lamb "before the Lord," that usage would in Jewish circles be
preferred to, or at least combined with, the sacrament of bread and
wine, "Ceres and Bacchus," which was perhaps commonest among the
Gentiles. In the legend of Abraham and Melchisedek, priest of the
Phoenician God El Elyon, there figures a sacramental meal of bread and
wine (Gen. xiv, 18); and in the non-canonical book of Ecclesiasticus
there is a passage (l, 15) which suggests a use of wine as symbolical
of blood. The "shew-bread," too, seems to have had a measure of
sacramental significance. But while such a rite would seem to have
flourished in the background of Judaism, that of the Passover was one
of the great usages of the Jewish world, and the first Jesuists clearly
held by it. It is indeed one of the hierological probabilities that the
paschal lamb was anciently "Jeschu" or Jesus, the springtide symbol of
a Sun-God so named; for in the book of Revelation, which is markedly
Judaic, "the Lamb" figures as the known symbol or mystic name of a Son
of God "slain from the founding of the world," and identified with
a mystic Jesus who is one with Jehovah--this apparently long before
the Christian cult in general had arrived at such a doctrine. There
is a mythological presumption that such language had reference to
the fact--dwelt on by later Jewish writers--that the date of the
Passover fell at the entrance of the sun into the constellation Aries
in the zodiac; and the rule that the paschal lamb must be roasted,
not boiled, tells also of the sun-myth. Yet again, the lamb is the
animal latterly substituted in the myth of Abraham and Isaac for the
sacrificed only-begotten son Isaac, whose name in the Hebrew (Yischak)
comes somewhat near to the common form of the name Jesus (Yeschu),
and who is mythologically identifiable as a Sun-God. In any case,
"the Lamb slain for us" in the Apocalypse implies a recognized
sacrament of lamb-eating, such as that of the Passover, which was
anciently the time for sacrificing first-born sons (Ex. xxii, 29), and
which is explained even in the priestly myth as a commemoration of the
sparing of the first-born of Israel when the first-born of Egypt were
divinely destroyed. To such a national precedent the Hebrew Jesuists
would tend to cling as they did to the practice of circumcision.

But mere poverty on the one hand, and on the other the then
common ascetic instinct (which in some cases put water for wine),
would tell among Gentiles against the eating of actual flesh even
when the pretence was to eat flesh and drink blood. In some early
Christian groups accordingly the sacrificial food took the shape of
a model of a lamb in bread [8] (a kind of device often resorted to in
pagan worship with a special form of animal sacrifice), while others
actually ate a lamb and drank its blood, as did some of the Mithraists
and some of the Egyptian worshippers of Ammon. The Pauline phrase,
"Our Passover also has been sacrificed, Christ"--which may or may
not be an interpolation--would square with either practice. But that
Jews who had been wont to make much of a paschal lamb, and who held
Jesus to have represented that lamb, should pass at once to a sacred
meal of simple bread and wine or water, is unlikely; and the gospels
themselves indicate that a dish of another kind preceded the bread
and wine formality in the traditional Supper.

Light is thrown on the original nature of the Jesuist rite by the
Paschal controversy in which the Eastern and Western churches are found
embroiled towards the end of the second century. It turned nominally
on the different accounts of the crucifixion in the synoptics and the
fourth gospel. Whereas the synoptics make Jesus take the Passover with
his disciples in due course, and die on the cross on the first day
(the Jewish day being reckoned from evening to evening), the fourth
gospel makes him sup informally with his disciples on the day before
the Passover, and die at the very hour of the paschal meal. The idea
obviously is that implied in the Pauline phrase already quoted--that
he is henceforth the substitute for the lamb; and in actual fact the
Eastern Christians of the second century are found breaking their
Easter fast on the Passover day, while the Westerns did not break it
till the Sunday of the resurrection. Evidently the Eastern Christians
had all along preserved an immemorial usage of eating their eucharist
on the Passover. They did not do this as orthodox Jews, for they
called their meal one of "salvation" in a Christist sense, and their
opponents did not charge them with Judaizing; but they argued that they
must take the eucharist at the time at which Jesus took it with his
disciples; while the Westerns contended that the time for rejoicing and
commemoration was the day of resurrection. The explanation is that the
story of Jesus eating with his disciples is a myth of the kind always
framed to account for an ancient ritual practice; that the Jewish
circumstances naturally gave the story a form which made Jesus obey a
Judaic ordinance; and that the Westerns, coming newly into the cult,
either recoiled from the procedure of a banquet on the very eve of
the Lord's betrayal, or followed an Adonisian or Attisian usage, in
which the original sacrificial banquet, though perhaps not abandoned,
had been overshadowed by the "love feast" on the announcement that
"the Lord has arisen."

In the nature of the case, the controversy was insoluble by
argument. The Easterns had always taken the Holy Supper at the time
of the Passover, and they had the gospel story telling them to repeat
it "in remembrance" of the Lord who so supped at the Passover. The
Westerns had the fourth gospel as their evidence that Jesus actually
died at the time of the Passover, thus constituting a universal
substitute for the Jewish sacrifice; and as in this gospel there is no
use of bread and wine, but merely the nondescript meal which precedes
the ritual in the synoptics, and in which the only symbolic act is
the giving of a "sop" to the betrayer, they were left to practise the
traditional eucharist in the way most conformable to their feelings
or to their pre-Christian usages. All theory was finally lost sight
of in the historic church, with its daily celebration of the "mass,"
which is the annual sacrifice turned into a weekly and daily one; but
from the whole discussion there emerges the fact that the sacrifice is
the oldest element in the cult, antedating its biographical myths. And
as the symbolic eating of bread and wine as "body and blood" in the
pagan cults is a late refinement on a grosser practice of primitive
sacrifice, so it was in the Christist. As the wafer in the Catholic
ritual is the attenuated symbol of the bread of the mystic supper,
so that bread was in turn an attenuated symbol of an earlier object.

When Christianity comes into aggressive competition with Paganism,
one of the common charges of its Roman enemies is found to be that
the Christians were wont to eat the body of an actual child in their
mysteries. There is no good reason to believe that this horror ever
happened among them; though the language of the rite tells of a
pre-historic practice of human sacrifice and ritual cannibalism, such
as actually took place among the early Semites and the pre-Christian
Mexicans, and was said to have been in use among the Druids about
the beginning of the Christian era; but it is probable that in some
Christist groups there was a usage of eating a baked image of a child,
as had been done in the Dionysian mysteries. The manipulation of the
Abraham and Isaac legend, taken with other data in the Pentateuch and
elsewhere, makes it clear that child-sacrifice had been practised
among the early Hebrews as among the Phoenicians, and that the
sacrifice of a lamb or kid became the equivalent, as it was perhaps
the prototype. When it was permitted to substitute a dough image for
the actual lamb, the mystical principle could be further served by
a dough image of the child that the lamb itself typified. Under the
veil of secrecy, which was as much a matter of course with the early
Christians as with the pagan initiates of the Eleusinian and other
mysteries, such variations of the cult were possible to an indefinite
extent. It was only when there grew up an ecclesiastical organization,
in the spirit and on the scale of the imperial system itself, and when
the compiled gospels had become a recognised code for the Church in
general, that they were reduced to the norm of the pagan sacrament
of bread and wine.

The only other primary Christian rite, that of baptism, is shown even
in the gospels to have been pre-Christian; and the anti-Judaic John
the Baptist may have been a historic figure among the Jews, though
his connection with the Christos is a myth, seen in the gospels in
different stages of its development. [9] The presumption is that it
was framed at the stage at which the Jewish Christists, faced by the
Pauline and Gentile opposition to circumcision, hitherto held binding
among the Jesuists, decided to substitute baptism (which already had
a Jewish vogue) and thereby maintain a Jewish primacy. But baptism
too was a common Gentile usage, as was the use of holy water, later
adopted by the Christian Church.

With these Christist rites, it is clear, there was originally
associated a fixed belief in the speedily-approaching end of the world,
that being the notion which most completely pervades every book in
the New Testament. The rites then, like the similar mysteries of the
Pagans, were regarded as the way of entrance into the future life,
whether that were conceived as the apparition of a supernatural New
Jerusalem on earth, or as a transformed existence in a material heaven
in the skies. For the Pauline period, the approaching catastrophe
was evidently the supreme pre-occupation; and to the fear of it the
whole of the early Christian propaganda appealed. There is no reason,
however, to believe that the Christians at Jerusalem ever "had all
things in common," as is asserted in the Acts of the Apostles, where
other passages confute the claim. Such communities indeed had arisen
in antiquity, and there was a kindred tradition that Pythagoras had
centuries before, in Italy, converted by one discourse a multitude of
hearers, who adopted a communal life. But the narrative in the Acts,
especially as regards the fable of Ananias and Sapphira, seems to
have been framed in the interest of some of the Christian communist
groups which arose after the period in question, and whose promoters
needed at once an apostolic precedent for their ideal and a menace
against those who temporized with it. In the Pauline epistles the
Gentile converts, so far from cultivating community of goods, are
seen going to law with each other before heathen judges.

It is probable that the use of the sign of the cross, as a mark of
membership and a symbol of salvation, belonged to the earliest stages
of the cult; at least the sign in question figures as the mark of
a body of religious enthusiasts in Jewry as early as the Book of
Ezekiel (ix, 4; Heb.); and in the Apocalypse (vii, 2, 3) the "seal
of the living God" appears to have been understood in the same sense
as the sign prescribed in the prophecy. The Hebrew letter tau, there
specified, is known to have represented at different periods different
forms of cross; and the oldest of all is believed to have been the crux
ansata of the Egyptians, which was a hieroglyph of immortal life. Thus
the historic form of the crucifix was determined, not by the actual
manner of normal crucifixion (for in that the arms were drawn above the
head and not outspread), but by previous symbolism. In the Egyptian
ritual of Osiris a spreading of the arms on the cross was in remote
antiquity a form of mystic regeneration; and in some amulets the
stauros or tree-cross of Osiris is found represented with human arms.



§ 6. Rise of Gentile Christism

A severance between the Jewish and the Gentile Christists was the
necessary condition of any wide spread of the cult. Though it was the
success of Jewish proselytism that paved the way for the propaganda of
Christism, only a handful of Gentiles would willingly bow to the Jewish
pretension of holding all the sources of "salvation." That a Græcized
Jew, as Paul is represented to have been, should begin to make the
cult cosmopolitan, in despite of opposition from Jerusalem, is likely
enough; and continued opposition would only deepen the breach. The
Judaic claim involved a financial interest; and as local economic
interest was a factor in the development of every Gentile group
of Christists, a theological argument for Gentile independence was
sure to be evolved. As the composition of the Christ-myth proceeded,
accordingly, various episodes to the discredit of the mythic twelve
disciples of Jesus are framed: "one of the twelve" figures as the
betrayer; Peter openly denies his Master, and the others forsake him
in a body in the hour of trial; while their incapacity to understand
him in life is often insisted on. John the Baptist and Jesus, again,
are made explicitly to teach that the "Kingdom of God" is taken away
from the Jews, though Jesus also promises the twelve that they shall
sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes. Finally, there is
a manipulation of narratives on the question of the responsibility
for Jesus' execution, the outcome being that it lies neither with
the Roman governor nor with the sub-Roman king, but with the Jewish
priests and people, even as the life of the Child-God at his birth is
menaced by the Jewish King. In all likelihood most of those episodes
were first set forth in a Gentile Passion-play, whence they passed into
the common stream of tradition; but such an item as the part played by
Pilate is likely to have been first introduced from the Jewish side,
Pilate having been an object of special Jewish detestation.

In such matters the literary or myth-making faculty of the
Gentiles, with their many Saviour-Gods, gave them the advantage
over the Judaists; but the strife of the two interests was long
and bitter. It flames out in the Judaic book of Revelation, in
the allusion to those who "say they are apostles and are not";
and long after the time allotted to Paul we find him caricatured in
certain Judaizing writings, the so-called Clementine Recognitions
and Homilies, in the person of Simon Magus, an entirely unhistorical
personage, who also appears in the Acts of the Apostles. Simon Magus
is, in fact, a mythical figure evolved from Semo Megas or Great Sem
(=Sem-on, as Samson is Samas-on), an old Semitic Sun-God worshipped
by the polytheists of Samaria, and in connection with whose cultus
there was evidently a Gentile Christist movement, of a Gnostic or
mythical character, its Christ being conceived as non-human. Such a
movement being competitive with that of the Jewish Jesus, "Simon,"
to whom was ascribed an impressive Gnostic treatise, became the type
of anti-Jewish heresy; whence the late Christian story in the Acts,
where Elymas again (=Great El) is a mythical duplication of Simon.

There are many signs that Samaritan elements entered early into the
Christist movement. The fourth gospel even represents the founder
to have been accepted in Samaria as the Messiah; and in so far as
the cult became Gentilised, even if the Ebionites did not stand for
an ancient local and quasi-Samaritan foundation, Samaritans would
be the more ready to join it, since they were thereby helping to
discomfit the more exclusive Jews. But they too had their Christ-myth;
and the conception of the Holy Spirit as a dove came from them to
the Christians. Seeking to found finally on the Old Testament, the
scripture-makers of the latter movement had to explain away their
Samaritan antecedents by myths of heresy.

The book of Acts as a whole, however, stands for an ecclesiastical
tendency in the second century to make out that the first apostles had
not been divided; that Peter too was a preacher of Gentile Christism,
to which he had been converted by a vision; and that Paul, in turn,
had made concessions to Judaism. When the Judaic Church became less
and less dangerous as a possible monopolist, the organizing Gentile
churches could thus proceed to construct a theoretic connection
between Christianity and Judaism, the "new dispensation" and the
old, thus preserving for the new creed the prestige of the Old
Testament, with which, as a body of sacred books, the New could not
for a long time compete, even in the eyes of its devotees. At the
same time the apostles, who had long figured as church-founders,
were effectively glorified as wonder-workers, being credited with
miracles which rivalled those of the Christos himself; and Peter
raises a "Tabitha" from the dead as Jesus had done the "Talitha"
or maiden in the gospels--a myth which was itself a duplicate of a
traditional pagan miracle later credited to Apollonius of Tyana.

Alongside, however, of the systematizing or centripetal process
there went on a centrifugal one, the process of innovating Gentile
heresy. Already in Paul's epistles we read of "another Jesus" whom
the apostle "had not preached"; and in the second century a dozen
"Gnostic" heresies were honeycombing the movement. Their basis or
inspiration was the mystic claim to inner light, "gnosis" or knowledge,
disparaged in the Pauline phrase about "knowledge [or science] falsely
so-called." It was in nearly all cases a combination of ideas current
in the theosophies of Asia and Egypt with the God-names of the Judaic
and Christian cults. So powerful was the instinct of independence, then
as in later periods of political change, that the spirit of Gnosticism,
in a Judaic form, found its way into the expanding gospels, where
Jesus is at times made to pose as the holder of a mystical knowledge,
denied to the capacities of the multitude, but conveyed by him to his
disciples; who, however, are in other passages reduced to the popular
level of spiritual incapacity. It cannot be doubted that the ferment
thus promoted by what the systematizers denounced as heresy helped
at first to spread the cult, at least in name, since all Christists
alike would tend to resort to the eucharist, or to the assemblies
which were to develop into Churches.

At first the Jewish Christists may well have shared in the ordinary
Jewish detestation of the Roman tyranny; and for them Nero may
have been "Anti-Christ," as he appears to be in the Apocalypse; but
there is no good reason to suppose that in Nero's day the historic
Christians in Rome were a perceptible quantity. Martyr-making later
became an ecclesiastical industry; and the striking passage in Tacitus
which alleges the torture and destruction of a "vast multitude" of
Christians at Nero's hands is nowhere cited in Christian literature
till after the printing, under suspicious circumstances, of the
Annals. No hint of such a catastrophe is given in the Acts of the
Apostles. An equivalent statement to that of Tacitus is first found
in the chronicle of Sulpicius Severus in the fifth century, where it
is an expanded episode in the midst of an extremely curt epitome. The
similarly suspicious passage on the same subject in Suetonius is put in
further perplexity by the same writer's statement that in the reign of
Claudius the Jews in Rome were constantly rioting, "Chrestus stirring
them up"--an expression which suggests, if anything, that there was
on foot in Rome a common Jewish movement of Messianic aspiration, in
which the Christ was simply expected as a deliverer, apart from any
such special cult as that of Jesus. It is quite inapplicable to any
such movement as is set forth in the Pauline epistles. In any case,
after the fall of Jerusalem Jesuist hopes were visibly confined to
the religious sphere; and Gentile Christianity above all was perforce
resigned to the imperial system, of which it was one day to become
a limb.

There is seen too, even on the face of the Pauline epistles, a
superimposing of the new Greek terms and concepts on the vocabulary of
Jewish theology--terms of metaphysic and religion such as immortality,
conscience, providence, natural, corruptible, invisible--and in the
language of the gospels and the Acts the Grecising influence becomes
more and more marked, increasing in the Acts and in the third gospel,
and becoming paramount in the fourth. The very conception of religious
as distinct from temporal salvation is Hellenistic or Persian rather
than Judaic; and the title of Saviour, which becomes the special
epithet of the Christ, is constituted as much by pagan usage as by the
original significance of the name Jesus. Gentile also, rather than
Judaic--though common to the pre-Judaic Semites and the idolaters
among the Hebrews--was the idea expressed in the Pauline epistles
that the Christist who partakes of the mystic rite suffers with
and henceforth is one with the slain demigod, being "crucified with
Christ." That conception is precedented generally in all the cults of
ritual mourning, notably in that of Osiris, and particularly in that
of Attis, in which the worshippers gashed themselves and punctured
their hands or necks; some of the priests even mutilating themselves
as the God was mutilated in the myth. The Pauline expression is to
be understood in the light of the passage in which a bitter censure,
for having taken up a false Christism, is passed on the Galatians,
"before whose eyes Christ had been openly depicted, crucified" (cp. 1
Cor. xi, 26, Gr. and A.V.). In some but not in all MSS. are added the
words "among you," words which may either have been omitted by late
transcribers whom they embarrassed, or added by some one desirous of
accentuating the already emphatic expression of the original. When
we connect with these the further passage, usually taken also without
inquiry as purely metaphorical, in which Paul says he "bears branded
on his body the marks of Jesus," we find reason to surmise that,
even as the ministrant in the Dionysian college was called by the
God's name, Bacchus; as the Osirian worshipper spread himself on
the cross and became one with Osiris; and as the priest of Attis
personated Attis in his mysteries--so Paul or another personated Jesus
in the mysteries of his sect; that what has so long passed for verbal
metaphor stood originally for a process of acted symbolism; and that
the theory of the mystery was that he who personated the crucified
demigod became specially assimilated to him. The Pauline language on
this head coincides exactly with the general and primordial theory of
theanthropic sacrifice: "I have been crucified with Christ, and it
is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me." (Cp. Phil. iii,
11.) Obscure and violent if understood as sheer metaphor, such
expressions fall into line with much ancient religious belief when
read as describing a symbolic rite.

In any case, the first-cited passage seems to tell of either a
dramatic or a pictorial representation of the crucified Christ in
connection with the sacrament; a procedure which would probably not
be favoured by the art-hating Jews, but which, gradually developed
among the Gentiles in the fashion of the drama-loving Greeks, is the
probable origin of several of the gospel narratives. It belonged
to the conception of all such mysteries that their details should
never be divulged to outsiders; hence the rarity of such allusions,
even in letters to the faithful. The Christian cult adopted the very
terms of the heathen practice, and its initiates were called mystæ,
like those of all the rival religions.

A study of the early Christian tombs shows how much of more or
less unconscious compromise took place wherever Christism made
converts. The charming myth of Psyche had become for Pagans a doctrine
of immortality; and in that sense the figure of the child-goddess
was without misgiving carved on early Christian tombs. So with the
figure of Hermes Kriophoros, Hermes the Ram-Bearer, who is the true
original of the Christian conception of the Good Shepherd, in art
and in thought, though a figure of Apollo in the same capacity may
have been the medium of conveyance. Orpheus was assimilated in the
same fashion; and when art began to be applied to the needs of the
new cult, Jesus was commonly figured as a beardless youth, like the
popular deities of the Pagans in general.

Last but not least of the Gentile elements which determined the spread
of the Christist cult was the double meaning attaching to the Greek
form of the Messianic name. In the unplausible passage above cited
from Suetonius, that is spelt Chrestus, evidently after the Greek
word Chrestos="good, excellent, gracious," which occurs frequently in
the New Testament, and which was a special title of the "infernal"
or underworld Gods of the Samothracian mysteries, also of Hermes,
of Osiris, and of Isis. The two words were pronounced alike; and the
coincidence is often such as would be made much of by ancient thinkers,
wont to lay great stress on words. In the gospel phrase so loosely
rendered "my yoke is easy" the Greek adjective is chrestos; as also
in that translated: "he is kind towards the unthankful and evil"
(Lk. vi, 35); and in the phrase "the Lord is gracious" (1 Pet. ii,
3). In the epistles, too, chrestotes is the word used in the phrase
"the goodness of God"; and in the familiar Pauline quotation from
Menander "good manners" is in the Greek chresta ethe. Among the Pagans,
again, this epithet constantly figured on the kind of tomb called
heroon, erected to distinguished persons who thus received the status
of inferior deities or demigods, and who in consequence of this very
epigraphic formula came in later times to be regarded as Christian
martyrs, and to be so celebrated in festivals which were really
continuations of the pagan feasts in their honour. The Christians
themselves, on the other hand, habitually wrote their founder's name
Chrestos or Chreistos on their tombs in the second and third centuries,
thus assimilating it to the pagan epigraphic formula chreste chaire;
and the term Christian frequently followed the same spelling. Several
of the Fathers, indeed, make play with the double spelling, claiming
that the terms are for them correlative. So fixed was the double usage
that to this day the spelling of the French word chrétien preserves
the trace. There was thus on the Christist side an appeal to Gentiles
on the lines of a name or badge already much associated with Gentile
religion, and attractive to them in a way in which the name "Christ"
as signifying "one anointed" would not be.

How far this attraction operated may be partly inferred from such
a document as the apologetic treatise of Theophilus of Antioch,
conjecturally dated about the year 180, in which there is not a single
mention of Jesus as a basis of the Christian creed, while the names
Christos and Christian are repeatedly bracketed with "chrestos." The
writer figures less as a Pauline Christist than as a Gentile proselyte
who founded on the Hebrew sacred books, and believed in some impersonal
Christ at once "good" and "anointed." Similarly in the Apology of
Athenagoras, belonging to the same period, the founder figures purely
as the divine Logos, not being even mentioned as a person with a
biography, though the writer quotes the Logos through an apocryphal
gospel. In such a propaganda the Greek associations with the epithet
chrestos would count for much more than those of the Judaic standpoint.

But above all other gains on this score may be reckoned those made
in Egypt, where the cult of the cross belonged alike to the ancient
worship of Osiris and the recent one of Serapis. Not only was Osiris
in especial chrestos, the benign God, but the hieroglyph of goodness,
applied to him in common with others, had the form of a cross standing
on a hillock (= a grave?), while the cross symbol in another form
was the sign of immortal life. In the imported worship of Serapis,
which inevitably conformed in the main to that of Osiris, the cross
was equally a divine and mystic emblem. It thus becomes intelligible
that some devotees of Serapis should, as is stated in the well-known
letter of the Emperor Hadrian, figure as bishops of Christ; and
that Serapis-worshippers should rank as Christians, their God being
like Osiris "Chrestos." To gather into one loosely-coherent mass the
elements so variously collected was the work of the gradually-developed
hierarchical organization; and the process involved a retention of
some of the characteristics of the various worships concerned.

That there were yet other sources of membership for the early Church,
apart from direct conversion, is to be gathered from the allegorical
writing known as the Pastor of Hermas, which is known to have been
one of the most popular books in the whole Christian literature of
the second century. This work, apparently written in Italy, never
once mentions the name Jesus or the name Christ, and never quotes
from any book in either Testament, nor alludes to a crucifixion or
a eucharist; but speaks of One God, a Holy Spirit, and a Son of God
who underwent labours and sufferings; of a "Church" which appears to
mean the community of all good men; and of bishops and apostles and
presbyters. It is intelligible only as standing for some species of
pre-Jesuist propaganda very loosely related to Judaism, inasmuch as
it appears to cite some apocryphal Jewish work, yet utters no Judaic
doctrine. Its sole specified rite is baptism; and its moral teaching
barely recognizes the idea of vicarious sacrifice. Such a work must
have had its public before the Jesuist movement took sectarian or
dogmatic form; and its popularity in the early Church must have come
of the inclusion of its earlier following. When the Church attained
definite organization and a dogmatic system the book was naturally
discarded as having none of the specific qualities of a Christian
document.

A "Church" such as is ambiguously set forth in the Pastor may
conceivably have been set up by one of the movements of Samaritan
Christism already mentioned, or by that connected with the name of
the Jew Elxai, who is recorded to have written of "Christ" without
making it clear whether he referred to the gospel Jesus. As among the
Elcesaites, so in the Pastor, the "Son" is conceived as of gigantic
stature. On any view, being neither Christian nor anti-Christian,
but simply pre-Christian, yet turned to Christian uses, the book
strengthens the surmise that a number of the so-called heresies of
the early Church were in reality survivals of earlier movements which
the Church had absorbed, perhaps during times of persecution. The
"heresy" of Simon Magus was certainly such a pre-Christian cult;
that of Dositheus appears to be in the same case; and the ideas of
the Pastor conform to no canonical version of the Christian creed.



§ 7. Growth of the Christ Myth

The Christist cult gained ground not because there was anything new
either in its dogma or in its promise, but on the contrary because
these were so closely paralleled in many pagan cults: its growth
was in fact by way of assimilation of new details from these. Step
by step it is seen to have adopted the mysteries, the miracles,
and the myths of the popular Gentile religions. The resurrection of
Jesus is made to take place like that of Mithra, from a rock tomb;
and to the sacred banquet of twelve represented by the Last Supper
there is added, in the fourth gospel, an episode which embodies the
common pagan usage of a sacred banquet of seven. [10] In the way of
miracle the Christ is made to turn water into wine, as Dionysos had
been immemorially held to do; he walks on the water like Poseidon;
like Osiris and Phoebus Apollo he wields the scourge; like the solar
Dionysos, he rides on two asses and feeds multitudes in the desert;
like Æsculapius, he raises men from the dead, gives sight to the blind,
and heals the sick; and like Attis and Adonis he is mourned over and
rejoiced over by women. Where the parallel is not exact we still find
pagan myth giving rise to Christian; for the fable of the temptation is
but a new story told of the oft-copied ancient Babylonian astronomical
symbol in which the Goat-God (the sign of Capricorn) stands beside the
Sun-God--a scene turned by the Greeks into the myths of Pan leading
Jupiter to the mountain-top, of Pan or Marsyas competing with Apollo,
and of Silenus instructing Dionysos. [11] Above all, the Christ had to
be born in the manner of the ever-cherished Child-God of the ancient
world; he must have a virgin for mother, and he must be pictured in
swaddling-clothes in the basket-manger, preserved from immemorial
antiquity in the myth of Ion and in the cult of Dionysos, in which
the image of the Child-God was carried in procession on Christmas
day. Like Horos he must be born in a stable--the stable-temple of the
sacred cow, the symbol of the Virgin Goddess Isis, queen of heaven;
and the apocryphal gospels completed the pagan parallel by making
the stable a cave, the birthplace of Zeus and Mithra and Dionysos and
Adonis and Hermes and Horos. [12] Prudence excluded the last detail
from the canonical gospels, but it became part of the popular faith;
and the Christ's birthday had been naïvely assimilated by the populace
to the solstitial birth-day of the Sun-God, December 25, long before
the Church ventured to endorse the usage.

Judaic manipulation, however, was not lacking. Though Jesus is
born of a virgin, it is in the manner of Jewish theosophy; for the
"Spirit of God" broods over Mary as it had done on the germinal deep
in Genesis. Having been a Jewish Saviour before he was a Gentile or
Samaritan Christ, Jesus had further to satisfy as many as possible of
the Jewish Messianic requirements. He must be of the line of David,
and born at Bethlehem; but inasmuch as Jewish tradition expected
both a Messiah Ben-David and a Messiah Ben-Joseph--the latter being
apparently a Samaritan requirement [13]--he was made Ben-David by
royal descent, and Ben-Joseph through his putative father. Yet again,
there being Messianists who denied the necessity that the Anointed One
should descend from David, there was inserted in the gospels a story
in which Jesus repudiates such descent; the two opposed theories being
thus alike harboured, without discomfort and without explanation. In
the same fashion the ascetics of the movement made the Son of Man
poor and homeless, while the anti-ascetics made him a wine-drinker,
ready to sit at meat with publicans and sinners. For the Jews, too,
he had to raise the "widow's son" as did Elijah and Elisha in the Old
Testament story--a Hebrew variant of the (pictured?) Gentile myth of
the raising of the dead Attis or Adonis, or the dead child Horos or
Dionysos, further reproduced in the resurrection of the Christ himself;
and there had to be at his birth a massacre of the innocents, as in
the myth of Moses and in the Arab myths of the births of Abraham and
Daniel. Yet again, he had to figure in his crucifixion as bearing the
insignia of royalty, like the sacrificed "only-begotten son" of the
Semitic God El, and the sacrificed God-man of the Babylonian feast
of Sacæa. [14] It may be that Barabbas, "the son of the father,"
is a survival of the same conception and the same ritual usage,
similarly imposed on a narrative of which no part is historical.

As with action, so with theory. In the East there had long prevailed
the mystical dogma that the Supreme God, who was above knowledge,
had incarnated himself in or created a deity representing his mind in
relation to men, the Logos or Word, in the sense of message or revealed
reason. Such was Mithra, the Mediator, in the Mazdean system, whence
apparently the conception originated; such was Thoth in the theosophy
of Egypt; such was Hermes, son of Maia and messenger of the Gods, in
the pantheon of the Greeks; and the Jews had long been assimilating
the principle, partly by making the deity figure as the Logos in human
or angelic form (as in Gen. xv); partly in the form of a personalizing
of Sophia, wisdom, as in the books of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs and in
the Old Testament apocrypha; partly in the later form of a theoretic
doctrine of the Logos, as developed on the basis of Plato in the
writings of Philo the Jew of Alexandria, about the beginning of the
Christian era. [15] In the fourth gospel this doctrine is summarily
imposed on the Christist cult in an advanced form, though the three
synoptic gospels had shown no trace of it. The new myth was welcomed
like the others; all alike went to frame a deity who could compare
and compete with those of the other cults of the day.

Doctrine followed the same law of assimilation; the Christ must
needs reflect in his teaching all the phases of the religious
thought of the age, however contradictory. First he had to voice
the Judaic hope of a kingdom of heaven, with stress laid on the
claims of the poor; he must insist on the speedy coming of the
Judaic doomsday and on his own function at the catastrophe; but
yet again he is made to present the kingdom of heaven as a kind of
spiritual change; and last of all he is made to utter the wisdom of
the thinker who had penetrated all the popular delusions and seen
that "the kingdom of heaven is among you"--or nowhere. In one gospel
he excludes Samaritans and Gentiles from his mission; in another he
makes a Samaritan the model "neighbour"; in another he goes among
the Samaritans in person. He becomes as manifold in doctrine as is
Apollo or Dionysos in function. Even when he is made to lay down,
as against Jewish superstition, the sane principle that victims of
fatalities are not to be reckoned worse sinners than other men,
a later hand appends a tag which reaffirms the very superstition
impugned. Every variety of ethic, within the limits of the Jewish and
Gentile ideals of the time, is imposed on him in turn. Alternately
particularist and universalist, a bigoted Jew and a cosmopolitan,
a lover of the people and a Gnostic despiser of their ignorance,
a pleader for love to enemies and a bitter denouncer of opponents;
successively insisting on unlimited forgiveness and on the ostracism of
recalcitrant brethren, on the utter fulfilment of the Mosaic law and on
its supersession; alternately promising and denying temporal blessings,
avowing and concealing his belief in his Messiahship; prescribing by
turns secrecy and publicity to his auditors, blind faith and simple
good works to his disciples--he is the heterogeneous product of a
hundred mutually frustrative hands, a medley of voices that never
was and could not be in one personality. Through his supernatural
mask there speak the warring sects and ideals of three centuries:
wisdom and delusion, lenity and bitterness, ventriloquize in turns
in his name. Even as the many generations of Jewish teachers had
preluded all their changing counsels with a "thus saith the Lord,"
so did their Christist successors seek to mint their cherished dogmas,
their rigid prejudices, and their better inspirations, with the image
and superscription of the new Logos, the growing God of a transforming
world. The later product is thus as unreal as the older.

It is only on presuppositions themselves the fruit of belief in
the myth that such a growth seems unlikely or impossible, or that
something supernormal is needed to account for the wide development
of the Christian system. Those who look upon the historic flood in
the broad and peopled plain are slow to conceive that it had its rise
in the minute rills and random brooks of a far-off mountain land. But
it is so that the great rivers begin.



CHAPTER II

THE ENVIRONMENT


The artificial organism which we have seen beginning to take shape is
to be conceived, like organisms properly so called, as depending on
and adjusting itself to its environment. Of this the nature has been
partly set forth in tracing the beginnings of the cult, but it must be
considered in itself if the relation is to be at all fully understood.



§ 1. Social and Mental Conditions in the Roman Empire

The world in which Christianity grew up was above all things one of
extinguished nationalities, of obliterated democracies, of decaying
intellectual energy. Wherever the Roman Empire spread, a rigid limit
was set to the play of public spirit, whether as criticism of the
political order or as effort to improve the social structure. The
forms of municipal government remained; but the natural and progressive
struggle of classes and interests was at an end. The Jew must give up
his polity of applied theocracy; the Greek his ideal of the City State;
even as the Roman Senate itself shrank into an assembly of sycophants,
content to register its master's decrees. All alike, on pain of
extinction, must mutely or fawningly accept the imperial system,
and abandon hope of shaping their own political destinies. In such a
world the thinking faculty, denied almost all exercise on the living
problems of polity and conduct, necessarily turned to the themes that
were open to it; and as the very calibre of men's minds had narrowed
with the suppression of their freedom, which meant the curtailment of
their personality, there was no such general faculty available as could
grasp the difficult problems of science and philosophy led up to by the
hardy speculation of the ages of freedom and by the skilled specialism
of the endowed students of pre-Roman Alexandria. For the mass of the
people, above all, save where the Greek drama was still presented to
them, concrete religion was the one possible form of mental life;
and for the more serious such mental life was at once a solace and
a preoccupation. Under a despotism which in so many ways conformed
to oriental types, serious men developed something of the oriental
aloofness from the actual: from action they turned to brooding; from
seen interests to the problems of the unseen. Even in Rome itself,
where the upper classes were much more indifferent to Christism than
those of the Eastern provinces, the new conditions developed a new
interest in theological problems on the pagan side.

Broadly speaking, types and classes of men have always been
meditatively religious or reflective in the degree of their exclusion
from practical concerns. In the ancient world the law reveals itself at
every vista. At one extreme stood the energetic Romans, sedulous first
in agriculture and later in warfare; superstitious but unspeculative;
making ritual religion a methodical province of polity, a part of the
mechanism of the republic: at the other the Hindus, predestined to
despotism by their physical and economic conditions, and to inaction
by their climate, the true children of reverie, for whom religious
evolution was a deepening absorption in boundless speculation. Midway
stood the Greeks, active but not laborious, too alive for much brooding
and too cultured for wholly pedantic superstition, the natural framers
of a religion of poetry and art. Their science and philosophy began
in Asia Minor, on the soil of the half-scientific, half-religious
lore of the overthrown Assyrian and Babylonian cultures of the past,
in a leisurely and half-oriental atmosphere; and after the first
free evolution of its germs in the manifold life of their countless
competitive City States, the most notable growth of their philosophy
was in the period when their political failure began to declare itself,
and the shadow of despotism was falling on men sobered and chagrined
by the spectacle of ceaseless intestine strife. When despotism was
fixed, thought still progressed for a time in virtue of the acquired
stores of culture and stress of impulse; but in that air the higher
life soon flagged, and philosophy for the most part lapsed to the
levels of ancient mysticism, becoming a play of fantasy instead of
an effort of critical reason.

When the cultured few underwent such a destiny, the uncultured crowd
could but feed on the simpler religious doctrine that came in their
way. It necessarily ran to a more intimate employment of the standing
machinery of the creeds, to a use of the more emotional rites, to
a freer participation in the consolations and excitements of the
dramatic mysteries. Where civic life was precarious without being
self-ruling, the more serious came more and more under the sway of
the oriental preoccupation over the future--a habit of mind developed
in lands subject to chronic conquest and to the caprice of tyrants
and satraps. Growing Greece, while free, had taken from the East,
centuries before the Christian era, stimulating and emotional cults,
especially dear to women, with mysteries which promised to their
initiates a blessed life beyond the troublous present; and by a natural
tendency those who had least share in controlling the present clung
most to such comfort. So, in republican Rome, it was found that the
women and the imported slaves were always most hospitable to a new
"superstition"; and in times of dangerous war the proclivity quickened.

In this way there went on a kind of religious enfranchisement in
the Mediterranean world both before and after the Romans became the
universal masters. In the early City States of Greece and Italy,
but especially in Rome, worship was originally in large measure
a privilege of rank. The most constant and intimate worship was
naturally that of the household Gods, the Lares and Penates; and
the men with no ancestral home, whether slaves or paupers, were
outside of such communion. Only in the worship of the Gods of the
city was there general communion; and even here the patrician orders
long monopolised the offices of ministry in Rome; while even in more
democratic Greece, with some exceptions, the slaves and the foreign
residents were excluded from the sacred banquet which was the mark
of all cults alike, public or private. Even the first imported cults
were put under a civic control, which doubtless promoted decorum,
but also made for class interests. In later republican Rome the
usage prevailed of bringing to the sacred banquet-table the statues
of the Gods, who were believed to partake with the worshippers; and
the company was naturally kept very select. For the Roman common
people, accordingly, religious association was mainly confined to
the worship of the public Lares and Penates instituted for their
benefit. In Greece the city banquet was liberalised with the progress
of democracy; but at best it was the heritage of the free citizens; and
the antique simplicity of its rites must have made it lack emotional
atmosphere. At times it was even necessary to practise compulsion to
secure the due attendance of "parasites" at the smaller sacramental
repasts (pagan types of the daily "mass") held daily in the temples,
which would lack the attraction of the public feasts.

Thus it came about that in the course of the ages the common people,
especially the many aliens from Asia Minor, slave and free, everywhere
tended to seek more and more a religion for themselves--something
in which they could share equally and intimately; somewhat as, in a
later period, the common people in so many parts of Europe recoiled
from official Catholicism before as well as at the Reformation,
or as the townspeople in England later set up their own dissenting
chapels in dislike of the Established Church. As early as the
Peloponnesian war we find new religious societies arising among
the humbler Athenians, making accessible to them Dionysian or
other eastern mysteries of sacred baptism, and a sacred banquet of
"body and blood," in which a kid was the victim. Some such banquet
was the normal basis; and the societies, which were numerous, were
self-supporting and self-governing, appointing their own priests
or priestesses, and keeping their own sacred books. In these cults
slaves, aliens, and women were alike admitted; and, though in some
the worship was orgiastic, in keeping with the then common level of
popular culture, it is not to be supposed that the avowed ideals of
"goodness, chastity, piety," were for such groups in general devoid of
moral significance. They were condemned by the educated classes alike
in republican Greece and in republican Rome as vulgar and licentious;
but if these imputations are to be fully believed as against the pagan
societies, they must be equally believed as against the Christians,
concerning whom, in turn, they were generally made in the second
and third centuries. Of neither movement, probably, were they more
than partially true. In any case, the Greek societies gave a model to
the early Christian churches in more than one point of organisation,
most of them having had "presbyters" and a "bishop" (episcopos), and
some being called "synagogues," a term synonymous with ecclesia. So
great, finally, became the competitive pressure of the private cults
that those of the State had to offer inducements as against them;
and in course of time the once exclusive Eleusinian mysteries of
Athens were opened to all members of the State, and latterly--save in
exceptional cases, such as those of avowed unbelievers, or Epicureans,
or Christians--to all members of the Roman empire. Even the slaves,
finally, were initiated at the public expense.

So far as the gospels can be taken to throw light on Christian
beginnings, the cult grew up under conditions similar to those
above described. Some of "the poor" in Jewry as elsewhere felt
themselves in a manner outside the established worship; and though
declamation against the rich had long been popular, the names given
to the legendary disciples suggest that there too the new cults were
in large measure promoted by aliens. The accounts of the founder as
mixing much with "tax-gatherers and sinners" tell of the presence of
such in the sect; and there too the constant presence of women stood
for a sense either of feminine dissatisfaction with the bareness of
the official worship, or of the need for a personal recognition which
Judaism did not give to the subordinate sex. It does not appear that
slaves were similarly welcomed in the Jewish stage of the movement;
portions of the gospels even make Jesus appeal to the ideals of the
slave-owner [16]; and nowhere is the slave himself sympathetically
brought to the front. But it is clear that when the cult entered on
a Gentile development it admitted slaves like the religious societies
of the Greeks; and in the first Gentile period the members appear to
have paid their way and managed their own affairs in the democratic
Greek fashion.

The determining political condition everywhere was the social
sway of the empire, keeping all men impotent in the higher public
affairs. Exclusion from public life, broadly speaking, had been the
cause of the special addiction of the women, the slaves, and the
unenfranchised foreigners of the Greek cities and of Rome to private
cults and communions. Under the empire, all the lay classes alike
were excluded from public power; and new interests must be found to
take the place of the old. Within the pale of the Roman "peace,"
those interests were summed up for the majority in athletics, the
theatre and the circus on the one hand; and on the other in the field
of religious practices. Hopes of betterment, and despair after vain
revolt, were alike fuel for the religious spirit; since the hope turned
to vaticination, and the despair crept for shelter to the mysteries
that promised a better life beyond the grave. But the prevailing lot of
men had become one of unwarlike submission; the material refinements
of civilization had bred in the cities a new sensitiveness, indeed a
new neurosis; vice itself set up reactions of asceticism; and over
all there brooded the pessimism of the prostrate East, the mood of
men downcast, consciously the puppets of an uncontrollable earthly
destiny, and wistful for a higher vision and rule.



§ 2. Jewish Orthodoxy

Between the new sect and the normal or established Jewish religion,
which had contained within it or was easily adaptable to every
element that went to make early Jesuism, the force of separation was
not doctrinal or intellectual, but political and economic. Save for
the later-evolved concept of an Incarnation--which also, however,
was foreshadowed in Jewish thought--there is almost no principle
in the Christian system that was not to be found either in the
sacred books or in the current rabbinical teaching of the Jews,
whose development is to be measured no less by the liberal ethical
teaching of such rabbis as Hillel than by the mere traditionalism
ascribed to the mass of the scribes and Pharisees. Their sacred
books spoke sympathetically of the poor; and their sacred treasury
must have fed many, although--as in the days of the prophets and in
our own time in Europe--there were many irreconcilables. Even among
the Pharisees there were some who proclaimed the "law of the heart"
as the highest. As regarded religious thought, the Jews' system of
sacrifice on the one hand, and their higher or supra-ecclesiastical
ethic on the other, provided for all the forms of bias appealed to
in the gospels and epistles, with the one exception of the kind
of sentiment which sought a Demigod rather than a God; a humanly
sympathetic divinity, acquainted with griefs, rather than a remote and
awful Omnipotence. Even this figure was partly evolved on Jewish lines,
in the conception of a Messiah who should suffer and die. But a Messiah
who died and did not soon come again in triumph had no easily tenable
place in the Jewish system; and when the cult of such a Messiah came
into Gentile vogue, especially after the ruin of Jerusalem, it was
necessitated either to take a new and substantive status outside of
Jewry or disappear altogether. It is true that the so-called Nestorians
(properly Nazaræans) of Armenia have reconciled Judaism with Christism
by defining the sacrifice of Jesus as the final sin-offering, while
maintaining the other sacrifices of the Mosaic law; but that course
was impossible to the hierarchy accused of causing the crucifixion;
and the Nestorians were as anti-Jewish as other Christians.

Judaism, so to speak, was riveted at once to its national and to its
economic basis. Its primary appeals to Gentile proselytes were those
of a great historic shrine and a body of sacred literature; and on
both grounds the clerical class of Jerusalem claimed a revenue from
the faithful, Hebrew or proselyte. Financial interest secured that
the converted alien should be treated as the more liberal prophetic
literature urged; but it was of the essence of Judaism that the temple
or the Patriarchate should be the fiscal headquarters of all the
faithful; and herein lay a moral as well as a financial limit. Ordinary
racial instinct, and ordinary Gentile self-interest,  must tend to
clash with such claims in the case of rabbinical Judea as in that
of Papal Rome; and the merely moral or ideal character of the Judaic
influence, coupled with the effect of the common Gentile disesteem for
the Jewish personality, brought it about that the Romanism of Jewry,
always the more restricted, collapsed by far the more swiftly. The
later collapse of Jewish Jesuism was a phenomenon of the same order.

Early Jesuism, it is clear, flourished as a new means of Jewish
proselytism among the Gentiles; and the fact best established by
the dubious literature which surrounds the "apostles" is that their
Gentile converts were expected to contribute to headquarters, just
as did the ordinary Jew. Even after a Gentile differentiation had
definitely begun, whether under Paul or at the hands of others who
forged in his name, it was Jewish forces that did the work so far as
literature went. Throughout the synoptic gospels the notion given of
the Messiah's function is for the most part latter-day Jewish; he is
to preside over the approaching day of judgment, and his apostles are
to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. The early Jesuists, accordingly,
must have held themselves included in the Judaic fold. All sections
alike, down to the rise of anti-Jewish Gnosticism, founded on the
Jewish sacred books in the Greek translation; a moral manual of the
Jewish Twelve Apostles, as we have seen, served as a Jesuist handbook;
and the ethic of the gospels is throughout, even in its contradictions,
substantially a Jewish product. If John the Baptist could reject the
racial pride and prejudice of the Jews as he is alleged to have done,
universalism had already begun within the Jewish field. Even on the
point of opposition to divorce--an attitude deriving from non-Jewish
rather than from Jewish ideals--there were elements in Jewry on
which to found as against the looser orthodox practice; and it is
quite likely that the absolute as well as the qualified prohibition
in the gospels came from Jewish pens. Thus the moral and religious
atmosphere of Judaism in general was perfectly compatible with the
early Jesuist way of life. It is a sectarian fallacy to assume that
the repellent aspects typified by the "Scribes and Pharisees," or even
by the shambles of the Temple, were primary grounds for a moral revolt
among Jews and proselytes, or that Jesuism so began. The types of the
worse scribes and Pharisees were very speedily developed in the new
sect, as in every other; and such Jesuists as are portrayed in the
First Epistle to the Corinthians cannot be supposed to have rejected
Judaism on the score of its moral crudity. What they were much more
likely to resent was its demand for tribute concurrently with its
disparagement of the Gentile proselyte; and, last but not least,
its barbarous rite of circumcision, for which even the pro-Jewish
Jesuists had finally to substitute baptism.

The relation of Judaism to Jesuism, then, was somewhat as that of a
mother country to a colony; the latter growing by help of the former,
deriving from it speech, lore, ideals, methods, models, and prestige,
till in time the new environment elicits special characteristics,
and mere geographical division no less than self-interest vetoes
the payment of the old tribute. As usual, there was in the colony a
loyalist party which bitterly resisted the severance.



§ 3. Jewish Sects: the Essenes

While Josephus specifies four Jewish "sects," there was in Jewry
really only one dissenting sect in the modern sense of the term, apart
from the Jesuists. Pharisees and Sadducees were analogous rather to
the sections or "schools" of the Churches of Rome and England, the
former being "orthodox and more," inasmuch as they held by the law,
but further insisted on the doctrine of a future state, which was
not contained in the Mosaic books; while the Sadducees, either from
pre-Maccabean conservatism or from Hellenistic scepticism, held by
the pure Mosaic system, of which, being for the most part of priestly
status, they were the main administrators. It is noteworthy that it
is the Pharisees, who held the tenet of a future life, rather than the
Sadducees, who rejected it, that are most acrimoniously handled in the
gospels: the former being naturally the most dangerous competitors
of the new cult within the Jewish pale. A third body mentioned by
Josephus, that of Judas the Galilean, was rather a political than
a religious party, being bent simply on maintaining the Jewish
nationality as against the Romans.

The term "sect," however, to some extent applies to the Essenes,
whose existence and characteristics are specially noteworthy in
connection with Christian beginnings. All the evidence goes to show
that there had existed in Jewry for many generations a body so named
(or perhaps formerly called Chassidim), living an ascetic life,
rejecting animal food and animal sacrifices, avoiding wine, warm
baths, and oil for anointing, wearing white garments and preferring
linen to wool, forbidding all oaths save one, and greatly esteeming
celibacy. Many of them lived in a male celibate community, by their
own labour, with community of goods, on the shores of the Dead Sea,
under a strict hierarchical rule; but many others lived scattered
through the Jewish cities, some marrying, but all maintaining ascetic
principles. To secure entrance into the community there was needed a
long probation. On the side of creed they held firmly by the law of
Moses, yet also reverenced the sun, to which they sang a morning hymn
of praise; strictly observed the Sabbath; conducted their religious
services without priests, and studied magic and angelology, but
tabooed logic and metaphysics. Ethically the cult was in the main
one of physical purity and fraternal humility, hostile to slavery
and war as well as to the normal vices, but running to mysticism on
the line of a belief, often seen in early religion, that asceticism
could raise men to supernatural powers. As a whole, the system had
so much in common with that of the Pythagoreans on the one hand,
and with the Mazdean religion and Buddhism on the other, that it
must be held to prove a connection between these, and to point to
a movement which once spread over Asia as far as Buddhist India,
and over the Mediterranean world as far as early Grecian Italy,
surviving for many centuries in scattered sects.

It thus appears that, without the intervention or even the tradition of
any quasi-divine personality, there could subsist in Jewry a cult which
outwent the Christist in point of asceticism and humility, attaining
the kind of fraternity at which the latter ostensibly but vainly aimed,
and maintaining itself for many generations on substantially celibate
lines, partly by accessions from without under a rigid probation,
and partly by the adoption and education of children. Such a system,
expressly aiming at selection and exclusion, negated the idea of a
world religion, and, though it was still standing in the fifth century,
could not survive the final ruin of its environment, save as an ideal
passed on to Christian monasticism. But its long duration serves to
make clear the range of possibilities open to religious movements in
Palestine and the East apart from any abnormal gifts of leadership
or any semblance of supernatural innovation.

How far Essenism reacted on early Jesuism cannot be
ascertained. Despite some approximations, such as the veto on oaths
and the esteem for celibacy, it is clear that there was no such
close resemblance between the movements as has been supposed by the
writers who seek to identify them; but they tell of a similar mental
climate. The non-mention of Essenism in the gospels is to be explained
by the fact that the two systems were not rivals. One was localized,
monastic, exclusive; the other peregrine and propagandist: and only in
the minds of the ill-informed Roman forgers of the second century could
they be supposed to have come into hostile contact. Essenism needed
no innovating Messiah; and Jesuism had to go afield for adherents.



§ 4. Gentile Cults

What Christism had to compete with in the Greco-Roman world was not
so much the collective principle of polytheism or the public worship
of the endowed temples, as the class of semi-private cults to which
itself belonged, and the popular worships equally associated with
suffering and dying Saviour-Gods. Of these the most prominent were the
ancient worships of the Syrian Adonis, the Phrygian Attis, Dionysos,
and the Egyptian Osiris, all of which had become partly assimilated
in theory, in ritual, and in public observance. But contemporarily
with Christianity there began also to spread through the empire the
Persian cult of Mithra, which had been first introduced into the Roman
army after the Mithridatic wars; and in the end this became the most
dangerous rival of the new church. All six cults alike gave prominence
to the idea of the God's death and resurrection; and all lived in a
common atmosphere of ancient superstition, emotional unrest, craving
for communion, anxious concern for the future and for the washing
out of guilt by religious rites and penances. And all six deities
were nominally "born of a virgin."

Of the competing cults in the East the least developed in a theological
sense were those of Attis and Adonis, originally deities of the
Vegetation principle, whose annual death and resurrection stood
primarily for the yearly decay and rebirth of the general life of
Nature, and secondarily for the waning and waxing of the power of
the sun. While all cults in the ancient world tended to assimilate,
however, the older were marked by certain special usages; and in the
case of Attis and Adonis these were the festivals which began with
mourning and ended in rejoicing. Attis, son of the virgin Myrrha, was
symbolized by the cut pine-tree, which meant the life principle in man
and Nature; and at the spring equinoctial festival this was carried
in procession to the temple of Cybelê with the effigy of a young
man bound on it, to represent the dead and mutilated God. Anciently,
it would seem, there had been so bound an actual youth who was slain
as a victim, and whose death was supposed to ensure at once physical
fertility and moral well-being to his land and people; but in virtue
of the general law of mitigation a mystic ceremony at length took
the place of the primitive deed of blood. The bearing of the God's
name by his priests in the mysteries was a memorial of the older time.

These mysteries were twofold. In the spring time Attis figured
as a self-slain youth, beloved by Cybelê, the Mother of the Gods,
and devoted to her cultus. Later in the year he figured as Papas,
"Father," and Lord of All; and in this aspect he was more important
than Cybelê, who was throned beside him in the mystic drama, with a
crowd of women around. The initiate became mystes Atteos, the initiate
of Attis; and at this stage the God was adored as the bringer of
peace to a disorderly world. But "many were the thyrsus-bearers;
few were the mystæ": it was the spring festival that dwelt in the
common knowledge and memory; and then it was that, after a day of
procession and mourning, a day of solemn rites, and a "day of blood"
on which the high-priest cut his arms and presented his blood as an
offering, the slain Demigod rose from the dead, and all was rejoicing
for his resurrection. It was the great Phrygian festival; and though
the Romans, in introducing the worship of the Great Mother while
Hannibal maintained himself in Italy, nominally accepted her alone,
it was impossible that the allied worship of Attis should be excluded
from the later mysteries. The galli or mutilated priests, who figured
in her Hilaria festival, were in fact the God's representatives. Thus
his was one of the popular cults of the later Roman world.

Bound Adonis, the Tammuz of old Assyria, there had played for long
ages a more tender devotion. For the Syrians his name meant "the Lord"
(=the Adonai of the Hebrew Bible); and over the tale of his untimely
slaughter by the boar on Mount Lebanon the Eastern women had yearly
wept for a hundred generations. The "women weeping for Tammuz" in the
temple of Jerusalem before the exile were his worshippers; and in the
Athens of the days of the Peloponnesian war he received the same litany
of mourning. For his sacred city of Byblos he was as it were the soul
and symbol of the yearly course of Nature; the annual reddening of the
Adonis river by the spring floods being for his devotees a mystery of
his shed blood. Then came the ritual of grief, in which his wooden and
painted effigy, lying with that of Aphroditê, the Goddess who loved
him, took the place of the victim in the older rite in which he too
was doubtless slain "for the people." The "gardens of Adonis," shallow
trays in which various green plants grew quickly and as quickly died,
had been originally charms to hasten the fertility of the spring,
like the sacrifice itself; but long custom made them mere symbols
of untimely death, and the cult was one of pathos and compassion,
passing in the usual way to exultation and gaiety when, after his
effigies had been thrown as corpses into the sea or the springs, the
God rose from the dead on the third day, and in the presence of his
worshippers, by some mummery of make-believe or mechanical device,
was represented as ascending to heaven. As in the cult of Attis,
it was women who "found" the risen Lord, whose death they had mourned.

In such worships, it will be seen, much depended on the spirit of sex,
which was evoked by the pairing of God and Goddess, a common principle
of the ancient Semitic pantheon, here subtilized by romance. Such
myths as those of Attis and Adonis, indeed, lent themselves to contrary
emotions, the amorous and the ascetic passions figuring in the devotees
by turns. Thus the very eunuch priests who represented the extremity
of anti-sexualism were credited with a mania of licentiousness; and
on the other hand the Great Mother, who in the primitive myth was
enamoured of Attis, and yet in one version mutilated him, was by her
graver devotees regarded in a holier light. So even Aphroditê, the
lover of Adonis, had her supernal aspect as Urania; and the legend
of the indifference of Adonis, like that of the self-mutilation of
Attis, conveyed a precept and pattern of chastity. Everywhere, as the
world grew sophisticated, and the primitive simplicity of appetite
was overborne by pessimism and asceticism, the cruder cults tended to
become refined and the Goddess-worships grew in dignity. At the sacred
city of Hierapolis, in Syria, there was long worshipped a Goddess of
immemorial fame, round whose history there floated myths like those
of Cybelê and Aphroditê, Attis and Adonis, but whose prestige was
apparently maintained rather by minimising than by retailing them. In
her cult all the worshippers were wont to puncture their hands or
necks, probably in mystic imitation of a slain Demigod such as Attis,
connected with her legend; and in her service ascetic priests or
hermits ascended phallic pillars to win sanctity by vigils of a week
long. Thus was set up for the Goddess a religious renown comparable to
that of Yahweh of Jerusalem, bringing multitudes of strangers to her
every festival, and filling the treasuries of her priests with gifts.

Of kindred character and equivalent range with the cults of Attis and
Adonis was that of Dionysos, the most many-sided of the divinities
adopted by the Greeks from Asia. Figuring first as Bacchus, a Thracian
God of beer, [17] and later as the God of wine, he seems to have made
way in early Greece partly by virtue of the sheer frenzy set up in his
women worshippers by unwonted potations. But such phenomena caused
their own correction; and the adoption of the cult by the cities
brought it within the restraining sway of Greek culture. Of all the
older Greek worships, the most popular was that (perhaps oriental in
origin) of Dêmêtêr and Persephonê, the Mourning Mother and the Virgin
Daughter, who had primarily signified mother earth and the seed corn;
and with their worship in the great Eleusinian mysteries was bound up
that of Dionysos. Son of Zeus and the Virgin Goddess Persephonê or
the mortal virgin Semelê--for the myths were legion--he was carried
in effigy as a new-born babe in a manger-basket on the eve of the
winter solstice. In this capacity he was pre-eminently the Babe-God,
Iacchos, "the suckling." Further, he figures in one myth as being
torn to pieces by the Titans, [18] and as restored to life or reborn
(after Zeus has terribly avenged him) by his mother Semelê (really
an old Earth-Goddess) or by the Mother-Goddess, Dêmêtêr; wherefore
he is represented as a suckling at Dêmêtêr's breast. In the triennial
dramatic mysteries in his honour an eating of raw flesh by the devotees
was held to commemorate his sacrificial death, which was, however,
mystically conceived to mean the making of wine from grapes. In other
and commoner forms of the sacred banquet, the wine figured specially
as his blood, and the bread as Dêmêtêr=Ceres; and in this transparent
form the symbolism of "body and blood" was a household word among the
Romans. In their popular religion, being assimilated to an ancient
Roman God, the Wine-God was known as Liber, "the child," as "Father
Liber," and as Bacchus, while Ceres or Proserpine was paired with him
as Libera. The doctrine, found among the Manichæans in the fourth
century, that "Jesus hangs on every tree," is in all likelihood a
development from this worship, in which Dionysos was God of the vine
in particular, but of all vegetation besides. For such mystics as
wrote and conned the Orphic hymns, however, he was a God of manifold
potency; and there centred round him a whole theosophy of ascetic
ethic, in which the ideal of the worshipper was to strive, suffer,
and conquer in common with the God, who was the giver of immortality.

Of his cult in particular it is difficult to grasp any general
significance, so inextricably did it become entwined with others,
in particular with the Phrygian cult of Sabazios, [19] and with the
Corybantic mysteries, in connection with which are to be traced a whole
series of local deities of the same stamp as those under notice, just
as the myth of Apollo can be seen to have absorbed a whole series of
local Sun-Gods. Thus the mortal Jasion or Iasious is slain by Zeus
for being the lover of Cybelê, who however bears to him a divine
son, Korybas; and he in turn figures also as the son of the Virgin
Persephonê, and without father, human or divine. In the Orphic hymns
Korybas is the mighty Lord of the underworld, who frees the spirit
from all terrible visions, a giver of blessedness and of sorrow,
a God of double nature. So Dionysos, like the Hindu Fire-God Agni,
is born of two mothers; and like Hermes and Herakles he has descended
to Hades and returned, victorious over death. In all such cults alike
is to be noted the gradual emergence of the relation of maternity
as well as paternity, the Mother Goddess coming more and more to the
front as such; while the Son-God, in the case of Dionysos and Dêmêtêr,
tends to overshadow or supersede the Daughter-Goddess, who in Rome
had twinned with Bacchus under their names of Liber and Libera.

In the case of the far-famed cult of Osiris, again, there gradually
took place a similar transformation. In the oldest Egyptian lore,
Osiris is at once the brother and the husband of Isis, who, when he is
slain and dismembered by Typhon, gathers together the scattered limbs
for burial. Thereafter their son, Horus (who in turn had been found
dead in his floating cradle and reborn by his mother), avenges his
father, who remains Judge of the Dead in the underworld. But as the
cult develops, Horus, who in one of his aspects--perhaps originally
signifying different deities--is an adult and powerful God, becomes
specially the child of Isis and Osiris, and is typically represented
as a suckling at his mother's breast, or as the babe born like Jesus on
the eve of the winter solstice; while Osiris remains the suffering God,
to be mourned and rejoiced over; and it is to him that the devotee
turns in the mysteries for the mystic regeneration, which involved
a worship of the Osirian cross, the emblem of the God. "I clasp the
sycamore tree," says the Osirified soul in the Book of the Dead;
"I myself am joined unto the sycamore tree, and its arms are opened
unto me graciously." But Osiris in turn "shall establish as prince
and ruler his son Horus"; and the soul in the underworld, in some
rituals, becomes one with Horus, as in others with Osiris. Out of the
medley there emerged for the popular mind the dominant impressions
of Osiris as the Saviour and Judge of the Dead; of Isis as the Queen
of Heaven, the Sorrowing Goddess, the Mother-Goddess; and of Horus
as the Divine Son, Hor-pa-khrot, "Horus the Child," of whom the
Greeks in their fanciful way made a Harpocrates, the God of Silence,
misunderstanding the symbol of the finger in the mouth, which for
the Egyptians meant merely childhood. As we have seen, the Osirian
cult and that of Serapis, grafted on it in the time of the Ptolemies,
made popular the symbol of the cross long before Christianity, and
prepared for the latter religion in many other ways.

Perhaps its closest counterpart, however, was its most tenacious rival,
the worship of the Persian Sun-God Mithra, first introduced into Rome
in the time of Pompey, whose troops received it from the Cilician
pirates, the débris of the army of Mithridates, whom he conquered
and enlisted in the Roman service. Mithra being the most august of
all the Gods of war, his worship became the special religion of the
Roman army. Apart from its promise of immortality, its fascination
lay in its elaborate initiations, baptisms, probations, sacraments,
and mysteries, which were kept at a higher level of moral stringency
than those of almost any of the competing cults. The God was epicene or
bisexual, having a male and a female aspect; and there seems to have
been no amorous element in his myth at the Christian period. Unless
it be decided that such rituals had prevailed all over the East, the
Christian eucharist must be held to have been a direct imitation of
that of Mithraism, which it so closely resembled that the early Fathers
declared the priority of the rival sacrament to be due to diabolic
agency. But the Christian rite, as we have seen, had old Palestinian
roots, going back to sheer human sacrifice. The Mithraist ritual,
indeed, appears to have been the actual source of part of the Christist
mystery-play, inasmuch as Mithra, whose special epithet was "the Rock,"
was liturgically represented as dead, buried in a rock tomb, mourned
over, and raised again amid rejoicing. For the Mithraists also the
sign of the cross, made on the forehead, was the supreme symbol; and
it was mainly their cult which established the old usage of calling
the Sun-day, the first of the week, "the day of the Lord," Mithra as
the Sun being the first of the seven planetary spirits on whose names
the week was based. In the third century, the chief place of the cult
in the empire was on the Vatican mount at Rome; and there it was that
Christian legend located the martyrdom of Peter, who, as we have seen,
was assimilated to Mithra both in name and in attributes. [20]

In a special degree the Osirian and Dionysian and Mithraic cults
seem to have insisted on the doctrine of immortality correlatively
with the doctrine of eternal punishment; and insofar as Mithraism is
to be known from the present form of the Zendavesta, which is but a
revised portion of the older Mazdean literature, it appealed to the
imagination on this side at least as winningly as did the Jesuist
literature in respect, for instance, of the Apocalypse. Mithra was
the God of the upper and the nether world, the keeper of the keys
of heaven and hell, of life and death; and, like Osiris, he was the
judge of men's deeds. Like the other Saviour-cults, too, Mithraism
anticipated Christism in evolving the attraction of a Mother-Goddess,
the worship of Cybelê being adapted to his as it had been to that of
Attis. In one other aspect it seems to have run closely parallel to
early Jesuism. The singular phrase in the Apocalypse about garments
"washed in the blood of the Lamb" points to an early Jesuist use
of the practice of the kriobolium, which with the taurobolium was
one of the most striking of the Mithraic rites. In these repulsive
ceremonies the ram or bull--always young, on the principle that the
sacrifice must be pure--was slain over a grating, so that the blood
dripped on the initiate, who was placed in a pit beneath, and who
was instructed to wear the blood-stained garment for some days. It
was believed that the ceremony had a supreme saving grace; and the
initiate was solemnly described as in æternum renatus, "born again
for eternity." In regard to both animals the symbolism was partly
astronomical, having latterly reference to the sun's entrance into
the constellations of the Bull and the Ram at different stages of
his course. Mithra's oldest and best-known symbol was the bull; but
inasmuch as the sun had anciently been seen by the Chaldean astronomers
to be in the constellation Aries at the spring season, the beginning
of the ancient year, the lamb had long been likewise adopted into the
mysteries of the solar cults. About the beginning of the Christian
era the year-opening constellation was Pisces; and the Divine Fish
accordingly figures to a great extent in early Christian symbols.

As we have seen, the primordial Jesuism, with its Lamb "slain from
the founding of the world," probably conceived of its deity in terms
of the astronomical symbol; but the prominence given by Mithraism
to the blood-ritual would serve to bring that into disuse among
the Gentile Christists, whose creed further made Jesus the final
paschal sacrifice, and reduced the apocalyptic phrase to a moral
metaphor. Nonetheless, the rites and theories of the great pagan cults,
all of which flourished in Palestine itself in the pre-Roman period,
must be recognized as factors in its creation.

How completely Christianity belongs to the world of religious ideas in
which it arose may be realised, finally, by a glance at the worship
of the Roman Emperor, already established before the Christian
era. In Virgil's Fourth Eclogue, written about 40 B.C., there is
sung for Romans the universal myth of the coming Child, who is to be
Saviour and Lord of a rejuvenated earth, and whom Virgil was ready to
identify with the nephew of Augustus. But in the same period he sings
of Augustus as already divine; and Augustus in due course exploited
for himself the whole idea. Not only did he, like Alexander, set in
currency the typical fable of his mother's intercourse with Apollo,
and a Roman version of the ancient myth which in the gospels becomes
the story of the Massacre of the Innocents: in edicts which are in
part actually preserved on monuments he gave himself out in the East
as a God and Saviour whose birthday was henceforth to be celebrated
as the beginning of an evangel to the world, and who was to make an
end of war and disorder. Later emperors continued the expedient, which
had been well tried by Persian and Egyptian kings in previous ages.

Against such divine pretensions on the part of the Roman conqueror
the Jews would instinctively develop their own formulated hope of a
Jewish Messiah; and wherever in the Empire men revolted against the
apotheosis of the earthly autocrat, the Judæo-Gentile cult of the
slain and re-arising Christ, who was soon to come and judge the world,
would find devotees eager to accord to him the attributes claimed by
Cæsar, and whatever others might avail. The new religion was thus in
every aspect a syncretism of the religious material of the time.



§ 5. Ethics: Popular and Philosophic

It lies on the face of the case that the Christist cult could make
no rapid headway by offering to people of any class higher ethical
ideals than they had already been wont to recognize. To claim that
it did is to upset the concurrent theorem that the pagan world into
which Christianity entered was profoundly corrupt. If men and women
on all hands welcomed the new teaching for its moral beauty, they must
already have acquired a taste for such beauty, and cannot conceivably
have been "sunk in trespasses and sins." It is true that in every
unlettered population--in modern India and pre-Christian Mexico as
well as in classic antiquity--a repute for asceticism has brought
great popular honour, men reverencing a self-denial they feel unable
to practise. But a cult and a community which actually seek to embrace
the common people cannot exact from them a "saintliness" which in
the terms of the case is a rare phenomenon. In reality the Christian
ethic was duplicated at every point by that of Judaism or of one or
other of the pagan schools or cults; and the contrast still commonly
drawn between the church and its moral environment is framed by merely
comparing Christian theory with popular pagan practice. Theory for
theory, and practice for practice, there was no such difference.

If the ethical literature of the period be first taken, it is found
that the teaching of (for instance) Seneca had so many points of
identity with that of Paul as to give colour to a Christian theory
that the pagan moralist and the apostle had had intercourse. It is now
admitted that no such intercourse took place, and that the pretended
letters of Paul and Seneca are Christian forgeries. But the community
of doctrine is undisputed. It was largely traceable to elements of
oriental ethic which had been imported into Greek Stoicism by writers
of Semitic race; and on Seneca's side the moral principles involved
are at some points much further developed than they can be said to
be in either the gospels or the epistles. In some respects he is
concrete and practical where the gospels are vague and abstract,
as when he condemns all war and urges habits of kindly fellowship
between masters and slaves. On the latter head, Philo of Alexandria,
the Jewish Platonist, went still further, explicitly condemning slavery
as the worst of evils and denying Aristotle's dictum that for some
men it is the natural state. Such doctrines as those of reciprocity
and the forgiveness of injuries were of course the common property of
the moralists of all civilized countries before the Christian era--of
the teachers of China and India as well as of Greece; and the duty of
practical beneficence, which in a section of the gentilizing third
gospel is made the whole question of moral and religious life, was
indicated in almost exactly the same terms in the much more ancient
sacred books of Egypt.

Where the Christist ethic differed most from that of the higher
paganism was on the point of sacrificial substitution or "salvation
by blood," and on the point of moral self-humiliation. Stoicism
on the contrary cultivated self-respect, here carrying on a strain
of thought found in rabbinical Judaism; and it is at least an open
question whether "voluntary humility" (which in the later epistles is
disparaged) proved in practice the more efficient moral principle. In
such a writer as Juvenal we find a protest against the habit of
praying to the Gods for all manner of boons, the argument being that
the Gods know better than their worshippers what the latter really
need. In the gospel, similar teaching precedes the Lord's Prayer;
and whereas in both cases the principle laid down is deviated from,
the pagan, who prays for a sound mind in a sound body, is in no worse
case than the Christist, who proceeds to pray for daily bread--if,
that is, the ordinary rendering be accepted. If, as seems probable,
the intention was to pray for "spiritual food," the contrast is again
between a cultivation of self-reliance and a cultivation of the sense
of spiritual dependence. Yet at bottom, inasmuch as the sense of divine
support would theoretically give confidence, the practical outcome was
probably the same, for good or for evil. When, however, to the doctrine
of salvation by faith the Pauline theology added the principle that
God was the potter and man the clay, without moral rights, there was
set up a conception of morals which could not but be demoralizing,
and to which there was no parallel in the higher pagan teaching.

As regards the Christist doctrine of sacrificial salvation, it is found
that both under Judaism and under paganism higher moral standards had
been reached by many thinkers; and Christism, as we have seen, was
rather an adhesion to the popular religious ethic, which on this side
was of an immemorial antiquity. So, too, many of the greater pagan and
Jewish thinkers, while holding to the belief in immortality, had long
before transcended the doctrine of future rewards and punishments, and
had repelled the conception of a God of wrath; whereas the Christists
stressed the conceptions prevalent among average Jews and Gentiles,
taking over bodily, in particular, the popular idea of hell-torments,
which was as vivid, and as inefficacious, in the ancient world as in
the medieval. Worse still, the new faith ultimately introduced the
frightful dogma of the damnation of all unbaptized infants, a teaching
before undreamt of, and capable only of searing the heart. For the
rest, the formal ethic was very much the same in all cults as to
the duties of honesty, truthfulness, charity, and chastity; and the
practice in all seems to have been alike precarious. Not any more
than any of the contemporary religions did Christism offer any such
social or political guidance as might conceivably have arrested the
political paralysis and decadence of the whole imperial world. On the
contrary, the gospels and epistles alike predict a speedy doomsday,
and counsel political submission, showing no trace of any other ideal;
while at the end of the second century such a teacher as Origen is
found coupling the principle of the universal Roman dominion with that
of the universal church. To any surviving vestiges of the ideal of
self-government, Christian literature was broadly hostile. Inasmuch,
too, as the gospel explicitly urged celibacy as a condition of ready
salvation (Lk. xx, 35; cp. Mt. xix, 12), it tended to hold at arm's
length the mass of normal people and to attract the fanatics and the
pretenders to sanctity. In all likelihood, however, such doctrines
were stressed only by the more ascetic teachers and sects; the Pauline
letters, for instance, finally holding a middle course.

Insofar, finally, as the principle of brotherly love is traditionally
held to distinguish Christist teaching and practice from that of
either Jews or pagans, there has occurred a fallacy of inference. All
the documents go to show that the inculcation and profession of
mutual love came currently from mouths which passed with no sense
of incongruity to denunciation. In Christian tradition, the John
who figured as the preacher of love was without misgiving called a
"son of thunder," and reputed to have shown intense malice towards a
heretic; and all the early teachers in turn, from Paul to Tertullian,
are found alternating between praise of love and display of its
contrary, even as Jesus is made by the gospel-framers to vituperate
the contemporaries whom he was supposed to have exhorted to love their
enemies. Even the duty of forgiveness is in one passage enforced by
the threat of future torture at the hands of a Heavenly Father who
is thus to imitate the cruelties of human law; whereas rationalistic
thinkers among the Greeks a century or two before had grounded the
duty on the naturalness of error, urging that wrongdoers should be
taught rather than hated. So far were the Christists at any period
from attaining the height of feeling kindly towards those outside
their creed, that they exhibited an exceptional measure of strife
among themselves--this by mere reason of the openings for strife set
up by their dogmatic system and the need of unifying it. In times
of persecution, doubtless, they were thrown together in feeling, as
any other community would be; but here, in the terms of the case, it
was the persecution, not the creed, that created the fraternity. Nor
can it be said that any contemporary Christian teachers, unless it
might be some of the ostracized Gnostics, compare well in point of
serenity and self-control with such pagans as the later Stoics. For
the rest, the human material indicated in the Pauline accounts of
the congregational habit of glossolalia, "speaking with tongues"
(a mere hysterical outcry, of which the sounds had no meaning),
is clearly neurotic, and must have been liable to all manner of lapses.

To say this is but to say that actual Christianity at length became
popular in the only possible way--by assimilating ordinary human nature
in mass. Had it persistently transcended or coerced average character,
it could never have become one of the world-religions. To say, again,
that the written doctrine at its best prescribed higher standards than
those actually followed by its adherents, is but to claim what can
equally be claimed for many other systems, popular and philosophic. The
fundamental source of error in this connection is the assumption
that mere moral doctrine can regenerate any society independently of
a vital change in social and intellectual conditions. In the ancient
world, as in the modern, these were the substantial determinants for
the mass of men and women.

Even as regards the moral ideal itself, finally, it is important to
realize that what passes for the high-water mark of Christian ethic is
really pre-Christian doctrine. It is customary to name the so-called
Sermon on the Mount as the fine flower of gospel teaching; and of
that document the precept of love to enemies is felt to be the finest
word. Without asking how often it has been obeyed, Christians are wont
to regard it as marking the difference in moral ideal between their
lore and that of Jew and pagan. In point of fact, the noblest parable
for its illustration is furnished by the pagan tale of Lycurgus and the
young aristocrat who destroyed his eye; and the precept in the gospel
is demonstrably Jewish. Not only is it, like the rest of the "Sermon"
in general, fully paralleled in Old Testament and other pre-Christian
Hebrew literature [21]: the gospel sentences are immediately adapted
from the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, of which the priority is
here self-evident. The text there runs: "Bless them that curse you,
and pray for your enemies, and fast for them that persecute you;
for what thank (have ye) if ye love them that love you? Do not
the foreigners [ta ethne, "the gentiles"] do the same? But love
ye them that hate you, and ye shall have no enemy." In the gospel
(Mt. v, 44-47; rev. text) we have: "Do not even the tax-gatherers the
same?" and again: "Do not even the foreigners (ethnikoi) the same?" The
old textus receptus, now curtailed, has actually been amplified in
imitation of the Teaching; but the substitution of "tax-gatherers"
(telonai) for "gentiles" tells of an earlier modification. In the
Teaching, a primarily Jewish document, the gentiles, "the strangers,"
are quite simply indicated as religiously alien in mass to the Jew:
for the gentilizing Christists the moral had to be pointed as between
the faithful and a class proscribed throughout the empire.

It was doubtless a deep spiritual experience that led any sons of
Israel, in an age of defeat and iron oppression, to realize the vanity
of hate, and the one way to cast off its burden. But not only had
the lesson been learned in the days "before Christ": it had actually
been embodied in the manual carried by the Twelve Apostles of the
High Priest or the Patriarch for the teaching of the Jews scattered
throughout the Roman empire. "If anyone ask from thee what is thine,"
says the manual simply, "ask it not back, for indeed thou canst not"--a
precept to the expatriated Jew to bear with meekness the wrongs for
which there was no legal remedy. As little as the Christian, perhaps,
did the Jew assimilate the doctrine of forgiveness; but at least let
it be noted that the doctrine had been framed by his race.



CHAPTER III

CONDITIONS OF SURVIVAL


§ 1. Popular Appeal

Overshadowed among the Jews by the common traditions of Judaism,
and faced among the Gentiles by such competition as we have seen,
the Christian cult had to acquire all the chief attractions of
popular pagan religion if it was to outdo its rivals. Such success
could never have been reached through mere superiority of ethical
ideal, even had such superiority been present: by the admission
even of Christian advocates, there were high moral ideals in most
of the pagan ethical systems current among the educated class; but
those systems never became popular, not seeking to be so. To gain
the mass, the new propagandists found, the tastes of the mass had
to be propitiated; and at best the more conscientious of them could
but hope to control the ignorance and the superstition they sought
to attract. When in the second and third centuries the more rigid
Puritans, such as the Montanists, formed themselves into special
communities, they were inevitably repudiated by the main body, which
had to temper its doctrine to the characters of the average laity and
the average clergy. Thus the development of primitive Christianity was
necessarily such an assimilation of neighbouring lore and practice as
we have already in part traced. The story of the Christ had to take
on all the lasting dramatic features of the prehistoric worships;
and the mysteries had as far as possible to embody those details in
the dramatic pagan fashion. Where dramatization was going on, new
details would naturally be added, all tending to the same end; and
on the basis of these early dramatic inventions would arise many of
the gospel narratives. This, however, must have been a matter of time.

In the earlier stages of propaganda the appeal was primarily to Jews,
and secondarily to Jew proselytes; but after the destruction of the
temple of Jerusalem it must have been made in an increasing degree
to Gentiles, chiefly of the poorer classes, whether artisans or
traders. As among the pagan religious societies before mentioned,
slaves were admitted; such being not seldom in as good a position
as artisans. There is also evidence that, on the avowed theological
principles of the sect, men even of bad repute were received, of course
on condition of repentance. "Let him that stole, steal no more," is
one of the injunctions in one of the later epistles. In the nature of
the case such adherents could not be multiplied, in the teeth of the
attractions of the other cults, without a continual offer of congenial
entertainment; and the weekly "love-feast," on the "day of the Lord,"
would be the first mainstay. The constant warnings and admonitions in
the epistles exclude the notion that these assemblies escaped the usual
risks of disorder; and the standing problem of the supervisors was to
maintain the social attraction without tolerating open licence. Insofar
as they succeeded, for a time, it was by appeal to ideals of abstinence
which, as we have seen, had long been current in the East.

In the main, the popular success of the movement must have depended
on a compromise. When "freedom from the yoke of the law" went so far
as to set up a serious scandal among the pagans (1 Cor. v) it was
necessarily suppressed; but from the first there evidently occurred
such irregularities as were later charged by Tertullian against his
fellow-Christians in the matter of their nocturnal assemblies. Only
out of average material could a popular movement be made, and
the more the cult spread the more was it compelled to assimilate
the usages of paganism, giving them whatever new colour or pretext
seemed best. But to the successful manipulation of such a movement
there was necessary a body of propagandists, a written doctrine, and
a machinery of organization; and it was chiefly by the development
of such machinery that the Christist movement secured itself in the
struggle for survival. In this regard its success as against Mithraism
becomes perfectly intelligible. The priests of Mithra seem never to
have aimed at popular acceptance save insofar as their cult became
co-extensive with the Roman army; their ideal being rather that of a
religious freemasonry than that of an open community. The Christists,
on the other hand, seem to have carried on from the first the Jewish
impulses of fanaticism and proselytism, aiming at popularity with
the acquired Jewish knowledge of the financial possibilities of any
numerous movement.



§ 2. Economic Causation

The play of economic interest in the establishment and maintenance
of religions is one of the constant forces in their history. In
the simplest forms of savage life the medicine-man or priest makes
a superior living out of his function; and every powerful cult in
antiquity enriched its priests. The developed worships of Assyria
and Babylon, Phoenicia and Egypt, were carried on by great priestly
corporations, with enormous revenues; those of the Egyptian priesthood
in particular being reckoned even in the Roman period at a third
of the wealth of the nation. Early Greece and Rome, in comparison,
showed little ecclesiastical development by reason mainly of the fact
that their relative political freedom offered so many other channels to
acquisitive energy. In republican Rome priesthood was a caste-privilege
enjoyed by a select few, the majority of the ruling class being content
to have it so; and there and in Greece alike the normal conception of
deities as local, with local worships, precluded even the thought of a
universal priesthood, though the Roman policy gave all the Gods of the
extending State a place in the common pantheon. In old Greece it came
about that the fixed ideal of the City-State, and the very multiplicity
of cults even in the separate states, kept all the worships isolated;
while the republican habit kept the priests and priestesses members
of the body politic, and not associations apart. The Christian church
began its historic growth on this ground, in the period of imperialism
and decadence, with the eastern examples before it, the Jewish system
of church-finance and propaganda to proceed upon, the Greek democratic
practice to facilitate its first steps, and the Roman sway to allow
of its spread and official organization. Lastly came the usage,
imitated from the later political and religious life of the Greeks,
of Church Synods, in which disruptive doctrinal tendencies were more
or less controlled by the principle of the majority vote, and the
weaker groups were assisted and encouraged by the others. In every
aspect the evolution was by way of adaptation on tried lines.

As we have seen, Judaism in the Hellenistic and Roman period was
financed through a system of travelling "apostles" and collectors,
who followed up the dispersed Jewish race wherever it flourished, and
got together great revenues for the temple service and the priestly and
rabbinical class. Jesuism began on those lines, and so set up habits of
intercommunication between its groups, which for their own part were
locally and independently financed by their members in the Greek and
Jewish fashion. Whatever may have been the practice of enthusiasts such
as Paul would appear to have been, the principle that "the labourer
is worthy of his hire" must have become general; and insofar as
special preaching was a requisite and an attraction for the members,
the travelling preachers would have to be fee'd or salaried. One of
the later epistles makes mention of apostles, prophets, evangelists,
pastors, and teachers, as different types; also of elders (presbyters),
deacons, and bishops (overseers); and as the groups increased and began
to possess buildings, the creation of professional opportunities set
up a new economic interest in propaganda.

In neither Greek nor Roman life was the phenomenon new. Centuries
before the Christian era, the influx of the Dionysian and other
mystic cults in Greece had been followed by the rise of swarms of
religious mendicants, many of whom carried with them sacred books and
ministered consolation while playing on credulity; and on a higher
plane the educated "sophists" or humanists of the pre-Macedonian
period had made a livelihood by moral and philosophical teaching or
lecturing. Later, the Stoics and other philosophers became a species
of religious directors or "spiritual advisers" as well as ethical
lecturers; and in Rome especially this calling had practically the
status of a profession. Thus had arisen a specific means of livelihood
for educated men without official posts or inherited incomes. But
any religious cult which should set up an organization would have
as against such teachers an obvious financial advantage, in respect
of its power of attracting numbers, its local permanence, and its
means of collecting revenue; and even men incapable of success as
lecturers could attain relatively secure positions as presbyters or
"bishops"--that is, overseers, first of single churches, and later of
district groups. The original function of the bishop was that later
assigned to "elders" in the presbyterian system--the supervision of
the public offerings or "collections" and their distribution among
needy brethren. Later, the bishop became the religious head of the
group, and its representative in communication with others. Not till
such organization was reached could the new sect count on permanence.

An important source of income from an early stage was the munificence
of the richer women converts; and insofar as the Christist movement
stood for a restraint on sexual licence it doubtless gained from
the moral bias as well as from the superstition of women of the
upper and middle classes throughout the empire. The richer women
were indeed made to feel that it was their duty to make "oblations"
in proportion to their means. On the other hand, then as now, the
giving of alms to the poor was a means of enlisting the sympathetic
support of serious women; and the Christists here had a lead not
only from oriental example in general and that of later Judaism in
particular, but from the policy of food-doles now systematically
pursued in the Roman empire. The later epistles show that much was
made of the good offices of "widows," who, themselves poor and wholly
or partly supported by the congregations, would serve as comforters
of suffering or bereaved members, and ministrants to the sick. The
death-rate was doubtless high in the eastern cities, then as now. In
this way were attracted to the church large masses of the outside
poor who were not similarly considered or sought for by any of the
competing pagan cults. But it was necessary to compete in other
ways with the mass of itinerant diviners and religious mendicants,
who had much the same kind of vogue as the begging friars of later
Christendom; and exorcists were at an early date a recognized class
of officers in connection with the Christian churches.

At what stage revenue began to be derived from the usage of praying
for the souls of the dead it is impossible to say; but as early as
the third century it is found to be customary to recite before the
altar the names of givers of oblations, who were then publicly prayed
for. In various other ways the church was able to elicit gifts. It
lies on the face of all the canonical books that a prediction of the
speedy end of the world was one of the constant doctrines of the early
church; and such a belief would naturally elicit donations in the
first century as it did in the tenth. Obviously, too, the gradual
development of the "mysteries" would strengthen the hands of the
priestly class. In particular, as it was early made compulsory on
all baptized persons, except penitents, to take the sacrament, the
privilege of administering or withholding the eucharist was a sure
source of revenue, as was the power of initiation into the mysteries
of the other cults for their ministrants.



§ 3. Organization and Sacred Books

It was finally to the joined influences of ecclesiastical organization
and of popular sacred books that Christism owed its measure of success
as against the freely-competing pagan cults; and on both sides its
primary advantage, as we have seen, came from its Judaic basis. For
nearly two centuries the Hebrew Bible, made widely accessible in
the Septuagint version, was its literary mainstay, by reason of the
prestige attaching to such a mass of ancient religious literature
in the Greco-Roman world; and whereas other cults also had their
special lore, the Christist movement was specially buttressed by its
system of ecclesiastical union, also imitated from the Judaic. The
ecclesiastical system, above all, was a means to the development of
the new sacred books which completed the definition of Christianity
as something apart from Judaism; and these in turn made a permanent
foundation for the historic church. A glance at the cult associated
with the name of the pagan Apollonius of Tyana, who won fame in the
first century, makes it clear that even where a great renown attached
to a travelling religious reformer and reputed wonder-worker, and where
an adoring biography served in some degree to prolong his fame, the
lack of a hierarchy or connected series of religious groups prevented
on the one hand its continuance, and on the other hand the necessary
development of the literature which should conserve it.

The first traceable literature special to the Christians, as we
have seen, consisted in "apostolic" and sub-apostolic epistles of
exhortation, which were read aloud in the churches after the Jewish
manner. Priestly needs conserved such documents, and further evoked
forgeries, aimed against new heresies and schisms. But the mass of men
are always more easily to be attracted by narrative than by homilies;
and the mystery-play, by means of which alone could the church at the
outset compete with the pagan cults similarly provided, lent itself
to a written as well as to an acted history.

Such a document as the gospel story of the Supper and its sequel is
in itself the proof of the priority of the mystery-play, in some
simple form, to the gospel story. In its present degree of detail
the play must belong to a stage of the movement at which it had made
some Gentile headway; and its reduction to writing for reading may
be supposed to have taken place either at a time when the Christians
by reason of persecution were prevented from carrying on their usual
rituals or festivals, or, more probably, when the hierarchy decided
for prudential or disciplinary reasons to abandon the regular resort
to dramatic spectacle. It does not follow, of course, that none of
the didactic parts of the gospel was in writing before the play was
transcribed; but the fact that none of the Pauline epistles quotes
any of the Jesuine teachings, and that the first Clementine epistle
alludes to but one or two, is a reason for holding that they came
very slowly into existence. The dramatic development would naturally
occur for the most part or wholly in Gentile hands. It is not certain,
indeed, that the later Jews remained uniformly averse to drama, which
was partly forced on them by the Herods; and the theory of a dramatic
origin for the Apocalypse is not quite untenable; but it happens that
the most obviously dramatic parts of the gospel story are those which,
on Gentile lines, throw the guilt of the crucifixion on the Jews.

When once a gospel existed, interpolation and alteration were for some
generations easy; and what happened was a multiplication of doctrines
and documents at the hands of different groups or sects or leaders,
the men with dogmatic or moral ideas taking this means to establish
them, without regard to the coherence or consistency of the texts. Many
passages are visibly inserted in order to countervail others, it being
easier to add than to suppress. Only late in the second century can
a canon have begun to be formed, as the Clementine epistles quote a
now lost document in the nature of a gospel, and Justin's "Memoirs
of the Apostles" diverge from those preserved. The later rejection
by the Church of such documents proves them to have been regarded as
in part heretical; and parts of the canonical gospels were altered
for various dogmatic reasons after they had been made to include
much of the matter in the uncanonical. The third gospel avows that
"many" previous narratives existed; and apart from all these there
have been preserved a number of rejected gospels, which run mainly to
miraculous stories. Some of these were long abundantly popular, that
of "Nicodemus" having had common vogue down to the Middle Ages. But
the more thoughtful clergy would soon recognize the greater value of
documents which by their teaching could impress the more educated of
the laity; and the double influence of the supernaturalism and the
moral appeal went to create cohesion throughout the movement.

The organization, in turn, operated as a check on the spread of
heresies, which, after carrying it further afield, soon threatened
to dissolve the cult into an infinity of mutually repellent
groups. Insofar, indeed, as these appealed to the more speculative
and quasi-philosophic minds, they were foredoomed to decay with the
decay of culture, and to be at best the creed of the few. Those, in
particular, who carried anti-Semitism to the point of discrediting
the Jewish Deity, lost the support of the Jewish sacred books, of
which the mere literary mass and variety constituted in such an age
a solid basis for a cultus. Yet even on those lines the Manichæan
cult spread far and lived long, so easy was it then for any cult to
rise. Survival lay with simple concrete myth of the popular sort,
concrete ritual, and explicit dogma backed by the force of the State;
and the needs of popular faith kept ever to the front the human aspect
of the crucified God, even when he was being dogmatically declared
to be at once distinct from and one with his co-eternal Father. This
indeed was but one of the many irreducible contradictions imbedded
in the sacred books. To bring these to consistency was impossible;
but the hierarchy could set up formal creeds over and above them;
and it mattered little to the official and financial continuity of the
Church that these creeds were themselves chronically altered. What was
necessary to success was simply some common standard and common action.



§ 4. Concession and Fixation

It is not to be supposed that any abnormal sagacity presided over the
formation of either the creed and canon or the official system of the
Church; but insofar as it survived it can be seen to have done so
in virtue alike of assimilation and of refusal to assimilate. Much
expansion was needed to make an area broad enough for the pagan
populace; and on the side of custom and myth hardly any pagan element
was ultimately refused. At the outset the great cause of strife between
Christian and pagan was the contemptuous refusal of the former to show
any respect for "idols"--a principle derived by Jewry from Persia,
and passed on to the first Jesuists. When, however, the Christian cult
became that of the State, it of necessity reverted, as we shall see,
to the psychology of the multitude, and carried the use of images as
far as pagans had ever done. Even the so-called "animal-worship" of the
Egyptians partly survived in such usages as the presence of the sacred
ox and ass in the mystery-play of the Nativity (an immemorial popular
rite, belonging to sun-worship), in the adoption of the "four zoa"
of the Apocalypse (old Oriental figures) as the symbols of the four
evangelists, and in the conception of "the Lamb." Before the period
of image-worship, too, the Church had fully accepted the compromise
by which countless pagan "heroes" and "geniuses," the subjects of
local cults, became enrolled as saints and martyrs, whose bones had
given to tombs and wells and shrines a sacred virtue, and whose old
festival-days became part of the new ecclesiastical calendar.

Above all, there was finally forced on the Church a cult of the
Mother as Virgin Goddess, without which it could not have held its own
against the great and well-managed worships of Isis and Rhea-Cybelê and
Dêmêtêr; since the first and last in particular aroused in multitudes
a rapture of exalted devotion such as was not psychologically possible
towards even a crucified God, save insofar as the emotion of women
worshippers towards the slain Demigod realized that of male devotees
towards the Queen of Heaven and the Mother and sustainer of things. If
the original Jesus of the myth had not had a mythical mother, it would
have been necessary to invent one. Once established, her elevation
to the honours of Isis was inevitable.

No less necessary, on the other hand, to the official survival of
the new system was a dogmatic limit to new doctrine. Where concrete
myth and ritual enlarged the scope of the cult, freedom of abstract
speculation dissipated its forces and menaced its very existence. All
manner of streams might usefully flow into its current, but when the
main river threatened to break up into a hundred searching rivulets
there was a prospect of its being wholly lost in the sands. This
danger, sometimes charged solely upon the Gnostics, arose with the
very first spread of the cult: every Pauline epistle, early or late,
exhibited the scope it gave for schism and faction. Mere random
"prophesying," which it was difficult to discountenance, meant endless
novelties of doctrine. At every stage at which we can trace it the
early Church is divided, be it by Judaism against Gentilism, faith
against works, Paul against Apollos, or one Jesus against another: the
very nature of the forces which made possible the propaganda involved
their frequent clash; and multitudes of converts were doubtless won
and lost in the chances of sectarian strife. When to the Jews and
proselytes and illiterates of the earlier movement there began to be
added speculative Gentile Gnostics, for whom Yahweh was but one of many
rival tribal Gods, and Jesus one of many competitive slain Saviours,
there came with them a species of heresy which bade fair to lull all
schism in a euthanasia of universalism. The theosophies of Egypt and
the East were alike drawn upon in the name of Christism, and there
resulted endless webs of grandiose mysticism, in which the problem
of the Cosmos was verbally solved by schemes of intermediary powers
between deity and man, and endless periods of transformation between
the first and the last states of matter. In these philosophies Jesus
was explained away or allegorized just as were the Gods of paganism,
and the motive force of fanatical ill-will against those deities on the
score of their characters was lost in a reconciling symbolism. Framed
for brooding minds that could not rest in the primitive solutions
of the popular cults, such systems on the other hand could never
attach or hold the mass of the people; and as they were yet produced
on all hands, the Christian organization was soon forced to define
its dogma if it would keep any distinguishing faith. Insofar as
so-called Gnosticism lent itself obediently to the embellishment of
the canonical writings and the confutation of the heathen--as in the
works of Clement of Alexandria--it was accepted without much demur;
but all new or independent theory was tabooed. Speculative minds were
dangerous things in a church aiming at practical success; and they
were assiduously barred out.

The conservative process, of which we shall trace the history,
was carried on partly by documentary forgeries, partly by more
honest polemic, partly by administrative action and the voting of
creeds. But in the nature of the case the forgeries, where successful,
were the most central and decisive forces; and we may still see,
in the schematic narratives of the Acts of the Apostles, in the
interpolations of the Apocalypse, in some of the readjustments of the
gospel text, and in the more obviously spurious Pauline epistles,
how faction and fanaticism were fought with intelligent fraud; and
how a troublesome popular delusion was guarded against by creating
another that lent itself to official ends. The "true" creed is just
the creed which was able to survive.



§ 5. Cosmic Philosophy

As we have seen, Gentile philosophy did actually enter into the
sacred books of the new faith, notably in the doctrine of the Logos
or "Word," which in the fourth gospel virtually reshapes the entire
Jesuist system. That gospel, rather than the preaching of Paul, is the
doctrinal foundation of Gentile Christianity. In the synoptics the
founder broadly figures as a Judaic Messiah, who is shortly to come
again, at the world's end, to judge the quick and the dead; and only
for a community convinced of the speedy approach of doomsday could
such a religion suffice. In the Pauline as in the other epistles we
see the belief in full play; and only in one of the later forgeries
(2 Thess. ii) is a caveat inserted. When the period loosely specified
for the catastrophe was clearly passed, and the Church had become an
economic institution like another, it must needs present a religion for
a permanent world if it was to hold its own; and while the changing
speculations of the Gnostics had to be vetoed in the interests of
solidarity, some scheme of philosophic dogma was needed which, like
theirs, should envisage the world as an enduring process. Pauline
polemic did but claim for believing Gentiles a part in the Jewish
salvation, and such a view had been reached by Philo before Paul. The
fourth gospel, substituting the Christ-sacrifice for the Jewish
Passover, and putting a world-Logos in place of a descendant of David,
gave the theoretic basis of a permanent cosmopolitan cult analogous
to those of Egypt and Persia. The invention of a gentilizing history
of the first apostles was a part of the same process of adaptation;
but the fourth gospel supplied the religion for the Church which the
official adaptors sought to develop.

Such an evolution was psychologically prepared for by the whole
drift of latter-day Jewish thought outside of Judea. The idea of
"the Word" of the deity as an entity, capable of personification,
had long belonged to Jewish theology in terms of many passages in the
Old Testament, and is but one variant of the psychological process
by which Brahmans came to conceive of the Vedas, and Moslems of the
Koran, as eternal existences. The Chaldaic word Memra had already
much of the mystic significance of Logos, which meant both "word"
and "reason"; the books of Proverbs, Job, and the Wisdom of Solomon
had made familiar the conception of a personified divine Wisdom,
dwelling beside the deity; and the Alexandrian Jew Philo had made
the Logos a central figure in his theosophy. But in the theosophies
of Egypt and Persia the same conception had long been established;
Plato had made it current in the theosophy of the Greeks, combining
it with a mystic doctrine of the cross; and Thoth and Hermes and
Mithra were already known as the Logos to their worshippers. Thus,
whether the fourth gospel were framed at Ephesus or at Alexandria,
by a cosmopolitan Jew or by a Gentile proselyte, it had grounds of
appeal to every Christist save the original Judaic Jesuists, whose
monopoly it was framed to overthrow. It of course gave no coherent
philosophy of the universe, and merely evaded the problem of evil,
which the Gnostics were constantly seeking to solve; but it was none
the worse a religious document for that.

Nonetheless, it needed the stress of circumstance to force it into
its fitting place in the new religion. Despite the many passages
inserted to bring its narrative into harmony with the other gospels,
the fourth differs so much more from them than they do from each
other that only the vital needs of the cult in its struggle for
existence can account for the final adoption of all four. But these
needs were compulsive, and overrode the opposition the fourth gospel
evoked. Such a mass of doctrine purporting to come from the very mouth
of the founder could not in any case be refused by such a community;
and when once the treatise on such grounds had been taken into the
canon it played its part in paralyzing the faculty of judgment. The
fourth gospel directly excludes the pretence that the God-man
was born at Bethlehem; yet it was grouped, like the second, which
ignores the tale, with the first and third, which circumstantially
yet discordantly enounce it. Where irreconcilable differences on the
most essential matters of biographical fact could thus be let pass,
the widest divergence of doctrinal idea could find acceptance. The
two pressures of predisposition and corporate interest availed to
override the difficulties they had created; and the primary momentum of
ignorant credulity among the faithful carried all before it. Easiness
of belief correlated with proneness to invention, and the religious
community cohered, as others do, by force of the gregarious bias,
the hostile environment, and the economic interest.



PART II

CHRISTIANITY FROM THE SECOND CENTURY TO THE RISE OF ISLAM


CHAPTER I

DEVELOPMENTS IN THE UNESTABLISHED CHURCH


§ 1. Numbers and Inner Life

When the "Catholic" Christian Church becomes politically and socially
distinguishable in the second century, it is a much less numerous body
than is pretended in the literature of its champions. Formulas such as
those used in the Acts of the Apostles (chs. ii, iv, v, vi) greatly
falsify the state of the case. The first "churches" in the cities
of Asia Minor, like the groups addressed by "Paul" in the epistles,
were but small conventicles, meeting in private houses. Even in the
fourth century, sixty years after Constantine's adoption of the faith,
the church of Antioch, one of the oldest and most important, appears
to have numbered only a fifth part of the population of the city, or
about one hundred thousand out of half-a-million. In the extensive
diocese of Neo-Cæsarea, in the third century, there were declared
to be only seventeen believers; and in the church of Rome itself,
in the same century, there were probably not more than fifty thousand
members all told out of a population of perhaps a million. In Egypt
again there was no church outside Alexandria till about the end of
the second century. Thus the language of Justin and Tertullian and
other Fathers, echoing the Acts, to the effect that the Christians
were everywhere throughout the empire, and that the gospel had been
preached and Jesus prayed to in every nation, is mere rhetoric in the
oriental taste. Only in the towns of the empire--though often in small
towns in the East--did the church exist at all: the pagani or people
of the rural districts were so uniformly fixed in their beliefs that
their name became for Christians the generic term for the adherents
of the old faiths; and though there were some missionary movements in
Persia and Arabia, the western provinces were hardly at all reached
by the propaganda in the first two centuries. Even in Gaul there were
few adherents; while as regards Britain, where there is said to have
been a group at York in the third century, there is not to be found
a single monumental trace of the presence of Christianity during the
four centuries of the Roman occupation, though remains of the Mithraic
cult, which flourished in the army, are frequent. At the end of the
second century, then, probably not a hundredth part of the population
even of the central provinces of the Roman empire was Christianized,
while the outlying provinces were practically unaffected.

Of the average inner life of the converts at this period it is
possible to form some idea by noting at once the current doctrine,
the claims of the apologists, the complaints of the apostolic and
later epistles, and the tenour and temper of the whole literature
of the Church. Something too may be inferred from the fact that the
early believers were mainly easterns even in Rome itself. Even on
these data, indeed, it would be a mistake to assume that any concrete
character type was predominant; but at several points we are entitled
to generalize as between the Christian movement and its antecedents
and surroundings. It was, for instance, very weakly developed on
the intellectual side, avowedly discouraging all use of reason, and
limiting the mental life to religious interests. Save for a certain
temperamental and moral energy in some of the Pauline epistles,
there is nothing in the propagandist literature of the early Church
which bears comparison with the best preceding literature of Greece
and Rome. The traditions concerning the apostles present men of a
narrow and fanatical vision and way of life, without outlook on human
possibilities, joyless save by way of religious exaltation, painfully
engrossed in theological contention and apocalyptic forecast. The
happiest teachers were perhaps the least intelligent. Papias, bishop
at Hierapolis, whom Eusebius later presents as having talked with
men who had heard the apostles, is pronounced by that historian to
have been of small understanding; and his ideas of the millennium,
as passed down, justify the criticism. Other traditional figures
of the second century, as the bishops Polycarp and Ignatius, are
presented mainly in their character of hortatory martyrs, the most
advantageous light in which ungifted men can be placed; and not a
line ascribed to them is above suspicion. Of the early Christians
in general, indeed, a transfiguring ideal has been shaped in terms
of the aspect of martyrdom and persecution--trials which, by forcing
men and women back on the central virtues of courage and constancy,
positively ennoble character. Such a compensating dignity of endurance
is found where it is apt to be least expected--in men and women long
broken to oriental tyranny; in Egyptian fellaheen, used to the lash;
in peasants wont mutely to toil and obey. But the possibility of
such a correlation does not alter the facts of normal life for the
types in question. Ignorance and fanaticism and superstition yield
their normal fruits in normal conditions. And there is Christian
record that even among the martyrs there were men of bad character,
seeking a short way to Paradise.

Of the early Christian community many were slaves, and perhaps from
three to five per cent paupers. The proportion of women was perhaps as
large as it is in the churches of to-day; for it was one of the pagan
taunts that to women the preachers preferred above all to address
themselves, and rich women members seem to have been relatively
numerous. All orders alike believed fervently in evil spirits;
and the most constant aspect of their faith was as a protection
against demoniacal influence. In the service of the Church of Rome
in the third century there were forty-six presbyters, seven deacons,
seven sub-deacons, forty-two acolythes or clerks, and fifty "readers,"
exorcists, and janitors; and the exorcists were at least as hard-worked
as any other members of the staff. On the side of morality, much
stress was laid on the sins of the flesh, partly because these were
the commonest, partly because the idea of an intellectual ethic had
not arisen; and while the Church was liable to gusts of persecution
its practice was naturally somewhat strict. Men and women who had
joined the body mainly for its alms or its agapæ were not likely to
adhere to it in times of trouble; and the very proclamation of an
ascetic standard would primarily attract those persons, found in every
community, who had a vocation for asceticism. At almost any period,
however, such were to be found in the heretical or dissentient groups
as well as in the main body, while the testimony of the Pauline
epistles is distinct as to the antinomianism of many "apostolic"
converts. Some Gnostic sects were stringently ascetic if others were
antinomian, the à priori principle lending itself alternately to the
doctrines that the spirit must mortify the flesh, and that the deeds
of the flesh are nothing to the spirit. Within the main body, the
conflicting principles of faith and works, then as later, involved the
same divergences of practice. The evidence of Tertullian is emphatic
as to the illusoriness of much Christian profession in his day in the
churches of Carthage, where zeal was at least as abundant as elsewhere.

Taken individually, then, an average Christian of the second century
was likely to be an unlettered person of the "lower-middle" or poorer
classes; living in a town; either bitterly averse to "idols," theatres,
the circus, and the public baths, or persuaded that he ought to be;
utterly credulous as to demons and miracles; incapable of criticism
as to sacred books; neurotic or respectful towards neurosis; readily
emotional towards the crucified God and the sacred mystery in which
were given the "body and blood"; devoid alike of æsthetic and of
philosophic faculty; without the thought of civic duty or political
theory; much given to his ritual; capable of fanatical hatred and
of personal malice; but either constitutionally sober and chaste or
chronically anxious to be so, and in times of persecution exalted by
the passion of self-sacrifice; perhaps then transiently attaining to
the professed ideal of love towards enemies. But the effective bonds
of union for the community, whether in peace or during persecution,
were rather the ruling passion of hostility to pagan beliefs and
usages, and the eager hope of "salvation," than any enthusiasm of
humanity, social or even sectarian. And, as an orthodox ecclesiastic
has remarked, we cannot "even cursorily read the New Testament without
being astonished by the allusions so often made to immoral persons
calling themselves Christians."

Over such worshippers, in the first centuries, presided a clergy of
precarious culture, sometimes marked by force of character, never
by depth or breadth of thought. To compare the Christian writers of
the ancient world with the pagan thinkers who had preceded them by
three or more centuries is to have a vivid sense of the intellectual
decadence which had accompanied the growth of imperialism. From Plato
to Clement of Alexandria, from Aristotle to Tertullian, there is a
descent as from a great plateau to arid plains or airless valleys:
the disparity is as between different grades of organism. But even
between the early Christian fathers and the pagans near their own time
the intellectual and æsthetic contrast is flagrant. Justin Martyr
and Clement, put in comparison with either Plutarch or Epictetus,
create at once an impression of relative poverty of soul: the higher
pagan life is still the richer and the nobler; the Christian temper
is more shrill and acrid, even where, as in the case of Clement, it
is nourished by learning and pagan metaphysic. Even the cultured and
relatively liberal Origen, in his reply to Celsus, is often at a moral
disadvantage as against the pagan, who, especially when he passes from
mere polemic on Jewish lines to philosophic thought, is distinctly
more masculine and penetrating. So far from being less superstitious,
the Christian reverts to such vulgar beliefs as that in the magical
virtue of certain divine names. Yet Origen, who was born of educated
Christian parents, is almost the high-water mark of ancient Christian
literature on the side of culture and mental versatility (185-254).

Up to the time of Clement and Origen, then, it may be said, the
Christian cult had won from paganism hardly one mind of any signal
competence; religious humanists such as Plutarch and fine moralists
such as Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus having gone to their graves
without being even transiently attracted by it. What laughter was left
in literature remained aloof from religion; Lucian could have no place
in the church, though it is probably his ridicule of pagan deities
that has won the preservation of his works at Christian hands. It is
only when the disease of empire has invaded all the sources of the
higher life, in the third and fourth centuries, that the Christian
writers, themselves representing no intellectual recovery, begin to
be comparable, mind for mind, with those of contemporary paganism; and
even then largeness of vision seems to linger rather with the mystics
of the older way of thought, as Porphyry and Plotinus, than with the
bitter polemists of the newer faith, as Cyprian and Arnobius. The
moral note which in the modern world is supposed to be typically and
primordially Christian, that of the Imitatio Christi, is the one
note never struck by the Christian Fathers, or, if sounded, never
sustained. It is rather a result of medieval brooding, the outcome
of many generations of cloister life and of a settled ecclesiastical
order, which walled-in an abnormal peace.

During those ages in which the Christian Church was so spreading
as to become at length the fit cultus of the decaying State, its
history is almost wholly one of internal and external strifes,
conflicts between the Church and its pagan persecutors, between
its literary champions and pagan criticism, between the champions of
orthodoxy and the innovating heretics, between the partisans of dogmas
whose life-and-death struggle was to determine what orthodoxy was to
be. The central sociological fact is the existence of an organization
with a durable economic life--durable because of ministering to an
enduring demand--in a society whose institutions were suffering more
and more from economic disease. Of this organization the component
parts united to resist and survive external hostility when that arose;
and for the command of its power and prestige, later, the conflicting
sections strove as against each other. In the history of both forms
of strife are involved at once that of its dogmas and that of its
hierarchic structure.



§ 2. Growth of the Priesthood

In the Jesuist groups of the first century, as we have seen, there were
"bishops" or overseers, and other "presbyters" or elders, so named
in simple imitation of the usages of other Greek-speaking religious
societies, Jewish and Gentile, in the eastern parts of the empire. The
bishop was at first merely the special supervisor and distributor
of the "collection," whether of money or of other gifts, and was
spiritually and socially on the same level with the presbyters and
deacons. None was specially ordained, and ordinary members could at
need even administer the eucharist. Teaching or preaching was not at
first a special function of any member of a group, since any one could
be a "prophet" (unless indeed the "prophets" were so named later, after
the supervising priest or bishop in certain Egyptian temples, whose
function was to distribute revenue); but discourses were for a time
given by travelling apostles, who aimed at founding new groups, and who
ministered the eucharist wherever they went. It lay in the nature of
the case, however, that the function of the bishop should gain in moral
authority because of its economic importance; and that the informal
exhortations or "prophesyings" of the early days, which were always
apt to degenerate into the hysterical glossolalia, or unintelligible
"tongues," should be superseded by the regular preaching of ostensibly
qualified men. In the first century these must have been few, and they
would usually be made the acting bishops, who would gradually become
more and more identified with the administration of the "mysteries,"
and would naturally repel "lay" interference. Here again there was
pagan precedent, some of the pagan societies having a "theologos,"
while in all the "bishop" had a certain precedence and authority.

As congregations grew and services multiplied, however, the bishop
would need assistance, and to this end presbyters became officially
associated with him as con-celebrants. Only gradually, however, did
the sacerdotal spirit take full possession of the cult. Liturgy was
long a matter of local choice; and it is probable that the complete
mystery-play of the Agony and Crucifixion and Resurrection was never
performed save at a few large centres, in competition with special
pagan attractions of the same kind; but a eucharist, with varying
ritual and hymns, sung by special officials, was the primary function
of every church. As numbers and revenue increased, men of an ambitious
and administrative turn would inevitably tend to enter the movement;
and the second century was not out before the avarice and arrogance
of leading bishops were loudly complained of. Nonetheless, their
self-assertion promoted the growth of the sect. Such men, in point
of fact, tended to build up the Church as warlike nobles later built
up the fabric of feudalism, or self-seeking "captains of industry"
the special structure of modern commercial societies. Righteousness
and gentleness and spirituality could no more create a popular and
revenue-yielding Church in the Roman empire than they can to-day
create and maintain a "paying" industrial organization. An early
bishop, indeed, needed to recommend himself to the congregation in
order to get elected; but in a large town, with personal magnetism
and a staff of priests, he was certain to become a determining force
in church affairs. The aspiring priest looked forward to a bishopric
for himself; and in an illiterate congregation there could be no
effectual resistance to official assumptions which were made with
any tact. Thus were the scribes and Pharisees rapidly duplicated.

In an age of unbounded credulity the invitation to deceit was constant;
and, while credulity itself means the faculty for innocent false
witness, it could not be but that frauds were common in matters of
miracle-working of all kinds. To suppose that all the miracle-stories
arose in good faith when the deliberate manufacture of false documents
and calculated tamperings with the genuine were a main part of
the literary life of the Church, is to ignore all probability. The
systematic forgery and interpolation of "Sibylline Books" by way of
producing pagan testimonies and prophecies on the side of Christism,
is to be regarded as a clerical industry of the second century. A
bishop's business was to forward the fame and interests of his
Church; and in Ambrose's transparent account of his discovery of
miracle-working relics of saints at Milan in the fourth century
we have a typical instance of the methods by which the prestige of
the faith was advanced. Ambrose was above and not below the moral
average of previous bishops. To find what might pass for the bones and
relics of saints and martyrs, to frame false tales concerning them,
to win illiterate and poor pagans to the Church by imitating their
festivals and ceremonies--these were, by the grieving admission
of many Christian historians, among the common activities of the
Church from the second or third century onwards; and the priesthood
were the natural agents of the work. By the very fact, however,
that there were special reputations for wonder-working, as that of
Gregory Thaumaturgus in the third century, we are reminded that the
pretence was not universal. Imposture is a variation like another;
and there must always have been a proportion of normally honest minds,
however unintelligent and uncritical. It was their incapacity that
evoked fraud. Some, on the other hand, have recorded how the bones
of executed robbers were at times made to do duty as relics of martyrs.

On one side the character of the early as of the later clergy
of the "Catholic" Church has suffered severely from their own
affirmation of a primitive theory of morals to which they could not
conform. In an age of lessening science and freedom, with growing
superstition, the barbarian ideal of asceticism gained ground
like other delusions. The idea that by physical self-mortification
men attain magical or intercessory power in spiritual things--an
idea found in all ancient religions, and enforced in numerous pagan
priesthoods--was imposed to some extent on Christism from the first,
and became more and more coercive as the cult passed out of Jewish
hands. The average presbyter of the second century, accordingly,
won his repute for sanctity in many cases by professing celibacy,
which in a large number of cases was too hard for him to maintain;
and between his own unhappy ideal and the demand of the crowd that he
should fulfil it, his life became in general a deception. In these
matters the multitude is always preposterously righteous. Aztecs in
the pre-Christian period, we know, were wont to put to death professed
ascetics who lapsed; and the normal denunciation of priestly immorality
in Europe in the Middle Ages seems rarely to have been checked by
the thought that the priest's error consisted in taking up a burden
he could not bear. That priests ought to be celibate the average
priest-taught layman never doubted. Hence a premium on hypocrisy
in the period of church-creation. An artificial ethic created an
artificial crime, and Christian morality evolved demoralization. In
the second century began the practice of open priestly concubinage,
often on the naïve pretence of a purely spiritual union. Denounced
periodically by bishops and councils for hundreds of years, it was
never even ostensibly checked in the period of the empire; and the
later discipline of the Western Church did but drive the symptom
beneath the surface to form a worse disorder.

In the Roman period no machinery existed by which celibacy could
be enforced. Councils varied in their stringency on the subject,
and many bishops were capable of voting for a rule to which they
did not in private conform. As for the bishopric of Rome, it had
at that time only a ceremonial primacy over the other provinces. In
the second century Bishop Victor of Rome is recorded to have passed
sentence of excommunication on the easterns who would not conform
to his practice in the observation of Easter; but his authority
was defied, and his successors do not seem even to have asserted
it in any similar degree for centuries. In the third century Bishop
Cyprian of Carthage, the first zealous prelatist in the literature
of the Church, claimed merely primacy, without superior authority,
for the chief bishoprics, and for Rome over the rest. All bishops
he held to be spiritually equal--and indeed all presbyters, bishops
included. This held good theoretically as late as the fourth and fifth
centuries, with the exception that by that time the bishop alone had
the right to appoint to Church offices--originally the function of the
whole community. But alike the internal and the external conditions
made for the creation of a hierarchy. When in the third century the
puritan party in the Church at Rome sought to appoint Novatian as its
separate bishop, alongside of another, the bishops in the provinces,
led by Cyprian, zealously resisted, and secured the principle that
no town should have more than one bishop. In other ways the bishops
necessarily gathered power. To them had soon to be relegated the right
of admitting or refusing new members; and when there arose the question
of the treatment of those who lapsed in a time of persecution, there
was no way to secure uniformity of method save by leaving the matter
to the bishops, who in the main agreed on a rule. For such uniformity
they naturally strove in the days of danger; and the Church Synods,
which began in the second century and developed in the third, were
tolerably unanimous up to the time of the Establishment of the Church
under Constantine (313). It was when the Church as a whole had no
longer cause to fear the heathen that the worst strifes arose.



§ 3. The Gnostic Movement in the Second Century

In New Testament Greek the same word has to stand for "sect" and
"heresy," a fact premonitory of what must happen to every new idea
in religion. Any process of reasoning whatever must have led to
differences of opinion among the converts of Paul or of the Pauline
epistles; and such differences, leading necessarily, among zealots,
to animosities, are among the first phenomena of Christism. As we have
seen, the chief "heresies" of the first century, stigmatized as such
by the later Church, were really independent cults older than itself;
and there is reason to think that the "Nicolitaines" execrated in
the Apocalypse were really the followers of Paul. At the beginning
of the second century, again, the first heretics on record are the
Elcesaites, who, however, as we saw, were obviously not an offshoot
from the Jesuists, but a separate body, their Christ being a gigantic
spirit and their doctrine a cluster of symbolisms. It is with the
so-called Gnostics, the claimants to a higher Gnosis or knowledge,
that heresy begins in Gentile Christianity; and as some of these are
already in evidence in the Pauline epistles, and had interpolated
the synoptics (Mt. xiii, Mk. iv, Lk. xii, 49, sq.), to say nothing
of framing the fourth gospel, they may fairly be reckoned among
"the first Christians." Ere long, however, they begin clearly to
differentiate from the Christism of the New Testament.

If the early Gnostic systems be compared with that of Paul, they will
be found to have rather more in common with it than with the Judaic
Jesuism from which he ostensibly broke away. It is thus not unlikely
that their Christism, like his, is older than that of the gospels,
which is primarily of Jewish manufacture. The "Simonians" of Samaria
have every appearance of being non-Jewish Christists "before Christ";
and the later Gnostics have several Samaritan affinities. Like "Paul,"
they have no Jesuine biography; but whereas he ostensibly holds
by an actual man Jesus, however nondescript, they usually declare
outright for a mere divine phantom, [22] bearing a human semblance,
but uncontaminated by mixture with matter, which was the Gnostic
symbol for all evil. They did but attach the name of the Christos,
and the hope of salvation, to a general theosophy, as Paul attached
it to Judaism; and their great preoccupation was to account formally
for the existence of evil, which they commonly figured as either an
evil power or an essential quality of matter, forever opposed to the
principle of good. Hence the allusion to the "oppositions of science
falsely so-called"--that is, "the antithesis of the Gnosis"--in the
Pauline epistle. But they varied somewhat in details according to
their environment, being roughly divisible into two groups--Asiatic
and Egyptian.

At the beginning of the second century those of Syria are identified
with the teaching of Saturninus of Antioch, in whose theory a
good God had made the seven angels, who in turn made the world and
created a low type of animal man in God's image, whom, however, God
compassionately endowed with a reasonable soul. Of the seven angels
one was left to rule the world, and figured as God of the Jews; but
the others competed with him; and Satan, the chief evil power, made a
race of men with an evil soul. Thereupon the Supreme God sent his son
as Jesus Christ, human only in seeming, to bring men to the knowledge
of the Father and defeat the rebel angels. Another Syrian, Bardesanes,
who lived in the reign of Marcus Aurelius, was less anti-Jewish,
and made the one God the creator of the world and of man, who was
at first ethereal and pure, but seduced and so degraded to the form
of flesh by the Adversary; the Christ's function being to secure
a higher future life to those who accept him. From both points of
view, mortification of the flesh was a primary duty--all the carnal
instincts being evil--and Jesus on the same ground was denied bodily
existence. Always the effort is to account for evil as involved in
matter, the work not of the Supreme God, but of a subordinate power
who will be vanquished. Thus Tatian, a pupil of Justin Martyr and
contemporary with Saturninus, makes the world-creator a subordinate
God, and seems to have derived Judaism and the gospel similarly from
inferior deities. Some, as Bardesanes and Tatian, held by a bodily
resurrection; others, as Saturninus and Cerdo (fl. 140), stressed the
anti-material principle and denied that the resurrection could be in
bodily form. On such an issue, of course, it was easy to compromise
in the concept of a "spiritual body" the same to the eye as the real
body, but impalpable to touch--in short, the "spirit" of all ages.

It is reasonable to infer that the Gnostic systems were suggested
by the spectacle of the earthly Governments around them, no less
than by the previous theologies. Even as the Autocrator reigned
without governing, and the evils of misgovernment were chargeable
on proconsuls, so, it was thought, the head of the universe, the
Pantocrator, could not be implicated in the evil wrought under
him. Such a conception seems to have first arisen in the great
monarchies of the East. It followed, however, that as some satraps and
proconsuls governed well, there might be good subordinate deities;
and in the system of Basilides the Egyptian, who belonged to the
brilliant reign of Hadrian, the attribute of goodness is graded
endlessly, down to the angels of the 365th heaven, who made this
world and its inhabitants. As in the system of Saturninus, God gives
these a reasonable soul, but the angels rebel, and their chief, who
becomes God of the Jews, draws on that nation the hatred of all others
by his arrogance. Egyptian Gnosticism thus bore the stamp of the old
Egyptian pantheism, its every power emanating from the Unbegotten One;
while the Asiatic systems embody in some form the Mazdean principle
of two opposed powers, of which the worse is only ultimately to be
defeated. Egyptian precedent explains also the countless generations
of the Gnostic systems of Alexandria. As in Egyptian history dynasty
followed on dynasty, and as in the pantheon God was begotten of God,
so in the system of Basilides the Unbegotten produces from himself
Nous, Mind; which produces the Logos; which produces Phronesis,
Judgment; which produces Sophia and Dynamis, Wisdom and Power; and
these last in turn produce angels, who in turn reproduce others down
to the 365th grade. The system of Valentinus, assigned to the period
of Antoninus Pius, frames fresh complications, partly suggestive of
an immemorial bureaucracy which had duplicated itself in the heavens,
partly of an à priori psychology which sought to explain the universe,
now by first principles, after the fashion of the early mythology of
Rome, now by adaptations of the current theosophy.

In the hands of Valentinus religion becomes an imbroglio which only
an expert could master; and the functions of the Christ in particular
are a mere tangle of mystery. Nous, the first of many "Æons," is the
"only begotten" Son, his mother being Ennoia, Thought; yet with him is
born Truth; and these three with the Father make a first Tetrad. Then
Nous produces the Logos and Life; which beget Man and the Church;
which two pairs beget more Æons; and so on. In a later stage, after a
"fall," Nous begets the Christos and the Holy Spirit; while later still
the Æons produce the Æon Jesus, Sophia and Horos playing a part in the
evolution. Such a maze, though it is said to have had many devotees,
could not possibly be the creed of a popular Church, even in Egypt;
and wherever the gospels went their ostensibly concrete Jesus held his
own against such spectral competition. The systems which made Jesus
non-human and those which made of him an elusive abstraction were alike
disadvantaged as against that which declared him to have been born of
woman and to have suffered the last agony for the sons of men. Women
could weep for the crucified Man-God as they had immemorially done
for Adonis and Osiris: they could not shed tears for a phantasmagoric
series of Nous--Logos--Christ--Æons--Jesus, begetting and begotten.

Other Gnostics, still making mystical pretensions, were content to
represent Jesus as a superior human being born of Joseph and Mary
in the course of nature. Carpocrates of Alexandria, who so taught
in the reign of Hadrian, had a large following. Such tolerance of
"materialism," however, brought on the sect charges of all manner of
sensuality; and there is categorical record that, following Plato,
they sought to practise community of women. Similarly, the Basilidians
were charged with regarding all bodily appetites as indifferent, their
founder having set his face against the glorification of virginity,
and taught that Jesus was not absolutely sinless, since God could
never permit an innocent being to be punished. There is no proof,
however, that any sect-founder was openly antinomian; and while
license doubtless occurred in many, we have the evidence of the
Pauline epistles that it could rise in the heart of the primitive
Church as easily as in any sect. In the same way, whatever might be
the doctrine of particular sections, it may be taken as certain that
the charge of bowing before persecution, cast at some, held partly
true of nearly all.

Systems such as the bulk of those above described, drawing as they did
on any documents rather than the Old and New Testaments, are obviously
not so much Christian schisms as differentiations from historic
Christianity--developments, in most cases, of an abstract Christism on
lines not merely Gentile but based on Gentile religions, as against the
Jewish. Broadly speaking, therefore, they tended to disappear from the
Christist field, inasmuch as paganism had other deities better suited
to the part of the Gnostic Logos. The intermediate type, bodiless
at best, must die out. Gnosticism had not only no canon of its own,
but no thought of one: while the fashion lasted every decade saw a
new system, refining on the last and multiplying its abstractions,
till the very term gnosis must have become a byword. Success, as has
been said above, must remain with the simple and concrete system,
especially if that were organized; and the Gnostics of the second
century attempted no general organization. Yet Gnosticism left a
lasting impress on Christianity. In its earlier stages, as we have
seen, it modified the gospels; and after it had evolved away from the
gospel basis it left an influence on the more philosophically-minded
writers of the Church, notably Clement of Alexandria, who is as openly
anxious to approve himself a "good Gnostic" as to found on the accepted
sacred books of the Church. Deriving as it partly did from the Jewish
Platonist Philo, it brought into the Church his fashion of reducing
Biblical narratives to allegories--a course much resorted to not only
by Origen but by Augustine, and very necessary for the defence of
Hebrew tales against pagan criticism. Further, the regular practice
of the Church in the matter of separating catechumens from initiates
was an adoption of the Gnostic principle of esoteric knowledge.

In yet other ways, however, Gnosticism influenced early
Christianity. It was the Gnostics who first set up in it literary
habits: they were the first to multiply documents of all kinds; and
it is not unlikely that their early additions to the gospels gave
a stimulus to its expansion on other lines. They were, in short,
the first to introduce a tincture of letters and art into the cult;
and it was their spirit that shaped the fourth gospel, which gave to
Christism the only philosophical elements it ever possessed. They are
not indeed to be regarded as having cultivated philosophy to any good
purpose, though they passed on some of the philosophic impulse to
the later Platonists. Rather the average Gnostic is to be conceived
as a leisured dilettante in an age of learned ignorance and foiled
intelligence, lending an eager ear to new mysticisms, as so many
half-cultured idlers are seen still doing in our own day. They cared
as much for abracadabral amulets, apparently, as for theories; and
their zeal for secret knowledge had in it something of the spirit of
class exclusiveness, and even of personal arrogance. It would seem as
if, when tyrannies in the ancient world made an end of the old moral
distinctions of classes, men instinctively caught at new ways of being
superior to their fellows--for the spirit of Gnosticism arose among the
later Greek pagans, who here followed the lead of Egyptian priests,
as well as among Samaritans and Grecized Jews. At most we may say of
the Gnostics that they were much more concerned than the orthodox to
frame a complete and consistent theistic theory of things, and that
in their learned-ignorant way they sought to walk by reason as well
as by faith. Necessarily they were in a minority. It was, however,
their theoretic bent, surviving in the gospel-reading Church, that
determined the dogmatic development of the Christist creed. Their
recoil from the conception of a Saviour-God in a human body comes
out in the later debates and creeds as in the fourth gospel; and
if the final doctrine of the Trinity be not truly Gnostic, it is
because the Gnostics showed more concern for plausibility, and never
aimed at tying thought down forever to a plainly self-contradictory
formula. Much of their movement probably survived in Manichæism,
which, though sufficiently dogmatic, never flaunted such propositions
as those of the Nicene creed, and was a critical thorn in the flesh
of the Church. Even their amulets seem to have had a Christian vogue;
and the worship of angels, which began to flourish among Catholics
in the fourth century, seems to have been a reflex of their teaching.

In some respects, finally, the modern Church has confusedly
reverted to their view of a future state. While the "orthodox"
Christians of the second century believed that souls at death went
to the under-world, to be raised with the body for the approaching
millennium, or thousand-years reign of Christ, the Gnostics, scouting
the millennium as a grossly materialistic conception, held that at
death the soul ascended to heaven. That appears to be the prevailing
fancy among Protestants at the present day, though men have grown
cautious of formal dicta on the subject.



§ 4. Marcionism and Montanism

Apart from Gnosticism, the Church of the second century was affected by
certain heretical or sectarian movements which centred round single
teachers of an influential sort, in particular Marcion of Sinope
and Montanus, who became the founders of something like separate
churches. Montanus, like Manichæus, has mythical aspects; and it is
impossible to be sure of the historicity of either; [23] but Marcionism
sets up no such difficulty. Marcion, who was a disciple of the Gnostic
Cerdo, and like him flourished in the reign of Antoninus Pius, held by
some of the main Gnostic theories, but differed from the Gnostics in
general in that he founded solely on New Testament writings and did not
absolutely oppose Judaism. In his system the Supreme God, who is Good,
creates a Demiurge or world-maker, who is merely Just or legalist,
the God of the Jews; while Satan, the offspring of Matter, governs
the heathens. Only the Christians are ruled by the Good God, who is
first revealed to men solely by the Christ. It was in this way that
he applied the Gnostic principle of "oppositions" or "antitheses," in
a work bearing that title. His ethic appears to have been a sectarian
version of that of Bardesanes, who had defined the good as those who
did good even to the wicked; the just as those who did good only to
the good; and the wicked as those who did evil even to the good. It
does not seem to have occurred to Marcion that in classing all pagans
as outside of the pale of goodness he was stultifying his own avowed
principle of divine love and mercy; but in this respect at least he was
not heretical, for all who bore the Christian name agreed in limiting
salvation to Christists, and dooming all other men to hell-fire.

That he was a fanatic of exceptional force of character is proved
by the facts that (1) it was he who forced on the Church the problem
of a canon, he being the first to form one, by way, as he explained,
of excluding Jewish documents and Jewish interpolations in the gospel
and the Pauline epistles; and that (2) he was able to form a separate
organization, which subsisted for centuries, with some variations in
doctrine, alongside of the "catholic" Church, being heard of as late
as the eighth century. The controversies he set up affected the whole
literature of the Church for generations; and though it was a point
of honour with the orthodox to accuse him of corrupting the texts
as well as the faith, it is finally held that some of his readings
of the third gospel, which he specially favoured, are really the
original ones. Inasmuch, however, as he laid stress on asceticism, to
the extent of prohibiting marriage, he necessarily failed to attract
the multitude, though his was one of the influences which fostered
ascetic ideas within the Church from his time onwards.

The movement of Montanus, known also as the Cataphrygian heresy,
has two aspects--that of a sect apparently founded by a zealot of
strong personality, who felt that he had special inner light and
claimed (or was claimed) to be inspired by the Paraclete promised
in the gospel, and that of a general reaction against officialism in
the Church, somewhat in the spirit of the Quakers of the Reformation
period. It stressed all the extremer social tendencies of the early
Church, the prediction of the end of the world, the impropriety
of marriage and child-bearing in prospect of the catastrophe, the
multiplication of fasts, the absolute condemnation of second marriages,
the renunciation of earthly joys in general. Christ, said Montanus,
had withdrawn the indulgences granted by Moses; and through himself,
the Paraclete, cancelled those given by Paul. Thus true religion,
having had its infancy under Judaism, and its youth under the gospel,
had reached maturity under the Holy Spirit (an idea revived a thousand
years later in Catholic Europe). Hardness of heart had reigned till
Christ; weakness of flesh till the Paraclete. A special feature of the
Montanist schism--which spread far, and ultimately absorbed Tertullian,
who for a time had opposed it--was the association of the founder with
two wealthy women of rank, Maximilla and Priscilla, who endowed the
movement. It is noteworthy that this special growth of asceticism took
its rise in Phrygia, one of the regions specially associated in pagan
antiquity with sensuous and orgiastic worship. It would seem as if an
age of indulgence led in natural course to a neurotic recoil. In any
case it is neurosis that speaks in the ascetic polemic of Tertullian,
who became a typical Montanist.

Montanism, it has been said, was "all but victorious"; but its
victory was really impossible in the circumstances. It would have
meant arresting the growth of Christism to the form of a moribund
State Church by depriving it of all popular attraction; and the
vested interests were too great to permit of such a renunciation. The
movement may be loosely compared to the secession of more rigid bodies
from the relaxing sects of Methodism and Calvinism in our own time:
voluntary austerity must always be in a minority. A Church which
absolutely refused to retain or readmit any who committed a cardinal
sin or lapsed during persecution--saying they might be saved by God's
grace, but must not be allowed human forgiveness--was doomed to the
background. But Montanism, appealing as it did to an ideal of holiness
which the average Christian dared not repudiate, influenced the main
body, especially through the writings of such a valued polemist as
Tertullian, who taunted them with being inferior even to many pagans
in the matter of chastity and monogamy. The main body was not to be
metamorphosed; but it read the lesson as inculcating the need for
at least nominal priestly celibacy. Every notable "heresy" so-called
seems thus to have left its mark on the Church.

What above all is proved by the movements of Marcion and Montanus
is the power of organization in that period to maintain a sect with
sacred books of any kind. They had learned the lesson taken from
Judaism by the first Christists, and proceeded to show that just as
organized Jesuism could live apart from Judaism in the Gentile field,
so new Christist sects could live apart from the orthodox Church
when once separation was forced on them. Montanism, like Marcionism,
survived for centuries, and seems to have been at length suppressed
only by sheer violence on the part of the Christian emperors, who
could persecute far more effectually than pagans ever did, having
the Church as an instrument. In the face of such developments,
and still more in view of the later success of Manichæism, which,
as we shall see, applied still better the principle of organization,
there can be no longer any difficulty in accounting for the rise
of Christism on purely natural grounds. Given the recognition of a
few essential conditions, the creation of a sect was a very simple
and facile matter. Montanism and Manichæism successively endured
more persecution, pagan and Christian, than the Christian Church
ever did; and it was only the essential unpopularity of the ideals
of Montanism that permitted of its suppression as a sect even by
the persecuting established Church. Manichæism, as we shall see,
was almost insuppressible, even when political changes had given the
Church a power of centralization and coercion which otherwise could
never have been developed. At the end of the third century, in short,
the Church of its own nature was rapidly approaching disruption into
new and irreconcilable organizations.



§ 5. Rites and Ceremonies

Apart from the habit of doctrinal discussion, derived from Judaism,
the Christianity of the third century had distinctly become as
much a matter of ritual and ceremonial as any of the older pagan
cults. Churches built for worship, rare in the second century, had
become common, and images had already begun to appear in them, while
incense was coming into general use, despite the earlier detestation
of it as a feature of idolatry. In the wealthier churches gold and
silver medals were often seen. Pagan example had proved irresistible
in this as in other matters.

By this time baptism and the eucharist had alike become virtual
"mysteries," to which new-comers were initiated as in the pagan
cults. Baptism was administered only twice a year, and then only to
those who had undergone a long preparation. The first proceeding was
a solemn exorcism, which was supposed to free the initiates from the
power of the evil spirit or spirits. Then, after they had repeated
a creed (which in the Western Churches had to be recited both in
Greek and Latin, the Greek being in the nature of a magic formula),
they were completely immersed, signed with the cross, prayed over,
and touched ceremonially with the hands of the officiating bishop or
presbyter; finally they partook of milk and honey, and returned home
decorated with a white robe and a crown.

The eucharist, commonly administered on Sundays, was regarded as
absolutely necessary to salvation and resurrection; and on that
account infants were made to partake of it, this before baptism
had been declared to be essential in their case. Only the baptized
were allowed to be present at the celebration; but portions of
the consecrated bread and wine were taken away for sick members,
and believed to have a curative virtue. The sign of the cross was
now constantly used in the same spirit, being held potent against
physical and spiritual evil alike, insofar as any such distinction
was drawn. But diseases, as among savages in all ages, were commonly
regarded as the work of evil spirits, and medical science was generally
disowned, the preferred treatment being exorcism. A baptized person
might further use the Lord's Prayer, with its appeal against the Evil
One--a privilege denied to the catechumen or seeker for membership.



§ 6. Strifes over Primary Dogma

The nucleus for a theistic-Christist creed, as we have seen, was given
to the Church in the fourth gospel. The first Jewish Jesuists were
simple Unitarians; and the Jesus of Paul, so far as can be safely
inferred from epistles indefinitely interpolated, was certainly no
part of a trinity in unity. At the beginning of the second century
the "orthodox" Christists had no more definite theology than had
the unlettered believers in any pagan Saviour-God; and at most the
gospels taught them to regard the supernaturally-born Christ as having
ascended to heaven, to sit in visible form at the right hand of the
Father, as Herakles or Dionysos or Apollo might sit by his Father
Zeus. At the middle of the century Justin Martyr speaks of the Logos
not as a personal form of deity, but as the inspiration given by
God to men in different degrees at different times. It is after him
that the fourth gospel begins to do its work. Christian apologists,
deriding the beliefs of the pagans, had to meet the charge that they
too were polytheists, and the old pagan challenge, put to pagans: If
the suffering Saviour were a man, why worship him? if he were a God,
why weep for his sufferings?

An attempt to meet the difficulty was made in the heresy of Praxeas,
a member of the Church who, coming from Asia to Rome late in the
century, seems to have taught that the Son and the Holy Spirit were
not distinct from the Father, but simply functions of the One God,
the Father having descended into the Virgin and been born as Jesus
Christ. At once he was accused of "making the Father suffer" on the
cross, and his sect accordingly seem to have been among the first
called Patripassians. In the same or the next century Noëtus of Smyrna
is found preaching the same doctrine; and in the hands of Sabellius
of Libya, whose name was given to it by his opponents, the teaching
became one of the most influential heresies of the age. Sabellius
in fact formulated that theory of the Trinity which alone gives it
formal plausibility: the three personæ were for him (as they could
etymologically be in Latin and in the Greek term first used, prosopon)
not persons, but aspects or modes of the deity, as power, wisdom,
and goodness; or law, mercy, and guidance--a kind of solution which
in later times has captivated many theologians, including Servetus
and Coleridge. But Sabellius, like his predecessors, had to meet the
epithet of "Patripassian," and he appears to have parried it with
the formula that only a certain energy proceeding from the Divine
Nature had been united to the man Jesus. In the way of rationalizing
the irrational and giving consistency to contradictories, the Church
could never do better than this. Under such a theorem, however, the
Man-God as such theoretically disappeared; and as that was precisely
the side of the creed which identified the cult, gave it popularity,
and won it revenue, Sabellianism, though accepted by many, even by
many bishops, could not become the official doctrine. It persistently
remained, nevertheless, in the background, the idea taking new forms
and names in succeeding generations, as new men arose with courage
and energy enough to reopen the insoluble strife, during a period of
four hundred years.

A solution by a different approach was offered by such second-century
teachers as Theodotus of Byzantium, a learned tanner living in Rome;
another of the same name, a banker; and Artemon, all founders of sects
by whom Jesus was regarded as merely a superior man, supernaturally
born. As this form of the Unitarian doctrine struck directly at the
essential element of the Christ's deity, in respect of which the
cult vied with others of the same type, it was no more generally
acceptable than the Sabellian; and it is more than likely that the
mere odium theologicum gave rise to the story that Theodotus had
first denied Christ under persecution, and then framed a theology for
his predicament. Yet such doctrines as his must have gone on gaining
ground among the more stirring minds; for when in the next century
Paul of Samosata, bishop of Antioch, began to restate the Unitarian
thesis, he found an extensive following. The Logos, he taught, was
not a person distinct from the Father, but merely his wisdom, which
descended into but was not united with Jesus. Given forth about the
year 260, Paul's teaching was condemned by a council at Antioch in 264,
he giving a promise of "reformation" which he did not keep. Another
council, which met in 269 or 270, deposed and excommunicated him;
but he refused to obey, and Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, who then ruled
Antioch, protected him. Not till 272, when Antioch was retaken by
Aurelian, did the majority succeed in ousting him, by the emperor's
express intervention. And still the "heresy" persisted, and the
theological hatreds grew. It belonged to the nature of the religion,
a pyramid poised on its apex, to be in unstable equilibrium wherever
any breath of reason could blow.

The development of the councils in the third century is a proof at
once of the growth of organization in the Church and of the need
for it. It is not to be supposed that all orthodox Churchmen looked
practically to the main chance; it is clear, on the contrary, that
many were moved by the conservative zeal of the Bibliolater of all
ages, as the heretics were presumably moved by a spirit of reason;
but the bishops must at all times have included many who looked
at questions of creed from the standpoint of finance, like so many
members of modern political parties; and they would be apt to turn the
scale in every serious dispute. Even they, however, with whatever aid
from polemical propaganda, could not long have availed to preserve
anything like a preponderating main body if the Church were left to
itself. The polemical writers, broadly speaking, converted nobody,
but merely inflamed those already convinced; and party strife was
becoming more and more comprehensive, more furious, more menacing,
when the Church was saved from itself by the State.



CHAPTER II

RELATIONS OF CHURCH AND STATE


§ 1. Persecutions

It was involved in the aggressive attitude of the Christist movement
that it should be persecuted by a partly countervailing fanaticism. The
original bias of all ancient religion, indeed, in virtue of the simple
self-interest of priesthoods, had been to resent and suppress any new
worship; and though nowhere else is the course so ferociously enjoined
as in the Hebrew sacred books, there are many traces of it in the
pagan world. Thus the Dionysiak cult had been violently resisted on
its introduction into Greece; and the early Roman law against foreign
worships was turned against it, under circumstances plainly exaggerated
by Livy, about 187 B.C. Later a religious panic led to the official
suppression in Rome of the worships of Isis and Serapis. Empire,
however, everywhere involved some measure of official toleration of
diverging cults; and as in Babylon and Egypt, so under the Hellenistic
and Roman systems, the religions of each of the provinces were more or
less assimilated in all. When even early Athens had been constrained
to permit the non-aggressive cults of the aliens within her walls,
far-reaching empires could do no less. Indeed, the very vogue of
Christism depended on the fact that throughout the empire there was
taking place a new facility of belief in strange Gods. There can be
no more complete mistake than the common assertion that it made its
appeal in virtue of the prevalence of "desolating scepticism." On the
contrary, rationalism had practically disappeared; and even the Roman
pagans most adverse to Christism were friendly to other new cults.

Had the Christian cult been, like its non-Jewish contemporaries,
a mere effort to "worship God according to conscience,"  it need not
have undergone pagan persecution any more than they, or than Judaism,
save when the State imposed the duty of worshipping the emperor's
statue. A God the more was no scandal to polytheists. Christism had
taken from Judaism, however, as a first principle, the detestation of
"idols," and its propaganda from the first had included a violent
polemic against them. For the Christians the pagan Gods were not
unrealities: they were evil dæmons, constantly active. Insofar, too,
as the first Jesuists in the western part of the empire shared the
Jewish hatred for Rome that is expressed in the Apocalypse, they were
likely enough to provoke Roman violence. A constant prediction of the
speedy passing away of all things was in itself a kind of sedition;
and when joined with contumely towards all other religions it could
not but rouse resentment. Thus, though the story of the great Neronian
massacre is, as already noted, an apparent fiction as regards the
Christians, being unnoticed in the book of Acts, Jesuists and Jews
alike ran many chances of local or general hostility under the empire
from the first. The express doctrines, put in the mouth of the founder,
that he had come to bring not peace but a sword, and to create strife
in families, were not fitted to soften the prejudices aroused by the
religious claims of the new faith; and in the time of Tertullian they
were defined in the west as "enemies of the Gods, of the emperors,
of the laws, of morals, and of all nature."

According to Tertullian, writing under Severus or Caracalla, only
the bad emperors had persecuted the Church. But its danger had always
lain less in special imperial edicts than in the ordinary bearing of
the laws against secret societies and nocturnal worships, and in the
ordinary tendency of ignorant and priest-led fanaticism to a panic
of cruelty in times of popular distress or alarm. An earthquake
or pestilence was always apt to be visited on the new "atheists"
as provokers of the Gods. The mere habit of midnight worship, which
is one of the proofs that early Jesuism was in some way affiliated
to sun-worship, was a ground for suspicion; but as Mithraism was
freely tolerated in spite of its nocturnal rites, Christism might
have been, but for its other provocations. And even these were for
long periods ignored by the Government. If the often-quoted letter of
Pliny to Trajan (about the year 100) be genuine, it proves an official
disposition to protect the Christians, when politically innocent, from
fanatical attacks; and Tertullian, who speaks of such a letter, credits
Marcus Aurelius with limiting the scope of the laws which tended to
injure the sect, though we know from Marcus himself that Christians
suffered death. By common consent, though there was certainly much
random persecution in the first three centuries, the formula of "ten
persecutions" is fabulous; and that ascribed to Domitian is hardly
better established than that ascribed to Nero. That the Christists
suffered specially as tradition asserts in the reign of Hadrian, when
the Jews were specially hated because of their last desperate revolt,
is probable; but Hadrian gave no general orders, and is credited like
the Antonines with shielding the new sectaries. It is finally very
doubtful whether any ordained and legalized persecution of Christians
ever took place save (1) in Egypt under Severus, who at first and
afterwards was friendly; (2) on a small scale under Maximinus; (3) in
the east under Decius and (4) under Valerian; and (5) throughout the
empire under Diocletian and his colleagues (from 303 to 311). These
episodes occurred within a period of little over a hundred years.

In all periods alike, from the end of the first century down to
Constantine, there was no doubt much chronic cruelty. The letter from
the Churches of Vienne and Lyons, cited by Eusebius and assigned
to the year 161, is a doubtful document; but the savageries there
described were only too possible. Public cruelty seems to have
worsened in the very period in which the inhabitants of cities had
become most unused to war, and the finer minds had grown most humane;
like the other animal instincts, it had grown neurotic in conditions
of vicious idleness, and many men had become virtuosi in cruelty as
in lust. The Christian gospel itself now held up "the tormentors"
as typical of the processes of divine punishment; and torture was
for many an age to be a part of Christian as of pagan legal procedure.

Insofar as persecution was legalized, it is to be understood not as
a putting down of a new religious belief, but as an attack on its
political and social side. In the case, for instance, of Cyprian,
bishop of Carthage, who after a flight and a banishment was put to
death under Valerian and Gallienus (258), the bishop's far-reaching
activities are the presumptive reason for his fate. It is to be
remembered, as Gibbon notes, that in ten years of Cyprian's tenure of
office four emperors themselves died by the sword, with their families
and their adherents. At times, no doubt, the attack on Christians was
unprovoked, consisting as it might in a challenge to a Christian to
swear allegiance by or sacrifice to the statue of the emperor, when
he was willing to swear by his own creed. The public worship of the
emperor was the one semblance of a centralized religious organization
which, like that of the Christian Church, existed throughout the
empire. Precedented by old Egyptian and eastern usage, and by the
practice of Alexander and his successors, it had first appeared in
Rome in the offer of the cringing senate to deify Julius Cæsar, and
in the systematic measures of Augustus to have Julius worshipped as
a God (divus), an honour promptly accorded to himself in turn. The
apotheosis was signalized by giving the names of Julius and Augustus
to the months Quintilis and Sextilis; and only the final unpopularity
of Tiberius prevented the substitution of his name in turn for that of
September, an honour offered to and refused by him in his earlier life.

Some of the madder emperors later tried to carry on the process of
putting themselves in the calendar, but were duly disobeyed after
death. Detested emperors, such as Tiberius and Nero and Domitian,
were even refused the apotheosis; but in general the title of divus
was freely accorded, so abject had the general mind grown under
autocracy; and it was usual in the provinces to worship the living
emperor in a special temple in association with the Genius of Rome;
while the cults of some emperors lasted long after their death. The
common sense as well as the sense of humour of some rulers led them to
make light of the institution; and the jest of the dying Vespasian,
"I fancy I am turning God," is one of several imperial witticisms on
the subject; but it lay in the nature of autocracy, in Rome as in Egypt
or in Incarian Peru, to employ sagaciously all methods of abasing the
human spirit, so as to secure the safety of the throne. One of the
most obvious means was to deify the emperor--a procedure as "natural"
in that age as the deification of Jesus, and depending on the same
psychological conditions. And though the person of the emperor was
seldom quite safe from assassination by his soldiery, the imperial
cult played its part from the first in establishing the fatal ideal
of empire. No sequence of vileness or incompetence in the emperors,
no impatience of the insecurity set up by the power of the army to
make and unmake the autocrat, no experience of the danger of a war
of claimants, ever seems to have made Romans dream of a saner and
nobler system. Manhood had been brought too low.

Imperialism being thus an official religion in itself, the cult of
the emperor lay to the hands of any magistrate who should be disposed
to put a test to a member of the sect which decried all established
customs and blasphemed all established Gods. It was the recognized way
of imposing the oath of allegiance apart from any specific law. Where
such a procedure was possible, any malicious pagan might bring
about a stedfast Christian's death. There is Christian testimony,
however, that many frenzied believers brought martyrdom wilfully
on themselves by outrages on pagan temples and sacred statues; and
it is Tertullian who tells how Arrius Antoninus, pro-consul in Asia,
drove from him a multitude of frantic fanatics seeking death, with the
amazed demand to know whether they had not ropes and precipices. The
official temper evidently varied, as did that of the Christians. In the
period before Diocletian, save for the intrigues of pagan priests and
provincial demagogues, and the normal suspicions of autocratic power,
there was nothing in the nature of a general and official animosity,
though the Christian attitude was always unconciliatory enough. But
by the beginning of the fourth century the developments on both sides
had created a situation of strain and danger. The great effort of
Diocletian to give new life to the vast organism of the empire, first
by minute supervision, and then by sub-division under two emperors,
called Augusti, and two Cæsars, wrought a certain seriousness of
political interest throughout the bureaucracy; and the Christian body,
long regarded with alternate contempt and dislike, had become so far
organized and so considerable a force that none who broadly considered
the prospects of the State could avoid reckoning with it.

At the same time paganism had taken on new guises: the Neo-Platonists,
so-called, restated the ancient mythology and theology in forms
which compared very well with the abstract teaching of the Church;
and among the educated class there was some measure of religious
zeal against Christians as blasphemers of other men's Gods. It may or
may not have needed the persuasion of his anti-Christian colleague,
the Cæsar Galerius, to convince such a ruler as Diocletian that the
Christian Church, a growing State within the State, still standing
by an official doctrine of a speedy world's-end, and rejecting the
cult of the emperor, was an incongruous and dangerous element in the
imperial scheme. It was in fact a clear source of political weakness,
though not so deadly a one as the autocracy itself. To seek to suppress
it, accordingly, was almost a natural outcome of Diocletian's ideal
of government. He had sought to give a new air of sanctity to the
worship of the emperor by calling himself Jovius and his colleague
Maximian Herculius; and to make the effort succeed it might well
seem necessary to crush the one cult that directly stood in the way,
alike as a creed and as an organization. The refusal of some Christian
soldiers, too, to submit to certain commands which they considered
unlawful gave Galerius a special pretext for strong measures.

It is not to be forgotten that the emperors and the bureaucracy had
some excuse for a policy of suppression in the bitter strifes of the
Christian sects and sections. Eusebius confesses that these were on
the verge of actual warfare, bishop against bishop and party against
party, each seeking for power; and for all it was a matter of course
to accuse opponents of the worst malpractices. Some of the darkest
charges brought by the pagans against Christians in general were
but distributions of those brought by the orthodox against heretics,
and by Montanists and others against the orthodox. A credulous pagan
might well believe that all alike carried on vile midnight orgies,
and deserved to be refused the right of meeting. It is not probable,
however, that the two emperors and the persecuting Cæsar proceeded
on any concern for private morals; and though Galerius was a zealous
pagan with a fanatical mother, the motive of the persecution was
essentially political. What happened was that the passions of the
zealots among the pagans had now something like free scope; and, unless
the record in Eusebius is sheer fable, the work was often done with
horrible cruelty. On the other hand, there is Christian testimony
to the humanity of many of the better pagans, who sheltered their
Christian friends and relatives; and the Cæsar Constantius Chlorus,
a tolerant pagan, who ruled in Gaul and Britain and Spain, gave only
a formal effect to the edict of the emperors, destroying churches
and sacred books, but sparing their owners. The fact, finally, that
in ten years of persecution the number of victims throughout the
eastern and central empire appears to have been within two thousand,
goes to suggest that the mass of the Christians either bowed to the
storm or eluded it. Bitter discussions, reviving some of the previous
century, rose afterwards as to the proper treatment of the traditores,
those who surrendered and forswore themselves; and the more zealous
sects and churches either imposed long penances or refused to receive
back the lapsed. As the latter course would only weaken themselves,
the majority of the churches combined policy with penalty.

The time was now at hand when the Church, from being an object of
aversion to the autocracy, was to become its instrument. Just before
his death in 311, Galerius, who was little of a statesman, began to see
what Diocletian would doubtless have admitted had he lived much longer,
and what Constantius Chlorus had probably suggested to his colleagues,
that the true policy for the government was to adopt instead of
crushing the Christian organization. Only the original anticivism of
the cult, probably, had prevented a much earlier adoption of this view
by the more politic emperors. It was the insistence on the imminent
end of the world, the preaching of celibacy, the disparagement of
earthly dignitaries, the vehement assault on the standing cults of the
State, no less than the refusal to sacrifice to the emperor's statue,
that had so long made Christism seem the natural enemy of all civil
government. The more the Church grew in numbers and wealth, however,
the more its bishops and priests tended to conform to the ordinary
theory of public life; and as theirs was now the only organization of
any kind that reached far throughout the State, save the State itself
and the cult of the emperors, the latter must evidently either destroy
it or adopt it. The great persecution, aiming at the former end,
served only to show the futility of official persecution for such a
purpose, since pagans themselves helped to screen staunch Christians,
and the weaker had but to bow before the storm. Already Constantine,
acting with a free hand on his father's principles, had given complete
tolerance to the Christians under his sway; and Maxentius, struggling
with him for the mastery of the West, had done as much. Even in
the East, Maximin had alternately persecuted and tolerated the
Christians as he had need to press or pacify Galerius. The language
used by Galerius, finally, in withdrawing the edict of persecution,
suggests that besides recognizing its failure he had learned from his
opponents to conceive the possibility of attaching to the autocracy
a sect so much more widely organized and so much more zealous than
any of the other subsisting popular religions, albeit still numbering
only a fraction of the whole population.

To many of the Christians, on the other hand, long persecution had
doubtless taught the wisdom of recanting the extremes of doctrine
which had made even sceptical statesmen regard them as a danger to
any State. It is clear that bishops like Eusebius of Cæsarea would
readily promise to the government a loyal attention to its interests
in the event of its tolerating and befriending the Church; and the
sacred books offered texts for any line of public action. The empire,
always menaced by barbarism on its frontiers, needed every force
of union that could be used within; and here, finally adaptable
to such use, was the one organization that acted or was fitted
to act throughout the whole. To the leading churchmen, finally,
association with the State was the more welcome because on the one
hand general persecution would cease, and on the other all the party
leaders could hope to be able by the State's means to put down their
opponents. A generation before, in the year 272, the Emperor Aurelian,
on the express appeal of the party of bishops who had deposed Paul of
Samosata, had intervened in that quarrel to give effect to the will
of the majority, which otherwise could not have been put in force;
and such occasions were sure to arise frequently. It needed only
another innovating emperor to bring about the coalition thus prepared.



§ 2. Establishment and Creed-Making

On the abdication of the co-emperors Diocletian and Maximian, the
Cæsars, Galerius and Constantius Chlorus, became the Augusti; the
former, as senior, taking the East, and the latter the West. At once
the plans of Diocletian began to miscarry; and Galerius, instead of
raising to the Cæsarship, as the other had wished, Maxentius the son of
Maximian and Constantine the already distinguished son of Constantius,
gave the junior titles to his nephews Severus and Maximin. The speedy
death of Constantius, however, secured the election of Constantine
to the purple by his father's troops in Britain; and there ensued
the manifold strifes which ended in Constantine's triumph. Maxentius,
and his father, who returned to power, put down Severus; and Maximian
gave his daughter as wife to Constantine, thus creating a state of
things in which three emperors were leagued against a fourth and
one Cæsar. Soon Maximian and Maxentius quarrelled, the father taking
refuge first with Constantine and later with Galerius; who, however,
proceeded to create yet another emperor, Licinius. Immediately the
Cæsar Maximin revolted, and forced Galerius to make him Augustus
also. The old Maximian in the meantime went to league himself afresh
with Constantine, who, finding him treacherous, had him strangled. Soon
after, Galerius dying (in 311), Maximin and Licinius joined forces;
while Maxentius, who held Italy and Africa, professing to avenge his
father, declared war on Constantine, who held Gaul. The result was
the defeat and death of the former, leaving Constantine master of
the whole West (312). In 314 he fell out with Licinius, who had in
the meantime destroyed Maximin, and won from him Illyrium, Macedonia,
and Greece. For ten years thereafter Constantine divided the empire
with Licinius; then, quarrelling afresh with his rival, he captured
and strangled him, and was sole autocrat (324).

Out of this desperate drama emerged Christianity as the specially
favoured cult of the Roman empire. Constantine, we saw, had protected
the Christians from the first, as his father had done before him;
and Licinius had acquiesced in the same policy, though in his final
war with Constantine he persecuted the Christians in order to attach
pagans to his cause. There has been much discussion, nevertheless, as
to whether Constantine turned Christian on political or on religious
grounds. The fact seems to be that, in the ordinary spirit of ancient
religion, he trusted to have the support of the God of the Christians
in his great struggle with Maxentius, who appealed to the Gods of
paganism with old and evil rites; and that after his first great
success he became more and more confirmed in his choice. The story,
however, of his having the labarum presented to him in a dream or a
vision is an obvious fiction, possible only to the ignorance of the
first Christian historians, who read the Greek letters Xp (Chr)--though
the tradition ran that the accompanying words, "In this sign conquer,"
were in Latin--in a solar symbol that had appeared on Egyptian and
other coins many centuries before, and had no reference whatever to the
name of Christ, though Constantine used it for that on his standards. A
similar tale is told of his son Constantius, on whose coins, however,
the symbol is associated with the pagan Goddess of Victory. For the
rest, Constantine was a Christian like another. His father had been a
monotheist, who protected the Christians on philosophical principles;
and from the constant success of Constantius in all his undertakings,
as compared with the ill fortune of his own rivals, the son argued that
the religion of "One God" was propitious to his house. His personal
success in war was always his main argument for the Christian creed,
and in such an age it was not the least convincing. The fact that
he postponed his baptism till shortly before his death is not to
be taken as necessarily indicating any religious hesitations on his
part, though such hesitation may have been his motive. Multitudes of
Christians in that age did the same thing, on the ground that baptism
took away all sin, and that it was bad economy to receive it early. In
his case such a reason was specially weighty, and there is no decisive
reason to suppose that he had any other of a religious nature. Since,
however, the pagans still greatly outnumbered the Christians, he
could not afford to declare definitely against all other cults; and,
beginning by decreeing toleration for all, he kept the pagan title
of pontifex maximus, and continued through the greater part of his
life to issue coins or medals on which he figured as the devotee of
Apollo or Mars or Herakles or Mithra or Zeus.

While, however, he thus propitiated other Gods and worshippers, he gave
the Christians from the first a unique financial support. Formerly,
the clergy in general had been wont to supplement their monthly
allowances by trading, farming, banking, by handicraft, and by
practising as physicians; but the emperor now enacted that they
should have regular annual allowances, and that the church's widows
and virgins should be similarly supported. Further, not only did he
restore the possessions taken from believers during the persecution,
he enacted that all their priests, like those of Egypt and of the
later empire in general, should be exempt from municipal burdens;
a step as much to their interest as it was to the injury of the
State and of all public spirit. The instant effect was to draw to the
priesthood multitudes of gain-seekers; the churches of Carthage and
Constantinople soon had 500 priests apiece; and so strong were the
protests of the municipalities against the financial disorder he had
created that Constantine was fain to restrict his decree. Certainly
pagan flamens and public priests of the provinces, a restricted class,
had had the same privilege, and this he maintained for them despite
Christian appeals; nor does he seem to have withdrawn it from the
priests and elders of the Jewish synagogues, who had also enjoyed
it; but his direct gifts to the churches were considerable, and
by permitting them to receive legacies in the manner of the pagan
temples he established their financial basis. So great was their
gain that laws had to be passed limiting the number of the clergy;
and from this time forward laws were necessary to restrain priests
and bishops from further enriching themselves by lending at interest.

Clerical power, however, was still further extended. Bishops, who
had hitherto acted as arbitrators in Christian disputes, had their
decisions legally enforced; and the important legal process of freeing
slaves was transferred from the temples to the churches. Some pagan
temples he temporarily suppressed, on moral grounds; some he allowed
to be destroyed as no longer in use; but though he built and richly
endowed several great Christian churches and passed some laws against
pagan practices, he never ventured on the general persecution of
pagans which his Christian hangers-on desired; and the assertions
of Eusebius as to his having plundered the temples and brought
paganism into contempt are among the many fictions--some of them
perhaps later forgeries--in the works of that historian. As it was,
Christian converts were sufficiently multiplied. Constantine's severest
measures were taken against private divination, the practisers of
which he ordered to be burnt alive; but here he acted on the standing
principles of pagan law, and doubtless under the usual autocratic fear
of soothsaying against himself. The measure of course had no effect on
popular practice. The emperors themselves usually consulted diviners
before their own accession; and their veto on divination for other
people was thus not impressive.

It is in his relations to his chosen church, code, and creed that
Constantine figures at his worst. In the year after his victory over
Licinius, when he was ostensibly a doubly convinced Christian, he
put to death his son Crispus, a nephew, and his wife, Fausta; and he
had strangled Licinius and his son after promising to preserve their
lives; but not a word of censure came from the Christian clergy. At
one stroke, their whole parade of superior morality was gone; and the
Church thenceforth was to be in the main as zealous a sycophant of
thrones as the priests of the past had ever been. Constantine lived
without rebuke the ordinary life of autocrats; and by the admission of
his episcopal panegyrist he was surrounded by worthless self-seekers,
Christians all. Such as he was, however, Constantine was joyfully
accepted as head of the Church on earth. His creation of the new
capital, Constantinople, was regarded as the beginning of a new era,
that of Christianity; since the upper classes of Rome were the most
zealous devotees of the old Gods, and were said to have received
Constantine on his last visit with open disrespect. Remaining pontifex
maximus, he presided over the OEcumenical Council of the Church;
and one of the abuses he established was to put the entire imperial
postal service, with its relays of horses and chariots, at the service
of the bishops travelling to attend them. For all his efforts he
had the reward of seeing them quarrel more and more furiously over
their central dogmas and over questions of discipline. Under his
eyes there arose the great schism of Arius, and the schism of the
Donatists in Africa, both destined to deepen and worsen for many
generations. The failure of the Church as a means of moral union
becomes obvious once for all as soon as the act of establishment has
removed the only previous restraining force on Christian quarrels,
fear of the pagan enemy. Clerical revenues being mostly local, schism
was still no economic disadvantage to any sectary; and the Christian
creed availed as little to overrule primary instincts of strife as
to provide rational tests for opinion or action.

It would seem as if whatever mental impulse was left in men must
needs run in the new channels opened up for ignorant energy by
ecclesiasticism and theology in that world of deepening ignorance
and waning civilization. Literature as such was vanishing; art was
growing more impotent reign by reign; and the physical sciences,
revived for a time in their refuge at Alexandria by the Antonines and
Flavians, were being lost from the hands of the living. To attribute
the universal decadence to Christianity would be no less an error than
the old falsism that it was a force of moral and civic regeneration:
it was an effect rather than a cause of the general lapse. But, once
established as part of the imperial machinery, it hastened every
process of intellectual decay; and under such circumstances moral
gain could not be. A doctrine of blind faith could not conceivably
save a world sinking through sheer lack of light.

To Constantine, the endless strifes of the clergy over their creeds
were as unintelligible as they were insoluble. Like the centurion
of the gospel story, wont to command and to be obeyed, he looked for
discipline in divine things; and as the theological feud became more
and more embroiled he passed from uneasiness to a state between fear
and rage. The Divinitas, he protested, would be turned against all,
clergy and emperor and laity alike, if the clergy would not live at
peace; and he quaintly besought them to leave points of theory alone,
or else to imitate the pagan philosophers, who could debate without
hatred. The ever-quarrelling Church was becoming a laughing-stock
to the Pagans, being derided in the very theatres; and its new
converts could be those only who went wherever there was chance of
gain. So, in one of his rages, he decreed murderous punishment against
intractable schismatics, only to find that the menace had multiplied
the offence. Such as it was, however, the Church was an instrument
of autocratic organization not to be dispensed with; and thus, at
the stage at which its theological impulses, unchecked by sane moral
feeling, would in the absence of persecution by the State have rent
it in mutually destroying factions, the official protection of the
State in turn came in to hold it together as a nominal unity. Thus
and thus did the organism survive--by anything rather than moral
vitality or intellectual virtue.

Leaving to the councils the settlement or unsettlement of dogmas, the
emperor took upon himself, to the great satisfaction of the clergy,
the whole external administration of the Church, assimilating it to his
body politic. The four leading bishoprics--Rome, Antioch, Alexandria,
and Constantinople--were put on a level with the four prætorian
prefectures; under them were ecclesiastical exarchs, corresponding
to the thirteen civil exarchs of given territories or dioceses; and
next came metropolitans or archbishops who superintended the single
provinces, 116 in all. In the next century, the Bishop of Jerusalem,
formerly subject to Antioch, became independent; and those five sees
became known as the five Patriarchates. Numbers of churches still
remained for various reasons technically independent; but the natural
effect of the whole system was to throw all authority upwards, the
bishops overriding the presbyters, and all seeking to limit the power
of the congregations to interfere. As the latter would now include
an increasing number of indifferentists, the development was the more
easy. On the side of external ceremony, always the gist of the matter
for the majority, as well as in myth and theory, Christianity had now
assimilated nearly every pagan attraction: baptism, as aforesaid,
was become a close copy of an initiation into pagan mysteries,
being celebrated twice a year by night with a blaze of lights; and
when Constantine enacted that the Day of the Sun should be treated as
specially holy, he was merely bracketing together pagan and Christian
theology, the two sanctions being equally involved. It was of course
not a sacred day in the modern Puritan sense, being simply put on a
level with the other great festival days of the State, on which no
work was done, but play was free.

It was in the year after his attainment of the sole power that
Constantine summoned a General Council at his palace of Nicæa in
Bithynia (325), to settle the theological status of the founder of the
Church. The question had been ostensibly decided as against Paul of
Samosata and the Sabellians (who made the Son a mere manifestation
or aspect of the Father) by the dictum that they were different
persons. That was for the time orthodox dogma. When, however,
Arius, a presbyter of Alexandria, declared as against his bishop
that "the Son is totally and essentially distinct from the Father,"
the trouble began afresh. Arius found many adherents, who accused
the bishop of Sabellianizing when he affirmed that the Son and the
Father were of the same essence; and the Church saw itself once more
driven to define its God. Bishop Alexander had Arius cast out of
the Church by two Alexandrian Councils, with the effect of driving
him to a more zealous propaganda, which succeeded as promptly and
as widely as any previous heresy. Thereupon the Council of Nicæa,
by a majority vote, enacted that the Son was of the same essence
(homoousios) with the Father, yet a different person, and one-with
yet born-of the Father; a creed to that effect was framed; Arius was
sent into exile; and the leading bishops on his side were deposed. It
was a mere snatch vote by a packed jury, since only some 300 bishops
were present, whereas the Church contained at least 1,800; and five
years afterwards Constantine, who on his own part had ordered that
the writings of Arius should be burned, yet expressed himself as an
ultra-Arian, became persuaded that the heresiarch had been ill-used,
and recalled him from exile. Thereupon the restored Arian bishops
began to persecute their persecutors; and Athanasius the new bishop of
Alexandria having refused to reinstate Arius, he in turn was deprived
of his office by the Council of Tyre (335) and banished to Gaul,
other depositions following; while a large council held at Jerusalem
formally restored the Arians; and the emperor commanded the bishop of
Constantinople to receive the heresiarch. Before this could be done,
however, Arius died at Constantinople (336), apparently by poison,
and Constantine died the year after, baptized by an Arian bishop,
leaving the two parties at grips for their long wrestle of hate. Within
a few years, the emperor's son Constans was threatening to make war
on his brother Constantine if he did not reinstate Athanasius.

No more insane quarrel had ever convulsed any society. As an
ecclesiastical historian has remarked, both parties believed in
salvation through the blood of Jesus: on this primitive dogma,
inherited from prehistoric barbarism, there was no dispute: and
the battle was over the hopeful point of "assigning him that rank
in the universe which properly belonged to him." Orthodoxy would
have it that the Son was Son from all eternity--exactly, once more,
as devout Brahmans and Moslems have maintained that the Vedas and the
Koran were "uncreated," and existed from all eternity. Man's instinct
of reverence seems to lead mechanically to such conceptions in the
absence of critical thought. But the thought, on the other side, which
made Jesus a God born in time, and homoiousios (of similar essence)
with the Father, was only relatively saner. Thus the Arians, rational
in one aspect, took their stand on a fundamental irrationality; while
the Trinitarians, as represented by Athanasius, found a sufficient
substitute for argument in boundless vituperation. The fact that
the Arians opposed monasticism and the ideal of perpetual virginity
served to heighten orthodox resentment. The hatred was beyond all
measure, and can be accounted for only by recognizing that a creed
which appeals to emotion and degrades reason is potentially the worst
stimulant of evil passions. On the intellectual side, if it can be said
to have had one, the theory of the Trinity was a simple appropriation
by Christianity of the conception of divine Triads which prevailed in
the old Egyptian and other systems; and of which the Trinity of Osiris,
Isis, and Horus was a well-known instance. Athanasius was but adding
Christian passion to yet another pagan theorem, assimilated on Gnostic
lines, with a new stress laid on the verbal affirmation of monotheism.

The one quasi-rational argument applicable to the case would be
the non-moral one that the cult was visibly between the Scylla of
polytheism and the Charybdis of a monotheism which reduced Jesus to
mere manhood; and that if a nakedly self-contradictory formula could
preserve it from collapse on either side such a formula should be
enacted. Such an argument was of course not put forward, but probably
it appealed to some of the shrewder and less honest bishops, who in the
ensuing strifes would nevertheless adapt themselves to the political
urgency of the moment. The State had happily created a species of
official pale, within which the warring members remained nominally one
church. Within that superficies the chaos became indescribable. The
Arians in their turn broke up into half-a-dozen mutually anathematizing
sects, each brandishing a creed; and every new phase of heresy evoked
orthodox rejoinders which in turn were found to be heresies in the
other direction. On the first series of strifes followed a second,
as to the manner of the combination of the divine and human natures
in Jesus; with yet a third, over the personality or modality of the
Holy Ghost; till theology had become a kind of systematic insanity.

While Egypt and the East were thus embroiled, northern Africa,
"orthodox" on the Trinity, was being given up to the schism of
the Donatists, one of the many outbreaks of the Puritan or ascetic
instinct there, where of old had flourished some of the most sensual
worships. The quarrel began over the election of a bishop of Carthage,
and the puritan side received its title from one or both of two bishops
named Donatus. Council after council failed to compose the feud; and
the emperor fared no better when he took from the schismatics some
of their temples, banished some of their bishops, and put numbers to
death. In the year 330 one of their councils numbered 270 bishops; and
still the schism went on growing. Any sect, it was clear, might grow
as the Jesuist sect itself had done. Alongside of the others now arose
yet a new movement, named after its semi-legendary founder, Manichæus
or Manes, a Persian, which combined in Gnostic fashion the Christian
scheme and that of Mazdean dualism, identifying Jesus with Mithra;
and this cult in turn, being carefully organized, spread fast and far,
flourishing all the more because Manes was believed to have been put
to death by the Persian king as a heretic to Mazdeism (? 275). It had
a president, representing Christ; twelve masters, representing the
twelve apostles; and seventy-two bishops, representing the seventy-two
apostles of the third gospel or the seventy-two travelling collectors
of the Jewish patriarchs. Like most of the earlier Gnostics the
Manichæans were "Docetists," holding that Jesus had only a seeming
body and could not really suffer; and they not only denounced the
Old Testament, calling Jehovah the Evil Spirit, but rejected the
four gospels in favour of a new one, called Erteng, which Manes
claimed to have been dictated to him by God. Improving on Montanus,
he claimed, or was made to claim, to be the promised Paraclete; thus
beginning a new creed on all fours with the Christist. On the side of
ethics the new cult extolled and professed all the ascetic virtues,
and held by a theory of a twofold purgatory, one of sacred water in
the moon, and one of sacred fire in the sun, which burned away the
impure body, leaving an immortal spirit. Giving out its independent
gospel, Manichæism had all the popular vitality of Montanism with
the intellectual pretensions of Gnosticism. Nothing, it was clear,
could hinder the creation of new sects out of or alongside the main
body; and nothing but the most systematic and destructive persecution
could prevent their separate continuance while zeal subsisted.

Under the family of Constantine his creed and his policy were
maintained, with no better fruits under either the personal or the
political aspect. To his three sons--Constantine II, Constantius,
and Constans--with two of his nephews, he left the empire; but
immediately the nephews were massacred with their fathers; of the
three sons the second destroyed the first in war (340); and the third,
succeeding to the western provinces of the first, fell in war with a
new competitor, Magnentius (350); whereafter Constantius, defeating
the latter by deputy, became sole emperor (353-361). To him appears
to be chargeable the deliberate assassination at one stroke of the
two surviving brothers of his father and all their sons save two,
Gallus and Julian, the sons of Julius Constans; and at his hands
began at least the theoretical persecution of paganism on the eager
pressure of the church which forty years before had been persecuted. It
thus remains matter of history that while many pagans had been in
favour of tolerance before the establishment of Christianity, the
Christians, who had naturally condemned all persecution while they
suffered from it, were ready to become zealous persecutors as soon
as they had the power. The treatise of Julius Firmicus Maternus
on pagan errors is an eager appeal to the sons of Constantine to
destroy all pagan worships. In point of fact, pagans were not the
first to suffer. Excommunications, banishments, and executions
of schismatics had been among the first fruits of Constantine's
headship; and though for a time many recoiled from putting to death
their heretical fellow-Christians, within a century that scruple too
had disappeared. Thus again was "the Church" enabled to survive.

Christian persecution of paganism, on the other hand, did not take
effect as promptly as its instigators would seem to have wished. In
341, Constans made an absurd law that "superstition should cease,
and the madness of sacrifices be abolished," on pain of death to all
who persisted. No official action seems to have been taken under this
decree; and next year, being doubtless forced to respect the pagan
party, he enacted that though superstition must be suppressed the old
temples should be spared. In 353, Constantius in turn appears from
the Theodosian Code to have decreed that all temples throughout the
empire should be closed; that all who resorted to them or offered
sacrifice should be put to death, and their property confiscated;
and that governors who did not enforce the law should themselves be
so punished. In the same year he ostensibly struck at nocturnal pagan
rites at Rome, where Christian rites had so long been nocturnal. Three
years later, when Julian had become Cæsar under him, he framed a law,
signed by both, which in a few words reaffirms the death penalty on
all who sacrificed, or worshipped idols--this when some Christians
were already worshipping idols in their churches. As there is no trace
whatever of any official action being taken under these laws, and as
there is abundant monumental proof that at least in the western empire
and in Egypt the pagan worships were carried on freely as before, we
are forced to conclude that the edicts, if really penned, were never
given out by Constantius. It remains on record that he, keeping the
pagan title of pontifex maximus, passed stringent laws, as Constans
had done, against all who desecrated pagan tombs; and further that he
went on paying the stipends of flamens, augurs, and vestals--personages
usually of high rank. It appears that in fact the autocrat could not
or dared not yet enforce his laws against the pagan worships. In the
East in general, however, and even in Italy, wherever temples were
unfrequented and ill defended they were liable to shameless plunder
or destruction by Christians, who were safe from punishment.

On the other hand, Constantius multiplied the financial privileges of
Christians, giving higher stipends to the clergy and doles of corn
to the congregations. He maintained, too, an enormous retinue of
vicious Christian parasites, the whole process worsening the already
desperate public burdens, and straining to the utmost a financial
system approaching the point of collapse. As head of the Church, he
presided at Councils; and as a semi-Arian he encouraged Arianism and
persecuted Athanasianism, the orthodox not daring openly to gainsay
him. As little did either party condemn him when he brutally murdered
the young Gallus, the Christian brother of Julian, leaving only the
latter alive of all Constantine's house. To the bishops assembled
in council he announced that his will was as good as a canon; and
he forbade them to condemn opinions which he held. One bishop he
caused to be tortured; others to be banished; one he put to death;
and he would doubtless have slain Athanasius had not that great
agitator been so well concealed by the monks of Egypt. Under the
emperor's pressure the council of Rimini declared for Arianism;
and for himself he framed the new title "His Eternity," calling
himself the lord of the universe. Only the favour of the empress,
and the emperor's own fears, saved Julian from his brother's fate,
as his death seems to have been planned.

The Church was worthy of its head. "At each episcopal election
or expulsion," says an orthodox writer, "the most exalted sees of
Christendom--Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch--furnished scenes
that would have disgraced a revolution." Julian has told how whole
troops of those who were called heretics were massacred, notably at
Cyzicus and at Samosata; while in Paphlagonia, Bithynia, Galatia, and
many other provinces, towns and villages were utterly destroyed. In
one massacre at Constantinople, the second in connection with the
forcible re-instalment of the semi-Arian bishop Macedonius (342),
there perished more than three thousand people--considerably more
than had suffered death in the whole ten years of the last pagan
persecution. The orthodox populace, divided in furious factions,
fighting like savages in their very churches, were as brutal as their
masters; and no priesthood was ever more powerless for good than the
Christian clergy in face of these horrors. Gregory of Nazianzun, whose
own ferocities of utterance illustrate the character of the period,
declared truly that he had never seen a synod do aught but worsen
a quarrel. Such was Christianity under the first Christian-bred
emperor. And if Tiridates of Armenia (conv. 302) be taken as the
first Christian king, the beginnings of State Christianity are not
greatly improved, since there the new faith was spread by fire and
sword, and the old persecuted unremittingly for a hundred years,
during which time raged many wars of religion between Armenia and
Persia. The new faith had "come not to bring peace."



§ 3. Reaction under Julian

By common consent, the episode of the short pagan "revival" under
Julian is the most interesting chapter in the later history of
the Roman Empire proper. The one emperor after Marcus Aurelius who
attracts us as a human being and as a mind, he set himself a task
which, whether he failed or succeeded, must lift his name high
in the annals of a decadent civilization: his failure, in fact,
makes him the most living figure in the long line of autocrats
from Constantine to Charlemagne. It is by such contrast, indeed,
that he becomes eminent. Measured by the standards of progressive
civilizations, against the great minds of the pre-imperial world and
the best statesmen of later realms, he is neither a great ruler nor a
great intelligence. To look for a ruling mind of the highest order in
that environment of decay would be to miss the first and last lesson of
the history of the empire. Supposing a potentially great faculty to be
born in such a society, it could not conceivably grow to efficiency:
the intellectual and the emotional atmosphere forbade. Before there
can be all-round minds there must be all-round men; and the empire
had made an end of the species. Intellectual originality had long
disappeared from a world in which the topmost distinction stood for
mere brute force, cultured men grovelling before it like scourged
animals. The brooding intensity of Lucretius and the large sanity of
Cæsar were become as impossible to men of the Roman name as the life
of the forum of Coriolanus' day, or the Greek literature of the age of
Aristophanes. The process of putting a yoke on the world had duly ended
in a world of yoke-bearers, whose best leaders could but harness them.

Julian, a wistful child, saved from the massacre of his house, and
growing up in a library whose lore there was no man competent to
comment for him, became finally a believer in every religion save the
one which sought to exterminate the rest. Steeped in theosophies,
he was capable of exulting in the disappearance of the Epicureans,
the sanest because the least credulous of the philosophic sects. Yet
the lore he loved, such as it was, had sufficed to make him or keep
him a model of temperance and self-control; chaste and abstemious
while master of the world; just and magnanimous under provocations
which, if he would, he could have met by wholesale slaughter; caring
above all for the inner life while wielding capably the whole armed
power of the State. If we talk of moral success, it must still be said
that Christianity never gave any section of the Roman Empire a ruler
worthy to stand by Marcus and Julian; and that on all the thrones of
the world to-day there is no man who can be put above them for moral
nobility. If, again, we keep our eyes on the age of Constantine,
we cannot but be struck by the fact that Constantius "the pale," the
father of Constantine, a monotheist but not a Christian, and Julian,
who turned away from Christianity to polytheism, are by far the best
men in the series of rulers of that house. Christianity attracted the
worse men, Constantine and his sons, and repelled or failed to satisfy
the better; and the younger Constantius, who was bred and remained a
Christian, is the worst of all. The finer character-values are all
associated with paganism: on the Christian side there is a signal
defect of good men.

Julian's short life was crowded no less with experience than with
study. Educated as a Christian, he learned, while his life lay at the
mercy of Constantius, to keep his own counsel as to the creed of which
he had seen such bloody fruits. It seems to have been before the murder
of his brother (354) that he was secretly converted to paganism, during
his studies at Pergamos. When he was appointed Cæsar (355) it was
under strict tutelage; and during his five years of able generalship
as Cæsar in Gaul and Germany--even after the legions had proclaimed
him Augustus (360)--he concealed his creed. It was only when marching
against Constantius that he avowed it, and offered sacrifices to the
ancient Gods; but when the death of the terror-stricken emperor left
him in sole power (361) he at once proceeded zealously to reinstate
the old rites. Himself an ardent idealist and practical ascetic,
he yearned to make paganism a ministry of purity and charity, which
should copy from the Christians their primary Judaic practice of
feeding the poor, and set its face against popular ribaldry as
steadfastly as they once had done, but with a Stoic temperance
rather than a gloomy fanaticism. To this end he built and endowed
new temples, re-endowed the priesthoods where they had been robbed,
and forced the return or repair of such of their lands, buildings,
and possessions as had been stolen or wrecked; at the same time taking
back the privileges and endowments accorded to the Christians. For all
this, and no less for his antipathy to the vulgar side of paganism,
he was scurrilously and insolently lampooned, notably by the pagan and
Christian mobs of Antioch; but he attempted no vengeance, though he was
sensitive enough to reply by satire. The intensely malignant attacks
on his memory by churchmen leave it clear that he never descended to
persecution, unless we so describe his action in excluding Christians
from teaching in the schools of rhetoric, for which he had at least
the pretext that they constantly aspersed the pagan literature there
studied, and ought in consistency to have left it alone. Some of
them indeed had earnestly desired the total suppression of those
very schools. What most exasperated his Christian assailants, it is
clear, was his sardonic attitude to Christian quarrels. Instead of
persecuting, he protected the factions from each other, restored
exiled heretics, and invited rival dogmatists to dispute in his
presence, where their animosities served to humiliate their creed
to his heart's content. It was the sting of such a memory that drove
Gregory of Nazianzun, bitterly conscious of Christian hates, to such
a passion of hate against Julian, whose body he would fain have seen
cast into the common sewer.

It has been questioned whether the eagerness of Julian's desire to
discredit Christism would not have made him a persecutor had he lived
longer; and such a development is indeed conceivable. His zeal was
such that with all the load of empire and generalship on his shoulders
he found time in his short reign to write a long treatise against
the Christian books and the creed, of which his full knowledge and
excellent memory made him a formidable critic; and his tone towards
Athanasius seems to have grown more and more bitter. It is hard for
the master of thirty legions to tolerate opposition and to remain
righteous. On the other hand, Julian gave proofs not only of an
abnormal self-restraint, but of an exceptional judgment in things
purely political; and the very fact that his young enthusiasm had led
him astray, making him hope for a vital restoration of paganism out of
hand, would probably with such a mind have counted for caution after
the lesson had been learned. Falling in battle with the Persians (363)
after only twenty months of full power, he had no time to readjust
himself to the forces of things as experience disclosed them to him:
he had time only to feel disappointment. Had he lived to form his own
judgment instead of merely assimilating the ideas of his Neo-Platonic
teachers he would be in a fair way to frame a better philosophy of
life than either the polytheistic or the Christian. Such a philosophy
had been left by Epictetus, to name no other; and Julian's passion
for rites and sacrifices was really a falling below pagan wisdom and
ethics current in his time, as his facile belief in myths was a falling
below the pagan rationalism set forth a little later by Macrobius,
and not unknown in Julian's day. No less unworthy of the best pagan
thought was his affectation of cynic uncleanliness--an inverted foppery
likely to have passed with youth. A few years must have taught him
that men were not to be regenerated by pagan creeds any more than
by Christian; and to his laws for the reform of administration he
might have added some for the reform of culture. Dying in his prime,
he has formed a text for much Christian rhetoric to the effect that he
had dreamed a vain dream. Insofar, however, as that rhetoric assumes
the indestructibility of the Christian Church at the hands of pagan
emperors, it is no sounder than the most sanguine hopes of Julian.

To say that Julian had hopelessly miscalculated the possibilities of
paganism is to misconceive the whole sociological case if it be implied
that Christianity survived in virtue of its dogma or doctrine, and
that it was on the side of dogma or morality that paganism failed. As
a regenerating force Christianity was as impotent as any pagan creed:
it was indeed much less efficacious than one pagan philosophy had
been, and had visibly set up in the State new ferocities of civil
strife. Under the two Antonines, Stoic principles had governed the
empire so well, relatively to the possibilities of the system, that
many modern historians have been fain to reckon theirs the high-water
mark of all European administration. No such level was ever reached
in the Christian empire, from Constantine onwards. Julian himself
schemed more solid reforms of administration in his one year of rule
than any of his Christian successors ever accomplished, with the
exceptions of Marcian and Anastasius; and could he have foreseen how
the empire was to go in Christian hands he would certainly have had
no reason to alter his course. To take the mere actual continuance of
Christianity as a proof of its containing more truth or virtue than
the whole of paganism is to confuse biological survival with moral
merit. "The survival of the fittest," a principle which holds good of
every aspect of Nature, is not a formula of moral discrimination,
but a simple summary of evolution. The camel which survives in
a waterless desert is not thereby proved a nobler animal than the
horse or elephant which perishes there. Christianity, as we have seen,
while utterly failing among the Jews, where it had birth, had subsisted
from the first in the pagan world (1) through adopting the attractive
features of paganism, and (2) because of its politico-economical
adaptations. Paganism--official paganism, that is--disappeared as an
institution because such adaptations were not given to it.

Nor is it reasonable to say that Julian's undertaking was
impossible. His plans were indeed those of an inexperienced enthusiast;
but had he lived as long as Constantine, and learned by experience,
he might have witnessed his substantial success; and a century of
intelligently continuous policy to the same end might have expelled
Christianity as completely from the Roman world as Buddhism was
soon to be expelled from India. No one who has studied the latter
phenomenon can use the language commonly held of the attempt of
Julian. Buddhism, representing at least as high a moral impetus
as that of Christism, had arisen and nourished greatly in direct
opposition to Brahmanism; after centuries of success it is found
assimilating all the popular superstitions on which Brahmanism lived,
even as Christianity assimilated those of paganism; and it was either
by assimilating elements of Buddhism on that plane or by such policy
joined with coercive force that the Brahmans finally eliminated it
from their sphere. Had a succession of Roman emperors set themselves
to create a priestly organization of pagan cults, with as good an
economic basis as that of Brahmanism, or as that of Judaism was even
after the fall of the Temple, they could have created a force which
might triumph over the new cult in its own sphere even as Brahmanism
and Judaism did. And if at the same time they had left the Church
severely alone, allowing its perpetual strifes to do their own work,
it would inevitably have dissolved itself by sheer fission into
a hundred mutually menacing factions, an easy foe for a coherent
paganism. Mere spasmodic persecution had previously failed, for it is
not random persecution that kills creeds, though a really relentless
and enduring persecution can do much. In the period from 330 to 370,
and again in the sixth century, the Persian kings did actually, by
sheer bloodshed, so far crush orthodox Christianity in their kingdom
(leaving only the Nestorians as anti-Byzantine heretics) that it
ceased to have any importance there--a circumstance little noted by
those who dwell on its "success" in Europe. And the same Sassanide
dynasty, beginning in the middle of the third century, effected the
systematic revival of the Mazdean religion, which before had seemed
corrupted and discredited past remedy.

Had Julian lived to learn in Persia the methods so successfully used
by Ardeshir, he might no less successfully have copied them. Only
an idealist like Julian, of course, would have thought the effort on
peaceful lines worth while. A much abler and better man than Jovian
would reasonably decide in his place that the religion of Mithra,
having come from the now triumphant Persian enemy, could hardly
continue to be that of the Roman army; and that the most politic course
was to revert to the cult which Julian had opposed, and whose champions
saw in his death the hand of their God working for them. Nonetheless,
the common verdict on Julian as the victim of a hopeless delusion
is hardly better founded than the gross fable that on receiving his
death-wound he cried, "Thou hast conquered, Galilean." The Christians,
indeed, might well exult and fabulize over his death. It probably made
all the difference between prosperity and collapse for their creed,
already riven in irreconcilable factions, and capable of a general
cohesion only through the coercive power of the State.



§ 4. Re-establishment: Disestablishment of Paganism

It is significant that neither the weak Jovian, thrust on the throne by
a cabal of Christian officers at the death of Julian, nor the forceful
Valentinian who succeeded him, attempted to persecute paganism, though
both were professed Christians. In the assertions of the ecclesiastical
historians to the contrary, in the next century, the wish was father to
the thought. Jovian's ignominious retreat from Persia was made after
open pagan auguries; the nominally Christian senate of Constantinople
sent him a deputation headed by the pagan Themistius, who exhorted him
on high grounds of pagan ethics to practise an absolute toleration;
and he did, save as regards the continued crusade against secret
magical rites, though he re-established the Christians in many of
their privileges. Of Valentinian it has been said that he of all the
Christian emperors best understood and maintained freedom of worship;
and beyond confiscating to the imperial domain the possessions
formerly taken from pagan temples and restored to them by Julian, he
left them unmolested. Pagan priests of the higher grades he treated
with greater fiscal favour than had been shown to them even by Julian,
giving them immunities and honours which exasperated the Christians. It
may have been the fact of his ruling the still strongly pagan West
that made Valentinian thus propitiate the old priesthoods; but his
brother Valens, who ruled the East, enforced the same tolerance,
save insofar as he, an Arian, persecuted the Athanasians. His forcing
of monks to re-enter the curia, that is, to resume the burdens of
municipal taxation, may have been motived by dislike of them, but was a
reasonable fiscal measure. The cruel persecution of diviners, carried
on by both brothers, was the outcome at once of fear and of anger
at the rapid spread of divination, to which was devoted at that time
an extensive literature: the public or official Roman divination by
augury was expressly permitted, as were the Eleusinian mysteries. All
the while, Christians were little less given to divination than pagans.

Thus in the thirty years from the death of Constantine to the accession
of Theodosius the Great, while the Church continued to grow in wealth,
it can have made little progress politically, and it certainly made
none morally. The law of Valentinian against the gain-seeking monks
and priests of Rome is the testimony of a Christian emperor to the
new demoralization set up by his Church. Perhaps on pagan pressure,
but apparently with emphasis, he forbade ecclesiastics to receive
personal gifts or legacies from the women of property to whom they
acted as spiritual advisers. Such a law was of course evaded by such
expedients as trusteeships: greed was not to be baulked by legal
vetoes. The higher clergy showed the same instincts; and in the
final struggle of Damasus and Ursinus to secure by physical force
the episcopal chair of Rome (366), one hundred and thirty-seven dead
bodies were counted in the basilica, Damasus having hired gladiators
to carry his point. In the provinces, doubtless, the church was often
better represented; and the new species of chorepiscopi or rural
bishops must have included some estimable men; but at all the great
Christian centres reigned violence, greed, and hate. In North Africa
the feud between the Donatists and the rest of the Church had reached
the form of a chronic civil war, in which Donatist peasant fanatics,
called Circumcelliones, met the official persecution by guerilla
warfare of the savagest sort. In the East, the furious strifes between
Arians and Athanasians were sufficient to discredit the entire Church
as a political factor; and the better pagans saw in it a much worse
ethical failure than could be charged on their own philosophies. "Make
me bishop of Rome," said the pagan prefect Praetextatus jestingly to
Damasus, "and I will be a Christian." What rational element lay in
Arianism was countervailed by the corruption set up by court favour;
and orthodoxy found its account in popular ignorance. One of the
last notably philosophic heretics was Photinus, bishop of Sirmium,
who in 343 revived the doctrine of a "modal" Trinity. Anathematized
and ostracized by Athanasians and Arians alike, he died in exile.

The accession (379) of Theodosius, made co-emperor by Gratian, son of
Valentinian, on the fall of Valens, marks the final establishment of
Trinitarian Christianity, with the official suppression of Arianism
and paganism. The young Gratian had been partly educated under
Bishop Ambrose of Milan, one of the first notable types of masterful
ecclesiastic; and under that influence he confiscated the lands of the
pagan temples in the West, withdrew the privileges of the priests, and
caused to be removed from the Senate at Rome the ancient and sacred
statue of the Goddess Victory, formerly removed by Constantius and
restored by Julian. Fiscal needs seem to have had much to do with
the confiscations, for the economic life of the western empire was
steadily sinking. The young emperor did not attempt to prohibit pagan
worship or abolish the right of the temples to receive legacies; and
though he is said to have refused the title of Pontifex Maximus it
seems to have been officially given to him. His anti-pagan policy,
however, seems to have counted for something in his unpopularity,
which became so great that when Maximus revolted in Britain and
invaded Gaul, Gratian was abandoned on all hands.

Maximus too was a Christian--another proof that since Constantine
many military men had come to think "the luck was changed"--and
though he conciliated the pagans he did not re-endow their cults. It
was under his auspices, too, that Priscillian, bishop of Avila,
in Spain, who had adopted Gnostic views closely resembling those
of the Manichæans, and had been banished under Gratian, was tried
in Gaul for his heresy, put to the torture, and executed at Treves
with several of his followers. A new step had thus been taken in the
process of establishment, so that when Theodosius overthrew Maximus
and left the empire of the West to the young Valentinian, the cause
of official paganism was much weakened. And when Valentinian in turn
was deposed and slain by the pagan party, though Ambrose confessedly
thought the Christian cause in the West was lost, Eugenius did not
venture to restore to the priesthoods the possessions and revenues
which had been turned to the support of the decaying State, menaced
all along the north by a hungry barbarism that grew ever more conscious
of its power, and of the impotence of the imperial colossus.

When Eugenius and his party in turn fell before Theodosius, the cause
of State-paganism was visibly lost; and though Theodosius died in the
following year (395) he left the old cults finally disestablished
in Italy as well as in the East. In his reign of sixteen years in
the East he had as far as possible suppressed Arianism, depriving
the Arians of their churches; had caused or permitted many of the
already disendowed pagan temples to be robbed and dismantled; and had
prohibited all pagan worships, besides continuing the crusade against
divination. Under the shelter of such persecuting edicts, monks and
other enterprising Christians, calling themselves "reformers," were
at liberty everywhere to plunder or destroy the shrines, and even to
secure the lands of pagans on the pretence that they had defied the
law and offered sacrifices. So gross became the demoralization that
Theodosius, more scrupulous than the clergy, at length passed a law to
punish the Christian spoilers; but this could not save the pagans. Many
of them, to save themselves, affected conversion, and went to Christian
altars to do inward reverence to their old Gods. There can have been
no worthy process of moral suasion in such circumstances. Coercion,
applauded by Augustine and personally practised by such Christian
leaders as St. Martin of Tours, became the normal procedure; and
naturally the constrained converts brought with them into the Church
all the credences of their previous life. For the Church, such a
triumph was glory enough, especially when there was added to it a law
by which all Christian offenders, clerical or lay, were amenable to
trial and punishable before ecclesiastical tribunals only.

It does not appear that the many cruel laws of Theodosius against
heretics and pagans were carried out to the letter: it had sufficed
for the overthrow of official paganism that it should be cut off
from its financial basis; and the emperor not only tolerated but
employed professed pagans, being even willing to grant to those of Rome
concessions which Ambrose could not endure. On their part the pagans,
though still very numerous, were non-resistant. Broadly speaking, they
consisted of two sorts--the more or less philosophic few, who were for
the most part monotheists, inclined to see in all Gods mere symbols
of the central power of the universe; and the unphilosophic multitude,
high and low, who believed by habit, and whose spiritual needs were on
the ordinary Christian plane. The former sort were not likely to battle
for the old machinery of sacrifice and invocation; and the latter,
with none to lead them, were not hard to turn, when once new habits had
time to grow. Whoever gave them a liturgy and rites and sacraments,
with shrines and places of adoration, might count on satisfying
their religious yearnings; and this the Christian organization was
zealously bent on doing. Their festivals were preserved and adapted;
their local "heroes" had become Christian martyrs and patron saints;
their mysteries were duplicated; their holy places were but new-named;
their cruder ideals were embraced. In the way of ceremonial, as Mosheim
avows, there was "little difference in those times between the public
worship of the Christians and that of the Greeks and Romans." The
lituus of the augur had become the crozier of the bishop; the mitres
and tiaras of the heathen priests were duly transferred to the new
hierarchy; and their processions were as nearly as possible copies
of those of the great ceremonial cults of Egypt and the East.

A sample of the process of adaptation lies in the ecclesiastical
calendar, where in the month of October are (or were) commemorated
on three successive days Saint Bacchus, Saint Demetrius, and Saints
Dionysius, Rusticus, and Eleutherius, all described as martyrs. The
five names are simply those of the God Dionysos, whose rustic festival
was held at that season. In the same way, Osiris becomes St. Onuphrius,
from his Coptic name, Onufri. It is probable, again, that from the
year 376, when the shrine of Mithra at Rome was destroyed by Christian
violence, the Roman Pope, who succeeded the high priest of Mithra
at the Vatican mount, sat in the Mithraic sacred chair, preserved
in St. Peter's to this day. As representing Peter, he bore Mithra's
special symbols. And where the higher paganism had come to repudiate
the popular religion of trappings and ceremonial no less than that of
sacrifice and that of mere self-mortification, established Christianity
placed the essence of religion anew in external usages on the one hand
and asceticism on the other; cherishing the while every "superstition"
of the past, and beginning a species of image-worship that the past
had hardly known. What was overthrown was merely public or official
worship: the religious essentials of paganism--to wit, polytheism;
the belief in the intercession of subordinate spiritual powers; the
principles of sacrifice and propitiation, penance, and atonement;
the special adoration of local shrines and images; the practice of
ritual mysteries and imposing ceremonies; the public association of a
worship with the fortunes of the State--all these were preserved in the
Catholic Church, with only the names changed. There was no "destruction
of paganism," there was merely transformation. And so immeasurably slow
are the transformations of national habit that for many generations
even the terminology and the specific usages of paganism survived in
every aspect save that of open worship; so that Theodosius and his
sons were fain to pass law after law penalizing those who ventured to
revert from Christianity to paganism. Such reversions were the measure
of the moral as compared with the official success of Christianity.

The last act in the official crusade against paganism, open spoliation,
had become possible at length through the sheer decadence of character
in the empire. In the west, so-called Romans had lived on a tradition
of ancient rule till they were become as masquerading apes in the
light of the retrospect: all that was left of patrician semblance
was a faculty for declamation, pedantry, and pomp. The repeated
discussions over the removal of the statue of Victory were on the
senatorial side a tissue of artificial rhetoric, on the Christian
a mixture of frank bigotry and bad sophistry. Religious fanaticism,
the last and lowest form of moral energy, abounded only with the mob;
and the formless pagan crowd, never in touch with priests or senators,
and never conscious of a common centre, was useless for political
purposes when at length the upper class had need of it; while the
much smaller Christian mob, drilled and incited to a common fervour,
was a force formidable even to the autocrat. Patricians whose line
had for centuries cringed in all things political were not the men to
lose their lives for a ceremonial; and those of them who as priests
had been plundered by Gratian and Theodosius were on this side also
devoid of organization, and incapable of joint action. The rule of
Valentinian had forced the Christian Church to remain in touch with its
original and popular sources of revenue; whereas the pagan priesthoods,
once deprived of stipends and domains, had nowhere to turn to, and
may be said to have fallen without a blow, unless the deposition of
Valentinian II by Arbogastes, and the short usurpation of Eugenius,
be regarded as their last official effort to survive.

But the cause of empire in the West was no less moribund than that
of the ancient Gods. Italy was reaching the last stage of economic
and military depletion. The richest revenue-yielding provinces of
the empire lay in Africa and the East; and when there came the fatal
struggle with barbarism, the eastern and richer part of the empire, so
long wont to act independently of the western, let that succumb. It was
at least dramatically fit that the multiform and fortuitous contexture
of Roman paganism, evolved like the empire itself by a long series
of instinctive acts and adaptations, unruled by any higher wisdom,
should yield up its official form and sustenance to feed the dying body
politic, and should be expunged from the face of the State before that
was overthrown. Augustine might say what he would to the reproachful
pagans, but the last humiliation came under Christian auspices; and
the fanatical Jerome, type of the transformation of Roman energy from
action to private pietism, had to weep in his old age that his cult
could not save the immemorial city whose very name had so long ruled
the world, and was almost the last semblance of a great thing left
in it.

It consisted with the universal intellectual decadence that neither the
pagans nor the Christians realized the nature of either the religious
or the political evolution. The former regarded the new faith as a
blasphemy which had brought on the empire the ruinous wrath of the
Gods; the latter called the barbaric invasion a divine punishment
both of pagan and Christian wickedness, and saw in the decline of
all pagan worship the defeat of a false faith by a true. Neither
had the slightest perception of the real and human causation; the
degradation of the peoples by the yoke of Rome; the economic ruin
and moral paralysis of Rome by sheer empire: and as little could they
realize that the fortunes of the creeds were natural socio-political
sequences. What had ecclesiastically happened was essentially an
economic process, albeit one set up by a religious credence. Paganism
as a public system disappeared because it was deprived of all
its revenues; Christianity as a system finally flourished because
the church was legally empowered to receive donations and legacies
without limit, and debarred from parting with any of its property. Any
corporation whatever, any creed whatever, would have flourished on such
a basis; while only a priesthood capable of building up a voluntary
revenue as the Christian church had originally done could survive on
pagan lines after the Christian creed had been established. The pagan
priesthoods, originally generated on a totally different footing,
could not learn the economic lesson, could not readjust themselves
to a process which, as we have seen, originated in conditions
of fanatical nonconformity, which latter-day paganism could not
reproduce. But so far were the mental habitudes and the specific
beliefs of paganism from disappearing that Christian historians in
our own day bitterly denounce it for "infecting" their "revealed"
creed, which in the terms of their claim was divinely designed to
overthrow paganism, and which would assuredly have rent itself into
a medley of reciprocally anathematizing sects but for the unifying
coercion of the State. What had really died out on the "spiritual"
side was the primitive ideal of the Christian Church. What survived
as Christianity was really an idolatrous polytheism.



CHAPTER III

FAILURE WITH SURVIVAL


§ 1. The Overthrow of Arianism

Theodosius was the last ruler of the empire proper who was capable
of leading his army; and from his death onwards the fall of the
western section proceeded at headlong rate. His sons, Honorius and
Arcadius, were worse weaklings than even the sons of Valentinian:
to fit for the throne a child born in the purple, always a hard task,
seemed impossible under Christianity. At the end of the fourth century
begins the series of convulsions which mark the end of the Roman empire
properly so-called. In the year after Theodosius' death, Alaric invaded
and ravaged Greece; and, manoeuvred thence by Stilicho, proceeded
to invade Italy. The tentative character of these unsuccessful first
attempts, and of that of Rhadagast, only made more sure the triumph
of the later; and invasion followed on invasion, till by the middle
of the fifth century the West had lost Gaul, Spain, and Africa; and
in the year 476 Rome, thrice sacked, received at last a barbarian king.

Through all these storms Christianity as a whole more than held
its ground. The invaders were Christians, like the invaded, albeit
heretics; the first conversion of Goths by the Arian Ulphilas in the
previous century having been widely extended. The form of the dogma
mattered nothing to the political function of the church, which was,
among the barbarians as in the empire, to promote centralization
up to the point at which schism became ungovernable. The Teutonic
chieftains, it is clear, saw in the Christian Church a means of
partially welding their peoples somewhat as Rome had been welded;
and while Arianism held the ground among them, it furthered the
unity that in the eastern empire was now being lost. And inasmuch as
normal community of creed made possible an assimilation between the
invaders and the conquered, Christianity positively facilitated the
fall of the western empire. In Africa, again, where the Donatists,
with their four hundred bishops, had been freshly persecuted under
Honorius, the schism helped the invading Vandals, who paid for the
Donatists' help by giving them freedom of worship. It is probable
that the Manichæans, who were numerous in the same province, and
who were also much persecuted, at first welcomed the invaders. So
obvious was the risk of such alienations of heretics that Honorius,
listening for a moment to the advice of tolerant pagans, went so far
as to issue a law of general toleration. This, however, the orthodox
clergy forced him to repeal, and the persecution of Donatists went
from bad to worse. All the while the old paganism was still so common
in the West that Honorius, who on the advice of his pious minister
Olympius, after the fall of Stilicho, had sought to expel by edict
all pagans and Arians from the service of the State, was fain later to
entreat leading pagans to return. But the Arian Goths in turn showed
the pagans no favour; in Greece, Alaric even broke up the Eleusinian
mysteries; and the Vandals in Africa soon persecuted the Manichæans
even more bloodily than they did the Athanasians, whom they went far
to drive out of the province. In this way they in turn weakened their
State, besides otherwise undergoing the social diseases of empire,
so that in the sixth century Belisarius was able to reconquer it for
Justinian, the emperor of the East. In Spain, conquered by the Arian
Visigoths, there was relative toleration. The Arian clergy, however,
being mostly unlettered Teutons, were less useful instruments to the
ruler than Catholics could be; and late in the sixth century a new
king at his accession there adopted Trinitarianism.

The further the orthodox faith went, the more dangerous, it was
clear, was the position of the remaining Arian kingdoms, since
their heresy was always a pretext for a union of the others to crush
them. A barbarian king, told by his clergy that he did God service in
destroying heretics, needed little further encouragement to war; and
such counsel the orthodox Church was always ready to give. Already
at the end of the fifth century the immigrant Franks established
in Gaul under Clovis were "converted" in mass, by the mere fiat of
their king, to orthodox Christianity; and the reconquest of Italy by
Belisarius and Narses further strengthened the Catholic cause. It
was thus good policy for the Lombards, who in their turn conquered
the north and south but never the centre of Italy, to begin to give
up their Arianism at the end of the century. It is probable, however,
that in any case Arianism would in course of time have fallen in the
new barbaric States as it did in the eastern empire. The toleration
given by Theodoric in Italy, and by the earlier Arian Goths in Spain
and Gaul, to the Catholic creed, could avail nothing to stay the
orthodox purpose of destroying heresy; and the element of rationalism
on the Arian side was precisely what could least prosper in an era of
ignorance. Thus the Catholic creed had time and credulity on its side;
and, Christianity at that stage being above all things politically
useful as an aid to arbitrary government, the most pronounced and
sacerdotal and superstitious form of Christianity must be the most
useful from a calculating monarch's point of view.

Such, broadly, was the development in the East, where the virtual
suppression or expulsion of Arianism by Theodosius and his successors
showed what persistent persecution could do when carried on by
both penal and economic means, through a hierarchy who knew how
and where to strike, and had their hearts in the work. Arianism was
not destroyed; indeed all of the great heresies of the first five
centuries--Marcionism, Montanism, Arianism, Manichæism, Monophysitism,
to say nothing of the Nestorian Church in Asia--are found subsisting in
the eastern empire in the seventh century, despite both disendowment
and cruel persecution, thus in effect proving that had Christianity
been simply left alone, neither helped nor attacked by the State, it
would have been dissolved in a score of warring sects by the fifth
century. The Manichæans were as inflexible as ever were any of the
Christists; and as against the convictions of the heretics in general
the moral failure of the orthodox Church was absolute. By executing
Priscillian in the fourth century it simply inflamed his following,
which was strong in Spain two hundred years later. But though the
endowed clergy could not convert or exterminate the others, they
could keep them poor and ostracized, and wield against them the
subsidized mob as well as the whole machinery of the State. Against
such oppression the heretics could not compete as the early Jesuists
had done against the careless course of paganism, with its isolated
priests, so much more often indifferent than fanatical.

Where early Christism had met the cravings alike of ascetics, of
mystics, of simple emotionalists, and of poor seekers after a concrete
God not hedged around with altars and priests, thus appealing both to
heretic Jews and to heretic Gentiles, the later heresies ostensibly
appealed as a rule either to ascetics or to dogmatists, and offered
nothing to the multitude that it could not find within the Church,
shades of dogma apart. Manichæism indeed remained to prove that what
was virtually a new religion could rise and persist for centuries in
the teeth of Christianity, by methods and appeals very like those of
Christism; but it also served to prove that organized and endowed
and established Christianity, inspired by an enduring hate, could
check and overshadow the rival religion where unorganized paganism,
for lack of general animus and systematic official zeal, had failed to
subdue Christianity. And the political elimination of nominal Arianism
in the West served to prove afresh that orthodoxy finally triumphed
in that regard by enlisting on its side not only the instincts of
polytheism but the interests of monarchy. It is significant that,
driven from the empire, Arianism flourished best in the barbarian
world, where for a time some mental freedom might be supposed to
subsist. If any rational motive is to be assigned for the zealous
adoption of the Athanasian creed by such rulers as Theodosius, it
is presumably their perception that the most irrational dogma went
best with discipline: that the spirit which presumed to rationalize
religion was the less ready for political obedience. On the other hand,
the Trinitarian clergy of Spain found their advantage as a hierarchy by
bringing round their Arian masters to the orthodox creed. In any case,
the triumph of orthodoxy went step for step not only with intellectual
dissolution and moral paralysis, but with the disruption of the empire.



§ 2. The Cost of Orthodoxy

The constant law of theological development was that all stirrings of
reason were anathematized as heresy, and that dogmas became orthodox
in the ratio of their extravagance. Paganizing and polytheistic heresy
such as that of the Collyridians of Arabia (4th c.), who worshipped
Mary as a Goddess and offered her cakes (collyridæ) as their mothers
had done to Ashtaroth, ran little risk: their heresy in fact was on
the way to be orthodoxy. Saner heresies fared differently. Late in the
fourth century we find the Italian monk Jovinian opposing asceticism,
urging a rational morality, and explaining that Mary ceased to be a
virgin on bringing forth Jesus; for which offences he was condemned in
Church Councils, flogged, and banished to a desolate island. A little
later, Vigilantius, a presbyter from Gaul, ventured to oppose the
growing worship of relics, prayers to saints, the use of sacred tapers,
vigils, and pilgrimages, as well as to decry many current miracles. So
furious was the outcry of Jerome in his case that he had to hold his
peace if he would save his life. No leading churchman said a word
for either reformer: Ambrose and Jerome both condemned Jovinian; and
the language of Jerome against Vigilantius is a revelation of the new
possibilities of intellectual malice created by creed. On this side,
human nature had reverted several degrees to Hebraism.

Later still, the heresy of Pelagius, also a western, aroused a bitter
orthodox opposition, led by Augustine. Pelagius (a name probably the
Grecized form of the British name Morgan) and Coelestius, an Irishman,
both monks in Rome about the years 400-410, drew up a systematic
argument against the doctrines of human depravity, predestination,
and salvation by grace; denied the damnation of unbaptized infants
and virtuous unbaptized adults; rejected the Biblical teaching that
Adam died in consequence of his sin or entailed sin on posterity;
and taught a relatively rational ethic. Flying from Rome on Alaric's
invasion, they went, Coelestius to Carthage and Pelagius to the East;
the former to be condemned by a Council at Carthage (412), the latter
to be for a time supported against attacks, but later to be condemned
likewise. Henceforth the half-suppressed vestiges of Pelagianism
(chiefly in the hesitating form of semi-Pelagianism, according to
which God foreordained good but merely foreknew evil) were the only
signs left in the West, apart from Arianism, of the spirit of critical
reason, till the first stirrings of the medieval renascence.

In the West, it will be observed, spontaneous heresy had run to
questions of action and ethics, partly following a Roman tradition
of concern for conduct, partly expressing barbarian common-sense. To
such thought, Christianity was alien, and it was cried down by voluble
theologians like Augustine, backed, doubtless, not only by the average
obedient priest, but by some who saw that the principles of Pelagius,
logically carried out, made an end on the one hand of the whole
Christian scheme, and on the other of the conception of an omnipotent
God. Such reasoners must equally have seen that the Augustinian dogmas
of predestination and grace made an end of human responsibility; and
this was urged by some Pelagians, but with no effect. The irrational
dogma best consisted with the functions and finance of the church,
and it was ecclesiastically established accordingly.

In the East, though there also Pelagius found followers, spontaneous
heresy, as we have seen, was usually a matter of abstract dogma, as
in the schisms of Praxeas, Sabellius, Paul of Samosata, Arius, and
the Gnostics. What critical thought there was continued to follow
the lead given to it by the older Greek dialectics. Aërius, who
raised in Asia Minor in the fourth century an agitation against
episcopacy, fasts, prayers for the dead, and the ceremony of
slaying a lamb at Easter, is an exception among eastern heretics;
and the dogmatic-dialectic tendency persisted. In the fifth century,
Theodorus of Mopsuestia, a voluminous writer, taught rationally that
most of the Old Testament prophecies applied by orthodoxy to Jesus
had reference to events in pre-Christian history. Needless to say,
this was heresy. But the chief new schisms of the period were those of
Nestorius and the Monophysites. Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople,
a pupil of Theodorus, but a zealous persecutor of heresy, became
embroiled in the second stage of the endless wrangle as to the nature
of Christ. In the latter half of the fourth century, Apollinaris,
Bishop of Laodicea, a strong anti-Arian, holding that the dogma of
a God-Man was monstrous, had taught that Jesus was without a human
soul (or mind, as distinguished from mere animal life), having only a
divine one. This was to "confound the two natures"; Apollinaris was
condemned; and the Syrian orthodox rectified matters by insisting
that there were two, while the Egyptians, recoiling from the risk of
a theory of two Christs, insisted that the two were nevertheless one.

Nestorius stood with his fellow-Syrians, and sought to crush the
Apollinarians as he had helped to hound down Arians, Novatians, and
other misbelievers. The Apollinarians, however, had a stronghold in
their deification of Mary, whom they called Theotokos or Deipara,
"the mother (bearer) of God"; and when the Nestorians denounced the
common use of this term they incurred the wrath of the multitude, who,
wont in the past to worship Goddess-mothers with a special devotion,
and wroth at the attempt to put Mary lower than Isis and Cybelê,
naturally sought to exalt Mary as they had exalted Jesus. A general
Council (431) was called at Ephesus to denounce Nestorius; and he,
the heresy-hunter, was convicted of blasphemy, classed with Judas,
and banished for life. Thenceforth, orthodox Christianity was for all
practical purposes a worship of a Goddess and two supreme Gods; and
Nestorian Christianity, flourishing in Asia, where its adherents were
known by the old label of "Nazaræans," became a hostile religion. Thus
in the East as in the West the State was riven in new religious
factions at the very hour when it needed above all things unity. Persia
was at that very time beginning the acquisition of half of Armenia,
as the Vandals were beginning the conquest of North Africa. To Persia
the Nestorians were driven; and there, declaring themselves the
friends of the enemies of the Byzantine empire, they were fostered,
while the orthodox Christians were persecuted, massacred, and expelled.

To a thoughtful pagan, viewing the course of things, it must
have seemed as if the Gods had given over the Christians to
madness. Among the chief enemies of Nestorius was Eutyches, an abbot
of a Constantinople monastery. In the year 448, by way of making
an end of Nestorianism, he explicitly taught that Christ had only
one nature, the divine. Instantly this was in turn denounced as
a return to the Apollinarian heresy, and Eutyches was cast out of
the church by a hostile council. Another council, skilfully packed,
acquitted him, and caused his accuser to be flogged and banished;
but a third, that of Chalcedon (451), again condemned him. Thus was
the Christian dogma fixed in the form of maximum arbitrariness and
unintelligibility. The Council of Nicæa (321) had determined against
Arius that Christ was truly God, co-equal and co-eternal with his
Father, separate and yet one; the Council of Constantinople (381)
had determined against Apollinaris that he was also truly man; that
of Ephesus (431) had established that the two natures were indivisibly
one; and that of Chalcedon (451) that they were nevertheless perfectly
distinct. All four dogmas became fixed constituents of the Christian
creed. To this length had men evolved a myth. And there were still
developments to come.

The condemned Eutycheans, modifying their position, but still calling
themselves Monophysites, became in turn a force of fatal cleavage. The
emperor Zeno, in the year 482, conciliated them by an edict called
his Henoticon ("unifying"); but the orthodox only opposed them the
more; though all the while the Monophysites professed to regard the
"one nature" as a union of two, "yet without any conversion, confusion,
or commixture." On this absolutely unintelligible difference the sects
finally sundered their very nationality. Late in the sixth century,
under a new leader, Jacobus Baradæus, they became known as Jacobites;
and when in the next century the rising movement of the Mohammedan
Arabs broke upon Egypt, where they abounded, the hatred of Jacobites
for Catholics was such as to make them welcome the anti-Christian
enemy, as they and others had previously welcomed the Persians
in Syria.

It is not to be supposed, indeed, that the creed of Christianity
was the sole or primary cause of such a miserable evolution. The
very insanity of the strifes of Christians over meaningless dogmas
is primarily to be traced to the fatal constriction of life and
energy represented by the imperial system. It was because men had
no rational interests to strive over if they would that they strove
insanely over abracadabras of creed, and made war flags of the two
colours of the charioteers of the circus; even as in Egypt the abject
populations of the old cities, down to the time of Julian, fought to
the death for their respective animal-Gods. But it is essential to
note the absolute failure of Christianity to give to the decaying
civilization any light for its path. It flourished by reason of
decadence, and it could not arrest it. What ultimately preserved
any section of the Christian empire was the pagan heritage of law
and system, applied to a State shorn of all its outlying and alien
provinces, and reduced to the homogeneity and the status of a kingdom
proper with a commercial and industrial life. Justinian was fain to
set a non-Christian lawyer--Tribonian, a pagan or atheist--to frame
the code of laws by which Byzantium went on living. Himself we find
fulminating against revived heresies, anathematizing the long-dead
Origen, and latterly enouncing heresies of his own which, had he
lived longer, would have wrought fresh convulsions in the State.

Such is the note of Greek-Christian life down to the very hour of
the supreme catastrophe which tore from the warlike Heraclius the
provinces of Syria and Egypt (632-639), and, engulfing next North
Africa, overthrew Christianity forever in the lands in which it
had been built up. Heraclius, struggling to save a shaken empire,
had early realized, as did Maurice before him, the madness of
driving myriads of Nestorians into the arms of Persia; and after
his triumph over Chosroes he sought to conciliate both Nestorians
and Monophysites by a decree (630) to the effect that, while there
were in Christ two natures, there was only one will, as was admitted
by the Nestorians. For a time all seemed well, and many Monophysites
in the outlying provinces returned to the Church. But in a few years
an orthodox zealot, Sophronius, patriarch of Jerusalem, reopened the
eternal debate, and declared that the new formula was a revival of the
Eutychean heresy. In vain Heraclius, striving to save the remnants
of the empire, sought to enforce his solution (639) by an ecthesis,
or formula, which forbade further debate on the subject. The Catholics
decided that there were two wills, though they always coincided; and
the doctrine of one will--the "Monothelite" heresy--at length became
a ground for the repudiation of the rule of Constans II over Italy,
a hundred bishops anathematizing the typus or formula in which he
endorsed the ecthesis of his grandfather. Finally, Constantine II (681)
accepted the doctrine that in Christ two wills were harmonized, and one
more orthodox countersense was added to the definition of the God-Man
who never was. The so-called Athanasian creed--really a product of the
Latin Church some centuries later than Athanasius--is a parade of the
whole series. To this much had Christianity attained after four hundred
years of indescribable strife. The one clue through the chaos is the
perception that in every stage the dispute logically went back to the
original issue of monotheism and polytheism. The church, holding by the
Hebrew sacred books as well as its own, was committed doctrinally to
the former, but practically to the latter. Every affirmation of "one"
tended to imperil the separate divinity of the sacrificed Jesus; and
every affirmation of duality gave an opening to the polytheists. The
one durable solution was, at each crisis, to make both affirmations,
and so baffle at once reason and schismatic fanaticism.

In effect, Christianity had become polytheistic; and were it not that
the personalities of Father, Mother and Son satisfied the average
religious need, as it had so long done in pre-Christian Egypt, the
dispute actually begun by Bishop Macedonius of Constantinople in the
fourth century over the modality of the Holy Ghost would have gone
as far as those over the Son and "the Mother of God." In its first
stage, the conception of the Holy Spirit, so vague and purposeless
in the orthodox doctrine, would seem to have been distinctly that
of a feminine Deity. We know from Origen that in the lost gospel
of the Hebrews Jesus was made to speak of "My Mother the Holy
Spirit." This was a heretical reversion, on Judæo-Gnostic lines,
to the original Semitic theosophy, according to which every God had
his female counterpart; but ordinary Jewish monotheism, which had put
aside the female Spirit (Ruach) of its older lore, was sufficiently
strong to prevent the acceptance of such a heresy in the gospel-making
period; and the accepted gospel birth-myth was better adapted to the
general purposes of the cult. For the paganized Church, finally, the
divinization of Mary was a simple matter, as we have seen; and the Holy
Spirit, which had obscurely entered the orthodox myth in a form really
Samaritan, but permitted by Judaic doctrine, thenceforth remained a
gratuitous enigma, capping the mystery of the co-eternal Father and
Begotten Son. The Eastern Church, recoiling from a reiteration of the
latter countersense, decided (381) that the Spirit "proceeded from"
the Father, but not from the Son, thus virtually depriving the Son,
after all, of his so-often affirmed equality.

The root of the difficulty, as of the Trinitarian dogma in general,
is to be seen in the old Egyptian pantheism, according to which the
all-comprehending Amun "is at once the Father, the Mother, and the Son
of God"; but even as the Amunite priests made play with the Son-God
Khonsu after affirming the oneness of Amun, so the Christian priesthood
was forced at every step to distinguish the Son while affirming the
oneness of the Trinity; and each new dogma was a fresh ground for
the old quarrel. In the end the Western Church rejected this Eastern
heresy as it did the Monothelite; and the Council of Toledo (589)
added to the creed the Filioque clause, thus stating that the Spirit
proceeded from the Father "and from the Son." But at this point the
Eastern Church remained obstinate; it admitted that the Spirit came
through the Son, but would not say it "proceeded from" the Son; and
the Filioque clause remained a standing ground of feud between East
and West, as well as a standing instance of the irrationality of the
orthodox system. It is no wonder that in the seventh century eastern
churchmen were still writing treatises against paganism, which, despite
all the penal laws, persisted in virtue of its incoherent simplicity
as against the systematic unintelligibility of the Christian creed.

A politic Christian, indeed, might point to the mere history of
heresy as showing the need for a dogma which should give no foothold
to reason. Like the Arians, the Monophysites had divided into warring
sects, their crux being that of the corruptibility or incorruptibility
of the body of Christ; and the two parties thus formed split in turn
into five. The total schism was in the main racial, Egyptian opposing
Greek; and the carnal jealousies of the patriarchs and bishops seem
to have played a great part in creating it; but nothing could arrest
the process of sub-division and strife. In one furious feud over
the election of a bishop of the Monophysite church of Alexandria,
a hundred and seventy years after the first Eutychean schism, the
fighting reached the lowest stage of savagery; and Justinian's general
Narses, who supported the "incorruptible" candidate at the behest of
the empress Theodora, had to burn a large part of the city before he
could carry his point. Soon afterwards, another imperial nominee,
who entered the city in battle array, had to fight for his place;
and the carnage was enormous. In every doctrinal strife in turn the
parties proceeded to bloodshed with a speed and zest which turned to
derision the moral formulas of their creed. Such social delirium was
chronic in Christendom from the age of Constantine to the triumph of
the Saracens; and, needless to say, under such conditions there was
no progress in civilization.



§ 3. Moral and Intellectual Stagnation

On the intellectual side, ancient Christianity is on the whole at its
strongest in the West, just before the fall of the western empire,
as if the last mental energies of the Roman world had there found
a channel. Augustine passed on to the middle ages a body of polemic
theology sufficiently vivacious to constitute a Christian classic; and
in him at last the Latin church had produced a personality comparable
to Origen. Jerome, on the other hand, could compare with Origen as a
scholar, and like him he laid bases for the scholarship of a later and
reviving age. But the total achievement of Christianity on behalf of
ancient civilization had amounted to nothing. By spreading the dogma
that error of belief, whether as paganism or as heresy, doomed men
to eternal torment, it negated the very basis of human brotherhood,
and gave a new dominion to hate, individual and corporate. It made
neither good rulers nor a sound society. Valentinian must have been
made tolerant in state affairs by the spirit of pagan policy: as a
man he was so abnormally cruel that had he been a pagan the historians
would have compared him to Nero. That a year after Julian's death there
should be on the throne a Christian emperor who caused offenders to
be thrown to wild bears in his own presence is a memorable item in
Christian history. Of his Arian brother Valens it is told that he
caused to be burned at sea a shipload of eighty ecclesiastics who
had come to him as a deputation. This may be an orthodox fiction; but
such fictions are themselves signal proofs of demoralizing malignity;
as is the orthodox suppression of the story of how the Arian bishop
Deogratius at Carthage succoured the captives brought by the Vandals
from the sack of Rome--one of the rare records of magnanimous humanity
in the history of the age.

From the orthodox themselves we know how Pope Leo had banished and
imprisoned the Manichæans and Pelagians who sought refuge at Rome
when the Vandals attacked Carthage. The emperors exhibit the process
of decivilization. Valentinian died of rage: his pious sons were
weaklings; and Theodosius, when the rabble of Thessalonica braved him
by murdering his governor for enforcing the law against a popular
charioteer, treacherously planned a systematic and indiscriminate
massacre by which there perished from seven to fifteen thousand
men, women, and children. No pagan emperor had ever done the like;
and no such number of Christians can have been put to death by
Nero. Heraclius, after beheading Phocas, sent his head and limbs
to be dragged through the streets of Constantinople--a reversion to
barbarism. Two centuries earlier (415) a rabble of Alexandrian monks,
acting in the interest of Cyril the Patriarch, seized the pagan teacher
Hypatia, stripped her, tore her flesh from her bones with shells,
and burned the remains. It is one of the anomalies of historiography
that a moral rebirth of the world should have been held to begin in an
age in which such things could be. Rather the Mediterranean world had
grown more neurotically evil than ever before. The facts that Bishop
Ambrose of Milan denounced the act of Theodosius, forcing him to do
penance for seven months before re-admitting him to worship, and that
Theodosius in his remorse submitted to the sentence and was afterwards
less vindictive, are the best that can be recorded per contra. Ambrose
himself warmly justified the burning of Jewish synagogues; and while
he, with all his ecclesiastical frauds, showed a public spirit, it
is a commonplace of Christian history that from the third century
onwards bishops in general were self-seekers, who battled furiously
over questions of diocesan boundaries, and were the ideal contrast
to the legendary apostles. Among the Christianized barbarians who in
their turn overran the empire the moral phenomena become even worse,
their religion seeming only to make them more savage and vicious.

All that Christianity had yielded under the form of moral betterment
was an increasing glorification of chastity and celibacy, with some
restraint on infanticide. When the western empire is on the verge
of destruction, Rome being already sacked, we find Jerome expanding
in an insane exultation over the news that a young Roman lady had
taken the vow of virginity, an event to which he ascribes cosmic
importance. The mother of such a virgin, he declares, becomes ipso
facto "the mother-in-law of God." As always happens where sexual
virtue is identified with abstinence, vice was excessive. Chrysostom
in the East, and Salvian in Gaul, testify that alike in licence and
in cruelty the Christianized State at the beginning of the fifth
century was the worsened copy of the pagan world of four centuries
before. The Greek Basil and the Italian Ambrose alike bear witness
to the survival in the Christian Church of all the excesses of the
old Bacchanalia. Even the tradition that in the reign of Honorius
(404) the horrible gladiatorial games were abolished, is admitted by
Christian scholarship to be false. It may be that a humane monk did
lose his life in trying to stop them; but there is clear proof that
the games subsisted in Christian Gaul at a later date, though even
humane pagans had called for their abolition, and their cost was a
heavy burden on the falling revenue. Centuries before the time of
Honorius, Apollonius of Tyana was credited with causing them to be
abolished at Athens. Not till the Gothic conquest did the games cease
in the West; nor did the piety of Honorius and his advisers withhold
them from treacherous massacres, and from enacting the punishment of
burning alive for frauds on the fisc.

And the wrong of wrongs was left not only untouched but
unchallenged. Slavery remained, and the average lot of the slave was
no better than in the Rome of Horace. Christian matrons in the East
were as cruel mistresses as those of the West in the days before
Nero. That Christian credences counted for little in setting up
even the species of virtue most esteemed may be gathered from the
Confessions of Augustine. By his own account, what first drew him in
his youth to moral reflection and conduct was not the pious teaching
of his mother but the writing of Cicero; he was scrupulous as a
Manichæan before he became orthodox; and his charges of hypocrisy
against some Manichæans merely place the heretical sect on a level
with the orthodox. As regarded the weightier matters of morals
there could be no vital reform, because there was at work neither an
intellectual force nor a self-saving pressure from the wronged orders
of society. The ethic which led Origen to make himself a eunuch was
not a force for betterment.

A survey of the literature of the fourth and fifth centuries will
make equally clear the failure of Christianity to renew the mental
life which had been dwindling in the Hellenic world since the days
of Alexander, and in the western since those of Augustus. No modern
seeker for wisdom or beauty in ancient lore thinks of turning
for it to the Greek and Latin writings of the age of established
Christianity. Augustine, whose energy was sufficient for a great
literary performance, leaves a mass of work out of which two or
three treatises only have any truly literary as distinct from an
archæological interest; and these are vitiated as compared with good
pagan work by their wearisome hysterical pietism no less than by their
utter lack of serenity. The Confessions, which might have been a great
human document, are reduced by their religious content almost to the
plane of the surrounding wilderness of rhetorical theology, whereof
a library still subsists, unreadable and unread. Rhetoric, the bane
of the decadent pagan literature, infects equally all the Christian
writers, giving to the most vehement the ring of inflation and false
passion. Literature of artistic or intellectual value was almost at
an end. Such Christian poets as Prudentius and Paulinus have indeed
merit in their kind; but they could not begin a literary renascence
under the conditions set up either by fanatical Christianity or by
the worldly spirit which divided with fanaticism the control of the
Christian Church and State in the West as in the East. And when the
spirit of literature did later revive, it turned with less zest to
the pietists named than to their pagan contemporary Claudian, who if
not a great poet is yet high among the lesser classics of Rome.

It would seem as if Claudian, coming to the writing of Latin after
a Greek education, was partly saved by that circumstance from the
artistic fatuity which had become normal among the westerns as among
the easterns. The need to think in a new speech may have vitalized his
use of it. But he remained wholly pagan in his creed. And such pagan
thinkers as Macrobius and Simplicius, though unoriginal in comparison
with those whom they commented, reward attention in many ways better
than do their contemporaries of the Church. What of permanent appeal
there is in the teaching of Augustine comes largely from his early
philosophic culture; and Ambrose has hardly anything in the way of
serious or philosophic thought which he does not borrow from pagan
lore. Boethius, the last of the ancient philosophers, was a Christian
only in name, expounding its orthodox dogma as a lawyer might expound
law: when he came to write his consolations in prison he went back to
the ancient and universal ethic, putting aside his creed as he might
a mask. The vogue of his book in the Dark Ages is the expression of
thinking men's satisfaction in a late Latin treatise which brooded
gravely on life and death in terms of human feeling and wisdom,
with no hint of the formulas of the priest.

On the side of science in particular and education in general the
Christian tendency was increasingly repressive. When Christianity was
established there were still grammar schools in every considerable
town in the empire, and many higher schools in the great cities;
and though for long the Christians were fain to use these schools,
pagan as they were in character, by reason of their almost purely
literary or rhetorical curriculum, the Church gradually let them die
out, never even attempting a Christian system of education, apart
from a few theological schools. Nor did the process of extinction of
knowledge end there. Early in the fifth century Theodosius II forbade
all public lecturing by non-official teachers; and a century later
Justinian plundered and abolished the philosophical schools at Athens,
thus ending the last vestige of the higher intellectual life. Pope
Gregory the Great fanatically discouraged literary culture; and in
the East it soon became a matter of orthodox rule that the laity
should not read the sacred books, the only literature that could
well come in their way. Science so-called was practically a synonym
for heresy: it was denounced as impious by zealous believers in the
third century; and in the sixth we find Cosmas "Indicopleustes," the
Indian voyager, a Nestorian Christian, denouncing the pagan doctrine
of the roundness of the earth, and religiously demonstrating that it
is an oblong plane. Medicine had gone far under pagan auspices, and
Antoninus Pius had provided for municipal physicians throughout the
empire; but the Christians, seeing heresy in all science, put prayer
and exorcism above leechcraft; the temple-schools of the healing God
Æsculapius were closed with the rest, and medical like other science
virtually died out of Christian hands, to be recovered from old Greek
lore by the Saracens. Gregory the Great exhibits the superstition of
an ignorant Asiatic.

What the world needed above all things was new study and real knowledge
in place of rhetoric: the fatality of the Christian system was that
it set up the conviction that all vital knowledge was contained in
itself. Yet all the while the religious habit of mind, which saw in
pious fraud a service to deity, had almost destroyed the rational
conception of truth, so that a thousand years were to elapse before
human testimony could return to the standards of Thucydides, or human
judgment rise above a gross credulity. Had it been only in the West,
overrun by barbarism, that the lights of knowledge and art went out,
the barbarian invasion might be put as the cause; but the history
of Christian Byzantium is the history of an intellectual arrest of
a thousand years on the very soil of civilization.



§ 4. The Social Failure

Of the eastern Christian empire as it is left curtailed of more than
half its area by the Moslem conquest, the one thing that cannot
be predicated is progress or transformation. Here again it would
be an error to regard Christianity as the cause of stagnation: the
whole political science of antiquity had been markedly conservative;
but it must be noted that historic Christianity absolutely endorsed
the ideal of fixity. Only conditions of stimulating culture-contact
could have preserved a vigorous mental life under its sway; and the
condition of Byzantium was unhappily one of almost complete racial
and religious isolation. The Byzantium of Justinian and Heraclius is
almost the ideal of ossification; its very disorders are normal, the
habitual outbreaks of a vicious organism. There is nothing in pagan
history to compare with the chronic pandemonium set up in Christian
Constantinople by the circus factions of blues and greens, whose mutual
massacres in generation after generation outdid the slaughters of many
civil wars. As painted by its own Christian censors, the Byzantine
town population of all orders was at least as worthless as that of
pagan Rome in its worst imperial days; it realized the ignorance and
unprogressiveness of imperial China without the Chinese compensations
of normal good nature, courtesy, domestic unity, and patient toil.

Industry indeed there must have been; it was perhaps the silk
industry introduced by Justinian that began the economic salvation
of the State; but the law prescribed a system of industrial caste,
binding every man, as far as might be, to his father's trade, which
must have kept the working populace very much on the level of that
of ancient Egypt. Nor can matters have been socially much better
in the West, whether in Italy under Byzantine or Lombard rule, or
in the new barbarian States, Arian and Catholic. Everywhere the old
inequalities of law were rather worsened than cured, and no Christian
teacher dreamed of curing them. The ideals of the most earnest among
them, as Jerome and Paulinus, began and ended in mere pietism and
physical self-mortification.

It is not surprising, then, that all over the Christian world the most
salient social result of the creed was the institution of monasticism,
a Christian adaptation of a usage long common in religious and
down-trodden Egypt. Everything conduced to promote it. The spectacle
of constant strife and sensuality in the cities moved suffering souls
of the unworldly type to withdraw to solitude or the cloister; all the
leading teachers applauded the ideal, while denouncing its abuses;
and for multitudes of unfortunate or inferior types, avoiding toil
or escaping tyranny, then as later, the life of the monk or even
of the hermit, though poor, was one of relative ease and idleness,
greatly preferable to that of the proletary, since all could count
on being at least maintained by popular charity, if not enriched by
the believers in their sanctity. To these types were added that of
the ignorant fanatic, which seems to have been as numerous as that
of the slothful, and which under monastic conditions seems to have
become more fanatical than ever. Thus some of the best and much of the
worse moral elements, the latter of course immensely predominating,
combined to weaken the social fabric, the former by withdrawing their
finer personalities from a world that doubly needed them; the latter
by withdrawing hands from labour and widening the realm of ignorant
faith. Some powerful personalities, as Basil and Chrysostom and
Gregory, were bred in the monastic life; but in the main it was a mere
impoverishment of civilization. In the critical period of Christian
history the monks are often found zealous in works of rabid violence,
such as the destruction of pagan temples and Jewish synagogues, and the
horrible murder of the pagan girl-philosopher Hypatia in Alexandria;
and they too had their furious dogmatic strifes, notably in the fourth
and fifth centuries, when those of Egypt constituted themselves the
champions of the orthodoxy (then impeached) of Origen, for no clear
reason save perhaps the fact of his self-mutilation. But, as Christian
historians have remarked, they seem to have done nothing to resist the
ruinous onslaught of Islam, which above all things despised monks. For
that matter, the hierarchy did no better. The hierocracy established
in Spain under the Visigoths served so to emasculate or paralyse the
race that after an undisturbed life of three hundred years it fell
in a day before a handful of Moslem filibusters from North Africa.

There is reason to believe, finally, that the intellectual as well
as the political abjection of the Christian mass in Syria, Egypt,
and North Africa made multitudes ready material for Islam, even
as sectarian hatreds made others welcome the conqueror, and resent
only his toleration of their opponents. Christian faith availed so
little to make head against the new faith which assailed it, that we
must infer a partial paralysis on the Christian side as a result of
Moslem success. Success was the theological proof of divine aid; and
many calamities, such as earthquakes, had previously seemed to tell
of divine wrath against the Christian world. Such arguments shook
multitudes. Numbers apostatized at once; and when the Moslem rule
was established from Jerusalem to Carthage, the Christian Church,
tolerated only to be humiliated, dwindled to insignificance on its
former soil. In the African provinces it absolutely disappeared;
in the others it became incapable of moving either Arab or Frank
to respect. Nestorian Christianity, already settled in Persia, was
specially tolerated by the Saracens, as it had been by the Persians,
because of its enmity to Christian Byzantium; but though it continued
to subsist it was by toleration and not through strength. The Nestorian
clergy and laity throve somewhat as Jews had done in Rome; but they
made no headway against Islam, and some of the Asiatic States where
they had been numerous fell away wholly to Mohammedanism. Thus was
given once more the historic proof that any religion may in time be
destroyed or degraded by brute force, provided only that the brute
force be persistent, and efficiently applied.

What pagan Rome did not do, for lack of systematic effort or continuous
purpose, Islam did with the greatest ease, the purpose and the effort
being wholehearted. And when we compare the later civilization of
the Saracens with that they overthrew, it is hard to feel that the
world lost by the change. If monotheism had any civilizing virtue
as against polytheism, it was the Moslems, not the Christians, who
were monotheists; and the Moslem scorn of Christian man-worship and
idolatry reproduced the old Christian tone towards paganism. On
the side of morals, Moslem polygamy was indeed relatively evil;
but on the other hand the giving of alms, so often claimed as a
specially Christian virtue, was under Islam an absolute duty; Moslems
could not hold Moslems as slaves; Islam knew no priestcraft; and it
substantially excluded the common Christian evils of drunkenness and
prostitution. Almost the only art carried on by the Byzantines from
their pagan ancestors was that of architecture, their churches being
often beautiful; and this art, as well as that of working in gold,
the Saracens preserved; while it is to their later adoption of the
ancient Greek science that the world owes the revival of knowledge
after the night of the Dark Ages. Sculpture and painting were already
become contemptible in Christian hands; and literature was in not
much better case. It is to be noted, too, that the traditional blame
of the Goths and Vandals for the disfigurement of ancient Rome is
misplaced, the worst wreckers being the generals of Justinian and
the inhabitants themselves, always ready to ruin a pagan memorial
for the sake of building material.

When finally we seek to realize the aspect of the Hellenistic world
in the time of Mohammed, in contrast with that of the age of Pericles;
or the Rome of Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) in contrast with that
of Hadrian, we are conscious of an immense loss of human faculty for
beauty and joy, no less than for action. It is not too much to say that
the Christian ideal of sanctity meant not only self-mortification and
sadness but squalor in the individual life. Physical uncleanliness
became a Christian virtue; and the mark of a city built in the
Christian period came to be the absence of baths. Pagan Greece lives
for ever in men's thought as a dream of grace and beauty and enchanted
speech; and though behind the shining vision of art and song there
lingers immovably a sombre memory of strife and servitude, the art
and the song are a deathless gift to mankind. At every summit of its
attainment our civilization looks back to them with an unquenchable
envy, an impotent desire, as of a race disinherited. To regain that
morning glory of life is the spontaneous yearning of all who have gazed
on the distant light of it. But the man who would wish to re-create the
Constantinople of Justinian or Heraclius has not yet declared himself.

Dream for dream, the child-like creed of the God-crowded Hellas
of Pheidias' day, peopled with statues and crowned with temples
of glorious symmetry, is an incomparably fairer thing than the
tortured dogma of the Byzantine church, visually expressing itself
in wretched icons, barbaric trappings, and infinite mummeries of
ceremonial. Idolatry for idolatry, the adoration of noble statues
by chanting bands of youths and maidens can have wrought less harm
to head and heart than the prostration of their posterity before the
abortions of Byzantine art. Superstition for superstition, there is
nothing in old Hellene religion, with all its survivals of savage
myth, to be compared for moral and mental abjection to the practice
of the Christian Greeks, with their pilgrimages to Arabia to kiss
Job's dunghill, and their grovelling worship of dead men's bones. Some
Christian historians, seeking a vital test, have concluded that under
paganism there was no good "life of the heart"; but whatever may be
the modern superiority in this regard, there is none to be discerned
in the Christian civilizations which in the seventh century still
spoke the classic tongues of paganism.

In the West, where a spiritual power had begun obscurely to acquire
a Roman empire which parodied the old, there is indeed a potential
superiority predicable for the new. Gregory sending Augustine to
convert the Britons is a fairer moral spectacle than that of Cæsar,
bent on plunder, seeking to conquer them. But whatever might be
the moral merit of a sincere fanaticism like that of Gregory, who
trampled down culture as eagerly as he pushed propaganda, the life
of too many Popes had already shown that the new Romanism was only
to be Cæsarism with a difference, and that for the spiritual as for
the temporal empire the great end was gold. Tyranny for tyranny,
and power for power, the Rome of Trajan, superb and cruel, is hardly
a worse thing than the Rome in which Popes fought with hired bands
for their chair, or sat in it through the favour of courtesans;
and the Roman populace of the days of Gregory was no worthier than
that of the days of Caracalla or of Honorius. "Nothing can give a
baser notion of their degradation than their actions," says Milman,
describing the conduct of the Romans at Gregory's death, when they
had become thoroughly Christianized. As of old, the accident of real
merit in the ruler could avail for much in administration; but still
the calm Antonines can bear comparison as potentates and men with
any wearer of the triple crown.



PART III

MEDIEVAL CHRISTIANITY


CHAPTER I

EXPANSION AND ORGANIZATION


§ 1. Position in the Seventh Century

When the swift triumph of Islam had cut off from Christendom the
populations among whom its creed had been evolved, that creed ruled in
the Byzantine State; in Italy, still half-imperial, half-Lombardic;
in Spain, then under Teutonic masters; in Frankish Gaul; in parts of
southern Germany; in Saxon Britain, of which the conversion was begun
by the lesser Augustine under Gregory the Great, after the overthrow
of the earlier Church by the heathen invaders; and in Ireland, which
had been largely Christianized in the fourth and fifth centuries,
apparently by Greek or eastern means. In the Moslem world, Christianity
existed on sufferance, and chiefly in heretical forms, being Nestorian
in Persia and Monophysite in Egypt, as also in Abyssinia; but Christian
Europe was now nominally agreed on the main official dogmas.

In the more civilized European States, specific paganism still throve
more or less obscurely, both by way of educated antiquarianism and
of peasant persistence in old ways; and the Church framed canons
against the latter and treatises against the former. The mass of the
population, however, was satisfied with the ample elements of the old
system embodied in the new. In the more barbaric States, Christianity
was even less of a modifying force than in the others. Like the
people of the empire, the barbarians carried on their pagan rites,
festivals, and superstitions under the name of Christianity; and
whereas the educated world was in a measure forced by its pessimists
and its pietists to recognize the difference between its documents and
its practice, the more primitive races simply translated Christian
tradition and theory into the terms of their own life. Save for
an exaltation of celibacy, and a confessional inquisition, at once
prurient and puerile, into the details of the sexual relation, it in
no way changed the plane of their thought and conduct. What it did
alter was their political life, inasmuch as the co-ordination of the
priesthood made everywhere for the power of the prince, if he had the
wit to use it, the Church being everywhere shaped as far as might be
on the model and the ideal set up by Constantine.

Wherever the Roman empire had been, unless anti-Christian violence
has intervened, the Church system to this day bears witness to the
union of Church and State. In France, for instance, there is still
a bishop, as a rule, wherever there was a Roman municipality, and
an archbishop wherever there was a provincial capital; and where in
imperial territory there were variations in the administration of
rural districts--some being under their own magistrates, some under
those of neighbouring towns--the Church system varied similarly. In
the East, rural bishops, or chorepiscopi, were common; but in the
West they seem to have prevailed only in the Dark Ages, the general
tendency being to give the rank of mere priests to the holders of
country benefices, and to make bishops the rulers of dioceses from
an urban seat or "cathedral" church. Country parishes, on the other
hand, were formed into groups, presided over by an archipresbyter,
without episcopal rank. The spirit of imperial rule pervaded all
Church life. Where large landowners under the Christian emperors had
sought to resist the centralizing system by appointing the priests
on their own estates, they were compelled to obtain the approval of
the nearest bishop; and when they sought next to do without priests,
a law was passed forbidding laymen to meet for worship without an
ecclesiastic. This principle was carried wherever the Church went,
and rigid subordination was the general result. To secure stability,
however, the Church had to rest on a recognized economic interest
throughout the priesthood; and the early practice of a communal life
for the bishop and his clergy, which was still common in Gaul and
Spain in the seventh century, was gradually broken up. The competition
of monasticism first forced upon all a stricter rule; and priests
living in their bishop's house became known as canonici regulares,
"canons regular," or under rule--a duplication of terms, since "canon"
originally meant "rule," and "canonical" was simply "regular." But
the obvious financial advantages, as well as the liberties of the
unattached priests, soon made their status the aim of all not devoted
to the monastic ideals. The change was furthered by the habit of
leaving endowments to individual churches and to individual offices;
till at length, even in the cathedral towns, the canons lived apart,
each with his own revenue, though often dining at a common table;
while the country priests necessarily became still more their own
masters in the matter of income. Thus arose the "secular clergy,"
the title of "regular" being restricted to those who lived under a
monastic rule--as that of Benedict or that of Augustine; and these
in turn came to be classed with monks as distinguished from the
others. In addition, there sprang up in the Middle Ages a number of
unattached or itinerant priests, as well as private chaplains.

In every order alike, however, an economic interest was sooner or
later the ruling motive. Beneficed priests wrought for the church
under which they had their income, keeping as much of it as they could,
but recognizing the need for official union; and the monastic orders
in their turn grew wealthy by endowments, and zealous in proportion
for the temporal power of the Church. As always, the self-denying
and devoted were a minority; but the worldly and the unworldly
alike wrought everywhere in the political interests of the kings,
who had established and endowed the Church to begin with, and who
in return were long allowed many liberties in the appointment and
control of bishops and priests. A common result was the appointment
of lay favourites or benefactors of the king; and bishoprics seem
almost as often as not to have been in some degree purchasable. The
Church, in short, was a social and political function of each State,
with the papal system loosely and variably co-ordinating the whole.



§ 2. Methods of Expansion

Every extension of the Church being a means of power and revenue to
priests, the process was furthered at once by motives of selfishness
and by motives of self-sacrifice. In some cases the latter were
effectual, as when a pious hermit won repute among barbarians for
sanctity, and so acquired spiritual influence; but the normal mode of
conversion seems to have been by way of appeal to chiefs or kings. When
these were convinced that Christianity was to their interest,
the baptism of their more docile subjects followed wholesale. Thus
ten thousand Angli were claimed as baptized by Augustine in Kent on
Christmas Day in the year 597--a transaction which reduced the rite to
nullity, and the individuality of the converts to the level of that of
animals. In this case there can have been no rational consent. A little
later, Heraclius in the East caused multitudes of Jews to be dragged to
baptism by force; and the same course was taken in Spain and Gaul. Jews
so coerced were only more anti-Christian than before; and wholesale
relapses of barbarian converts were nearly as common as the wholesale
captures, till the cause of kings won the mastery. Nowhere does the
Church seem to have grown from within and upward among the barbarians
as it had originally done in the empire: the process is invariably
one of imposition from without and above, by edicts of kings, who
supported the missionaries with the sword. As at the outset of the
Church, there were deadly strifes among the pioneers. The earlier
British Church having been formed under influences from Ireland, there
was such utter hatred between its remnants and the Romanized Church
set up by Augustine that, apparently after his death, twelve hundred
monks of the older church were massacred at Bangor in one of the wars
between the two Christian parties; and the Britons, not unnaturally,
refused to have any intercourse with their brethren, regarding them as
worse than heathens. The Englishman Boniface, who played a large part
(720-55) in the Christianization of northern Germany, and who in the
usual fashion claimed to have baptized a hundred thousand natives in
one year, secured the excommunication of several rival bishops of the
anti-Roman school; and those who would not accept re-ordination at
his hands he sought to have imprisoned or flogged, denouncing them,
in the style of the Churchman of all ages, as "servants of the devil
and forerunners of Antichrist." His authority was established in new
districts at the head of an armed force; and when with fifty priests he
met his death (755) in Friesland at the hands of heathen natives, he
was marching with a troop of soldiers. Even where force was not used,
the persuasions offered were of the grossest kind. Thus a friend of
Boniface is found advising him to point out to the heathen that the
Christians have the bulk and the best of the world, possessing all
the rich lands which yield wine and oil, while the pagans are now
confined to the coldest and most barren regions. No religion was ever
more unspiritually propagated.

Under Charlemagne, Christian missionary methods left those of Islam
in the rear. For the subjection of the still free Saxons, between the
Baltic and the borders of Thuringia and Hesse, he needed the aid of
the Church's organization; and they, realizing the state of the case,
for the most part refused to be baptized. In his wars with them,
accordingly, he decreed that those who rejected the gospel should be
put to death. As the wars lasted thirty-three years, the number of
the slain must be left to imagination. The survivors were finally
bribed into belief by a restoration of their local rights, and by
being freed from tribute to the king. They do not seem, however, to
have been freed from the exactions of the Church, which, according to
the testimony of Charlemagne's adviser, Alcuin, had been a main cause
of the exasperation of the Saxons against it. Among those exactions
Alcuin mentions not only tithes--which had now become a recognized
form of Church revenue--but the infliction of many penalties for moral
and ecclesiastical offences. Such exactions the monarch endorsed;
and he it was who enforced the payment of tithes.

King and priest were thus natural allies as against the freemen or
the chieftains in each territory; and the advance of the Church was
bloody or bloodless according as the king was able to enforce his
will. In the Scandinavian countries the founding of Christianity was
a life-and-death struggle, lasting in all for some two hundred and
fifty years (820-1075), between the local liberties, bound up with
pagan usages, and the centralizing system of the Church. Again and
again the Church was overthrown, with the king who championed it;
and the special ferocity of the marauding vikings against Churchmen
wherever they went seems to have been set up by their sense of the
Church's monarchic function. The fact that many priests were ex-serfs
made them the more obnoxious; and they in turn would strive the
more zealously for the Church's protecting power. But the Church's
political work did not end with the humbling of the vikings, as such,
at the hands of the kings who finally mastered them; it endorsed the
aggressive imperialism of the Danish king Knut as it had done that
of Rome; and never till the time of the Crusades does the ostensible
universality of the Church seem to have checked the old play of racial
hatreds and the normal lust of conquest. So clearly did Charlemagne
realize the political use of the Church that, while he imposed it
everywhere in his own dominions, he vetoed its extension to Denmark,
where it would be a means of organizing a probably hostile power,
many of the stubborn Saxons having fled thither. From the moment of
its establishment it had been stamped with the principle of political
autocracy; and only when its own mounting power and wealth made
it a world-State in itself did it restrain, in its own interest,
the power of kings. In the earlier stages, king and Church supported
each other for their own sakes; and it was as a political instrument,
whose value had been proved in the Roman Empire, that the Church
was sooner or later accepted by the barbarian kings. All the while
popes and prelates complained bitterly that many of the converts
thus won were baptized and rebaptized, yet continued to live as
heathens, slaying priests and sacrificing to idols. When, however,
open heathenism was beaten down, the combined political and religious
prestige of the Christian priest gave him a hold over the multitude,
forever superstitious, such as those of the heathen times had never
wielded save in Gaul. To the new regal tyranny was added that of
the Church. When the Servians, who had been nominally Christianized
under the rule of Byzantium in the eighth century, regained their
independence in the ninth, they significantly renounced Christianity;
and only after re-conquest were they again "converted." To this day
their old pagan beliefs abound under cover of Christianity.

To the general rule of propagation by regal edict or by bloodshed
there were a few partial exceptions. Vladimir, the first Christian
king of the Russians (980), destroyed the old monuments and images
in the usual fashion; but under the auspices of his wife, the sister
of the Byzantine emperor, Greek missionaries set up many schools and
churches, and the kingdom seems to have been bloodlessly Christianized
within three generations. It accordingly remained Christian under
the two and a half centuries of Mongol rule, from 1223. Elsewhere the
conversion of the Slavs was a process of sheer monarchic violence, as
in Scandinavia. Always it was the duke or king who was "converted,"
and always his propaganda was that of the sword. Through three
reigns (870-936) heathen Bohemia was bedevilled by dukes who coerced
their subjects with the Church's help; a pagan prince who led a
successful revolt, but was overthrown by a German invasion, lives
in history as Boleslav the Cruel; and an equally cruel successor,
who with German help used the same means on behalf of Christianity,
figures as Boleslav the Pious (967-999). The same process went on
in Poland; the converted duke (967), backed by his German overlords,
seeking to suppress pagan worship with violence and meeting violent
resistance. So among the Wends, who were also under German vassalage,
the missionary was seen to be the tool of the tyrant, and the cause
of paganism was identified with that of national independence. After
generations of savage struggle, Gottschalk, the pious founder of the
Wendish empire, was overthrown (1066) and put to death with torture. So
in Hungary, where king Stephen (997-1038) combined slaughter with
better propaganda, the king's death was followed by a desperate pagan
revolt, which was twice renewed under his son.

Century after century, expansion proceeded on the same lines. The
Finns, conquered in the twelfth century by a Christian king of Sweden,
were still persistently pagan in the thirteenth, and were bloodily
coerced accordingly. In the conversion of the Slavonic Pomeranians
in the twelfth century, armed force, headed by the duke, was needed
to secure wholesale baptisms after the fashion of Augustine and
Boniface; the people of Lübeck, on the opportunity of an emperor's
death, revolted in favour of paganism and independence; and the
pagans of the Isle of Rügen were Christianized in mass by Danish
conquest (1168). It is recorded by the biographer of St. Otho that
the Pomeranians expressly rejected Christianity on the score of its
cruelty, saying, "among the Christians are thieves and robbers [unknown
among the heathen Slavs]; Christians crucify men and tear out eyes and
do all manner of infamies; be such a religion far from us." The attempt
to convert Livonia by preaching was an absolute failure; two crusades
had to be set on foot by the Pope and the surrounding Christians to
crush its paganism (circa 1200); and finally an "Order of the Sword"
had to be organized to hold the religious ground. A little later,
two "Orders of Teutonic Knights" in succession were established to
conquer and convert the heathen Prussians; and after sixty years of
murderous and ruinous warfare, "a broken remnant, shielded in some
measure by the intervention of the popes, were induced to discontinue
all the heathen rites, to recognize the claims of the Teutonic Order,
and to welcome the instruction of the German priests." Another remnant,
utterly unsubduable, sought refuge with the heathen of Lithuania.

The summary of seven hundred years of Christian expansion in northern
Europe is that the work was in the main done by the sword, in the
interests of kings and tyrants, who supported it, as against the
resistance of their subjects, who saw in the Church an instrument for
their subjection. Christianity, in short, was as truly a religion of
the sword as Islam. When the Mongols conquered part of Russia in 1223
they not only left the Christians full religious liberty, but let the
priests go untaxed; and similarly the Turks left to the Bulgarians
their faith, their lands, and their local laws. Christianity gave no
such toleration; the lands of the heathen Slavs and Prussians being
distributed among their German conquerors. The heathen, broadly
speaking, were never persuaded, never convinced, never won by the
appeal of the new doctrine: they were either transferred by their kings
to the Church like so many cattle, or beaten down into submission
after generations of resistance and massacre. For a long time after
the German conquest any Slav found away from home was liable to be
executed on the spot, or killed like a wild beast by any Christian
who would. And centuries after the barbarian heathenism of Europe
was ostensibly drowned in blood, Christian Spain, having overthrown
the Moslem Moors, proceeded in the same fashion to dragoon Moslems
and Jews into the true faith, baptizing in droves those who yielded
or dissembled, and driving out of the country myriads more who would
not submit. The misery and the butchery wrought from first to last
are unimaginable. If the Spanish conquests of Mexico and Peru, with
their Church-blessed policy of suppressing heathenism, be added to the
record, the totality of evil becomes appalling; for the Spanish priest
Las Casas estimated the total destruction of native life at twelve
millions. All this slaughter took place by way of "expansion," and is
exclusive of the further record of the slaughters wrought by the Church
for the suppression of heresy within its established field. It is a
strange prepossession that, in face of such a retrospect, habitually
concentrates Christian thought on the remote and transient persecutions
of Christianity by ancient paganism. If the blood shed on the score
of religion by anti-Christian paganism and Christianity respectively
be carefully estimated, the former might say to the latter, in the
words of the latter-day heathen king of the Zulus who was crushed
by an ostentatiously Christian statesmanship: "The blood shed in my
reign was, to the blood shed since, as an ant in a pool of water."



§ 3. Growth of the Papacy

One marked result of the triumph of Islam in the East and of barbarism
in the West was the growth of the Roman Papacy as the supreme
ecclesiastical power in Latin Christendom. So long as an emperor
had his seat in Italy, the bishop or patriarch of Rome was kept in
subordination to the State; and at Constantinople the subordination of
the patriarch never ceased. But even in the period from the reconquest
of Italy under Justinian to the final renunciation of Byzantine rule,
though the Roman patriarchs depended on the emperor to ratify their
election, the curtailment of the eastern empire, narrowing as it
did the range of the eastern Church, weakened that relatively to the
western; while the absence of local monarchy left the way open for
an ecclesiastical rule, calling itself theocratic. Had the Italian
kingdom of Theodoric subsisted, the development would certainly have
been different. As it was, even he, an Arian, was called in to control
the riotous strifes of papal factions in Rome.

It belonged to all the patriarchates, as to all bishoprics, that
their tenants should magnify their office; and even in the second
century we have seen signs of an ambition in the Roman bishop to
rule the rest of the Church. Already, presumably, there existed the
gospel text: "Thou art Petros, and upon this rock (petra) I will
build my Church"--an interpolation probably made in the Roman
interest, and sure to sustain a Roman ambition for general headship.
But as late as the fifth century some codices seem to have read simply
"Thou hast said"; (sy eipas instead of sy ei Petros); and in the
third we find Cyprian of Carthage insisting on the independence of
his Church while admitting the ceremonial primacy of Rome--a proof
that the Roman claim was being pushed. In the fourth century Pope
Damasus sought to induce the eastern bishops to go to Rome for the
settlement of disputes as to certain eastern bishoprics; but was
sardonically admonished by a unanimous eastern council to alter his
attitude. While the old empire subsisted, the Roman bishop could get
no further than his old ceremonial status as holding the primary
see in order of dignity. Neither the emperor nor the patriarch at
Constantinople would consent to vest any supreme authority in the
bishop of the ancient and relatively effete capital; and Theodosius
definitely constituted the patriarch of Constantinople the equal of him
of Rome (381), though ceremonially second to him. At the same time,
the patriarch of Constantinople was set above those of Antioch and
Alexandria, a step which promoted the worst of the later schisms and
so helped to lose Egypt and Syria. On every side, the normal egoisms
and racial instincts can thus be seen determining the fortunes of
the faith. The fling of the Greek Basil at Rome, "I hate the pride of
that Church," is typical. Even while the Roman bishop was pushing his
claims to primacy, the see of Constantinople, backed by the emperor,
was taking province after province from the Roman jurisdiction; and in
451 the Council of Chalcedon, with the support of the eastern emperor,
decreed that the bishop of "New Rome" should enjoy equal honour and
privilege with his rival. At the same period the bishop of Jerusalem,
claiming primacy in his turn, contrived to gain ground as against
those of Antioch and Alexandria. Each patriarchate fought for its
own hand. The use of the special title of "Papa" by him of Rome was
probably an imitation of Mithraism, in the hierarchy of which the
chief priest was "Father of Fathers" as the God was "Father Mithra,"
and, like Attis, probably called Papa. In the Eastern Church the name
became general, all priests being "popes."

In the history of the Papacy, it is the two early bishops most
distinguished for widening the power of the Church that alone have won
the title of "Great"--to wit, Leo I (440-61) and Gregory I (590-604),
of whom the first began to build up the Church's local patrimony
on the fall of the western empire, and the second to establish
her spiritual reign in the north. It is under the latter that the
destiny of the Roman see as the head of the western Churches begins
clearly to reveal itself. The patriarch of Constantinople of that day
took to himself the title of OEcumenical or Universal; and Gregory,
whose predecessors had aimed at that very status, pronounced the
claim blasphemous, antichristian, and diabolical. A few years later,
he was securing through the lesser Augustine his own supremacy over
the previously independent Churches of Britain. He even seems to have
cringed to the usurping Byzantine emperor Phocas in order to get him to
veto the claim of his rival, a concession which appears to have been
granted to Boniface III in 606. Still, the papacy had to fight hard
for its claims in Britain, Gaul, and Spain; and towards the end of
the seventh century Bishop Julian of Toledo is found rating Benedict
II for ignorance and jealousy. As Julian was nevertheless sainted,
we may infer that the jealousies of rival candidates for the papacy,
leading to changes of policy, often checked its political growth. But
events forced a policy. In the eighth century the iconoclastic emperors
quarrelled with the papacy (under Gregory II) as well as with Greek
orthodoxy; whereupon the northern Lombards sought to become masters of
what remained of imperial territory in Italy; and of a series of eight
or nine Popes (730-72) the majority were fain to call in the help of
the Franks. Charles Martel did not actively respond; but his son Pepin
did twice, and as victor presented to the Pope (754) the sovereignty
of the exarchate, receiving in return the pontiff's sanction to depose
the last feeble Merovingian king, in whose name the house of Pepin had
ruled. The end of the new departure was the conquest of the Lombards by
Charlemagne in 774, and the establishment in 800 of the new "Holy Roman
Empire," wherein the Pope was the spiritual colleague of the emperor.

Hitherto the bishop of Rome had been popularly elected like every
other, and subject like every other to acceptance by the emperor. But
after Pope Zacharias (741-52) the eastern emperor was ignored; and
Charlemagne was crowned as the successor, by Roman decision, not of
the old emperors of the West, but of the line of emperors which in
the East had never ceased. Constantine VI, who had just been deposed
by his mother Irene (797), was the sixty-seventh "Roman" emperor
in order from Augustus, and Charlemagne was enrolled in the West
as the sixty-eighth. He even received, with the diplomatic assent
of the Moslem Haroun Alraschid, the keys of the Holy Sepulchre from
the Patriarch of Jerusalem--an empty but suggestive honour. It was
thus inevitable that the new imperial line should sooner or later
seek to hold power over the papacy as the old had claimed to do; and
Charlemagne made his force felt very much as Constantine had done,
going even further in the way of appointing bishops, and lecturing the
pope at times with the consciousness of virtual supremacy. So long as
the emperor, needing and using the services of the Church to organize
his administration, enriched the hierarchy on all hands, enforcing
tithes and protecting the entire priesthood against lay turbulence,
his pretensions were naturally allowed. Everything depended on the
strength of the ruler; and already under Charlemagne's good but weak
son Louis we find many of the bishops, backed by the pope, supporting
the emperor's rebellious sons and claiming to depose him. About 875,
again, we find Pope John VIII not only hectoring the weak Charles the
Fat, but claiming the right to choose the emperor. Until, however,
there began to rise in Italy a new and vigorous civilization, the
papacy was on the whole discreetly subject to the ratification of
the northern emperors; and this is perhaps the period of maximum
demoralization and dishonour in its history; its economic evolution
being very much on the lines of that of the original Church in the
centuries from its establishment by Constantine till the humiliation of
the empire by the Moslems. Intellectually, the papacy had no prestige
within the Church. It was in 824 that a council of Frankish bishops
at Paris, following on previous declarations, denounced as absurdity
the decrees of the Pope enjoining the worship of images. Even when
the Pope Gregory IV entered France to support the bishops who backed
the rebellious sons of Louis, and threatened to excommunicate those
on the emperor's side, the latter treated him with indignant contempt.

It is in this period, however, that there begins the process of
documentary fraud by which the Church, wielding the power of the
pen, gradually circumvented that of the sword. Centuries before,
the Roman see had made use of forged documents in its disputes with
Constantinople; and the Greeks of the day declared such forgeries to
be a special Roman industry. As a matter of fact, most of the early
ecclesiastical forgeries had been of eastern origin: for instance,
the so-called Apostles' Creed and the Apostolical Constitutions. Of
these the first grew up fortuitously in the third century, and received
its name after it won currency. Only in the later middle ages was it
adopted by the Latin Church. The Constitutions again were a deliberate
compilation; and the Roman Church had invented nothing on the same
scale. But in the ninth century there was trumped-up among the
Frankish bishops, under the name of Isidore (ostensibly the popular
encyclopedist of Seville, d. 636), a collection of professedly
ancient but really spurious papal decretals, partly proceeding
on previous practice, but greatly developing it as regarded the
local independence of bishops and their right of appeal to Rome. The
original motive of the fraud was local episcopal interest, the bishops
having endless causes of grievance against their archbishops, kings,
and lay lords. But Pope Nicholas I (858-67) adroitly adopted the
forged decretals, professing to have had ancient copies of them,
and thenceforth they were made the basis of the papal claims wherever
political circumstances gave a good opportunity. The bishops, being
thus delivered over to the papacy, lost much more than they gained. A
common use now made of the growing papal power was to give monasteries
an exemption from the local bishop's rule; and as the monks in general
at this period had a higher character for sanctity that the bishops,
who were often extremely unreverend, local sympathy was apt to go
with the former, and with the pope, whose distant misdeeds were little
known to the laity.

As in previous ages, nevertheless, the disorders of the papacy itself
greatly hampered its advance. In the period from John XVIII to Leo IX
(1003-1048) six popes were deposed, two murdered, and one mutilated;
prolonged contests for the chair were frequent; and in the main it
was disposed of by factions of the Roman and Italian nobility. For
a time the counts of Tuscany made it hereditary in their family;
and once a Roman courtesan of the higher order decided the election,
by help of the general worthlessness of the Roman electoral populace,
who, having neither commerce nor industry, were fed by papal doles as
of old they had been by the emperors. In the tenth century, the papacy
had reached its nadir. The general expectation, based on the Apocalypse
and other Christian tradition, that the world would end with the year
1000, seems to have turned the thoughts of the more serious away from
worldly questions; while the more reckless types, lawless at best
in that age, exhibited something of the wild licence seen at times
in cities stricken by pestilence, and ships about to sink. When the
dreaded year was passed, riot was even quickened; but in the eleventh
century a moral instinct began slowly to assert itself. The elections
to the papacy had become so scandalous and ruinous--three pretenders
claiming the chair at once--that the clergy themselves conceded to
the emperor Henry III, in the year 1047, the right to appoint popes;
and he used his power four times with judgment and success.

Naturally, however, the reform strengthened the papacy rather than
the emperor. Pope Nicholas II, acting on the advice of his powerful
secretary, the monk Hildebrand, who was to be one of his successors,
decreed (1059) that the election of all bishops should lie with the
local "chapters" and the pope; and that the election of the pope should
in future be made by the seven cardinal bishops of the Roman district,
with the assent first of the cardinal priests and deacons of the Roman
churches, and next of the laity; the choice to be ratified by Henry
IV, then a minor, or by such of his successors as should obtain the
same privilege. Yet, on the death of Nicholas, Hildebrand procured
the election and consecration of Alexander II, without waiting for
any ratification; and when he himself became pope as Gregory VII
(1073) he was on the alert for his famous struggle with Henry over
the claim of the temporal power to appoint bishops. Standing on the
forged decretals, with an almost maniacal belief in his divine rights,
he claimed as pope not only the sole power to confirm bishops, but
the power to take or give the possessions of all men as he would;
and he threatened deposition to any king who dared to gainsay him. It
was in the course of the struggle with Henry, by the use of the now
common weapon of excommunication, that he reduced the emperor to his
historic act of self-abasement (1077) at Canossa.

The circumstances were in the main in the pope's favour. Henry was
rebelled against in Germany, and Gregory was well able to manipulate
disaffection. At the same time, Gregory's strenuous efforts to "reform"
the Church by forcing celibacy on the entire priesthood had set
against him multitudes of the Italian and northern clergy, married and
unmarried; and these were indignant at Henry's surrender. Stimulated
by their protests, and by the sympathy of various kings whom the
pope had arrogantly menaced, he took heart, put down his rebels and
rivals at home, and marched in force into Italy, where he met almost
no resistance and was crowned by the antipope Clement III, whom he
and his party had appointed. Gregory, besieged by his own flock in the
castle of St. Angelo, called in his late-made ally the Norman Robert
Guiscard, Duke of Sicily, who in releasing him burnt much of the city,
and, after a sack and massacre, sold most of the remaining inhabitants
as slaves. Everywhere the pope's cause was lost, and he died defeated,
in exile at Salerno under Norman protection, hated by both priests
and people as the bringer of slaughter and misery on Germany and
Italy alike. The "reforming" pontiff had wrought far more evil than
his most sinful predecessors, and still the Church was not reformed.

Henry, rebelled against by his sons, died broken-hearted like his
enemy; and for half a century the strife over "lay investitures"
was carried on by popes and emperors. The papacy had thus become
the evil genius at once of Italy and of Germany, entering into and
intensifying every Italian feud, and giving to German feudalism a fatal
ground of combat for centuries. Out of all the strife the papacy made
ultimate profit. When the war of the investitures was over, it built
up the Decretum of the monk Gratian, a code embodying the Isidorean
frauds with others, such as the gross pretence that St. Augustine had
declared the Decretals to be of the same status with the canonical
scriptures. The war, meantime, had ended in a compromise from which
also the papacy substantially gained. The result was to turn it ere
long into a vast system of financial exploitation. Every evil in the
way of simony and corruption against which Hildebrand had revolted
was further developed under papal auspices. The people lost all power
of electing their bishops; and the rich chapters, on whom the right
devolved, became the field of simony for the nobles; while the pope
drew from the sale of his ratifications an immense revenue. So rapid
was the effect of the new relation that by the middle of the twelfth
century the bulk of the current literature of Europe, serious and
satirical, was bitterly hostile to Rome, which now impressed many
instructed men chiefly as a great machine for extortion. While the
Church officially denounced usury, its own usurers were everywhere
drawing interest from prelates who had had to borrow money to buy
their investitures. The pretence of making the clergy "unworldly" by
enforced celibacy was under such circumstances not edifying. Needless
to say, while clerical marriage could be officially put down, clerical
concubinage was not.

The strength of the papacy as against its many enemies lay (1) in
the strifes of States and nations, in which the pope could always
intervene; (2) in the feeling of many serious men that a central
power was needed to control strife and tyranny; (3) in the compiled
system of canon law, which expanded still further the code of the
Decretals and of Gratian, and constantly exalted the papal power;
(4) in the orders of preaching friars, who acted as papal emissaries,
and kept in partial discredit the local clergy everywhere; and (5)
in the power of the pope to appeal to the worst motives of ignorant
believers. Thus at the beginning of the thirteenth century Innocent
III, a zealous champion of the papal power, was able in the teeth of
the common hostility of educated men to evoke an immense outburst of
brutal fanaticism by offering indulgences, spiritual and temporal, to
all who would join in a crusade of massacre against the Albigensian
and other heretics of Languedoc, where the Paulician and other
anti-clerical doctrines had spread widely. Twenty years of hideous
bloodshed and demoralization went far to create an atmosphere in
which criticism could not breathe; and the whole evocation of the
eastern Crusades, both before and after this period, was carried on
by the popes with a clear perception of the gain to their authority
from the armed consensus of Christendom under their appeal, on the
proffer of indulgences. They had hoped to extend their rule over the
East, Christian and paynim; but though this dream came to nothing they
were nonetheless aggrandized by the effort. The revived pretensions
to dispose of all unclaimed territory on the globe, to depose heretic
princes, and to confer sovereignties, were all reinforced.

When the Crusades had ceased, the papal curia, growing ever more
exacting, began to draw all manner of yearly dues from Churchmen
throughout its jurisdiction, so that whereas in the thirteenth century
it had only one auditor cameræ, in 1370 the pope had more than twenty,
and every cardinal had a number in addition, all living like their
superiors by traffic in privileges. Under Gregory XI (1370-78), seven
bishops were excommunicated by one order for failure to pay their
dues. Complaint was universal; but the vested interests made reform
impossible. When, therefore, the Renaissance gradually gained ground
against all obstacles, and masses of men became capable of judging the
papacy in the light of history and reason as well as of its own code,
it was inevitable that as soon as local economic interests became
sufficiently marked, an institution which was everywhere an economic
burden should incur an economic revolution.

In the meantime, the papacy had possessed itself of the power of
life and death in the intellectual as well as in the religious
sphere. The power it arrogated to itself under the false Isidorean
Decretals carried implicitly if not explicitly the attribute of
infallibility. To pronounce doctrines true or false had anciently been
the function of councils; it now became the function of the pope, who
thus treated councils exactly as kings later treated parliaments. Of
old, successive popes had notoriously declared for contrary dogmas;
many had contradicted themselves; and down to the thirteenth century
there had been a score of papal schisms, all of which were surpassed
by those of the fourteenth century; but that reflection put no check
on later decisions on the most momentous problems. The religion
which began in private dissidence from Jewish and pagan orthodoxies
had become the most iron dogmatism the world had ever seen; and the
whole system of Christian credence had come to turn on the fiat of
one man. At his sole veto the sciences must be dumb; and to him must
come for sanction those who would found new schools. The faith that
had begun as "liberty from the yoke of the law" had come to elevate
the negation of mental liberty into a principle of universal polity,
translating into the inner life the despotism which the older Rome
had placed on the outer.

Latin Christianity had thus duplicated on the one hand the development
of ancient Gaulish Druidism, wherein the priests were a sacred and
ruling caste and the arch-Druid semi-divine, and on the other hand
the evolution of the ancient Egyptian system, under which latterly
the priesthood compelled the king to obtain the approbation of the
sacred statues before taking any public step, till at length "the
true master of Egypt was the Premier Prophet of the Theban Ammon,"
interpreter of the God, and priest also of the mediatorial Son-God
Khonsu. In all cases alike the sociological causation is transparent
from first to last; and equally clear are the special conditions
which prevented the Holy Roman Empire from following to the end the
path trodden by ancient Egyptian and Roman imperialism.



CHAPTER II

RELIGIOUS EVOLUTION AND STRIFE


§ 1. Growth of Idolatry and Polytheism

By the seventh century all that idolatry had meant for the early
Christists was reproduced within the Christian Church in East and
West. There was nothing, to begin with, in the inner life of the
populace in the Christian period that could keep them from the kinds
of belief natural to the multitude in pagan times. Only under the
stress of a zealous movement of reform, backed up by fanatical power,
had image-worship ever been put down for a single nation, as among the
Persians and later Jews; and only the original Jewish taboo, backed
by the Jewish sacred books, could have kept Christism anti-idolatrous
for any length of time after it had passed beyond the sphere of Jewish
proselytism. After it had become a State religion, the adoption of
images was as necessary to its popularity as the adoption of pagan
festivals and rites. Images of martyrs and holy men deceased seem
to have been first venerated; and when the bones of such were held
to have miraculous virtue, and their spirits were believed to haunt
their tombs, it was impossible that their effigies should not come to
have similar repute. Dust from Palestine or other holy places, again,
was early regarded as having magical virtue--a permitted belief which
prepared the way for others. So with the figure of the Christ. From
the first, the sign of the cross was held to be potent against evil
spirits; and Helena, the mother of Constantine, gave an irresistible
vogue to the worship of what was alleged to be the true cross, and
to have worked miraculous cures. As early as the fourth century the
Christians at Paneas in Palestine seem to have taken an old statue
of a male and a female figure as representing Jesus healing the
believing woman; and in the sixth century paintings on linen, held
to have been miraculously made by the face of the Saviour, began to
be revered. Being so different from pagan statues, the "idols" of
Jewish aversion, they readily passed the barrier of the traditional
veto on idolatry. Here again, however, the lead came from paganism,
as we know from Juvenal that many painters in his day "lived upon
Isis," then the fashionable foreign deity at Rome. Crucifixes and
images of all kinds inevitably followed. Valens and Theodosius passed
laws forbidding pictures and icons of Christ; but such laws merely
emphasized an irrepressible tendency. As for Mary, her worship seems
from the first to have been associated with that of old statues of a
nursing Goddess-Mother, and the statues followed the cult, some black
statues of Isis and Horus being worshipped to this day as representing
Mary and Jesus.

When an image was once set up in a sacred place, there soon came into
play the old belief, common to Egyptians and Romans, that the spirit
of the being represented would enter the statue. Hence all prayers to
saints were addressed wherever possible to their images, and the same
usage followed the introduction of images of Jesus and the Virgin. And
while the Theodosian code contained laws prohibiting on pain of death
the placing of wreaths on pagan statues and the burning of incense
before them, the Christian populace within a century was doing those
very things to the statues of saints. In the same way the use of holy
water, which in the time of Valentinian was still held un-Christian,
became universal in the Church a century or two later. Images could not
well be left out. The old Judaic conception of the supreme being was
indeed too strong to permit of his being imaged; though in the fourth
century the Audæans, a Syrian sect of a puritan cast, held that the
deity was of human shape, and were accordingly named Anthropomorphites;
but the orthodox insistence on the human form of Jesus was a lead
to image-making. Thus for the Moslems the eastern Christians were
idolaters as well as polytheists; and the epistles of Gregory the Great
show him to have zealously fostered the use of miraculous relics and
sacred images in the West. Professing to condemn the worship of images,
he defended their use against Bishop Selenus of Marseilles, who ejected
them from his church. One of Gregory's specialties in relics was the
chain of St. Paul, from which filings could be taken daily without
diminishing the total bulk. It was presumably while all pagan usages
were still familiar that the Italian Christians adopted the custom
of painting the statues of saints red, in the common pagan fashion,
as they did the old custom of carrying the images in procession. For
the rest, they had but to turn to the lore of the pagan temples for
examples of statues brought from heaven, statues which worked miracles,
statues which spoke, wept, perspired, and bled--all of which prodigies
became canonical in Christian idolatry.

Some scrupulous and educated Christians, such as Epiphanius and
Augustine, had naturally set their faces against such a general
reversion to practical idolatry, just as many educated pagans had done
on philosophical grounds; and the council of Elvira in the fourth
century condemned the admission of pictures into churches. But this
had no lasting effect. In the eighth century, when it could no longer
be pretended that Christian images served merely for edification,
the Greek emperor Leo the Isaurian began the famous iconoclastic
movement in the East. It is probable that he was influenced by Saracen
ideas, with which he often came in contact; though it has been held
that his motive was mainly political, the local worship of images
having weakened the central authority of the Church. But after some
generations of struggle and fluctuation, despite the ready support
given to iconoclasm by many bishops, the throne reverted to orthodoxy,
and idolatry thenceforth remained normal in the Greek as in the Latin
Church. The one variation from pagan practice lay in the substitution
of pictures and painted wooden images or icons for the nobler statues
of past paganism, with which indeed Christian art could not pretend
for a moment to compete.

In the West, though the iconoclastic emperors met from the popes not
sympathy but intense hostility, leading soon to the severance of Rome
from the empire, we find in the ninth century a remarkable opposition
to image-worship on the part of Claudius bishop of Turin, and Agobard
bishop of Lyons, both of whom show a surprising degree of rationalism
for their age. Claudius opposed papal claims as well as saint-worship
and image-worship, and when condemned by a council of bishops called
them asses. Agobard opposed all the leading superstitions of his day,
even going so far as to pronounce the theory of plenary inspiration
an absurdity. As both men were born in Spain, there is reason to
suspect that they like Leo had been influenced by the higher Saracen
thought of the time. In any case, their stand was vain; and though
the northern nations, mainly perhaps by reason of their backwardness
in the arts, were slow to follow the Italian lead, a century or two
sufficed to make the whole Latin Church devoutly image-worshipping. At
no time, of course, had any part of it been otherwise than boundlessly
credulous as to miracles of every order, and as to the supernatural
virtue of relics of every species; and both, accordingly, abounded
on all hands. The average mass of Christendom was thus on the same
religious and psychological plane as pagan polytheism.

Polytheistic, strictly speaking, Christianity had been from the
first. The formula of the Trinity was no more truly monotheistic
for the new faith than it had been for ancient Egypt; and the mere
belief in an Evil Power was a negation of monotheism. But when
saints came to be prayed-to at separate shrines, and every trade
had its saint-patron, the Christian system was both theoretically
and practically as polytheistic as that of classic Greece, where
Zeus was at least as truly the Supreme God as was the Father for
Christians. And in the elevation of Mary to Goddesshood even the formal
semblance of monotheism was lost, for her worship was in the main
absolute. The worship, indeed, was long established before she received
technical divinization from the Church, such Fathers as Epiphanius and
Augustine having too flatly condemned her early worship to permit of
a formal declaration to the contrary. But in the thirteenth century,
St. Bonaventura, who expressly maintained that the same reverence must
be paid to the Virgin's image as to herself--a doctrine established
in the same period by Thomas Aquinas in regard to Christ--arranged
a Psalter in which domina was substituted for dominus (in te domina
speravi); and this became the note of average Catholicism. In the
twelfth century began the dispute as to the Immaculate Conception
of the Virgin--the doctrine, that is, of her supernatural birth--on
which in later ages the Dominicans and Franciscans fought a bitter
and obstinate battle, the latter affirming and the former denying
the dogma. After seven centuries of temporizing, the Papacy has in
recent times endorsed it (1854); but for a thousand years it has been
implicit in the ritual of the Catholic Church.

It is not generally known among Protestants that the deification
of Joseph has long been in course of similar evolution. In the
fifteenth century, Saint Teresa seems to have regarded him as
the "plenipotentiary" of God (= Jesus), obtaining from the deity
in heaven whatever he asked, as he had done on earth according
to the Apocrypha. The cult has never been very prominent; but
the latter-day litany of St. Joseph treats him as at least the
equal of the Virgin. "The devotion to him," says Cardinal Newman,
"is comparatively of late date. When once it began, men seemed
surprised that it had not been thought of before; and now they hold
him next to the Blessed Virgin in their religious affection and
veneration." It had of course been dogmatically retarded by the
insistence on the virginity of Mary. But Gerson, one of the most
distinguished theologians of the fourteenth century, is credited by
modern Catholics with having suggested the recognition of a second or
created Trinity of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. And seeing that Joseph
in the popular medieval representations of the Advent Mystery is
a constant figure, it is inferrible that for the multitude he had
practically a divine status. The process is strictly in keeping with
religious evolution in general; and the official apotheosis of Joseph
may one day take place. For a time, in the period of the Renaissance,
there was an amount of devotion paid to St. Anna, the mother of Mary,
which might conceivably have led to her deification. Pictures of that
period may still be seen in Holland, in which Anna, Mary, and Jesus
constitute a Holy Family. But the cultus of Anna had no persistent or
powerful advocate, and she seems latterly to have passed definitely
into the background.



§ 2. Doctrines of the Eucharist, Purgatory, and Confession

In the first ages of the Church, the notion of the divinity of the
"body and blood" of the communion meal was vague and undefined. The
partakers certainly regarded the consecrated bread and wine as
carrying some supernatural virtue, since they took away portions
for medicinal use; but they thought of the meal very much as devout
pagans thought of one of the some kind in their mysteries or temple
ritual. When their ritual phraseology was challenged as giving colour
to the charge of cannibalism, the Fathers seem always to have explained
that the terms were purely figurative; and such was the doctrine laid
down by Augustine. But when pagan culture had passed away, and there
was none in the barbarized West to challenge the Church as such,
the strange literalness of the original liturgy set up the stranger
belief that what was eaten in the eucharist was by "transubstantiation"
the actual flesh and blood of the God-Man. Where such a belief was
possible, it was the special interest of the priesthood to make the
affirmation. A stupendous miracle, they claimed, was worked every
time the eucharist was administered; but it was worked through the
priest. He and he only could bring it about; and thus the central
mystery and prodigy of the faith, the command of its most essential
ministry, was a clerical monopoly. The economic and spiritual centre
of gravity of the entire system was fixed in the priestly order.

Under such a dominating conception, Christianity was for the majority a
religion neither of faith nor of works: it was a religion of sacerdotal
magic. Not he that believed, still less he that loved his neighbour,
but he only that received the mystic rite at consecrated hands, was
to be saved. Moral teaching there might be, but more than ever it was
supererogatory. Already in the fourth century the sacerdotal quality
of the rite was defined by the practice of solemnly "elevating" the
wine and the hostia or sacrifice, as the bread was termed, before
every distribution; and it had become common to administer it two
or three times a week. Thus the missa or Mass, as it had come to be
termed (traditionally from the formula of dismissal, Ite, missio est,
corrupted into Missa est--another pagan detail), had passed from the
status of a periodical solemnity to that of a frequent service; and
the rite was developed by the addition of chants and responses till
it became the special act of Christian worship. The "symbols" were
thus already far on the way to be worshipped; and at the beginning
of the seventh century Gregory the Great enacted that the slightest
irregularities in their use should be atoned for by penances. Thus
"if a drop from the cup should fall on the altar, the ministering
priest must suck up the drop and do penance for three days; and the
linen cloth which the drop touched must be washed three times over
the cup, and the water in which it was washed be cast into the fire."

In various other ways the traditional practice was modified. Originally
a "supper," it was frequently partaken of after the Agapæ or love
feasts; but in the fourth century the irrepressible disorders of
those assemblages led to their being officially discountenanced,
and they gradually died out. Soon the Mass in the churches became a
regular morning rite, and the eucharist was taken fasting. After Leo
the Great, in the Roman services, it was even administered several
times in the day. Finally, in or before the eleventh century, the
priesthood, from motives either of economy or sobriety, began to
withhold the winecup from communicants, and to reserve it for the
priests--a practice which Leo the Great had denounced as heretical. The
official argument seems to have been that "the body must include
the blood," and that the miracle which turned the bread into flesh
created the divine blood therein. One of the most popular miracle
stories was to the effect that when once a Jew stabbed a Host, it
bled; and the Host in question was long on exhibition. Of older date,
apparently, is the administration of the bread in the form of a wafer,
this being admittedly an imitation either of the ancient pagan usage
of consecrating and eating small round cakes in the worship of many
deities, or of the Jewish unleavened bread of the Passover. It may,
indeed, have come through Manichæism, which at this point followed
Mazdean usage; and as the Manichæans also had the usage of bread
without wine, it may be that both practices came from them in the
medieval period. But as the priestly practice of turning round at
the altar was taken direct from ancient paganism, with the practice
of shaving the head, it is likely that the wafer was also.

The rite thus settled being a conditio sine qua non of Church
membership and spiritual life, it became the basis of the temporal
power of the Church. Without it there was no "religion"; and as the
communicant in order to retain his rights must make confession to the
priest at least once a year, the hold of the Church on the people was
universal. Any one rejecting its authority could be excommunicated; and
excommunication meant the cessation of all the offices of social life,
each man being forced by fear for himself to stand aloof from the one
condemned. The obligation to confess, in turn, was an evolution from
the primitive practice of voluntary public confession of sin before
the Church. When that went out of fashion, private confession to the
priest took its place; and when the public reading of such confessions
by the priest gave offence, Leo the Great directed that they should
be regarded as secret. What was thus made for criminals an easy means
to absolution became at length an obligation for all. In the East,
indeed, it seems to have reached that stage in the fifth century,
when a scandal caused the rule to be given up, leaving to the Western
Church its full exploitation. Sacerdotal confession, thus instituted,
was one more hint from the book of paganism, sagaciously developed. In
the ancient Greek mysteries, priests had unobtrusively traded on the
principle that the initiate must be pure, first inviting confession
and then putting a scale of prices on ceremonial absolution; but in
the pagan world the system had never gone far. It was left to Roman
Christianity to made it coextensive with the Church, and thus to
create a species of social and economic power over mankind which no
other "civilized" religion ever attained.

But yet a third hold over fear and faith was wrought by the
priesthood. Even as the priestly saying of Masses, bought at a price,
was needed to keep the Christian safe in life, so the buying of
Masses could hasten the release of his soul from purgatory after
death. Purgatory was, to begin with, yet another pagan tenet, which
in the first five centuries was regarded by the Church as heretical,
though the text about "the spirits in prison" (1 Peter iii, 19; cp. 1
Cor. v, 5) gave colour to it, and Origen had entertained it. In all
the writings of Ambrose it is not mentioned; Augustine treats it as
dubious in despite of the authority of Origen; and the Eastern Church
has never accepted the tenet. But in the writings of Gregory the Great
it is treated as an established principle, with the economic corollary
that he who would save himself or his kindred from prolonged pains in
purgatory must lay out money on atoning Masses. Thus the whole cycle
of real and supposed human experience was under the Church's sway,
and at every stage on the course the pilgrim paid toll. The episodes
of birth, marriage, and death were alike occasions for sacraments,
each a source of clerical revenue; the fruits of the earth paid their
annual tithe; and beyond death itself the Church sold privilege in the
realm of shadows, winning by that traffic, perhaps, most wealth of all.

It was a general corollary from the whole system that the Church
had the right to grant "indulgences" for sin. If the Church could
release from penalties in purgatory, it might grant pardons at will on
earth. Such a doctrine was of course only very gradually evolved. First
of all, perhaps again following a Manichæan precedent, the bishops
individually began to waive canonical penances in consideration of the
donation by offenders of sums of money for religious purposes. The
principle is expressly laid down by Gregory I. There was at the
outset no thought of selling the permission to commit an offence; the
bishop merely used the opportunity of committed offences to enrich his
church, very much as the law in so many cases inflicts fines instead of
imprisonment. The procedure, too, was local and independent, even as
that of abbots and monks who sold the privilege of seeing and kissing
holy relics, which they often carried round the country in procession
for revenue purposes. Only after such means of income had long been
in use did the papacy attempt to monopolize the former, in virtue of
its prerogative of "the keys." But step by step it absorbed the power
to release from ordinary penances and to grant "plenary" remission
from penances; and finally it undertook, what the bishops had never
ventured on, to remit the penalties of purgatory in advance. Such
enterprise was evoked only by a great occasion--the Crusades.

The earlier papal indulgences were remissions of penance, and were
often given on such tolerable grounds as pilgrimages to the Holy Land,
and loyal observance of the papal institution of a "Truce of God" on
certain days of the week; indeed, one of the original motives may even
have been that of controlling the mercenary proceedings of bishops. But
when once the popes had proffered plenary indulgence to all crusaders,
decency was at an end. It was obvious that the effect was demoralizing
to the last degree; and still the practice continued. At the beginning
of the thirteenth century Pope Innocent III offered absolution from
all sins past and future, dispensation from the payment of interest
on debts, and exemption from the jurisdiction of the ordinary law
courts, to all who would serve for a given period in the crusade
against the Albigensian and other heretics in the territory of the
Count of Toulouse. Later, similar inducements were offered to all who
would take up arms against the Moors in Spain. If the moral sense of
Christendom were not thus wholly destroyed, it is because all social
life necessitates some minimum of morality, which no system can uproot.

Thenceforth the practice went from bad to worse, despite many earnest
protests from the better and saner sort of Churchmen, till it became
possible for popes to allot the traffic in indulgences in given
districts as kings allotted trading monopolies, and the enormity of
the practices of the agents gave a sufficient ground for the decisive
explosion of the Reformation. Before that explosion an attempt
was made, on the lines of ancient Roman law, to give the practice
plausibility by the formula that the indulgence was granted "out of
the superfluous merits of Christ and the saints," a treasure of spare
sanctity which it lay with the pope to distribute. But this doctrine,
which savoured so much of the counting-house, was contemporaneous
with the worst abuse the principle ever underwent after the age of
the Crusaders.



§ 3. Rationalistic Heresies

As we have seen in connection with the growth of idolatry, there was
even in the Dark Ages an earnest minority within the Church which
resisted the downward bias of the majority and of their hierarchical
rulers. In no period, probably, was the spirit of reason wholly absent;
and from time to time it bore distinct witness. Thus we find alongside
of the effort of Claudius and Agobard against idolatry and extraneous
superstitions a less vigorous but no less remarkable testimony against
the central superstition of the priestly system. When the Frankish
monk Paschasius Radbert (831) put flatly what had become the orthodox
doctrine of Rome as to the transubstantiation of the eucharist,
some of the northern scholars who had preserved the pre-barbaric
tradition were found to gainsay him. As the discussion continued long,
the liberal-minded Frankish emperor, Charles the Bald, invited special
replies; and a learned monk, Ratramnus, wrote a treatise to the effect
that the "real presence" was spiritual, not corporeal. But John the
Scot (then = Irishman), otherwise known as Erigena, wrote on the same
invitation to the effect that the bread and wine were merely symbols or
memorials of the Last Supper--a heresy so bold that only the emperor's
protection could have saved the utterer. And his freethinking did
not end there, for in the discussion on predestination begun by the
monk Gottschalk, in which John was invited to intervene by the bigoted
abbot Hincmar, the Irish scholar was again recalcitrant to authority;
while on the question of Deity and Trinity he held a language that
anticipated Spinoza, and brought upon his memory, when he was long
dead, the anathema of the papacy. Another Irishman of the same period,
Macarius or Macaire, taught a similar pantheism in France.

John Scotus, however, was by far the greatest thinker of the Dark Ages,
and it was impossible that his ideas should become normal. Not for
two hundred years was there any overt result from his and Ratramnus's
heresy on the eucharist. Then (1045) Berengar of Tours set forth a
modified doctrine of the eucharist which rested on that of Ratramnus,
and brought on him a series of prosecutions at Rome for heresy,
from the punishment for which he was saved by Hildebrand, as papal
adviser and later as pope; but also by his own formal retractations,
to which however he did not adhere. The populace, he tells us, would
gladly have slain him; and more than once he had narrow escapes. After
all he did but affirm a "spiritual real presence"; and while some of
his party went as far as John Scotus, the stand for reason was soon
tacitly abandoned, the great majority even of the educated class
accepting the priestly dogma. Not till the Reformation was it again
firmly challenged, and even then not by all the reformers.

A similar fortune attended the attempt of the French canon Rousselin
(Roscellinus), also in the twelfth century, to rationalize the
doctrine of the Trinity. Proceeding logically as a "Nominalist,"
denying the reality of abstractions, he argued that if the Three
Persons were one thing it was only a nominal thing. His heresy,
however, admittedly ended in simple tritheism; and after he, like
Berengar, had on pressure recanted, his subsequent withdrawal of his
recantation did not revive excitement. Not till the sixteenth century
did Unitarianism begin to assert itself against Trinitarianism, and
Deism against both. There was indeed a great development of general
rationalism in philosophy in the twelfth century, especially in France,
as represented by Abailard; and even in the eleventh the argument of
Anselm to prove the existence of God shows that very radical scepticism
had indirectly made itself heard; but no philosophic movement affected
the teachings and practices of the Church as such. As for the kind of
rationalism which denied the immortality of the soul, though it seems
to have been somewhat common in Florence early in the twelfth century,
it never took such propagandist form as to bring on it the assault of
the papacy; and the occasional philosophic affirmation of the eternity
of matter met the same immunity. It is remarkable that, despite the
denunciation of all the truths of ancient science by the Church,
the doctrine of the roundness of the earth was still affirmed in the
eighth century by an Irish priest of Bavaria named Vergilius, who was
duly denounced for his heresy by St. Boniface, and deposed by the pope,
but afterwards reinstated and finally sainted. How the doctrine fared
in detail does not appear, but the knowledge persisted; and though in
the fourteenth century Nicolaus of Autricuria was compelled to recount
his teaching of the atomistic theory, in the fifteenth his namesake
of Cusa taught with impunity the rotation of the earth on its axis,
being despite that made a cardinal; while the Italian poet Pulci with
equal impunity affirmed the existence of an Antipodes. Nicolaus of Cusa
even put forth the old pagan doctrine of the infinity of the physical
universe--the beginning of modern pantheistic and atheistic philosophy.

As the "false dawn" of the Renaissance began to glimmer, a new source
of heresy can be seen in the higher teaching--heretical in its own
sphere--of Saracen philosophy, which under Aristotelian and Jewish
influences had gone far while Christendom was sinking in a deepening
darkness. The effects of Saracen contacts, acting on minds perhaps
prepared by the doctrine of John Scotus, first became obvious in
the pantheistic teaching of Amalrich of Bena and David Dinant at
the end of the twelfth century. Amalrich was forced to abjure; and
after his death his bones were dug up and burned (1209), and many of
his followers burned alive; David of Dinant having to fly for his
life. Then it was that a Council held at Paris vetoed all study of
Aristotle at the university. Yet in 1237 the veto was withdrawn; and as
Aristotle became the basis of the systematic theology of Thomas Aquinas
(d. 1274), his philosophy was thenceforth the orthodox system in the
schools. From the first it must have counted for indirect scepticism;
and in the great Summa Theologiæ of Thomas himself are to be seen
abundant traces of the new doubt of the age, much of it set up by
reflection on the spectacle of conflicting religious dogmatisms
in the Crusades, some of it by Saracen philosophy, especially that
of Averroës [Ibn Roshd]. In Sicily and Southern Italy, which under
Frederick II were the special seat of this doubt and of the tendency
to tolerance which it generated, the spirit of reason ultimately fared
ill; but thenceforth an element of skepticism pervades the higher life
of Europe. Saracen science, medical, chemical, and astronomical--the
virtual foundation of all the modern science of Europe--tended in the
same direction. In Italy, in particular, respect for the Church and
papacy almost ceased to exist among educated men; and the revival of
such specific heresies as disbelief in immortality and belief in the
eternity of matter prepared the way for simple deism.

But against all such heresy the Church could hold its ground in virtue
of its vast vested interests, as well as of the subjection of the
mass, superstitious even when irreverent. The practical danger to the
Church's power lay first in the growth of anti-clerical feeling among
people with religious instincts, and secondarily in the anti-clerical
economic interest of the nobility and upper classes in all the northern
countries. What delayed disaster was the slowness of the two hostile
elements to combine.



§ 4. Anti-clerical Heresies

The kind of heresy which first stirred the Church to murderous
repression was naturally that which struck at its monopolies. After
the ancient schism of the Donatists, which so organized itself as to
set up a rival Church, the sect which was most bloodily persecuted
in the period of established Christianity from Theodosius onwards
was the Manichæan, visibly the Church's most serious rival. So, in
the Dark Ages, the heresies which roused most priestly anger were
the movement against image-worship; the predestinarian doctrine of
Gottschalk, which, though orthodox and Augustinian, was now felt
to undermine the priest's power over souls in purgatory; and that
which impugned the priestly miracle of the eucharist, the main hold
of the priesthood over society. And the first resort to general and
systematic massacre as against heresy in the West was made after there
had arisen in the eleventh and twelfth centuries a movement of popular
schism which assailed not only a number of leading rites and dogmas,
but flatly denied the priestly prerogative.

Of this movement the first stages occurred in the eastern empire,
in the sect known as Paulicians, who are first heard of under that
name in Armenia in the seventh century. Their founder, however,
one Constantine, afterwards known as Sylvanus, worked on existing
bases. The name of the sect seems to have stood for an appeal to
the teaching of Paul as against paganized Christianity; and it had
Marcionite elements; but though it was at first anti-Gnostic and
anti-Manichæan, it acquired both Gnostic and Manichæan or at least
Mazdean characteristics, even in the teaching of Sylvanus. On the
face of the case, it suggests both Persian and Moslem influences. Its
practical heresies were opposition to the adoration of images and
relics, to the use of the Old Testament, to the worship of saints,
angels, and the Virgin, and to the prerogatives of monks and priests;
the sectaries claiming to read the New Testament for themselves,
in defiance of the virtual veto of the Greek Church on such study by
the laity. For the rest, they insisted that baptism and the eucharist
were spiritual and not bodily rites, and even reaffirmed the "Docetic"
doctrine that Jesus had not a true human body, and so was incapable
of suffering. Their flat denial of priestly claims marked them out
as a specially obnoxious body, and they were fiercely persecuted,
the founder being stoned to death.

Like all the other sects, they were in turn divided, and one section
had the protection of Leo the Iconoclast, who agreed with them as to
images. A later leader, Sergius or Tychicus, won for his sect the
favour of Nicephorus I; but the next iconoclast, Leo the Armenian,
resenting their other heresies, cruelly persecuted them; and like
previous heretical sects they were driven over to the national enemy,
which was now Islam. Constantine "Copronymus," seeking to remedy
this state of things, transplanted many of them to Constantinople
and Thrace, thus bringing their heresy into Europe; but in the ninth
century, on the final restoration of image-worship, a vast multitude
was massacred in Armenia. Most of the remnant there went over to the
Saracens, and became the fiercest enemies of the empire.

From Thrace, meanwhile, their propaganda spread into Bulgaria,
where it prospered, with the help of refugees from Armenia. In the
tenth century they were to some extent favoured as a useful bulwark
against the Slavs; but in the eleventh they were again persecuted;
and as the malcontents of the empire in general tended to join them
they became the ruling party in Bulgaria. Thus it came about that
the name Bulgar, Bulgarian, became a specific name in mid-Europe
for heretic (and worse), surviving to this day in that sense in
the French form of bougre. The Paulicians, further, had their own
extremists, who held by the old Marcionite veto on marriage, and
received the Greek name of cathari, "the pure"--a title sometimes
given to the whole mass, from whom, however, the purists were in that
case distinguished as perfecti. Either from the Cathari or from the
Chazari, a Turkish tribe whose Christianity in the ninth century was
much mixed with Mohammedanism, came the Italian nickname gazzari,
and the German word for heretic, ketzer. Yet another eastern sect,
the Slavonic Bogomilians, who remained monotheistic as against the
dualism of the Paulicians, joined in the wave of new beliefs which
began to beat from the East on central Europe.

From the very beginning of the eleventh century, outbreaks of the
new heresy, always anti-clerical and anti-ceremonial, occurred at
intervals in France, northern Italy, and Germany. In some cases, the
opposition to priests, images, and Virgin-worship extended to a denial
of all miracles and sacraments, and an assertion of the eternity
of matter--apparent signs of Saracen philosophic influence. But
the movement developed a thoroughness of enmity to everything
ecclesiastical, that told of a quite independent basis in the now
widespread hostility to the Church of Rome outside of its centre of
wealth and power. For one or two generations the crusades drew off
the superfluous energy of Europe, and the new heresies were somewhat
overshadowed; but in the first half of the twelfth century, when
the crusades had lost all religious savour, anti-clericalism sprang
up on all sides. Tanquelin in Flanders; Peter de Brueys (founder of
the Petrobrussians) in Languedoc; the monk Henry in Switzerland and
France; Eudo of Stello in Brittany, and Arnold of Brescia in Italy,
all wrought either religiously or politically against the Church;
and all died by her violence, or in prison. Arnold, the most capable
of all, was a pupil of Abailard, and his doctrine was that the entire
vested wealth of the Church should be taken over by the civil power,
leaving the clergy to live sparingly by the gifts of the faithful. His
movement, which lasted twenty years, and was very strong in Lombardy,
went so far as to set up a short-lived republic in Rome; but it needed
only a combination of the pope and the emperor, Frederick Barbarossa,
to bring the republic to the ground, and Arnold to crucifixion.

Among the other revolters there was a good deal of fanaticism;
but all were more or less emphatic in denouncing priestly
pretensions, sacraments, cross-worship, prayers for the dead, penance,
image-worship, church bells, altars, and even churches. It seemed as if
the end of the Church had begun. For, though each new prophet in turn
was slain, new heretics seemed to rise from the ashes. With various
positive tenets, they were at one in their enmity to the priesthood. In
Italy there flourished a sect called the Pasagini (apparently =
Passagieri, Crusaders) or the Circumcised, who returned to the law of
Moses and to Ebionite views of Jesus; in France, a different order
of zealots, called Caputiati from the habit of carrying an image of
the Virgin on their hats, stood for a return to primeval equality and
liberty. Between such types of heresy stood the Apostolici, mostly poor
working-folk, but with powerful sympathizers, who urged a return to the
"apostolic" ideal of poverty and simplicity, and further discouraged
marriage, calling themselves "the chaste brethren and sisters." Two
of their leaders, Sagarelli and Fra Dolcino, had shown the usual
aversion to the Church, Dolcino predicting the formation of native
States and the purification of the papacy; so they, too, were put to
death, being burnt at the stake. And still new revolters appeared.

At this stage there came to the front the sectaries known in
history as the Vaudois or Waldenses, a name standing properly for
the inhabitants of the Vaux or Valleys of Piedmont, but further
connected with the teaching of one Peter Waldus, a Lyons merchant,
whose followers received also the name of the Poor Men of Lyons. How
far the anti-Catholic tenets of the Waldenses derive from ancient
heresy is uncertain; but it is clear that late in the twelfth
century they were acted on by the immense ferment of new ideas around
them. Like the Paulicians, they insisted that the laity should read
the Bible for themselves; and their men and women members went about
preaching wherever they could get a hearing, and administering the
eucharist without priestly sanction. At the same time they condemned
tithes, opposed fasting and prayers for the dead, preached peace and
non-resistance, denied the authority of the pope, and impeached the
lives of the clergy.

All of these forces of heresy, and yet others, were specially at
work in the rich and prosperous region of Languedoc, the patrimony
of Count Raymond of Toulouse. Paulicians and Waldenses, Cathari,
Albanensians or sectaries of Albano, Albigensians or sectaries of the
town of Alby or the district of Albigensium, Bogomilians, Apostolici,
Caputiati, and nondescript Paterini (a Milanese name for a popular
faction)--all were active in the name of religion; and in addition
there were at work heretics of another stamp--the gay, wandering
Goliards or satirical poets and minstrels, who loved the priests and
the papacy as little as did the zealots; and the graver doubters who
had got new views of life from Saracen science and philosophy. As
against the whole amorphous mass of misbelief, the papacy planned
and effected a stupendous crusade of slaughter.

From the first the Manichæans, as the Church loved to call the
heretics indiscriminately, had been bloodily punished. One bishop of
the eleventh century, Wazon of Liège, is to be remembered as having
protested against the universal policy of slaughter; and another,
Gerhard of Cambrai and Arras, is said to have won over some heretics
by persuasion; but these were voices in the wilderness. Fire, sword,
halter, and cross were the normal methods of repression; and during the
eleventh and twelfth centuries thousands probably so perished. But the
campaign which came to be known as the Albigensian crusade was planned
by Pope Innocent III to outdo all the isolated punishments of the past,
and it succeeded. Grounds for quarrel with the Count of Toulouse were
easily found; and the offer of indulgences, on the lines laid down in
the crusades against the Saracens, brought eager volunteers from all
parts of Europe, for only forty days' service was now called for. The
submission of Count Raymond was not permitted to check the massacre
of his subjects. It was in the first campaign that the papal legate
Arnold, abbot of Cliteaux, when asked at the storming of Beziers how
the heretics were to be distinguished from the true believers, gave
the historic answer, "Kill all; God will know his own." By his own
account they killed in that one place fifteen thousand men, women,
and children. The chroniclers, who make the slain twice or thrice as
many, tell how seven thousand of them were found in the great church
of Mary the Magdalene--her from whom, in the legend, had been cast
out seven devils without letting of blood.

Begun in 1209, the Albigensian crusades outlasted the life of Innocent
III, who grew sick of the slaughter while the priesthood were calling
for its extension. They praised in particular the Anglo-French Simon
de Montfort, who slew many of his victims by torture, and tore out the
eyes of many more. For nearly twenty years the wars lasted, plunder
being a sufficient motive after heresy had been drowned in blood
or driven broadcast throughout Europe. It has been reckoned that a
full million of all ages and both sexes were slain. Yet as late as
1231 Pope Gregory IX was burning troops of the heretics at Rome,
and causing many more to be burned in France and Germany.

The precocious civilization of Languedoc and Provence was destroyed,
and the region became a stronghold of Catholic fanaticism; but the
political diversity of Europe baffled the papal hope of destroying
heresy. Thenceforth the anti-clerical animus never died out: in the
course of the thirteenth century it reached even England, then the
most docile section of the Catholic fold. Generations before Wiclif,
there were heretics in the province of Canterbury who denied the
authority of the pope and even of the Fathers, professing to stand
solely on the Bible and the principle of "necessary reason." Wiclif
stood on a less heterodox plane, impugning chiefly the extreme form
of transubstantiation and the practices of the begging friars; and
he was proportionately influential. In the fourteenth century, when
international crusades of repression had become politically impossible,
the critical spirit is seen freshly at work on anti-papal lines in
England, Flanders, France, Germany, and Bohemia, as well as in Italy;
and again, the more energetic began in their earnest ignorance to
frame new schemes of life in the light of their sacred books. The
lapse of time and the continuance of orthodox culture had made an end
of the old Paulician heresy as such; and of the new movements many,
like that set up by Saint Francis in the period of the Albigensian
crusades, were meant to be strictly obedient to the Church. Such were
the "Brethren of the Common Lot," a body set up in Holland by educated
Churchmen after the so-called Beghards (otherwise Beguins or Beguttæ)
had there for a time flourished and degenerated. But the Beghards and
the "Brethren of the Free Spirit," who spread widely over northern
Europe, had not only aimed at a communal life, but developed the
old tendency to pantheism, now gaining ground philosophically on the
lines of Averroism. Even among the Franciscans the "Spirituals," who
resented the falling away of the order from its ideals of poverty,
became heretical. Some adopted the new "Eternal Gospel," by Abbot
Joachim of Flora in Calabria, in which it was declared that there
now began a new dispensation of the Holy Spirit, superseding that
of Jesus. Others, called the Fraticelli, or Little Brothers, had a
"Gospel of the Holy Spirit," composed by John of Parma. In both cases
the spirit of revolt against the Church was marked.

Of the heresy of the fourteenth century the high-water mark is seen
in English Lollardism, which, without touching on the philosophical
problem, proceeded on the basis of the teaching of Wiclif to a kind
of religious rationalism which not only repudiated the rule of the
pope but rejected the institutions of religious celibacy, exorcisms,
priestly benedictions, confession and absolution, pilgrimages,
masses for the dead, and prayers and offerings to images; and
even carried the ethical spirit to the point of denouncing war
and capital punishment. In that age, such an ethic could not long
thrive. Lollardism, encouraged by the self-seeking nobility while it
menaced only the wealth of the Church, which they hoped to gain, was
trodden down by them in conjunction with the king and the Church when
it turned against the abuses of feudal government. But its destruction
was most effectually wrought through the national demoralization set
up by the new imperialism of Henry V, who, after passing a new statute
for the burning of heretics, won the enthusiastic loyalty of his people
by his successful invasion of France. In the corruption of that policy
of plunder, and in the ensuing pandemonium of the Wars of the Roses,
Lollardism disappeared like every other moral ideal. The time for a
union of critical and rapacious forces against the hierarchy was not
yet; and when it came in the sixteenth century the critical spirit
was on the whole less rational than it had been at the beginning of
the fifteenth.



CHAPTER III

THE SOCIAL LIFE AND STRUCTURE


§ 1. The Clergy, Regular and Secular

In a world so completely under priestly rule, the character of the
priest was in general the image of his influence. Whatever good
organized Christianity did was in virtue of the personal work of
good men in holy orders; and it is comforting to believe that in all
countries and in all ages there were some such, after the fashion of
the "parson" in Chaucer. To such men, the priestly status might give
a special power for righteousness. But seeing that in the average man
righteousness is in the ratio of reflection on knowledge, there is no
escape from the conclusion that in the Middle Ages most priests were
poor moral forces. For their general ignorance is beyond doubt. The
number who in a given district at a given time were unable to read
Latin may be a matter for dispute; but it is clear that what they
did read was as a rule merely distilled ignorance. And if we turn to
the records of ecclesiastical legislation, we find constant evidence,
for many centuries, of the laxity of priestly life in all grades.

To say nothing of the perpetual scandal about concubinage--an
artificial form of sin, in itself no more decisive against a priest's
character than celibacy in its favour--there is in the canons of the
councils a most significant repetition of vetoes on various lines of
conduct which stand for a lack of single-mindedness, and of serious
interest in moral tasks. Century after century, the bishops are
found forbidding the clergy to tell fortunes, to practise magic, to
get drunk, to commit perjury, to take usury, to swear, and to haunt
taverns, as well as to keep concubines. At the same time many of the
bishops themselves had to be perpetually admonished. Under Justinian we
hear of two eastern bishops convicted of unnatural vice, and--the law
as usual exceeding the crime--punished by mutilation. Throughout the
Middle Ages, as to-day, the normal complaints against bishops are on
the score of avarice, luxury, and worldliness; but drunkenness is not
unheard of; and whatever might be said in councils as to concubinage,
it was certain that bishops took at least as much liberty of life as
popes and presbyters. So far as moral example went, then, the social
influence of the priesthood was mostly on the wrong side, since its
normal concubinage was a perpetual lesson in hypocrisy.

On this side, doubtless, the priests were no worse than other men; the
trouble was that they set up to be better, and that the hierarchy was
always seeking to keep up the repute of clerical sanctity by a claim
to asceticism rather than by social beneficence. Thus they put it in
the power of the "average sensual man" to convict of moral imposture
a priesthood which, if free to marry, would have been much less
vulnerable; and by constantly stressing self-denial on a wrong line
they missed promoting self-control on right lines. The primary social
needs of the Middle Ages were peace, civism, and cleanliness; and for
none of these things did clerical teaching in general avail. On the
contrary, it was in effect hostile to all three, since it made virtue
consist in a right relation to the other world rather than to this,
made religion a special ground for warfare, and made uncleanliness
a meritorious form of "self-mortification," which in the Middle Ages
was about the last thing that could be truly said of it.

It is not to be forgotten, indeed, that among the monks or other
clerical scholars of the Dark Ages was to be found most of what
learning and philosophy survived. The reason was that men and youths
with the studious instinct, averse to the brawling life around
them, turned to the monasteries and monastic schools as their one
refuge. But sloth and impotence equally turned thither; and where
the stronger spirits could find a peaceful and useful life without,
the sluggards failed. Monasteries were thus always half filled with
men to whom their vows were irksome; and as women were at the same
time frequently sent to convents against their will, nothing but an
iron discipline could keep the professed order. Given an easy abbot
or abbess, they became centres of scandal; and in the average they
were homes of fairly well-fed idleness. But the full fatality of
the case is seen only when we realize that their very successes,
their provision of a dim retreat for many men and women of refined
and unworldly type, worsened society by leaving the reproduction of
the race to the grosser and harder natures.

The ostensible merit of monasteries, in the medieval period, was their
almsgiving. Without endorsing the mercantilist impeachment of all such
action, we are forced to recognize that theirs demoralized as many
as it relieved. Of a higher order than mere almsgiving, certainly,
was the earlier self-sacrificing service of the mendicant orders of
friars, whose rise is one of the great moral phenomena of the Middle
Ages. For a time, in the thirteenth century, the order of St. Francis
in particular not only organized but greatly stimulated human devotion
of the kind that, happily, is always quietly present somewhere; and
the contrast between the humble beneficence of the earlier friars
and the sleek self-seeking of the average secular priest at once
accredited the former and discredited the latter. But the history of
the mendicant friars as of the previous orders is a crowning proof of
the impossibility of bettering society on a mere religious impulse,
without social science.

Credit for holiness brought large gifts and legacies from
well-meaning but ill-judging laymen and women; and nothing could
prevent the enrichment of orders which had begun under special vows
of poverty. Francis had expressly ruled that his friars should not on
any pretext hold property, and should not even be able to profit by it
through trustees; but the latter provision was annulled, and ere long
the order was as well provided for as any. The better the financial
footing, the more self-seekers entered; and these overruled the more
single-minded. This was the law of development of every "self-denying"
order of the Dark and Middle Ages, from the Benedictine monks to the
Knights Templars. One of the most rigorously planned monasteries of
the Middle Ages, that of the lonely Chartreuse, founded by St. Bruno
late in the eleventh century, at length relaxed its austerities,
and came latterly to be known as a wholesale manufactory of a
liqueur--the distinction by which most men now know also the name
of the Benedictines. In the end, the orders of monks and friars did
something for scholarship and education, after the institution of "lay
brothers," who did the menial work, left the domini in certain orders,
especially the Benedictine, free to devote themselves to learning;
but socially they achieved nothing. When once they had acquired
"foundations" they became plunderers instead of helpers of the poor,
exacting from them gifts, selling them post-mortem privileges, taking
the widow's mite and the orphan's blanket for verbal blessings.

It is always to be remembered, here as before, that Christianity is
not the efficient cause of the failures or the evils which happen
under its auspices: we are not to suppose that had Osirianism or
Judaism or Manichæism or Mithraism chanced to be the religion of
Europe these failures and evils would have been averted. What we
are to realize is, on the other hand, that the conventional view as
to Christianity having been an abnormally efficient cause for good
is a delusion. It is not Christianity that has civilized Europe, but
Europe--the complex of political and culture forces--that has civilized
Christianity. Byzantium and Abyssinia show what the religious system
could amount to of itself. Western Europe surpassed these States
in virtue of conditions more propitious to energy and to freedom:
that was the difference. At the best, medieval Europe was a world of
chronic strife, daily injustice, normal cruelty, abundant misery, and
ever-present disease. To show that Christianity, that is, the holding
of the Christian creed by the men of that world, made these evils less
than they would have been in the same place under any other creed,
is impossible. On the other hand, it is clear that the influence of
Christian doctrine and tradition was on some sides conservative of
evil and obstructive of good.

Those tendencies may indeed be regarded as operating in the
intellectual life, which, though it is in reality only a side of the
sociological whole, we shall conveniently consider apart. Under that
head too we shall note the influence of the Church for culture on
the side of art. But on the side of ordinary life the influence of
the clergy as teachers had two specific tendencies which may here be
noted. One was the disparagement of women; the other the encouragement
of cruelty.

On the first head, as on so many others, the conventional view is
a fallacy. That Christianity raised the status of women is still a
general assumption; but exact research, even when made by an orthodox
theologian, proves the contrary. Down to the nineteenth century, the
solidest rights women possessed were those secured to them by ancient
Roman law; and the tendency of Christian legislation was certainly
to restrict rather than to expand such rights. At the same time the
so-called "Manichæan" element in gospel Christianity, the tendency
to regard the sexual instinct as something corrupt and unclean, gave
to the ordinary language of the Fathers concerning women a tone of
detraction and aversion. The one remedy for an overpoise of the sexual
element in life, and for over-emphasis of female function on that side,
is to secure the community of the sexes in the intellectual life; and
organized Christianity, instead of inculcating this, minimized the
intellectual life all round, thus making self-restraint a matter of
morbid asceticism as against the excess inevitably following on disuse
of mind. In particular, a priesthood nominally committed to celibacy,
yet always practising in the confessional a morbid inquisition into
sexual matters, was committed to treating women disparagingly as
forces of "temptation" when it was not yielding thereto. Nothing
could be more injurious to women's real credit. It is true that the
worship of the Virgin would in some measure counteract the discredit;
but this held equally true of the worship of many pagan Goddesses;
and there is nothing to show that the status of women was higher
in medieval Christendom than in ancient Egypt. Among the Teutons,
the moral status of women seems to have been greatly lowered by the
introduction of Christianity.

As regards cruelty, the evidence is only too abundant. Mosheim admits
that in the Crusades the Christians were more ferocious than the
Saracens; and it is historically certain that the revival of the
ancient practice of judicial torture was the work of the papacy,
seeking to extirpate heresy in the thirteenth century. From the
tribunals of the Inquisition it passed to the ordinary Church courts,
and thence, more slowly, to the courts of justice. In time it became
a daily usage. In the old burg of Nuremberg there is preserved a
collection (sometimes exhibited elsewhere) of the instruments of
torture in common use down to the age of the Reformation. It is an
arsenal of horror. Such engines of atrocity were the normal punitive
expedients of a world in which the image of the Saviour on the cross
was supposed to move men to compassion and contrition; and in which
that Saviour's death was held to redeem men from the penalties of
their sins. Here the practical teaching and example of the priesthood
was all for cruelty. They presided or assisted when the heretic was
racked or burned alive; and their whole conception of morals made
for such methods. Holding the madman as possessed by a devil, they
taught that he should be cruelly scourged; holding that the leper
was stricken by God for sin, they taught that he should be shunned
the more. Paganism was saner.

Nothing is more true in social psychology than the hard saying of
Feuerbach, that "only where reason rules, does universal love rule:
reason is itself nothing else than universal love. It was faith,
not love, not reason, that invented Hell." "Faith has within it a
malignant principle." Medieval Christendom is the demonstration. In
that age the spirit of reason was but occasionally glimpsed. It is seen
in the teaching of John Scotus, who, besides his concrete heresy on the
eucharist, held the all-embracing heresy that authority is derivable
solely from reason, and from his pantheism deduced the conviction that
the doctrine of hell is but an allegory, the actuality of which would
be the negation of divine goodness. But such teaching belonged rather
to pagan philosophy than to Christian faith, and was anathematized
accordingly. It never reached even the scholarly class in general;
and specifically Christian teaching which aimed at softening the
heart was spread abroad to little purpose.



§ 2. The Higher Theology and its Effects

There is something saddening, though not really strange, in the failure
even of the most attractive elements in medieval Christianity to better
the world. To read of the life and teaching of St. Francis of Assisi
is to come as it were in the presence of a really elemental force of
goodness. His namesake of Sales was a persecutor; but the founder of
the Franciscan order seems free of that taint. In him the ecstasy
of pietism seems purified of that correlative of fanatic malignity
which so constantly dogs it in the literature of ancient Christianity,
from the epistles of Paul to the treatises of Augustine. We hear of
his love for all animals, of his seldom-failing goodwill to men, and
his sweet contentment in humble contemplation. Yet when we study him
in relation to his age there fronts us the startling fact that while
his active career is almost exactly synchronous with the horrible
Albigensian crusades, there is no trace in the records that he was
even saddened by them. They ought to have darkened for him the light
of the sun; but not once does he seem to have given even a deprecating
testimony against them. In him, the flower of medieval Christianity,
loyalty to the faith seems to have annulled some of the most vital
modes of moral consciousness.

So again with the influence of such a religious classic as the
Imitatio Christi, attributed to Thomas à Kempis, but probably the work
of several hands, in different countries and centuries. Many men and
women must have supposed themselves to live by it; and its influence
seems wholly for peace and self-surrender. Yet it would be hard to show
that it ever restrained any corporate tendency of a contrary kind,
or ruled the corporate life of a single religious sect. The truth is
that its message was for a life of isolation, as that of the ideal monk
in his cell. Seclusion and not social life, mystic contemplation and
not wise activity, duty to God and not duty to man, are its ideals. It
was in a manner the Christian counterpart of the Meditations of Marcus
Aurelius or the Enchiridion of Epictetus--a manual of the higher or
inner life, making Christianity do for medieval men what Stoicism
could do for pagans in the decadent Roman empire. But Stoicism, by
Christian consent, made for good government; and there is no trace
of any such result from the Imitatio. The model Christian monarch,
St. Louis of France, lived in an earlier age; and even he was a
fanatic where heresy was concerned, and a promoter of religious wars.

The same fatality appears, again, when we turn to the mystical
theology of the German fourteenth-century school of Tauler and
Eckhart, in which both Luther and some of our own day have seen a high
inspiration. Here, perhaps, we come on the secret of the failure we
are considering. Eckhart was a scholar, who had studied and taught at
Paris, and ranked as "provincial" of the Dominican order for Saxony;
and Tauler was his pupil before settling at Basle. Both men undoubtedly
influenced the Brethren of the Free Spirit and others of the so-called
Beghards and Beguins, before mentioned, in particular the sect who
called themselves the "Friends of God"; and they may so be said to
have affected society practically, since these movements aimed at a
species of communism. But the essence of their theology was alien
to that or any organized movement, and if lived up to would have
dissolved it without the interference of the priests and others who
under authority drove women of the Beguine movement from their homes
and seized their poor goods. "If thou wouldst have the Creator," says
Tauler, "thou must forego the creature. The less of the creature,
the more of God. Therefore abjure all creatures, with all their
consolations." Not thus were men in general to be taught to live
more brotherlike. The rude world of the Middle Ages went on its way,
unaffected in the main either by mysticism or by the movements which
set up self-centred societies within society. It needed a more human
spirit to affect humanity in mass.

Such a human spirit, indeed, may be held to have shown itself in
the movement set up in Florence by Girolamo Savonarola near the end
of the fifteenth century. Savonarola was moved by a high concern
for individual conduct; and his gospel was substantially that of an
Ebionite Christian, wroth with all luxury as well as with all levity
of life. Thus he wielded a great influence, setting up in the splendid
Florence of the later Renaissance a forecast of the iron-bound Geneva
of Calvin. It is no final impeachment of him to say that, having gone
so far, he failed and fell; but it is clear that he could not have
been a durable civilizing force. His influence was that of a fanatic,
operating by contagion of excitement and superstitious fear, not that
of an enlightener or a statesmanlike guide. To him amenity and luxury,
art and vice, selfishness and skepticism, were alike anathema; and
he set up in Florence a kind of pietistic reign of terror, driving
impressionable believers to give up their pictures to the fire for
peace' sake, and even letting others be forced to it by fear. On the
great political need of the Italian cities, a fraternal federation,
he had no light whatever; and we find him encouraging his fellow
citizens in their fatal passion for dominating Pisa instead of making
of her an ally and a friend. Lacking light, he finally lacked force;
and when he fell, he fell utterly, leaving no enduring ideal or
discipline to his countrymen.

Thus on every side and at every point in the history of the ages of
faith the ostensibly best religious influences are found failing
to heal society, failing to check the forces of oppression and
dissolution and strife. If we would trace the forces which really
affected social structure and raised masses of men some way in the
scale of manhood, we must turn to the clash of interests and classes,
the play of secular knowledge, the undertakings of laymen on normal
lines of aspiration and on secular views of right.



§ 3. Christianity and Feudalism

We have seen, in studying the expansion of the Church, how it grew
by lending itself to the interests of kings and chiefs as against
subjects. On the same grounds, it made for empires as against
self-governing States. But inasmuch as the papacy ere long fell
out with the emperors of the new line it had itself consecrated, it
also contributed to the break-up of feudalism, in the widest sense
of the term; and it is possible to claim for the Church, further,
a restraining influence on the oppressive action of feudalism, early
and late, in various directions. Under this head would fall to be
judged, in particular, its action on slavery.

As the institution of slavery was taken over by the Christian emperors
from the pagan without any hint of disapproval, it is clear, to
begin with, that the Church had in its days of struggle made no sign
of such condemnation. Nor was there anything in its sacred books to
suggest a repudiation of slavery; on the contrary, Jesus is made to
accept it as a matter of course (Luke xvii, 7-10; Gr.); and Paul,
in a passage which has been garbled in the English translation,
expressly urges that a Christian slave should remain so even if he
have a chance to become free (1 Cor. vii, 20, 21). He and some of the
Fathers certainly urge that slaves should be kindly treated; but many
pagans had done as much, and Seneca on that theme had outgone them
all. Laws for the protection of slaves, too, had been enacted by many
emperors long before Constantine. The only ground, then, on which
Christianity could be credited with setting up by religious appeal
an aversion to slavery would be a visible increase in manumissions
after the time of Constantine. No such increase, however, took place.

A misconception on the subject has arisen by way of a hasty inference
from the fact that in the Christian period all manumissions were
religious acts, performed through the Church. This was no result of
any Christian doctrine, being in fact a deliberate imitation of pagan
practice. Before Constantine, as we have seen, the act of manumission
was a religious one, performed as such in the pagan temples; and when
Constantine adroitly transferred the function from those temples to
the churches, he probably put a check on the process of liberation,
since pagans would long be reluctant to go to the churches for any
purpose. For centuries manumission had been a common act, the number
of freedmen in Rome being notoriously great at all times, from the
day of Cicero onwards. It was almost a matter of course for a Roman
master to free a multitude of his slaves on his deathbed or by his
will, till Augustus enacted that no one should emancipate more than
a hundred at once. A diligent slave, in fact, could usually count on
getting his freedom by five or six years of service; and many were
allowed to buy it out of their savings, or out of earnings they were
permitted to make.

So far were the earlier Christian emperors, with one exception,
from seeking to raise the status of slaves, that they re-enacted the
rule excluding them from the purview of the law against adultery,
"because of the vileness of their condition." The exception was the
law of Constantine forbidding the separation of slaves from their
families--a humane veto disregarded by Christian slave-owners in
modern times. But Constantine, on the other hand, enacted that if a
freewoman should cohabit with a slave, she should be executed, and
he burned alive; and the laws against fugitive slaves were made more
cruel. Gratian even enacted that any slave who dared to accuse his
master of any crime, unless it were high treason, should be burned
alive, without any inquiry into the charge. For the rest, the Fathers
justified slavery on the score of the curse passed on Ham; and the
theses of the Stoics as to the natural equality of men had from them
no countenance.

Only in the reign of Justinian did the law begin expressly to
encourage manumission, to recognize freedmen as full citizens, and
to raise the slave status; and several circumstances are to be noted
as giving a lead to such a course. Justinian had pursued a policy of
great outlays where his immediate predecessors had been frugal, and
to sustain it he had to impose much fresh taxation on the land. For
fiscal purposes, it had long been recognized, the government did
well to limit the power of proprietors to dispose of their slaves;
and it is probable that the humane law of Constantine really had this
end in view. By raising slaves to the status of half-free peasants,
the State increased the number of its taxpayers. "The labourer of
the soil then became an object of great interest to the treasury,
and obtained almost as important a position in the eyes of the fisc
as the landed proprietor himself." In the process the small freeman
was put in a worse position than before; but the slave was at the
same time bettered--the hereditary slave, that is, for captives were
enslaved or bought throughout the history of the Byzantine empire.

The legal change was thus made from economic motives; but one moral
gain did indirectly accrue from the existence of the Church as
such. Under Justinian the empire was re-expanded after having been
for a time curtailed; and this would under paganism have meant a
large addition to the number of slaves. The recovered lands, however,
were peopled by Christians; and all bishops were bound in their own
interest to resist the enslavement and deportation of their flocks;
so that Christianity at this point was favourable to freedom exactly as
was Islam, which forbade Moslems to enslave Moslems. And the indirect
benefit did not end there. The Church, like the fisc, had a good deal
to gain pecuniarily from the freeing of slaves; and, especially in
the West, though it supported slave-laws, it encouraged masters to
manumit for the sake of their souls' welfare in the next world. That
the motive here again was political and not doctrinal is clear from
the two facts--(1) that even when making serfs priests for its own
service the Church often did not legally free them, thus keeping them
more fully subject to discipline; and (2) that while urging laymen to
free the slaves or serfs on their lands Churchmen were the last to free
those on their own, on the score that no individuals in orders had the
right to alienate the property of the order as such. Other economic
causes, of course, effectually concurred to further the freeing of
slaves and serfs, else the institution would not have decayed as
it did in the Middle Ages. It is noteworthy, too, that while the
Jews were the great slave dealers for Europe in the Dark Ages, thus
dangerously deepening their own unpopularity and moving the Church to
thwart the traffic on Christian grounds, Christians everywhere were
long eager to buy and sell barbarians such as the Slavs (from whose
name came the very term "slave" in the modern languages); while the
Christian Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Normans for centuries maintained a
trade in kidnapped Anglo-Saxon or British children and young women,
selling them to Ireland after they were no longer saleable on the
continent. A similar traffic went on among the Bohemians, before the
eyes of St. Adalbert. What the Church did, broadly speaking, was to
restrain the enslavement of Christians by their fellows; and to raise
funds to redeem Christian captives from the Saracens. To a certain
extent the motive was religious: otherwise it was self-regarding.

In similarly indirect ways, organized Christianity tended at times
to restrain feudal tyranny. The bishop and the abbot were territorial
magnates, who to some extent counterpoised the baron; and though the
bishops were too often only barons with a difference, they were often
a barrier to lay ambition and violence. Even as the king's rule might
protect the common people as against their local lords--though the
feudal system did not originally suppose this--so the Church might
be a local benefactor in virtue of its local interests. Here again,
however, the influence was not doctrinal; and Churchmen in general
endorsed the feudal law in letter and in spirit, always availing
themselves of its machinery to extort their own dues.

On the other hand, insofar as the papacy in the twelfth century began
to throw its weight on the side of the popular party in Italy as
against the aristocratic and imperial party, thus constituting the
Guelph faction as against the Ghibeline, it indirectly furthered
the cause of self-government; and even in its official doctrine
there thus came to be inserted provisions in favour of the claim of
subjects to choose their rulers. The teaching of Thomas Aquinas to
this effect must have counted for something in the later evolution
of political doctrine. Nothing however is more remarkable than the
ease with which dutiful kings, as those of later Spain and France,
secured the assent of the Church, as the early barbarian kings had
done, to the suppression of all popular liberties. The economic or
administrative interest of the Church was always the determinant
of its action. It supplied no fixed principle conducive to peace;
on the contrary, it was always a force the more for war in Europe.



§ 4. Influence of the Crusades

That some social gains may be correlative with great historic evils
is perhaps best seen in the case of the Crusades organized by the
Church against the Saracens in Palestine. These campaigns were first
conceived in the interests of the papal power; and as early as 999 Pope
Sylvester II (Gerbert), who had been anti-papal before his elevation,
sent a letter through Europe appealing for united action on behalf
of the Church of Jerusalem. There was no response. In 1074 Gregory
VII strove hard to the same end, seeing in a conquest of the Turks a
means to extend his power over the Eastern Church. Not, however, till
Europe was full of tales of the cruelties wrought by the new Eastern
power, the Turks, against Christian pilgrims--a marked change from
the comparative tolerance of the Caliphs--was it possible to begin a
vast crusading movement among all classes, aiming at the recovery of
the empty sepulchre from which the Christ had risen. To this movement
Pope Urban II zealously lent himself, backing up the wild appeal of
Peter the Hermit (1094) with the fatal bribe of indulgences.

The first effect (1096) was to collect several immense and almost
formless mobs of men and women who by all accounts were in the main
the refuse of Europe. "That the vast majority looked upon their vow
as a licence for the commission of any sin there can be no moral
doubt." The devout exaltation of the few was submerged by the riot
of the many, who began using their indulgences when they began their
march, and rolled like a flood across Europe, massacring, torturing,
and plundering Jews wherever they found them, and forcibly helping
themselves to food where plunder was easy. Multitudes perished by
the way; multitudes more were sold as slaves in Byzantium to pay for
the feeding of the rest there; and of the seven thousand who reached
Asiatic soil with Peter the Hermit, four thousand were slain by the
Turks at Nicæa; some 300,000 thus perishing in all. Inasmuch as Europe
was thus rid of a mass of its worst inhabitants, the first crusade
might be said so far to have wrought indirect good; but the claim is
hardly one to be pushed on religious grounds.

The more organized military forces who soon followed under Godfrey
of Bouillon and other leaders, though morally not better witnesses
to Christianity, achieved at length (1099) the capture of Jerusalem,
and founded the Latin kingdom of Palestine, which subsisted in force
for less than a hundred years, and in a nominal form for a century
longer. As a display of Christian against "pagan" life and conduct,
the process of conquest was worse than anything seen in the East in
the Christian era. No armies were ever more licentious than those of
"the cross"; and those of Attila were hardly more ferocious. Their
own lives were lost in myriads, by the sword, by disease, and by
debauchery; they were divided by mutual hatred from first to last;
and the one force to unify them was the hatred against the infidel
which wreaked itself in the massacre of men, women, and children after
the capture of a city. Besieging Antioch, they shot heads of hundreds
of slain Turks into the city from their engines, and dug up hundreds
of corpses to put the heads on pikes. It is even recorded that when
their savage improvidence left them starving at the siege of Marra
they fed on the corpses they dug up; and when the place was stormed
Bohemond gave up to the general massacre even those inhabitants who
had paid him large sums for their lives, sparing only the young, whom
he sent to the slave-markets of Antioch. When Godfrey took Jerusalem,
the Jews there were all burned alive in their synagogues; and the
chronicles tell that the crusaders rode their horses to the temple
knee-deep in the blood of many thousands of slain misbelievers. On
the second day, in cold blood, there was wrought a fresh massacre
by way of solemn sacrifice; and in the name of Jesus were slain a
great multitude of every age--mothers with the infants in their arms,
little children, youths and maidens, and men and women bowed with
age. Thus was retrieved the mythic Saviour's sepulchre.

Eight times, during two hundred years, was the effort repeated, as
the fortunes of the Christian principalities in the East were shaken
or overthrown by Moslem assailants, and as the papacy saw its chance
or need to weaken the emperor, or otherwise avert danger to itself,
by renewing the call to arms. No religious teacher seems ever to have
doubted the fitness of the undertaking. St. Bernard preached the
second Crusade as zealously as Peter did the first; eloquent monks
were found, as they were needed, to rouse enthusiasm for each of
the rest in turn; and King Louis IX of France, the model monarch of
Christendom, saw in his vain expedition to recover Jerusalem (1248)
the highest service he could do to God or man. As each successive
crusade failed in the act or was followed by decadence and defeat,
the Church professed to see in the disaster a penalty for Christian
sin; and under Innocent III the very cardinals of Rome vowed to mend
their ways, by way of reviving the warlike zeal of the laity. Among
other fruits of the crusading movement had been a vast increase in
the papal revenues; and whereas the imposts specially laid on for
crusading purposes were said by many to have been appropriated by the
papal court, the pope undertook to put the administration of all such
revenue under non-clerical trustees. But between the hardness of the
military task and the endless strifes and degeneracies of the leaders
on the one hand, and the growing distrust of the Church on the other,
the crusading spirit died out in the thirteenth century.

To all who could sanely judge, it had become clear that the crusades
were at once a vast drain on the blood and treasure of Europe and
a vast force of demoralization. In the course of the fifth, the
government of Venice succeeded in using the crusaders, in despite of
the protests of Innocent III, to wrest the city of Zara from the king
of Hungary, himself a zealous crusader. Then the expedition, with the
pope's approval, proceeded to interfere in Byzantine strifes, making
and unmaking emperors, until they had created chaos, whereupon they
sacked Constantinople (1204) with every circumstance of vileness and
violence. The pope, who had hoped to reconcile the Byzantines to papal
rule, burst out in bitter indignation at the deeds of the men to whom
he had given his indulgences; but morality was at an end all round, as
might have been foretold; and the pope accepted the conquest for what
it was to bring him in new power. Christendom thenceforth crusaded
with its tongue in its cheek. From the first the papacy had taught
that no faith need be kept with unbelievers; and so was given a very
superfluous apprenticeship to bad faith between Christians. When
in 1212 there broke out the hapless Children's Crusades, out of
the 30,000 who followed the boy Stephen some way through France,
5,000 were shipped at Marseilles by merchants who, professing to
carry them "for the cause of God, and without charge," sold them as
slaves at Algiers and Alexandria. The last recruits furnished by pope
Nicholas IV to the Grand Master of the Templars were drawn from the
jails of Italy: the papacy itself had ceased to put any heart in the
struggle. It is a reasonable calculation that in the two centuries
from the first crusade to the fall of Acre (1291) there had perished,
in the attempts to recover and hold the Holy Land, nine millions of
human beings, at least half of them Christians. Misery and chronic
pestilence had slain most; but the mere carnage had been stupendous.

Much has been written as to the gains to civilization from the
"intercourse" thus set up between West and East. Gains there were;
and if we remember that thus to have gained was the measure of the
incapacity of Christendom for peaceful traffic with the world of
Islam, we can learn from the process something of real sociological
causation. Men who, from ferocity and fanaticism, could not make quiet
acquaintance with their neighbours, were hurled against them in furious
hordes, generation after generation, and in the intervals of fighting
came to know something of their arts and their thought, exchanging
handicrafts and products. The crowning irony of the evolution lay
in the entrance of unbelief into the Christian world through the
very contact with the "infidel" who was to have been crushed. This
perhaps was the discovery that disillusioned the papacy. And but
for the spirit of faith and hate--the true correlatives in Christian
history--every gain from the Crusades might have been made ten times
over in commerce. To make such gains at the price of nine million
lives and unutterable evil is the contribution of the Crusades to
civilization.

It is true that from the East the later crusaders learned what chivalry
they evolved; that Saladin became a kind of model hero for Christian
knights; and that he could hold knightly friendship with Richard of
England. But Richard nevertheless could massacre two thousand hostages
in cold blood for an unpaid debt; and his crusading left him as it
found him, a faithless ruffian, whom to honour is to be cheated by
a romance. Nor did passages of chivalry ever root out of crusaders'
hearts the creed that no faith need be kept with a misbeliever.

It is true again that the Crusades involved much social metabolism
in Europe. The papal indulgence freed serfs from their masters, and
debtors from their usurers, while the crusade lasted; the crusading
barons freed many more serfs for a price down, and sold broad
lands to middle-class buyers in order to furnish themselves for the
campaign. And the mere stir of the exodus and the return, repeated for
so many generations, was a vivifying shock to the torpor of medieval
Europe, where war was for many the one relief to a vast tedium. But
the torpor must go to the credit of the creed if the shock does, since
the faith had vetoed the intercourse of peace; and to the same account
must be put the throwing back upon itself of the Saracen civilization,
of which Christian enmity directly or indirectly wrought the arrest
and ruin, first in the East, later in Spain. Such wreckages surely
block the path of the wrecker. If, finally, we seek to measure the
reactions of crusading savagery on the life of those who wrought and
those who applauded it--a reaction seldom reckoned in the discussion
of the "results"--we shall be well prepared for the discovery that
in the fourteenth century the general lot of men in Europe showed
no betterment; that the tillers of the soil had still to sweat blood
under feudal masters, save where the enormous loss of life through the
pestilence known as the Black Death had for a time raised the price of
labour; and that the institution which above all embodied for Europe
the memory of the Crusades, the Order of the Knights Templars, was
at length crushed in its home by as base a conspiracy and as cruel a
slaughter as ever marked the struggle of Christian with Mohammedan. It
was pretended by Philip the Fair of France, who began the plot, that
the Order was anti-Christian, and devoted to blasphemous rites; but
there is no proof of the occurrence of anything more than irregular
acts of irreverence, answering to the artistic ribaldries of the
mason-companies who built the cathedrals. That phenomenon is in itself
noteworthy, as showing how the Crusades had tended to shake faith;
but the Templars as a whole were no more unbelievers than the kings
who coveted their wealth. It was for that wealth, which was indeed
incongruously great, that they were conspired against by their fellow
Christians, who in two hundred years of a precarious union of enmity
against men of another faith had not learned goodwill towards those
of their own. The drama ended as it began, in hatred and crime.



CHAPTER IV

THE INTELLECTUAL LIFE


§ 1. Superstition and Intolerance

In judging of the intellectual life of the Middle Ages, account
must always be taken of the fact that their earlier literature is
mainly religious and ecclesiastical, and that such literature often
gives a very faint idea of the higher mental life of the educated
laity. In our own time, and still more in the last two centuries,
the literature of devotion and of the Church seldom suggests the play
of intelligence that actually goes on in the world: taken by itself,
indeed, it would often imply intellectual decline. As we have seen
and shall see, the Middle Ages had an intellectual life apart from
the Church; and in the period we term the Renaissance that life was
far-reaching; there is reason therefore to question whether at a time
when authors were mostly clerics there was not some sane thinking of
which we read little or nothing. But even if such allowance be made,
the fact remains that the period of clerical supremacy in literature
is a period of enormous superstition.

Under that term even religious people now include a habitual belief in
diabolical agency, a constant affirmation of miracles, portents, divine
and fiendish apparitions; and the Protestant adds to the definition
saint-worship, belief in the supernatural virtue of relics, and the
acceptance of the daily miracle of transubstantiation. But even if
questions of doctrine be put aside, we may sum up that the average
Christian in the Middle Ages was more credulous as to daily prodigies,
saintly and fiendish, than even the average Catholic peasant of to-day
in the more backward European countries. Doubters and unbelievers there
must always have been; but in the medieval period it was dangerous to
utter doubt, unless by way of attack on priests and monks in circles
where they were not popular. Ribald doubt, besides, came off best;
grave disbelief incurred suspicion; and where men cannot speak their
thought they are hindered in their thinking. The most unseemly debates,
such as that as to whether the eucharist when eaten passed through
the normal process of digestion ("stercoranism" was the name given
to the heresy that it did), and that set up by Ratramnus as to how
the impregnation of the Virgin actually took place--such discussions
could go on freely; but more decent controversy could not. Beyond
question, the influence of clerical literature was mainly for gross
credulity. The lives of the saints in general, from Gregory I onwards,
tell constantly of a puerility of judgment which to a Periclean Greek
would have been inconceivable, and which was incompatible not only
with rational thought but with tolerable veracity. Language and the
art of writing had become means of destroying common sense. In the
hands of the hagiographers, the use of miracle so far outgoes the
older tradition that it must have finally failed to suggest anything
divine--even to a believer. To a skeptic it suggests burlesque.

On the other hand, medieval life was in the main as much ridden by
fear of evil spirits as that of any savages of our own time; for
every people had kept the notion of their hostile sprites, and the
Christian devil was simply made the God of that kingdom. Life, too,
was shorter than moderns can well realize; so high was the normal
death-rate, so frequent was pestilence, so little understood was
disease; and the nearness of death made men either reckless or
afraid. Where ignorance and fear go hand in hand, is the realm
of superstition. Average religion was summed up in a perfectly
superstitious use of the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist;
a devout hope in the intercession and protection of the saints; an
ever-present fear of the activity of the fiend; a singularly mechanical
use of formularies; an intense anxiety to possess or benefit by holy
relics, the easy manufacture of which must have enriched myriads;
a chronic fear of sorcery; and a conception of hell and purgatory
so literal that its general failure to amend or control conduct is a
revelation of the inconsequence of average morality. It is often hard
to distinguish in medieval religion between devotional and criminal
motives. In the life of the Italian St. Romuald (tenth century) it
is told that when he insisted on leaving the retreat in Catalonia
where he had won a saintly repute, the Catalans proposed to kill
him in order to possess his relics. He in turn cudgelled his father
nearly to death to make him adhere to his profession of the religious
life. Such ethical ideas expressed themselves in the monastic caste
not only in austerities but in systematic self-flagellation; and in
the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries the principle
evolved the chronic movements of the Flagellants, specially so-called,
whose wild and public self-tortures neither Church nor State could
put down while the mania lasted.

In such a world, primed by a great caste of priests, intolerance had
its ideal habitat. Aversion to innovating thought is as natural to
man as egoism; and an innovating religion is no sooner established
than it finds equilibrium in denouncing innovation. Thus, even
apart from clerical action, and apart too from the ethnic animosity
to Mohammedanism, the medieval laity, knowing nothing of the long
intellectual and sectarian struggles which have forced tolerance on
modern polity, were spontaneous persecutors of heresy save where
it appealed primarily to their anti-clerical economic interests,
or carried them away by mere contagion of physical excitement. The
Flagellants, for instance, seem positively to have hypnotized many by
their procedure, as did the partly kindred and partly contrary sect of
Dancers, who flourished in Flanders and Germany late in the fourteenth
century. It is thus credible that some were cured by incantations,
which were hypnotic with a difference. But all such eccentrics
were normally liable to cruel ill-treatment from their conforming
fellows; and it is clear that in the fourteenth century the mystical
and communistic heresies of Beghards and Beguins, male and female,
were promptly persecuted by the general laity. The religion which
categorically taught men to love their enemies never seems to have
prepared them to endure in their neighbours a difference of doctrine.

It is probable, too, that during the Dark Ages thousands of helpless
souls were put to death as sorcerers by mobs without process of
law, apart from those executed under the old laws against magic or
divination, and the Teutonic codes of the same order. In a similar
spirit, Christian mobs in all countries and ages had chronically
wreaked a half-religious, half-economic hatred on the Jews, of whom
enormous numbers died by massacre. Here the motive was not wholly
religious, since their unfortunate specialization in usury--albeit
forced upon them by Christian exclusiveness--had set up ill-will
against the Jews in the period of the pagan empire, and even among
the Moors, who had given them religious toleration. But Christian
animus certainly counted for much, and carried the passion to lengths
rarely reached in antiquity. Thus the common run of Christian life
was grossly intolerant. It was left to the Church as such, however,
to frame for the suppression of free thought in religion a machinery
never paralleled in human history.



§ 2. The Inquisition

Though all the heresy hunts of the ancient Church had implied
an inquisitorial ideal, nothing in the nature of a "Holy Office"
had existed in the Church till the second quarter of the thirteenth
century. It was felt that the faithful could as a rule be trusted to
raise the cry of heresy wherever it could be scented. Such prompt
action we have seen taken in the cases of Jovinian, Pelagius,
Gottschalk, and Berengar. But in the twelfth century the spirit of
militant orthodoxy, as seen in zealots like St. Bernard, had reached
a strength which pointed to some systematic action on the part of the
now much aggrandized papacy. St. Bernard's attitude to Abailard is
that of the true Inquisitor: he suspects, to begin with, the accursed
spirit of independent thought, and he is straightway determined to
make an example of the upstart who dares to reason on all doctrines
for himself. But even St. Bernard, eager as he was for the blood of
Moslems, could hardly have anticipated the spirit in which the papacy
acted from the Albigensian crusade onwards. Coincident with that
crusade was the digging up of Amalrich's bones, the burning of his
followers, and the veto on the study of Aristotle at Paris. Intolerance
had entered on a new era.

The first steps towards a systematic and centralized Inquisition were
taken about 1178, when, under Pope Alexander III, the Church began
moving against the "Manichean" heretics of Languedoc. A papal legate at
that time forced from the Count of Toulouse and his nobles a promise on
oath to resist heresy; and in a council of the following year orthodox
princes in general were invited to use force for the purpose. The pope
proceeded not only to excommunicate the heretics and their backers
but to declare, in the fashion already consecrated by the Crusades,
that no one need keep faith with them; further offering indulgences
for two years to all who should make war on them, and calling on
their lords to reduce them to slavery. As a result, a crusade was
made in 1181, so little marked by bloodshed as to be insignificant
in comparison with those of the next generation, but sufficient to
force an abjuration of heresy from the lords concerned. Thereafter,
in 1184, a Council held at Verona prescribed with a new precision and
emphasis a systematic search for heresy by all bishops, and called
upon the nobles to lend their support in the way of the necessary
violence. Innocent III had thus had the way marked out for him, alike
in suppression and in prevention; and the Inquisition as such dates
from the close of his crusade against the Albigenses, when Pope Gregory
IX took from the bishops the business of heresy-hunting and made
it a special task of the Dominican order (1233). After "Manichæism"
had been stamped out there was a lull in persecution as in heresy;
but the institution remained, to prevent new growths.

The broad outcome of its work was that whereas the twelfth century
had been one of intellectual dawn, and the thirteenth, despite its
murderous beginning, one of diffusion of light, the fourteenth was
on the whole one of stationary knowledge, save in Italy itself,
where the growing energies of the Renaissance for the time eluded
repression. Indeed the Church cared little about mere unbelief, as
distinct from anti-clerical heresy, where its political rule was not
thereby affected; and in Italy, when anti-clericalism was once put
down, its wealth made it secure. Even in Italy the literary life of
the fourteenth century was rather artistic than intellectual, science
and serious thought making little progress; while in northern Europe
they were visibly arrested. It was in the outlying States, where
heresy might mean a cessation of papal revenue, that the Dominicans
were specially hounded on to their work. In England, in the latter
part of the thirteenth century, the great spirit of Roger Bacon was
cabined and confined by inquisitorial enmities; and in France in
the fourteenth there was a signal suspension of intellectual life,
in the face of the activities of original thinkers such as William of
Occam. The throttling of the civilization of the south had reacted on
the north. Doubtless the desperate wars to which crusading experience
had given a new incitement counted for much, and the constant political
intrigues of the papacy for more, in arresting mental growth. "When a
city for any political proceeding had given offence to its political
head, emperor or king, or had irritated a Roman bishop by opposition,
the usual punishment, by command or interdict, was to inhibit
its professors from teaching, and to disperse its scholars." All
the political causes wrought together for the hindrance of human
advancement. The immense destruction of population by the Black Death,
finally, was a great incitement to superstition.

The main effect of the Inquisition is seen in Spain, which in the
Saracen period had been one of the great sources of new thought
and knowledge. There, despite the element of intellectual curiosity
set up in the period of Moorish supremacy, when the Christians were
in general treated with tolerance, the spirit of fanaticism was in
some measure ingrained by the long struggle between Christians and
Moslems for the land, though there were also contrary developments;
and an inquisitorial war on Jewish and Moorish ideas was part of the
Christian campaign. As the Christians gained ground, ecclesiasticism
gained with them; yet when the Inquisition, not yet a permanent Spanish
tribunal, was set up in Spain in 1236, it was received by a large part
of the population with fear and dislike. It is an error to suppose
that there was something in "Spanish character" specially prone to
the methods of the Inquisition. Spanish orthodoxy is a manufactured
product, and represents the triumph, under special conditions, of the
fanatical element which belongs to every nation. Not only did many
eminent Spaniards detest and denounce the Inquisition in its first
and imperfectly destructive form: the common people rioted against
it when, in its permanent and more murderous form, it was constituted
in 1478-83, and put under Torquemada. That memorable persecutor long
felt his life to be in danger from the people, both in Aragon and
in Castile; and the first inquisitor-general of Aragon was actually
killed by them.

Yet even the "ancient" Inquisition had been fatally successful. In
the two centuries from its establishment, while Averroism was rife
in Italy and France, Christian Spain must have been well nigh rid of
the other forms of heretical thought; and the first step of Ferdinand
and Isabella after their crowning triumph was to expel all Jews who
would not apostatize. On the remaining Moors the New Inquisition
went to work in a similar spirit, persecuting them, baptizing them by
force, burning their books, and driving them repeatedly to revolts,
which were always murderously put down. Finally, after the failure
of the great Armada against England, the Inquisitors decided that
the cause of the divine wrath was their undue toleration of heresy,
and a million of nonconforming Moriscoes were miserably driven out of
Spain, as a hundred and sixty thousand Jews had been a century before.

As all civilization lives by the play of intellectual variation,
Spain was now stripped of a large part of her mental as well as her
material resources; and the continued work of the Inquisition at length
clinched the arrest of her brilliant literature for centuries, keeping
her devoid of science while the rest of Europe was gathering it. In
introducing the Inquisition the Church had destroyed the specific
civilization of southern France, thereby laming that of northern
France; and in thereafter applying the machine to the civilization
of Spain she reduced that to inanition.

It should be remembered that the Inquisition's purpose was to destroy
books no less than men; and until printing overpowered the effort,
the check thus put on the spread of rational thought bade fair to
be fatal. In a single auto-da-fé ("act of faith") at Salamanca,
near the end of the fifteenth century, six thousand volumes were
burned, on the pretence that they contained Judaic errors, or were
concerned with magic and witchcraft. It is certain that many of them
were of another character. Elsewhere the work of destruction was less
ostentatiously done, but it was constant.

In the matter of torture and slaughter, however, the work of the
Inquisition has become a proverb; and after all corrections have been
made on the earlier estimates by Llorente and other historians, the
figures remain frightful. In "a few years" the New Inquisition burned
alive, in Castile alone, nearly two thousand persons, and variously
penalized some twenty thousand more. At this rate, many thousands must
have been burned in a generation; and the statement that nearly two
hundred thousand passed through the Spanish Inquisition's hands in
thirty-six years is sadly credible. Its methods were the negation of
every principle of justice. Any evidence, including that of criminals,
children, and even idiots, was valid against an accused person, while
only that of the most unimpeachable kind was heard in his favour;
all proceedings were strictly private; false informers were almost
never punished; and the general principle was that anyone who was
tried must be somehow guilty, the Inquisition being like the pope
infallible. Thus, if a man could not be convicted of real heresy,
he could be punished for an error in the repetition of a prayer or
a creed. But the torture-chamber can seldom have failed to yield
whatever proof was sought for. No such reign of terror and horror
has occurred in any other period of European history; and only in the
practices of witch-finders among savages can its systematic atrocity
be anywhere paralleled.



§ 3. Classic Survivals and Saracen Contacts

Ancient literature, as we have seen, was nearing its nadir when
Christianity was becoming supreme in the decadent Roman Empire;
and with the formal extinction of classic paganism came the virtual
extinction of fine letters, science, and philosophy, in the Byzantine
State no less than in the West. The last Christian writers of any
philosophic importance were really products of classic culture and
the ancient civilization. When that civilization had been outwardly
transformed to a Christian guise, the mental life shrank to the
field of theology, with a few fenced and meagre plots of scholastic
drilling-ground. Of the decayed discipline of ancient culture
Christian civilization preserved only the most mechanical formulas;
and the mental training of the Dark Ages consisted in a few handbooks
(notably those by Martianus Capella and Cassiodorus) of what was then
encyclopedic knowledge--the rules of Latin grammar, dialectics or
elementary logic, rhetoric, music, arithmetic, elementary geometry, and
some traditional astronomy. The first three constituted the trivium or
introductory course in the medieval schools; the others the quadrivium:
together "the seven liberal arts." The larger Encyclopedia of Isidore
of Seville, the standard authority for centuries, is as mechanical, as
devoid of living thought, as empty of scientific knowledge, as any of
the others. In the way of literature, there was left to most Westerns
little beyond a few of the later Latin writers, such as Boethius, who
could pass muster as being Christians. Gregory the Great had set the
note of theological anathema against the pagan poets and philosophers;
and classic history survived only in bad abstracts.

Wherever in the Dark Ages we meet with any power of thought, it
is to be traced either to the influence of Saracen contacts or, as
in John Scotus, to the Greek scholarship that had been preserved in
Ireland while the western empire was being dissolved in barbarism. The
English Alcuin, who had loyally aided Charlemagne in his efforts to
spread education in the new "Holy Roman" empire, got his culture
in an atmosphere where that influence had partly survived. Beyond
this, the Latin world had preserved from the past, in the law schools
which never wholly died out in Italy, a professional knowledge of the
Justinian code, which the Lombards and Franks had allowed to subsist
for those who claimed to be judged by it, and which remained the
proper law of the papal territory after Charlemagne. In the sphere
of such special knowledge, though it was strictly monopolized, there
was doubtless an intellectual life largely independent of religion;
and there some classical culture probably always flourished.

The first effectual movements of new mental life, however, come from
contact with the Saracens of Spain. While the Byzantine world let the
treasures of old Greek knowledge fall from its hands, the Mohammedans
in the East early acquired, at first through the Nestorian Christians,
some knowledge of Aristotle and of Greek mathematics, medicine, and
astronomy; and this in the progressive Saracen period was passed on to
the Moors of Spain. Thence came into the Latin world the beginnings
of science, as anciently known, with the beginnings of chemistry,
an Arab creation. After the period of John Scotus, all culture had
for centuries decayed: the few who cared to read were monks, taught
to hold pagan lore in horror; so that at the end of the ninth century
even such schooling as the trivium and quadrivium was rare in what
had been the realm of Charlemagne; and the later manuals, such as
that of St. Remi, were even more puerile than the older. Only from
new culture-contacts could new culture arise.

One of the most fruitful impulses to such life was the introduction,
late in the tenth century, by Gerbert, afterwards Pope Sylvester II,
of an intermediate form of the Arabic notation, making possible the
decimal method. Gerbert had acquired in his youthful sojourn on the
Spanish march--not among the Moors, as the tradition has it--some
knowledge of Arab mathematics and of the logic of Aristotle; and
where his predecessors in the cathedral school at Rheims had for
the most part shunned the Latin classics, he used them freely in
teaching rhetoric. But the impulse he gave to the science of number,
so vital alike for astronomy and for chemistry, was his greatest
practical service. Those who used his method of calculating were
called Gerbertists; and in that still dark age even such knowledge
as his gave rise to the belief that he had dealings with the devil.

The new life was slow to take root; and when in the eleventh century
the English monk Adelhard translated from the Arabic, which he had
learned in his travels in Spain and Egypt, the Elements of Euclid,
he found little welcome for it. Not till a century later did a
fresh translation of Euclid from the Arabic, by Campanus, make its
way in the schools. Algebra came from the same source, through a
travelling merchant of Pisa, about the beginning of the thirteenth
century. Thenceforth the infant sciences of physics held their ground,
and from those beginnings became possible the lore of Roger Bacon. A
genuine scientific spirit indeed was slow to grow; the ideals and
ethics of religion had almost atrophied among Christians the instinct
for simple truth; but the passion for astrology promoted astronomy,
and the passion for gold promoted chemistry, all its practitioners
hoping for the philosopher's stone, which should transmute lead into
gold. Always it is from the Arabs that the impulse comes. Under the
emperor Frederick II, who in his Sicilian seat gave free course to
Saracen culture and thought, was first translated from the Arabic
the Greek Ptolemy's great work on astronomy; and for Alphonso X of
Castile, by Moorish means, were compiled new astronomical tables. From
the Arabs, too, came trigonometry, which even for the Greeks had not
been a separate science; and only in the fifteenth century did Müller
of Königsberg ("Regiomontanus"), who perfected the decimal notation,
first give it new developments.

New philosophic thought came by the same paths. Between the philosophy
of the Arab Averroës, with its Aristotelian basis and its lead to
pantheism and materialism on the one hand, and the moral reaction set
up by the Crusades on the other, the bases of Christian orthodoxy were
shaken. The legend that Frederick II wrote a treatise entitled The
Three Impostors, dealing with Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, is a fable;
there was probably no such book in the Middle Ages, for it would have
meant death at the hands of the Inquisition to possess it; but the
very phrase showed what men had become capable of thinking and saying.

As the Renaissance proceeded in Italy in the teeth of the strifes which
ultimately destroyed Italian liberty, men turned with all the zest
of new intelligence to the remains of Latin literature. Virgil had
become for the Middle Ages a beneficent magician, a kind of classic
Merlin, and as such he is framed by Dante in his great poem of the
other world. Religion in Italy had been brought into something like
contempt by the lives and deeds of its ministers; and only in the
literature of civilized antiquity could intellectual men find at
once stimulus and satisfaction. It is to be said for the popes and
cardinals of Rome, now among the wealthiest princes of Christendom,
that they too promoted the revival of learning by their rewards. On
their urging, scholars retrieved classics from the garrets and cellars
of a hundred monasteries, or from the scrolls from which they had
been partly obliterated to make way for a theology that the scholars
despised. Popes and cardinals themselves, indeed, were commonly held in
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries to care little about theology
and to know less--a state of things which ultimately aided their
heretical adversaries, as did the scholarship they helped to spread.

With the fall of Constantinople came the final decisive impulse
to new culture in western Europe. Ecclesiastical hates, and those
aroused by the crusading conquest of Byzantium, had for centuries
sundered the Greek and Latin worlds more completely than even
those of Christian Europe and Islam, setting up a Chinese wall where
paganism, albeit by fatal means, had effected mutual intercourse. But
on the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1452 numbers
of despairing Greek scholars sought refuge in the West, and were
eagerly welcomed by students who desired Greek, not to acquire the
theology of the Byzantines, but to read in the original the great pagan
masters. Thenceforth the forces of culture in Europe became too strong
for the forces of repression. It was thus by a return to the thought
and science of buried paganism that Christian civilization so-called
was put on a progressive footing. So long as Aristotle, known through
Latin translations made from the Arabic, was a university text-book
for students of theology under ecclesiastical supervision, he was but
a modified instrument of dogmatism; and his limitations were made the
measure of knowledge even as the Bible had been. With the free return
to the recovered lore of free Greece came a new spirit of freedom,
destined to break down the reign of all dogmatisms, and to build up
a lore of its own.



§ 4. Religion and Art

On one line, happily, the Church of the Renaissance was able to do
a service to civilization while following its own ends. Among the
apophthegms which stand critical tests is that to the effect that
art has always been the handmaid of religion. So true is it that even
Protestant Christianity, which at its start set its face against all
pictorial expression of religious ideas, is in our own time visibly
much indebted to art for the preservation and cultivation of religious
sentiment.

In antiquity, save in the anti-idolatrous cults, religion had been the
great patron of imitative art, inasmuch as it made the most constant
economic demand for sculptures and paintings. This law held good
from Hindostan to Rome; and even Judaism and Mazdeism had perforce to
subsidize architecture. That common need for splendid temples preserved
architectural ideals in Byzantium when the art of the higher sculpture
had utterly disappeared; and as the loss of skill in sculpture,
no less than the old aversion to statues as symbols of paganism,
prevented activity on that line, the Byzantines devoted themselves to
the carving and painting of wooden icons, and to mosaics, pictures,
and manuscript illuminations, for religious purposes. The results
were constrained and unprogressive; but hence, in the Dark Ages,
and during the short-lived Latin empire of Constantinople, came the
models for the first pictorial art of Italy; and from that beginning,
under the economic encouragement given by a priesthood whose wealth
was always increasing, and whose churches and palaces constantly
gained in splendour, came the immense artistic flowering of the
Renaissance. After the Reformation had cut off half the sources of
Italian ecclesiastical wealth, and Spanish rule had begun to ruin
industry, the artistic life of Italy rapidly died away; even as in
Protestant Holland, where the economic demand was non-clerical, coming
mainly from a wealthy trading class who sought portraits and secular
pictures, there was a rapid decline from the period of political and
economic contraction.

It needed, however, the conditions of free civic life, such
as prevailed in the earlier part of the Renaissance, to raise
ecclesiastical art from the bondage of convention in which it had
been kept by the Byzantine Church, as by the priesthood of ancient
Egypt. It was the multiform intellectual competition of the Italian
States in their period of free growth, and even under their native
despots, that bred artistic spirits such as those who perpetually
widened the bounds of the arts of colour and form, from Giotto to
Michel Angelo and Titian.

Under equivalent conditions took place the great evolution of
architectural art in France and northern Europe. It was mainly the
economic demand of the Church that evolved the admirable architecture
called "Gothic"--a misnomer first applied by the later artificial taste
which could see beauty only in classical symmetry, and disdained the
wild grace and power of the medieval architecture as mere barbarism. It
was really a special development of artistic faculty. Modern fancy has
ascribed to the guilds of cathedral-builders on the one hand a passion
for occult lore, supposed to be the source of the modern mummery of
"Freemasonry," and on the other hand a deep religious feeling, of which
the cathedral is supposed to be the expression. How far this is from
the truth may be gathered from a closer study of their sculptures in
many of the older cathedrals and churches, which reveal not only a
riotous irreverence and indecency, but at times a positive derision
for the faith. Nonetheless, organized Christianity had, by its demand
for their work, provided a wonderful artistic environment for a cult
which could no more than those of antiquity evolve a humanity worthy
of beautiful things.



CHAPTER V

BYZANTINE CHRISTIANITY


The history of Christian Byzantium, from the rise of Islam to the fall
of Constantinople, is the typical instance of mental stagnation. During
a period of eight hundred years, even friendly research professes
to discover in Byzantine annals only one writer's name per century
which posterity can be expected to keep in memory. Such a history is
the complete confutation of the common theory that Christianity is
in itself a force of progress; but once more we must take note that
Christianity was not the determining cause of the arrest. Civilization
progresses by the contact of cultures; and where that is lacking the
results are the same under all religious systems. Byzantium presents
the symptoms of China, because, like China, it was politically and
intellectually isolated for a whole era, under a centralized government
which imposed certain norms of life and doctrine, and prevented the
variation and mutual reaction that would otherwise have arisen between
its provinces. Only inasmuch as it promoted and consecrated such a
system was Christianity a primary factor in the resulting arrest of
growth. As a matter of fact, it lent itself alternately to division
and to petrifaction. In the period to the end of the seventh century,
dogma was a source of strife which dismembered the empire; in the
period of contracted empire, face to face with the Moslem enemy,
religious feeling tended to prevent further disruption, very much as
the Church had been unified in the pagan period by persecution.

Within the contracted empire, however, there was no durable
progress. Its condensed annals give a picture which even the barbarian
West could not outgo. In the period from 668 to 716 seven emperors
were dethroned, four of them were put to death, one (while drunk)
had his eyes put out, and two more, in addition to two brothers of
emperors, had their noses cut off--punishments which in Byzantium
became classical. Under Christianity there was certainly more cruelty
and demoralization than under early Islam. The Caliph Aboubekr had
given to his followers those injunctions: "Be just: the unjust never
prosper. Be valiant: die rather than yield. Be merciful: slay neither
old men, children, nor women. Destroy neither fruit-trees, grain, nor
cattle. Keep your word, even to your enemies." Only those who refused
either to become Moslems or to pay tribute were to be slain. In that
spirit the Caliph Moawyah rebuilt their Church for the Christians
of Edessa. Fifty years later, Justinian II invaded Armenia, and on
driving out the Saracens seized and sold as slaves the majority of the
Christian inhabitants, reducing the richest parts of the country to
desert. And when, after he had been dethroned, deprived of his nose,
and exiled for ten years, he returned to triumph over his enemies,
the Greek populace applauded him with Biblical quotations as he sat
in the circus with his feet on his rivals' necks.

The advent of Leo the Isaurian (716) marks an epoch in Byzantine
history. Acting as head of the Church, the established function of the
eastern emperors, he set himself to check idolatry, first by ordering
that the pictures in the churches should be placed high enough to
prevent the people from kissing them. On this issue the populace and
the lower clergy united against him, to the length of rebellion; and
he in turn made his edicts more stringent. Whatever may have been his
motives, he acted on principles afterwards founded on by Protestantism;
and during a century and a half--save for a relapse from 787 to 813,
in which the government was sometimes tyrannically orthodox and
sometimes tolerant--his views were more or less fully maintained by
succeeding rulers. It is interesting to note that, as repeatedly
happened centuries later in the West, a long period of religious
strife through the whole State created a party in favour of complete
tolerance and liberty of conscience. But though they so far gained
ground as to convert the emperor Nicephorus I (802-811), who employed
some of them in his ministry, and treated both Paulician heretics
and rebels with unusual tolerance, there was no such intellectual
life in Byzantium as could long sustain a tolerant policy. It is a
miscalculation to suppose, as some do, that the triumph of iconoclasm
would have meant the regeneration of the empire. To work regeneration
there were needed further forces of variation, since Islam stagnated
without image-worship as Byzantium did with it.

Leo the Armenian (813-820), who was averse to image-worship but
desirous of keeping the peace, was forced by the zeal of the
iconoclastic party and the obstinacy of the orthodox to resume an
iconoclastic policy. Under such circumstances numbers of the clergy
became temporizers, leaving to the monks the fanatical defence of
images; and as Leo himself was capable, with the approbation of
both parties, of an act of the grossest treachery toward his enemy
the king of the Bulgarians, it is clear that neither iconoclasm nor
image-worship was raising the plane of morals. Significantly enough,
it was at the beginning of the reign of Michael the Drunkard (842-867),
who was professedly orthodox, but openly burlesqued the ceremonies
of the Church, that image-worship was definitely restored under the
regency of his fanatical mother, Theodora. The great majority were
weary of the strife, and many of the iconoclasts had come to the
conclusion that relative sanity in religion was not worth fighting
for. For the rest, Michael was finally assassinated, as Leo the
Armenian had been before him.

It was at this period that Photius, the most learned man of the
Dark Ages, became Patriarch of Constantinople, in the teeth of the
opposition of the pope of Rome, who after the formal restoration of
image-worship had been appealed to, as a champion of orthodoxy, for
the decision of some official disputes in the Eastern Church. After
his position was assured, Photius effectually fought the Roman claims,
completing the schism between the Churches; and in his own sphere
he did much for the preservation of learning, and even something
for the cultivation of judgment. In theology, it is admitted by one
of another school, "he made use of his own reason and sagacity";
and he is notable, in his period and place, for having reached the
idea that earthquakes might not be divine portents. But Photius is
the high-water mark of Byzantine intelligence; and no man of equal
capacity and culture seems to have arisen during the six remaining
centuries of the eastern empire.

It is impossible, indeed, to say whether there was not in Byzantium,
behind the official scenes, a higher intellectual life. It was from
Michael II ("the Stammerer") that Louis the son of Charlemagne received
(824) the copy of the writings of Dionysius "the Areopagite," from
which was made the first Latin translation; and as this writer had
a great influence on John Scotus, who may even have acquired his
first knowledge of him from that very copy, which he translated
afresh, it may be that in Greece also, where Dionysius was much
admired and studied among the monks, there were deep thinkers whom
he stimulated. But whereas even Scotus could reach few in the West,
any higher thought there may have been in the East remained entirely
latent. Learning fared better. After Photius, the East produced for
posterity the important Lexicon of Suidas, which apparently belongs
to the tenth century; and in the twelfth Eustathius of Thessalonica
produced his valuable commentary on Homer. But the populace in the
East was as ignorant and superstitious as that of the West; and
the system of caste occupations or hereditary pursuits made eastern
learning even a less communicable influence than western.

In the political life there were fluctuations; and though in all ages
alike there were dethronements, assassinations, and mutilations of
emperors and of their suspected relatives, the time of the Basilian
dynasty (867-1057) was one of relative stability, with even some
military glory, and temporary recovery or expansion of territory, as
against Saracens and Bulgarians. Still the sum-total of each century's
life was practically stagnation. Under emperors, empresses, or eunuchs,
the administration was substantially the same. Alien elements, which
might under other conditions have generated new life, had entered the
empire with the Slavonians, whose race, after occupying Dalmatia and
Illyricum at the wish of Heraclius in the seventh century, flourished
and multiplied, and invaded the Peloponnesus early in the ninth. The
later iconoclastic emperors were vigorous enough to bring them to
submission; but Roman imperialism and Christian ecclesiasticism
between them undid all progressive influences, just as the policy of
militarism and fanaticism finally did among the Saracens.

The attempts at change, indeed, were many. Conspiracies were chronic;
and when one failed the conspirators were blinded according to
Byzantine rule: emperors on the other hand were often unmade; but the
political machinery remained the same. In the period to Heraclius,
the ruling class at Constantinople were mainly of Roman stock; under
the Iconoclastic emperors, who were Asiatics, it was mainly Asiatic;
later it became substantially Greek, as each party drove out the other;
but all alike maintained the old imperial ideals. "Men of every rank,"
says the historian Finlay, "were confined within a restricted circle,
and compelled to act in one unvarying manner. Within the imperial
palace the incessant ceremonial was regarded as the highest branch
of human knowledge.... Among the people at large, though the curial
system of castes had been broken down, still the trader was fettered
to his corporation, and often to his quarter or street ... amidst men
of the same profession.... No learning, no talent, and no virtue could
conduct either to distinction or wealth, unless exercised according
to the fixed formulas that governed the State and the Church. Hence
even the merchant, who travelled over all Asia, and who supported the
system by the immense duties that he furnished to the government,
supplied no new ideas to society, and perhaps passed through life
without acquiring any."

Yet such is the strength of the biological force of variation that
even in religion there was chronic heresy. We have seen, in tracing
the history of western belief in the eleventh and twelfth centuries,
how a strenuous anti-clerical heresy, the Paulician, had arisen and
thriven in the East, defying the bloodiest persecution, and developing
in the old fashion into a force of hostility to the empire. After that
heresy had been thus fatally expelled, others arose. In the twelfth
century, under the theological emperor Manuel Comnenus, there was a
return to the inexhaustible problem of the incarnation: men disputed
as to how God could at the same time be a sacrifice and the offerer
thereof; and the emperor himself, convicted of heresy, came round to
the orthodox view, whatever it was. Soon the dispute took a new form,
over the awkward text "My Father is greater than I"; and the emperor
gave an orthodox decision which he engraved on tables of stone for the
great Church, denouncing death on all who taught otherwise. As usual,
the dispute was not settled, and the later emperor Andronicus was fain
to take down the tablets and forbid all discussion on the subject. All
the while anti-clerical and anti-ceremonial heresy persisted; and the
burning alive of the monk Basil, founder of the Gnostic Bogomiles,
did not mend matters. The brutal sack and pillage of Constantinople
by the Latin crusaders, and the generation of western tyranny that
followed, did much to unify the Greek people of the thirteenth century
in a common hatred of their masters, whom they at length cast out;
but this, again, meant no new intellectual life. To the last there
was a sufficiency of static Greek scholarship to preserve much of the
ancient heritage for the time when the Turks should scatter it through
the West; but no Byzantine name belongs to the roll of light-givers
in the age of the Renaissance.

If we search for the bearing of religion on the popular life during the
thousand years of the eastern empire, the conclusion will remain very
much the same as that reached by a study of the conditions of the first
centuries of established Christianity. Boundless credulity, boundless
superstition, and zealous idolatry are the standing features from the
seventh century onwards. Conduct was substantially what it had been
in pagan times; and whatever might be the legal status of those born
in slavery, the myriads of captives enslaved in every successful war
can have had no better lot than those of the ancient world. Doubtless
the lot of the Byzantine people in the mass was better than that of
the westerns of the Dark Ages insofar as they were artisans living
under a regular government; but in the rural districts and outlying
regions they can have fared no better, either in peace or war. When the
Saracens wrested Crete and Sicily from Byzantium early in the ninth
century, the majority of the inhabitants seem to have been little
loth to turn Moslems. "In almost every case in which the Saracens
conquered Christian nations," says the Christian historian already
quoted, "history unfortunately reveals that they owed their success
chiefly to the favour with which their progress was regarded by the
mass of the people. To the disgrace of most Christian governments,
it will be found that their administration was more oppressive than
that of the Arabian conquerors." We have already seen that both the
Arabs and the Mongols, as apart from the Turks, were by far the more
tolerant. When the Byzantine empire recovered Crete in the tenth
century, its rulers planned to exterminate the Saracen population;
and though the purpose was not carried out, the Saracens who remained
were reduced to virtual serfdom.

Of the moral and intellectual unprogressiveness of Byzantium we may
say, finally, that the Christian State, like those of the Saracens
and the Turks, was in large measure kept stationary precisely by the
relation of constant strife set up by the existence of the enemy. Each
was the curse of its antagonist. And Christianity did no more to raise
men above that deadlock of enmity than did Islam; nay, the further
factor of Byzantine isolation represented by the rupture between the
Greek and Latin Churches was a special product of the Christian system.



PART IV

MODERN CHRISTIANITY


CHAPTER I

THE REFORMATION


§ 1. Moral and Intellectual Forces

As early as the eleventh century we have seen at work in both
eastern and western Europe movements of popular resistance at once
to the religious claims and the financial methods of the Christian
priesthood, to the dogmas on which those claims and methods proceeded,
and to the ceremonialism which backed them. Early in the thirteenth
century the region in which such heresy had most largely spread was
systematically warred upon by armies called out by the Church, and
there the movement was destroyed by many years of bloodshed, the once
heretical territory becoming a centre of orthodox fanaticism. The
scattered seeds, however, bore fresh fruit, and in the fourteenth
century movements of thought, some of which were no less deeply
heretical, and many no less anti-hierarchical, went far in the west
and north of Europe. Still they failed to effect any revolution; and
in the middle of the fifteenth century the Church of Rome, corrupt
as its rulers were, might have seemed to calculating observers more
surely established than ever before. It had passed through a long and
scandalous series of papal schisms, and its power seemed strengthened
by reunion after a century and a half of divisions.

Heretical forces of course there were, several of the leading sects of
the fourteenth century being still active, especially in Germany and
the Low Countries. Thus the Brethren and Sisters of the Free Spirit,
who leant to pantheism in doctrine and to some degree of antinomianism
in practice, persisted in spite of persecution, as did the kindred
movements of Beghards or Turlupins; members of these and similar sects
even found shelter in the lower orders of the Franciscans, Dominicans,
and Augustinians; and in Italy and France the heretical Franciscan
Fraticelli still obstinately fought the papacy, which followed them
up with fire and sword. But there are no signs that the papacy had
thus far been shaken; and more than one anti-clerical movement had
died out. Thus in England Lollardry had virtually disappeared in
the reign of Henry VI; and in Bohemia, where the Wiclifian John Huss
in the opening years of the century had preached vehemently against
clerical and papal abuses, not only had he been burned alive on the
sentence of the Council of Constance (1415), in iniquitous disregard
of the emperor's letter of safe-conduct, but his followers, after
long and savage wars in which great numbers were burned alive and
they themselves broke up into two sections, had finally been either
reconciled to the Church or reduced to peaceful nonconformity.

Nowhere could the anti-papal spirit be said to be dangerously strong;
nor was it much regarded by the popes. A little earlier than Huss,
Matthew of Cracow, Bishop of Worms, had written "On the Pollutions
(de squaloribus) of the Roman Curia," but he was never molested. It
does not seem, further, that the cause of the cruel sentence on
Huss was so much his attacks on the clergy or the papacy as the
enmities he had aroused (1) in what passed for philosophy (he being
a zealous "Realist," and as such hated by the "Nominalists," [24]
who were strong in the Council) and (2) on the side of nationality,
he being a Czech nationalist and a vehement enemy of the German race
and interest, which also were present in force. And though the cruelty
and the gross treachery of the sentence on Huss, and the infliction
of the same cruel death on Jerome of Prague in the following year,
roused a furious revolt among the Hussites, these outrages awoke no
general sympathy in Europe.

As the fifteenth century wore on, fresh movements of anti-papal
feeling rose, and some were put down. A professor of theology at the
university of Erfurt, John of Wesel (not to be confounded with John
Wessel, also a critical reformer in theology, but never persecuted),
began about the middle of the century to write against indulgences;
and when he became a popular preacher at Mayence and Worms he carried
his criticism further. The result was that in 1479 he was arraigned
before a "court of Inquisition" at Mayence and cast into prison, where
he soon died. Wesel was a Nominalist, and as such was no less hated by
the Realists than Huss had been by the Nominalists; but since he was
also denounced as a Hussite, and was further an extremely free-tongued
assailant of the hierarchy, there is reason in his case to suppose a
professional animus. Still there was no formidable movement. Before
John of Wesel, the Netherlander John of Goch, Confessor to the Nuns
of Tabor (d. 1475), had opposed both monasticism and episcopal power;
but he was associated with the orthodox Brethren of the Common Lot,
and had criticized the antinomian morals of the Brethren of the Free
Spirit, so that he hardly figured as a heretic. John Wessel, again
(d. 1489), anticipated, as Luther declared, most of the latter's
doctrines; but though he wandered in France and Italy, studied and
taught at Paris, and was a professor at Heidelberg, exercising a wide
influence, he never roused enmity enough to bring him into trouble. On
the other hand, Savonarola's strong dissentient movement at Florence,
as we have already noted, fell with him in 1498.

All the while, nevertheless, there was proceeding an intellectual
process which had not before been possible--a permeation of the
northern part of the continent, especially Germany, by a spirit of
comparatively orthodox anti-Romanism, based on a growing scholarship,
which found in the sacred books themselves a basis for its course. The
scholarly impulse had come from Italy, where it had been fostered
by the papacy itself; but in the north it had a different social
and political effect. In Germany and the Netherlands, to begin
with, elementary education was gaining ground. The Brethren of the
Common Lot had done much for it, and many of their pupils started
fresh schools, which weakened the first, but carried further their
work. At the same time sprang up new universities; those of Tübingen,
Mayence, Wittemberg, and Frankfort-on-the-Oder being founded between
1477 and 1506. In the higher Biblical scholarship, further, there
had begun a new era. Laurentius Valla's Notes on the New Testament
created a spirit of scholarlike criticism; and John Reuchlin, after
a training in France, began in Germany an equally vigorous movement
of Hebrew scholarship by producing the first Hebrew grammar. Numbers
of educated men were now in a position of intellectual superiority
to the great mass of the clergy; and all the while the process
of translating the New Testament or the gospels into the modern
languages for the use of the unlearned was going on in all the more
civilized countries. There were German translations before Luther;
Wiclif's versions had been current in England among the Lollards;
and French and Italian versions had been made by several hands in the
fifteenth century. The important result was that anti-clerical heresy
began to claim to be the stricter orthodoxy, and the Church could no
longer bracket the sin of anti-clericalism with that of rejecting the
leading Christian dogmas. Thus, when Erasmus of Rotterdam began with
a new and remarkable literary skill to write Latin satires on the old
text of the vices and ignorance of the monks and other clergy, he had
such an audience as no man had yet had on that theme. In Petrarch's
day, a century before, though he too had exclaimed like every other
educated layman at the corruption of the papal court and system,
humanist literature was still largely a matter of exquisite art for
art's sake; in that of Erasmus it had begun to handle the most vital
intellectual and moral interests.

Yet, though such an intellectual ferment was a condition precedent of
the Reformation, it was not the proximate cause of the explosion. The
doctrinal movement is seen at its strongest after Luther's disruptive
work had been done, in the allied movement set up in France by
Calvinism. More perhaps than in Geneva itself, the Huguenot cause in
France was one of moral and intellectual revolt, certainly fanatical
but in large measure disinterested. What precipitated the Reformation
in Germany was the coalition of the decisive economic interest of
the self-seeking nobles, and the anti-Roman national sentiment of
the people, with the moral and doctrinal appeal of Luther.



§ 2. Political and Economic Forces

Even the grievance of indulgence-selling, which gave the immediate
impulse to Luther's action, was an economic as well as a moral
question. Many of the best Catholics were entirely at one with him
and such of his predecessors as Wesel and Wessel in deploring and
denouncing the form the traffic had taken. The process of farming
out the sale of indulgences to districts, as governments farmed
out the taxes, was enough to stagger all men capable of independent
judgment; and the expedition of the Dominican monk Tetzel had reduced
it to something like burlesque. Yet it was typical of what papal
administration had become. Archbishop Albert of Mayence and Magdeburg,
who was also margrave of Brandenburg, owed the pope the usual large sum
for his investiture, and could not pay. The pope, Leo X, greatly needed
money for his building outlays; and the supreme prince of the Church
gave to the lesser permission to set up in his province a vigorous
trade in indulgences. For this trade Tetzel was selected, not by the
pope but by the archbishop, as a notoriously suitable tool. Albert
in turn made a financial arrangement with the great German banking
house of Fuggers, and their agent accompanied Tetzel to take care of
the cash. Thus, though the transaction was strictly a German one, the
procedure was externally one of bleeding a German province, through
its superstition, in the financial interest of Rome. Well-informed
people knew that the papal agent carried off at least the archbishop's
debt; and others might plausibly surmise that there had gone a million
thalers more, as the takings had been abnormally great.

Obviously the mass of the citizens were superstitious believers,
otherwise the traffic could not have gone on; and Luther in his pulpit
began merely by opposing the abuse of the practice, not the canonical
principle. In absolution, he correctly argued, there were according
to the established doctrine three elements--contrition, confession,
and remission of penalties; and indulgences could effect only the
third. He accordingly refused to absolve any on the mere ground of
an indulgence; whereupon Tetzel, finding his traffic thus ostensibly
hampered, preached against him, and the historic battle began. The
theses nailed to the Wittemberg church door by Luther (1517) did not
assail the Church or the pope; they simply challenged on orthodox
lines the abuse of indulgences; and when Luther began to publish his
views he expressed himself with perfect submission to the pope.

What won him the support of a vigorous popular party, albeit a
minority, and of a sufficient section of the nobility, was in
the first place his courage, and in the second place the growing
restiveness of the Germans as such under what was practically an
Italian domination. In past history, the "Germanic empire" had been
wont to lord it over Italy on feudal grounds, and it was always a
sore point with many that Italy none the less received an increasing
tribute from Germany as from other States. The blunder of the papacy
in Luther's case lay in not realizing how far such feelings, in
connection with a fresh scandal, might go in setting up a northern tide
of anti-Roman animus. So long wont to brow-beat all insubordination,
and to decide doctrinal disputes by fiat instead of by persuasion,
it either prescribed or permitted to its agents the usual tone in
their dealings with Luther; and finally the pope thought to clinch
matters by a bull (1520) against his doctrines, giving him his choice
between submission and excommunication. His defiance, and the act of
excommunication, duly followed, and the Protestant Church began.

Even now the papacy, witless of new developments, could very well
suppose the new heresy transient. Charles V, the new Emperor, was
thoroughly orthodox; and not many of the German nobles were ostensibly
otherwise. But Charles was under a deep obligation to Frederick the
Elector of Saxony for his election; and Frederick was one of those
who had begun, for racial and financial reasons, to contemplate
"home rule" in matters ecclesiastical. Frederick accordingly was
allowed to protect Luther, whose courage in going to the Diet of
Worms, with Huss's fate in common memory, further established his
popular influence. Manhood always loves manhood. After 1526, however,
the process of the Reformation in Germany was substantially one of
wholesale confiscation of Church lands and goods by the nobles, who
were thus irrevocably committed to the cause; and though Luther and
his more single-minded colleagues were naturally disgusted, there was
no other way in which they could have won, popular sympathy counting
for nothing in such a matter without military force.

A rupture took place, finally, between the Emperor and the new Medicean
pope, Clement VII, over the desperate politics of Italy, the papacy for
once taking a national course in resisting an imperialist invasion. But
the invaders triumphed; Italy was overrun anew; Rome was sacked (1527)
with all the atrocity which historically distinguishes the Christian
conquests of the city from those of the ancient Gauls and Goths;
and during the critical years of the establishment of Protestantism
the emperor was in no mood to quarrel with his German friends in
the interests of a pope whose friendship he could not trust. All the
political conditions were thus abnormally favourable to the Lutheran
movement. At the same time, every menace from Rome led naturally to
intensification of the Lutheran heresy; and though it always remained
nearer Catholicism that did Calvinism, it emphasized more and more
its differences.

In the meantime the success of the movement of Zwingli at Zurich
had proved independently that the strength of the Reformation lay
in its appeal to economic interest. Confiscation of the possessions
of the Church by the municipal authorities was a first step, and
one for which, once taken, the community would fight rather than
revoke it. With signal unwisdom, the Roman curia had contrived to
allot most of the Swiss town livings to Italians, so that the vested
interests were alien and not local. The municipality, on the other
hand, sagaciously pacified those interests by guaranteeing pensions or
posts as teachers or preachers to the whole twenty-four cantons of the
chapter; and there and in some other cantons the economic Reformation,
thus effected, was permanent.

In the case of England, on the other hand, the primary factor in
the repudiation of papal rule was the personal insistence of Henry
VIII on a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, the aunt
of the emperor, Charles V. Henry was so far from being inclined to
Protestantism that he caused to be compiled by his bishops (1521)
a treatise in reply to Luther, to which he put his name, thereupon
receiving from Leo X the title of "Defender of the Faith." To the very
last, he burned doctrinal Protestants as heretics, and despite revival
of the old Lollard propaganda the country remained substantially
Catholic in creed. But when it came to the king's demand for a divorce,
the new pope, Clement VII, was in a hopeless dilemma, since if he
granted the request, which he was personally and theologically not
unwilling to do, he would exasperate the emperor Charles, of whom
he dreaded to make an irreconcilable enemy, besides offending the
whole Catholicism of Spain and even much of that of England. When
once Henry decided to take ecclesiastical rule into his own hands
he found that, little as he liked the new doctrines, he must in
his own interest proceed to confiscate Church lands and bestow the
bulk of them on adherents, thereby establishing a firm anti-papal
interest. So little way did positive Protestant doctrine make that
when his daughter Mary came to the throne, though she dared not try
to resume the Church lands, the people were in substantial sympathy
with her faith, and only her marriage with Philip and her persecution
of heretics turned any large number against her. Even under Elizabeth
it was the new national enmity to Spain, and not religious propaganda,
that made the bulk of the people Protestant in creed and worship.

The process of the Reformation in Scotland clearly follows the economic
law. So late as 1535 Scotland was so Catholic in belief, despite
the usual grievances against priestly rapacity and luxury, that the
parliament passed a law forbidding all importation of the writings of
Luther, and all discussion of his "damnable opinions." But as soon
as the English king by his confiscation of the rich monastery lands
(1536-39) showed the Scots nobles how they might enrich themselves by
turning Protestant, they began to favour heresy; and from the death
(1542) of the last Catholic king, James V, throughout the minority of
his daughter Mary, they protected the reforming preachers. In 1543
began the wrecking of monasteries by mobs; in 1546 was assassinated
Cardinal Beaton, who had taken active steps to destroy heresy; and
though the ferocious war with England delayed developments, as did
the regency of the Queen's French mother, the preaching of Calvinism
by John Knox and others carried enough of the townspeople to make
easy the passing, in 1560, of an Act which made Protestantism the
established religion of the country. As usual, by far the greater
part of the plunder went to the landowning class, who brazenly broke
all their promises of endowment to the preachers. But the latter
had perforce to submit, indignant as they were; and when the young
Catholic queen Mary arrived in 1561 she found a Protestant kingdom, in
which the most powerful class was rich with church spoils. Again the
political and the economic forces had been the obviously determining
factors in the change.

Scandinavian Protestantism, in turn, moved on the same line of economic
opportunity and pressure. A popular movement seems to have begun in
Denmark, but it was favoured by the throne; and the nobles, seeing the
possibilities of the case, soon followed; whereupon King Christian III,
who ruled both Denmark and Norway, suppressed Catholicism with the
nobles' help, and confiscated the rich possessions of the bishops. In
Sweden, on the other hand, Gustavus Vasa took the initiative against
the clergy, who had supported the Danish rule which he succeeded in
throwing off; and he naturally had with him the mass of the laity,
especially when he gave the nobles leave to reclaim the lands that
had been granted by their ancestors to the monasteries. Doctrinal
Protestantism followed in the wake of confiscation.

The Protestantism of Holland, again, was plainly the result of the
mismanagement of Philip II. When Protestantism had in other countries
reached its fullest extension the Low Countries were still mainly
Catholic, only a few of the poorer classes having changed, apart
from the Anabaptist movement, which had a much larger following; and
the slaughter of such heretics by the Inquisition went on for many
years with the acquiescence of the middle and upper orders. In the
Netherlands the local Inquisition, conducted by natives, was positively
more cruel than that of Spain. It is thus clear that there was no
special bias to Protestantism in the "Teutonic" races as such. The
orthodox Protestant movement entered Holland not from the German but
from the French side; and it needed not only the ferocity but the
rapacity of Alva to create a permanent Protestant and rationalist
movement among the needy nobility. When the Protestant mobs began to
resort to image-breaking they put their cause in great peril. The
real reason of the slowness of the nobles to turn Protestant was,
doubtless, that they had little to gain from plunder of their Church
in any case, it having long been abnormally poor by reason of the
restrictive policy of the Flemish and Dutch feudal princes in the
past. When the rupture with Spain was complete the Church estates were
scrupulously disposed of in the public interest, Dutch Protestantism
being thus exceptionally clean-handed.

Philip's attempts to enrich the priesthood were certainly part of
the provocation he gave his subjects in the Netherlands; but their
resentment was at the outset strictly political, not religious;
and it is reasonable to say that had he chosen to reside among
them and conciliate them he could easily have kept them Catholic,
while in that case Spain might very well have become Protestant,
and Dutch and Flemish resources would have been turned against
Spanish disaffection. Even in what remained the Spanish Netherlands
Catholicism entirely recovered its ground. The Teutonic Charles V had
been as rigidly Catholic as his predecessors on the Spanish throne,
and for the same reasons, (1) that the Church in his dominions helped
him and did not thwart him; and (2) that his large revenues from the
Netherlands made it unnecessary for him to plunder the Church as did
the Scandinavian kings and Henry VIII.

In the case of France, where Protestantism reached its highest
development in point of intellectual and militant energy, but
became stationary after a generation of desperate strife, and later
decayed, the play of political and economic causation is little
less clear. There, as has been said, there was much less ostensible
pressure of wealth-seeking interest on the side of the Reformation
than in Germany and elsewhere; yet so far as the nobles were concerned
an economic motive was certainly at work. At the outset of his reign
Francis I had won from the pope, practically at the sword's point,
the concession (1516) of the right to appoint bishops and abbots, the
papacy in return receiving the annates, or first year's revenue. The
result was that the Gallican Church was at least as corrupt as any
other section of the fold, its dignities being usually bestowed on
court favourites, whose exactions exasperated the rural gentry as
much as those of papal nominees would have done. The throne being
strong, however, and the king having no special financial motive to go
further, the cause of reform had no help from his side. Had he turned
"reformer," as he once had some thought of doing, he could probably
have made France Protestant with less difficulty than Henry VIII met
with in England; but in view of the political divisions set up by
Lutheranism in Germany he decided against the new propaganda.

That, nevertheless, proceeded. There had always been keen criticism
of the Church in France; and as early as 1512 there began at Meaux a
reform movement on substantially Protestant lines, under the auspices
of the local bishop. He, however, was put down by the threats of
the college of the Sorbonne, the ecclesiastical faculty of the
university of Paris; and the first notable signs of anti-Romanism
came from the Vaudois of Provence, a small population who had been
settled there after the virtual extermination of their predecessors
of the same name and stock in the thirteenth century, and who were
latterly found to have the same anti-clerical tendencies. Under
Louis XII the Church had sought to punish them, but he refused to
permit it, declaring them better people than the orthodox. Finding
themselves in sympathy with the Reform movement, they sent some of
their own preachers to Switzerland and Germany (1530) to learn from
it, and began a similar propaganda. Decrees were issued against them
in 1535 and 1540, but Francis proposed to spare them on condition
that they should enter the Church of Rome. This policy failing, and
Francis having made a treaty with Charles V, under which, on papal
pressure, he agreed to put down heresy, the Vaudois were given up
to coercion. There ensued a massacre so vile (1545) that the king,
now near his end, was revolted by it, declaring that his orders had
been grossly exceeded. A slow process of inquiry, left to his son,
dragged on for years, but finally came to nothing.

The Vaudois had been nearly exterminated, in the old fashion;
but the massacre served to proclaim and spread their doctrine,
which rapidly gained ground among the skilled artisan class as
well as among the nobles, the Swiss printing-presses doing it
signal service. Persecution, as usual, kept pace with propaganda;
and in 1557 Pope Paul IV, with the king's approval, decreed that
the Inquisition should be set up in France, where it had never yet
been established. The legal "parliament" of Paris, jealous for its
privileges, successfully resisted; but the Sorbonne and the Church
carried on the work of heretic-burning, till at length the Huguenots
were driven to arms (1562). Their name had probably come from that of
the German-speaking Eidgenossen ("oath-fellows") of Switzerland; but
their doctrine was that of Calvin, who, driven from France (1533),
was now long established at Geneva; and their tenacity showed the
value of his close-knit dogmatism as a political inspiration. Catholic
fanaticism and treachery on the one hand, and Huguenot intemperance
on the other, brought about eight furious civil wars in the period
1562-94. The high-water mark of wickedness in that generation was
the abominable Massacre of St. Bartholomew (1572), which followed
on the third truce, and roused a new intensity of hatred. So evenly
balanced were the forces that only after more than twenty years of
further convulsions was the strife ended by the politic decision
of the Protestant Henry of Navarre to turn Catholic and so win the
crown (1594), on the score that "Paris was well worth a Mass." He
thus secured for his Protestant supporters a perfect toleration,
which he confirmed by the Edict of Nantes (1597).

In Poland and Bohemia, where also Protestantism went far, on bases
laid by the old movements of the Hussites, the process was at first
facilitated, as in Germany, by the political conditions; and the
economic motive was clearly potent. The subsequent collapse and
excision of Protestantism in those countries, as in France, in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, completes the proof that for the
modern as for the ancient world political and economic forces are the
determinants of a creed's success or failure, culture movements being,
as it were, the force of variation which they condition.



§ 3. Social and Political Results

On the side of daily life, it fared with Protestantism as with the
early Church: where it was warred upon it was socially circumspect;
where it had easier course it was lax. Thus we have the express
admissions of Luther and of Calvin that under Protestantism they found
less spirituality around them than there had been under Romanism; and
there is abundant evidence that the first effect of the new regimen
in Germany was to promote what Catholic and Protestant teachers
alike professed to think the most serious form of immorality--sexual
licence. In point of fact, Luther's own doctrines of predestination
and grace were a species of unbought indulgences, sure to injure
good morals, even apart from the effect of a free use of the Bible
as a working code. Some of Luther's fellow-preachers justified and
practised bigamy; and he and his colleagues not only counselled Henry
VIII to marry a second time without divorcing his first queen, but gave
their official consent, albeit reluctantly, to such a proceeding on
the part of the Landgrave of Hesse. Among the common people, the new
sense of freedom quickly gave a religious impulse to the lamentable
Peasants' War, and later to the so-called Anabaptist movement, which,
though it contained elements of sincerity and virtue that are not
always acknowledged, amounted in the main to a movement of moral and
social chaos.

Luther, during whose time of hiding in the Wartburg (1521-22) the new
ferment began at Wittemberg, came thither to denounce it as a work
of Satan; but it was a sequel of his own action. The new leaders,
Storch and Münzer and Carlstadt, had turned as he had advised to the
Bible, and there they found texts for whatever they were minded to
try, from image-smashing to the plunder and burning of monasteries
and castles, and a general effort at social revolution. In all they
did, they declared and believed they were moved by the Spirit of
God. Luther had done this service to Catholicism, that his course
led to the practical proof that the Bible, put in the hands of the
multitude as the sufficient guide to conduct, wrought far more harm
than good. Peasant revolts, indeed, had repeatedly occurred in Germany
before his time, the gross tyranny of the nobles provoking them;
but the religious frenzy of Münzer gave to the rising of 1524-25 in
Swabia and Franconia, though the formulated demands of the insurgents
were just and reasonable, a character of wildness and violence
seldom seen before. Luther, accordingly, to save his own position,
vehemently denounced the rising, and hounded on the nobles to its
bloody suppression, a work in which they needed no urging. His
protector, the wise Frederick of Saxony, then on his deathbed,
gave no such evil counsel, but advised moderation, and admitted the
guilt of his order towards the common people. The end was, however,
that at least 100,000 peasants were slain; and the lot of those left
was worse than before. The later Anabaptist movement, which set up a
short-lived republic (1535) in the city of Münster in Westphalia, and
spread to Holland, was too destitute of political sanity to gain any
but visionaries, and was everywhere put down with immense bloodshed.

Yet vaster social and political evils were to come from the
Reformation. In 1526, at the Diet of Spires, the emperor Charles
V called for strong measures against Lutheranism, but was firmly
resisted by the new Elector of Saxony and the other Lutheran princes,
whereupon the emperor waived his claim, not caring to raise a war
in the pope's interest; and it was agreed that each head of a State
in the empire should take his own way in regard to religion, his
subjects being at his disposal. It was at this stage that the German
Reformation began its most decisive progress. In the next few years the
papal party, backed by the Emperor, twice carried decrees rescinding
that of 1526. First came the decree of the second Diet of Spires
(1529). Against this a formal protest was made to the emperor by the
Lutheran princes and a number of the free imperial cities of Germany
and Switzerland, whence arose first the title of "Protestants." In 1530
the emperor convened a fresh Diet at Augsburg, to which the Lutherans
were required to bring a formal Confession of Faith. This was framed
on conciliatory lines; but the emperor issued a fresh coercive decree,
whereupon the Germans formed the defensive League of Smalkald, from
which the Swiss were excluded on their refusal to sign the Augsburg
Confession. At this stage the invasion of Austria by the Turks delayed
civil war, so that Luther was able to die in peace (1546). Then war
began, and the Protestant League was quickly and thoroughly overthrown
by the emperor. After a few years, however, the imperial tyranny,
exercised through Spanish troops, forced a revolt of the Protestant
princes, who with the help of France defeated Charles (1552). Now was
effected the Peace of Augsburg (signed 1555), which left the princes
as before to determine at their own will whether their States should
be Lutheran or Catholic, and entitled them to keep what Church lands
they had confiscated before 1552. No protection whatever was decreed
for Calvinists, with whom the Lutherans had long been at daggers drawn,
and who had not yet gained much ground in Germany.

Such a peace failed to settle the vital question as to whether in
future the Protestant princes could make further confiscations, on the
plea of the conversion of Catholic bishops and abbots or otherwise. As
the century wore on, accordingly, the princes "secularized" many more
Church estates; and as Protestantism was all the while losing moral
ground in Germany through the adoption of Calvinism by several princes,
and the bitter quarrels of the sects and sub-sects, the Catholics held
the more strongly to their view of the Augsburg treaty, which was that
all bishoprics and abbeys held directly from the emperor were to remain
Catholic. Friction grew from decade to decade, and, civic wisdom making
no progress on either side, a number of the Lutherans and Calvinists
at length formed (1608) a militant union, led by the Calvinist prince
Christian of Anhalt, to defend their gains; and the Catholics, led
by Maximilian, Duke of Bavaria, formed another. The Calvinists were
the chief firebrands; and Christian was bent on aggression, to the
end of upsetting the power of the Catholic House of Austria.

The train, however, was fired from Bohemia, where the Protestant nobles
were at odds with their two successive kings, Matthias and Ferdinand,
both of that house, and both bent on putting down Protestantism on the
crown lands. The nobles began a revolt in a brutally lawless fashion;
and when, in a winter pause of the war, Ferdinand was elected emperor
(1619), they deposed him from the throne of Bohemia, and elected in his
place the Calvinist prince Frederick, Elector Palatine (son-in-law of
James I of England), who foolishly accepted. The capable Maximilian,
with Tilly for general, took the field on behalf of Ferdinand;
the Lutheran princes stood aloof from Frederick, who for his own
part had offended his Lutheran subjects by slighting their rites;
his few allies could not sustain him, and he was easily defeated
and put to headlong flight. At once the leading Protestant nobles of
Bohemia were put to death; their lands were confiscated; the clergy
of the chief Protestant body, the Bohemian Brethren, dating back
to the time of Huss, were expelled in mass; and Protestantism in
Bohemia was soon practically at an end. Many of both the Lutheran
and Calvinist churches, in their resentment at the slackness of the
German Protestant League, voluntarily went over to Catholicism. At
the same period the Protestant Prince of Transylvania had been in
alliance with the Turks to attack Vienna; and the Protestant faith
was thus discredited on another side.

Meantime, however, the Thirty Years' War had begun. Frederick's
general, Mansfeld, held out for him in the Palatinate; the dissolution
of the army of the Protestant Union supplied him with fresh soldiers,
content to live by plunder; English volunteers and new German allies
joined; and the struggle went from bad to worse. The failure or
defeat of the first Protestant combatants brought others upon the
scene; James of England appealed to Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden and
Christian IV of Denmark to join him in recovering the Palatinate for
his son-in-law, and, unable to subsidize Gustavus as he required,
made terms with Christian, who at once entered the war. Thereupon
the emperor employed Wallenstein, and the Protestants were defeated
and hard pressed, till the great Gustavus came to their aid. Under
his masterly leadership they regained their ground, but could not
decisively triumph. After his death at the battle of Lützen (1632)
new developments took place, France entering the imbroglio by way of
weakening her enemies Austria and Spain, the two pillars of the empire;
and one period of war passed into another without stay or respite.

In the course of this inconceivable struggle children grew to middle
age, and men grew from youth to grey hairs; most of those who began
the strife passed away ere it had ended; the French Richelieu rose
to greatness and died; and the English Civil War passed through
nearly its whole course, a mere episode in comparison. When at length
there was signed the Peace of Westphalia (1648) the German world was
reduced to mortal exhaustion. The armies on both sides had been to the
common people as the monstrous dragons of fable, bestial devourers,
dealing ruin to friend and foe alike. Every sack of a city was a new
triumph of cruelty and wickedness; tortures were inflicted by the
mercenaries which almost redeemed the name of the Inquisition; and,
as of old in the Ireland of Elizabeth's day, peasants were found dead
with grass in their mouths. According to some calculations, half of
the entire population of Germany was gone; and it is certain that in
many districts numbers and wealth, man and beast, had been reduced
in a much greater proportion, whole provinces being denuded of live
stock, and whole towns going to ruin. German civilization had been
thrown back a full hundred years, morally and materially. No such
procession of brutality and vice as followed the armies of Tilly and
Wallenstein had been seen since the first Crusade; and the generation
which had seen them and been able to survive them was itself grown
callous. Capacity, culture, and conduct had alike fallen below the
levels of a century before.

By the Peace of Westphalia were settled the boundaries of the two
creeds which had thus battled for a whole generation. In Germany
proselytism was at an end; but the States whose princes had been
Protestant remained so, they and their Catholic neighbours keeping
the right to impose their faith on their subjects. Protestantism
had gained nothing beyond rooting Catholicism more completely out of
Protestant States; and, on the other hand, the Catholics had rooted
heresy out of theirs. No racial dividing-line subsisted. Teutonic
Bavaria and Austria remained Catholic, as the five original Teutonic
cantons of Switzerland had done from the first; and between Lutherans
and Calvinists, of whatever stock, there remained a sullen doctrinal
division. Bohemia had been lost to Protestantism, and Poland was now
far on the way to the same fate.

The diverse cases of Poland and France here supply yet another lesson
in economic causation. In France at the accession of Henry IV the
Protestants were a very strong party, including many of the nobles,
though a minority of the nation; in Poland, at the accession of
Sigismund III, in 1586, they were considerably stronger. Within
half-a-century they were in full decadence in both countries,
from similar causes. Sigismund (the cousin of Gustavus Adolphus),
though grandson of the Protestant Gustavus Vasa of Sweden, had been
bred a Catholic with a view to his inheriting the Polish crown; and
from the day of his accession he set himself to the aggrandizement
of his creed. He thereby lost the crown of Sweden, but he went far
to make Poland Catholic; and the newly constituted order of Jesuits
did the rest. To the Polish crown belonged the right of conferring
life appointments to which were attached great tracts of crown land;
and the constant use of this economic force for Catholicism during a
long reign began the downfall of the Protestantism of the nobility,
who, though including many men of superior capacity, had been moved as
usual by the economic motive in their heresy. The complete ascendancy
of the Jesuits during the seventeenth century ultimately wrought
the ruin of Poland, their policy having expelled the Protestants,
alienated the Cossacks, who belonged to the Greek Church, and paralyzed
the intellectual life of the nation.

In France the decay of Protestantism was caused substantially by
economic means. When Richelieu obtained power the Huguenot party was
strong, turbulent, intolerant, and aggressive. Practising on the one
hand a firm political control, and on the other a strict tolerance,
he began the policy of detaching the ablest nobles from the Huguenot
interest by giving them positions of the highest honour and trust, the
holding of which soon reconciled them to the court. Thus deprived of
leaders who were men of the world, the Huguenot party fell into the
hands of its fanatical clergy, under whose guidance it became more
aggressive, and so provoked fresh civil war. The balance of military
power being now easily on the side of the crown, the revolts were
decisively put down; and the policy of anti-ecclesiasticism and
toleration, persisted in by Richelieu and carried on after him by
Mazarin, prevented any further strife. Thus French Protestantism
was irretrievably on the decline when Louis XIV, reverting to the
politics of Catholic bigotry, and not content with setting on foot
cruel persecutions which drove many from the country despite the
laws against emigration, committed the immense and criminal blunder
of revoking the Edict of Nantes (1685), and so expelling from France
the remnant of the Huguenots. He had been advised that the refusal of
liberty of worship would bring them to the Church, and that they could
be hindered from emigrating. On the contrary, his plan lost to France
fifty thousand families of industrious inhabitants, whose Protestantism
had ceased to be turbulent, though it remained austere; and by thus
grievously weakening a kingdom already heavily bled by his wars, the
French king prepared his own military humiliation, and the consequent
depression of his Church. It must always be remembered, however,
that his course was acclaimed by the élite of Catholic culture.

The alarm and resentment set up by his act counted for much in stirring
the English people three years later to resist their Romanizing king
James II, who, had he gone his way more prudently, might have done
much to rehabilitate Catholicism in virtue of the fanatical devotion
to the throne already developed by the reaction against the Puritan
rebellion. On the other hand, the tyrannous policy which had kept
Ireland Catholic, by identifying Protestantism with oppression, and
Catholicism with the national memories, was cruelly carried on by
England, with the result of maintaining a perpetual division between
the two countries, and preparing a great source of Catholic population
for the United States in a later age. The profound decivilization
inflicted on Ireland by Protestant England is probably the greatest of
the social and political evils resulting from the Reformation; but the
persecution of dissenters in England, and the more savage dragooning
of Presbyterians in Scotland under Charles II and James II (which had
an excuse in the aggressive intolerance of the Covenanters) must go to
the same account. Nowhere, not even in Protestant Switzerland--save in
the case of Zurich, well led by Zwingli, and in that of the Grisons,
where Catholics and Protestants agreed to abolish feudal abuses--did
the Reformation work social betterment for the common people. In
England the tyranny of the Protestant nobles under Edward VI was both
corrupt and cruel; and the Norfolk rising of 1549 was as savagely
suppressed as that of Wat Tyler had been in Catholic times.

In the processes by which Protestantism lost ground, as in those
by which Catholicism counteracted its own successes, there was a
considerable play of intellectual forces, which we shall consider
apart. But though the economic, the political, and the intellectual
forces always interact, the two former have had a potency which has
thus far been little acknowledged. It is essential to realize that
they have affected the movement of thought more than they have been
affected by it; and above all that they, and not the imaginary bias
of race, have determined the total fortunes of the Reformation.



§ 4. Intellectual Results

The intellectual reactions set up by the Reformation were complex,
and on some sides apparently contradictory. Some populations, and in
general the populace of the countries which remained Protestant, were
made collectively more fanatical than they had been under Catholicism,
even as Catholicism itself became for a time more strenuous under the
stress of the conflict; but, on the other hand, there grew up on the
intellectual border of Protestantism forms of heresy which outraged
its majority; and within the political sphere of Catholicism there
came a new growth of skepticism. All these varying results can be
traced to the initial shock of the revolt against Rome.

Luther and Calvin, it is clear, were alike bigots, as little disposed
to religious toleration as the papacy ever was. Of pope Paul III
(1534-49) it is recorded that he "bore with contradiction in the
consistory, and encouraged freedom of discussion." No such tribute
could be paid to the Protestant leaders of his day. Indeed, it is
noteworthy that while the Catholic hierarchy of the period were not
a little open to new scientific thought, Luther derided the teaching
of Copernicus, and would have suppressed it if he could. It resulted
from the spirit of such leaders that their polities could not be
reconciled. Luther, though he proceeded from a theoretical retention
of the Mass (set forth in the conciliatory Augsburg Confession of
1530, drawn up by Melanchthon) to a bitter denunciation of it, always
leant towards the Catholic doctrine of the eucharist in that he merely
substituted the dogma of "consubstantiation" for "transubstantiation,"
and refused to go further. The Swiss Protestants took up another
position. Their chief founder, Ulrich Zwingli, a more rational
spirit than Luther, and brave enough to teach that good heathens
might be saved, went boldly back to the position of John Scotus,
and taught that the bread and wine of the sacrament were merely
memorial symbols. On this head, despite the efforts of Melanchthon,
Luther refused all compromise, and denounced the Zwinglians with his
usual violence. Calvin, whose power in Geneva was established in 1541,
tempered their formula after Luther's death to the extent of affirming,
in Lutheran language, that in the eucharist a certain divine influence
was communicated to faithful participants. But even this could not
secure the dogmatic agreement that the theological ideal demanded; and
the followers of Luther soon gave the quarrel a quality of incurable
bitterness. Even on the question of predestination the sects could not
agree, though both Luther and Calvin, in their different terminologies,
affirmed the foreordination of all things.

These were only the most comprehensive of a multitude of Protestant
divisions. In the sixteenth century there are enumerated by
ecclesiastical historians at least eighty Protestant sects, all named
for certain special tenets, or after leaders who held themselves
apart. The general resort to the Bible had thus revived the phenomena
of the early ages of the faith; and each leading sect or church within
its own sphere sought in the papal fashion to suppress variation. The
result was a maximum of dogmatism and malice. Every sect split into
many. Thus there were some thirteen groups of Anabaptists; over thirty
separate confessions were drawn up among the main bodies; and Luther
enumerated nine varieties of doctrine on the eucharist alone. The
doctrine seldomest broached was that of mutual toleration. Between
Lutherans and Calvinists the quarrel went so far that when John
Laski, the learned Polish Calvinist, was sailing from England to the
continent on his expulsion with his adherents from England under Mary,
he was refused leave to remain at the Lutheran ports of Elsinore,
Hamburg, Lübeck, and Rostock. But as time went on the Lutherans
were divided endlessly and irreconcilably on doctrinal issues among
themselves. Melanchthon died declaring the gladness with which he
passed away from a world filled with the rabid hatreds of theologians;
and after his day matters grew worse instead of better.

From the very first, in short, the temper of Protestant propaganda, met
as it was by brutal resistance, had been one of brutal animosity. There
is indeed no more grotesque spectacle in human history than the
association of the phrase "a religion of love" with the masses of
furious controversy which constitute the bulk of Christian theological
literature in all ages of faith. Amenity has been much rarer in
religious strife than in actual warfare, where animal good humour
could at times mitigate or overlay animal hate. Fighters could meet
and banquet after a fight: theologians could not. They could feel
kindly towards those only who joined them in hating the foe. England,
with her Pecock and her Hooker, makes as good a show in this matter as
any other country; but in England the temper of the struggle between
Protestantism and Catholicism is from the first one of intense hate,
the cultured Catholic Sir Thomas More showing as little capacity for
gentleness of spirit as do the violent assailants who exasperated
him. Bale, a typical Protestant polemist, seems habitually to foam
at the mouth. War was the natural and inevitable expression of such
hatreds wherever it could come about; and when the establishment of
Protestantism left the sectarian spirit free play as between sects,
they turned to the new debate all the ferocity that had marked the old.

It was thus abundantly proved that the cult of the Bible gave no help
towards peace and goodwill; and Catholicism naturally profited by the
demonstration, many peaceable Protestants returning to its fold. In
Germany such reversions were set up alike by the attitude of Luther
towards the revolting peasants, many of whom in turn rejected his
doctrine, and by the wild licence of the Anabaptists, whose madness
could be traced to his impetus. Equally did Romanism gain from the
admission that freedom of profession was found to give outlets for
atheism; and from the open growth of Unitarianism which, taking rise
in Italy in the Lutheran period, was thence carried to Switzerland
and elsewhere, and made considerable headway in Poland. The younger
Socinus (Sozzini), who joined and developed the movement, was not its
founder even in Poland; but when modified and organized by him there
it received his name. The Socinian cult terrified many Protestants,
driving them back to the old ways; and it may have been partly the
resentful fear of such effects that led Calvin to commit his historic
crime of causing the Spaniard Servetus to be burned at the stake (1553)
for uttering Unitarian doctrine. But Calvin's language at every stage
of the episode, his heartless account of the victim's sufferings,
and his gross abuse of him afterwards, tell of the ordinary spirit
of the bigot--incensed at opposition and exulting in vengeance.

Where a scholar could so sink, the bulk of the Protestant communities
inevitably became fanatical and hard. In Holland, where Calvin's
church became that of the republic, it treated Arminianism in the
seventeenth century as itself had been treated by Lutheranism in
the sixteenth. Arminius (Jacobus Harmensen) had sought in a halting
fashion to modify the dogma of predestination, and to prove that
all men might repent and be saved. Dying after much controversy
(1609), he left a sect who went further than he; and the strife came
to the verge of civil war, the Arminian Barneveldt being beheaded as
a traitor (1619), and the illustrious Grotius sentenced to perpetual
imprisonment, from which however he contrived to escape. In England in
the next generation the Presbyterians, whose doctrine was Calvinistic,
showed the same tyrannous temper; the Arminian archbishop Laud was no
better; and in Calvinist Scotland and Lutheran Germany alike the common
people were similarly intolerant. Standing with their leaders on the
Bible as the beginning and end of truth, the Protestants everywhere
assumed infallibility, and proceeded to decree pains and penalties
with a quite papal inhumanity. Had Luther been able to give effect to
his hatred of the Jews, they would have been persecuted as they never
had been--apart from the chronic massacres--in the Catholic period. He
would have left them neither synagogues nor homes, neither books nor
property. Thus taught, Protestants became persecutors in mass.

In particular, they everywhere turned with a new zest to the burning
of witches, the old superstitions being frightfully reinforced by
the newly current doctrine of the Pentateuch. No argument--though
it was tried by some--could countervail the testimony of the Sacred
Book against witchcraft, and its decree of the death penalty. As the
frenzy of witch-burning was equally intense in the Catholic countries
in the Lutheran period, the mania may be traced in the first instance
to the Inquisition, which made a specialty of such action. But it
is clear that the new study of the Bible in Protestant countries
gave it as strong a stimulus. In England and Scotland, for instance,
there had been very little witch-burning in the Catholic period; and
the first English law for the purpose was passed under Henry VIII,
in 1541; but in both countries the madness thenceforth went step for
step with the growth of Puritanism; and the amount of insane cruelty
caused by it is past human power to realize.

If the merits of Christianity as a civilizing force are to be in any
way determined by its influence in working bloodshed, its record in the
matter of witch-slaying alone would serve to place it, in that regard,
lower than any other creed. Classic paganism knew no such infamy. All
the horrors which Christians are wont to cite as typically heathen,
the legends of Juggernaut and the pictures of Dahomey, dwindle in
moral bulk beside the dreadful sum of evil set forth in the past of
their own faith. For the Protestant lands burned at least as many
hapless women for the imaginary crime of witchcraft as the Inquisition
burned men for heresy. Most of the victims were women whose sole
offence had been to have few friends. To be left a childless widow
or an old maid was to run the risk of impeachment as a witch by any
superstitious or malevolent neighbour; and the danger seems to have
been actually doubled when such a woman gave herself to the work of
rustic medicine-making in a spirit of goodwill to her kind. Lonely
women who suffered in their minds from their very loneliness were
almost sure to be condemned; and in cases where partial insanity did
not lead them to admit the insane charges against them, torture easily
attained the same end. But the mere repute for scientific studies could
bring a man to his death; and in Scotland a physician was horribly
tortured and at last burned on the charge of having raised the storm
which endangered the life of King James on his return voyage from
Denmark with his bride.

The crowning touch of horror is the fact that in Protestant history
for generations there is hardly a trace of popular compassion for the
victims. In the north of Catholic Italy there was a rebellion against
witch-burning, perhaps because it was a part of the machinery of the
Inquisition; in the Protestant countries there was nothing of the
kind. Luther, a man normally fond of children, was capable of advising
that a "possessed" child should be thrown into the river to drown
or be cured. In Italy and France there had always been skepticism
on the matter among educated men; in the Protestant world the new
Bibliolatry made such skepticism go in fear of its life. Wherever
it arose, piety met it with the consciousness of perfect wisdom,
derived from revelation. Calvin was as confident on the subject as
Luther; and when Doctor John Wier of Clèves, apparently a believer in
demons, whose numbers he afterwards statistically estimated at over
seven thousand millions, ventured to argue in 1563 that many of the
so-called witches were simply lunatics, he met as little favour in
the Protestant as in the Catholic sphere. It is to be remembered, as
a landmark in intellectual history, that the great French publicist
Jean Bodin, the most original political thinker of his age, and far
from orthodox on the Christian creed, was the foremost champion of the
reigning superstition, which had become one of his rooted prejudices.

In England, in 1584, a notable book was written against it, the
Discoverie of Witchcraft, by Reginald Scot; but still the mania
deepened. King James I caused Scot's book to be burned by the hangman
in the next generation; and the superstition, thus accredited, reached
its height in the period of the Commonwealth, whereafter it declined in
the skeptical era of the Restoration. Nowhere did effective resistance
arise on the religious plane. The reaction was conspicuously the work
of the skeptics, noted as such. Montaigne began it in France, by the
sheer force of his hardy and luminous common sense, which made no
account of either the theology or the learning arrayed against it; and
inasmuch as the most brutal fanaticism was in this matter everywhere
bound up with the popular creed, the new enlightenment became in
England anti-democratic because democracy there was the power of
persecution, as in France it became anti-clerical. The Protestant
movement had in its own despite set up a measure of mental freedom,
by breaking up the ecclesiastical unity of Europe; but its spirit soon
revealed to clear eyes that freedom of thought was not to be reached
by mere reform of the Church as such. It thus evolved a skepticism
which struck at the roots of all Christian beliefs.

The intellectual fatality of the Reformation was that it set up against
the principle of papal authority not that of private judgment but that
of revelation, and thus still made ancient ignorance the arbiter in
the deepest problems. It is indeed vain to say, with Erasmus and with
Goethe, that Luther did ill to force a crisis, and that the reform of
the Church should have been left to time and the process of culture. No
culture could have reformed the papacy as an economic system: the
struggle there was finally not between knowledge and ignorance but
between vested interests and outsiders' rights. In the Rome of Leo
X, as Ranke has calculated, there were twenty-five hundred venal
offices, half of them created by Leo to raise funds for the building
of St. Peter's; and probably most were held by cultured men. What they
fought for was not dogma but revenue: Luther when among them had been
scandalized by their irreligion, not by their superstition. Looking
back, we may still say that a violent rupture was inevitable. Two
generations later, we find Pope Sixtus V (1585-90) raising money as
did Leo X by the sale of places, and putting the prices so high as
to promote official corruption in an extreme degree.

Rome, as a city, lived on its ecclesiastical revenue, and the total
vested interest was irreversible. During the long papal schism in
which the main wealth of the Church went to the Popes of Avignon,
Rome sank visibly to the level of "a town of cowherds," and the old
church of St. Peter's was in danger of falling to pieces. From the
middle of the fifteenth century to the end of the sixteenth, the
popes laboured successively to make their city the most splendid in
Europe; and only a great revenue, extorted by corrupt or corrupting
methods, could maintain it. The great Council of Trent, begun in
1545 to reform and reorganize the Church, had accomplished at its
close in 1563 only a few doctrinal, disciplinary, and hierarchical
modifications; and its own history proved the impossibility of
a vital reform from within. Twice suspended for long periods, on
the pretext of the disturbed state of Europe, it revealed in its
closing session the inability of the nations as such to agree on any
curative policy. The emperor, Ferdinand I, called for many reforms in
a Protestant direction, such as marriage of priests, schools for the
poor, "the cup for the laity," and the reform of convents; and the
French prelates supported him; but those of Spain violently resisted,
though they agreed in wishing to restrict the pope's power; while the
Italians, the most numerous party, stood by the pope in all things,
denouncing all gainsayers. In the end, the diplomatic cardinal Morone
arranged matters with the different courts; the bishops had for the
most part to give way; and the powers of the pope, which in 1545 the
movers of the Council had been bent on curtailing, were established
in nearly every particular, without any important change being made
in the administrative system. The Council had indeed repudiated
the Lutheran and Calvinist doctrines of predestination to sin and
salvation; and on this head the Lutherans gradually came round to the
Catholic view; but on the side of Church government the Reformation
remained practically justified. Still, it is the historic fact that its
first general result was intellectual retrogression. Save in England,
where Elizabeth's irreligious regimen gave scope for a literary and
scientific renascence while it correlatively humiliated religion and
the Church, leaving the fanatical growth of Protestantism to come
later, the Protestant atmosphere was everywhere one of theological
passion and superstition, in which art and science and fine letters
were for a time blighted.

And even in England, the result of plunging an ignorant population
into the turmoil of theological strife was markedly evil, whatever
countervailing force there was in the freer play of mental life
on other lines. Were it only in respect of the new ecclesiastical
quarrels, the fierce and scurrilous wrangles between prelatists
and anti-prelatists, the intensities of malice set up by questions
of vestments, the insoluble disputes over the meaning of the
eucharist--all heading towards the great Civil War of the seventeenth
century--the Reformation was a letting out of the waters of enmity. But
all intellectual life was bound to suffer from the erection of a
historic delusion into a popular code of moral and social law. Men
assured that the ethical and ceremonial law of the ancient Hebrews
was the beginning and end of all civic wisdom and righteousness could
not lead a sane civic life. The sermons of the Reformers were vain
asseverations of a non-existent moral order. All social evil, all
individual misfortune, was declared, in the Hebraic manner, to be
God's vengeance for sin; when all the while the infliction of evil
by persecutors was denounced as in itself sin against God. The most
popular preachers made the wildest promises of material welfare to the
faithful as the due reward of faith; and every failure of fulfilment
was as confidently explained in terms alternately of divine benevolence
and divine chastening. The most repellent teachings of the Hebrew
books were erected into infallible canons and commands; and every
contemporary problem was put on the rack of Hebrew precedent. On all
sides, the human soul was bewildered by unreason.

No mode of mental activity could escape the play of
perversion. Hooker's appeal to reason in Church policy was forever
clouded by unreasoning resort to ancient texts. Bacon, complaining
of the theological mortmain on all mental life, tacitly endorsed it
by using the same tactic. With such standards in force at the upper
levels of thought, a superstitious populace invited to find its sole
light in the half-comprehended lore of ancient Palestine could make no
progress on its own part towards knowledge of nature, of man's past,
or of man's possibilities. Religious literature meant the semblance of
culture without the reality. The sole measurable gains were æsthetic,
and that mainly on the literary side; for the Biblical temper was
hostile to the plastic arts, though men of religion could not but
play their part in developing the instrument of language. Science
was at a discount till men wearied of theological debate.

By reaction, some similar results accrued within the scope of
Catholicism in France and Italy. It is significant that "the
importance of the anatomical description of the heart by Vesalius
was not thoroughly comprehended by investigators for seventy-three
years (1543 to 1616); and the uses of the valves of the veins remained
unknown for more than half a century." This was the period of the wars
of religion in France, and of the theologians in Germany. Servetus
had gone far on the way to the theory of the circulation of the
blood in his Christianismi Restitutio (not in his work on the
Trinity, as is often asserted), but the fact remained absolutely
unknown in Switzerland and Germany. Scotland, which just before the
Reformation had in the works of Dunbar and Lyndsay what might have
been the beginning of a great literature, fell into a theological
delirium which lasted two hundred years, and from which the nation
emerged with its literary and intellectual continuity destroyed, and
needing new tillage from foreign thought to yield any new life. It was
only after the period of devout Protestantism had been succeeded by
strife-weariness, toleration and doubt, that Protestant Holland and
Switzerland began to count for anything in science and scholarship;
and Germany and Scandinavia had to wait still longer for a new birth.

Catholic France, with all her troubles, fared on the whole better in
the mental life. Rabelais was for his country a fountain of riotous
wisdom all through the worst time of the civil wars; and before they
had ended Montaigne began effectually the new enlightenment. Only
in England, where Shakespeare and Bacon signalized Protestant
rule, was there any similar good fortune; and both in England and
France the period was one of extensive though necessarily cautious
skepticism. Alongside of the first stirrings of Protestantism there
had arisen in France a spirit of critical unbelief, represented by the
Cymbalum Mundi of Bonaventure des Periers (1537), who had set out as a
Protestant; and the ferocities of the war engendered in many a temper
like his. What Montaigne did was to give to practical skepticism the
warrant of literary genius, and to win for it free currency by the
skill of his insinuation. Without such fortunate fathering, rationalism
in England made much headway in the Elizabethan age. Shakespeare is
deeply impregnated with its spirit; [25] Bacon gave it a broad basis
under cover of orthodoxy; and even before their day there were loud
protests that atheism was on foot wherever continental culture came.

By such complainants the evil was early traced to Italy; and it is
clear that there, after the Spanish conquest, men's energies turned
from the closed field of politics to that of religion and philosophy,
despite the Inquisition, very much as men in ancient Greece had
turned to philosophy after the rise of the Macedonian tyranny. From
Italy came alike Deism and Unitarianism, and such atheism as there
was. The Inquisition still burned all heretics alike when it could
catch them; but even among the clergy, nay, among the very inquisitors
themselves, there were many heretics; and the zealots had to call in
lay bigots to help them. Heretical books were burned by the thousand,
most being absolutely suppressed; and when there was established
(about 1550) the famous Index Expurgatorius, in imitation of the
example already set at Louvain and Paris, it was soon found that some
works by cardinals, and by the framer of the first Italian list,
had to be included. Protestantism was thus crushed out in Italy,
with due bloodshed to boot; and the heretical Franciscans were forced
in mass to recant; but in the end there was no gain to faith. Heresy
became more elusive and more pervasive; and when in the year 1600 the
papacy put to death Giordano Bruno, his work as the herald of a new
philosophy was already done. In the next generation appeared Galileo,
the pioneer of a new era of practical science. Thus even in her time
of downfall did Italy begin for Europe a second renascence.

Thenceforth, in the sphere of the Church of Rome, unbelief persisted
either audaciously or secretly alongside of the faith. Within
the Church the long battle with Protestantism had evolved fresh
energies of propaganda, and even a measure of ascetic reformation. In
particular, the new Order of Jesuits (founded in 1534), which we have
seen completing the recapture of Poland, strove everywhere by every
available means, fair and foul, for the Church's supremacy. Where
treachery and cruelty could not be used, as they were in Poland, the
Jesuits made play with a system of education which realized the ideals
of the time; and besides thus training the young as adherents, the
Church developed within itself a revival of ecclesiastical learning
that made a formidable resistance to the learning of French and
English Protestantism. In the latter half of the seventeenth century
the combatants thus wrought by their literary warfare what they had
previously done by their physical strife--a gain to the spirit of
unbelief. Neither side convinced the other; and while the Protestants
discredited many of the old Catholic beliefs, their opponents more
subtly discredited the faculty of theological reason, putting all
human judgments in doubt as such. The outcome was a strengthening
of the anti-theological bias. Jesuit education, where it became at
all scientific, armed the born skeptics; and where it was limited
to belles lettres it failed in the long run to make either earnest
believers or able disputants.

Thus the Reformation, in the act of giving Christianity a new
intensity of life among certain populations, where it fostered
and was fostered by a growth of intolerant democracy, unwittingly
promoted at once fanaticism and freethinking both in its own and
in its enemy's sphere. Deepened superstition forced a deepening of
skepticism; fanaticism drove moderate men to science; and theological
learning discredited theology. In papal and downtrodden Italy, in
monarchic and military France, in the England of the Restoration,
and in semi-democratic Holland, there worked in the seventeenth
century the same divergent forces.

In both Holland and England, by help of the spirit of fanatical
democracy, the multiplication of sects and heresies in the second
generation of the seventeenth century was so great--180 being specified
in England alone--that no repressive policy could deal with them;
and under cover of their political freedom there arose some Unitarian
doctrine among the common people, even as anti-Scriptural Deism
spread among the educated. Devoutly religious men, such as George
Fox, the founder of Quakerism, by the very thoroughness of their
loyalty to the doctrine of the inward light, helped to shake among
sincere people the old docility of belief in revelation, though in
some cases they reinforced it, and in many more evoked, by reaction,
the spirit of persecution.

The net gain from Protestantism thus lay in the fortuitous disruption
of centralized spiritual tyranny. The rents in the structure made
openings for air and light at a time when new currents were beginning
to blow and new light to shine. Twenty years before Luther's schism,
Columbus had found the New World. Copernicus, dying in 1543, left his
teaching to the world in which Protestantism had just established
itself. Early in the next century Kepler and Galileo began to roll
back for men the old dream-boundaries of the universe. The modern
era was at its dawn; and with it Christianity had begun its era of
reconsideration, revision, and slow decline.



CHAPTER II

PROGRESS OF ANTI-CHRISTIAN THOUGHT


§ 1. The Physical Sciences

It was primarily the growth of physical science, from the middle
of the sixteenth century, that gave solidity and permanence to the
new movements of rationalistic revolt aroused by the spectacle of
the Reformation and the strifes it engendered. That spectacle, and
in general the wars of religion which followed, tended more to make
scoffers or skeptics than to develop constructive rationalism. One of
the conclusions forced on statesmanlike minds by the religious wars
in France was that "a peace with two religions was better than a war
with none"; and the seventeenth century there began with a strong
though secretive tendency among the idle classes to what in the next
century became universally known as the Voltairean temper. In the
seventeenth, however, it was still almost wholly denied the use of
printing; and under this disadvantage it must have fared ill were
it not for the new studies which at once developed and buttressed
the spirit of inquiry. They built up a new habit of mind, the surest
obstacle to dogma.

Were men wont to develop their beliefs logically, the teaching
of Copernicus alone, when once accepted, would have broken up the
orthodox faith, which at nearly every point implied the geocentric
theory. Giordano Bruno, recognizing this, wove on the one hand the
Copernican principle into his restatement of the ancient doctrine of
the infinity of the universe, and on the other hand derided alike
Catholicism and Protestantism. But a comprehensive philosophy is
not the kind of propaganda that first "comes home to men's business
and bosoms": the line of practical disturbance lay through exact
science; and it is in the practical and experimental work of Galileo
that Copernicanism begins (1616-38) strongly to stir the educated
intelligence of Europe. Bacon and Bodin, like Luther, had rejected
it as theoretically propounded. It was the telescopic discoveries of
Galileo that staggered the skeptics and alarmed the Church.

The need for a solid discipline as a grounding for rationalism
is made clear by the aberrations of many of the earlier religious
doubters. Bodin, as we have seen, held fanatically by witchcraft;
and he likewise accepted astrology, as did many half-developed Italian
freethinkers who rejected the ideas of demons and sorcery, and doubted
much concerning the Bible. Men reasoned on such matters by the light
of their training, of what seemed to be probability, and of scanty
evidence, in matters where the traditional hypotheses could be properly
checked only by minute and patient scrutiny. Thus the disbelievers in
astrology were as a rule bigoted Christians who, like Luther, merely
rejected it as unscriptural, while Melanchthon leant to the belief. Of
the early English Protestants many theologically rejected it as regards
the moral life, while assenting to the theory of astral influence
on men's affairs in other regards. Only with new science could come
the rational challenge; and even men like Bacon, who consciously
strove after scientific method, remained partly prepossessed by the
old belief in astral forces. The word "influence," in this sense,
constantly appears in all kinds of Tudor and early Stuart literature.

It has been said with broad truth that whereas Greece, with her
dialectic discipline, exhorted men to make their beliefs agree with one
another, and the Christian Church ordered them to make their beliefs
agree with her dogma, the modern spirit demands that beliefs should
agree with facts. Such a spirit first promoted and then was immensely
promoted by the study of natural science. Even in the Middle Ages,
as in antiquity, physicians were proverbially given to irreligion;
and the study of physics was still more conducive to religious doubt
than that of physic. In England the naturalistic spirit, as we may term
it, was notably popularized by Bacon in the course of the seventeenth
century, but the effectual growth of Protestant fanaticism began in his
day, and had to run its course before much energy was available for
scientific research; though both Gilbert the electrician and Harvey
the discoverer of the circulation of the blood belonged to Bacon's
generation. Only a small number of superior minds were capable of
the scientific attitude. But even before the Restoration educated
Englishmen were weary enough of strife to begin the gatherings which
afterwards became the Royal Society, devoted strictly to scientific
inquiry, with a positive veto on all theological discussion.

To their scientific studies they had a powerful lead from France,
where Descartes had virtually begun a new era in philosophy by his
Discourse on Method (1637), a work which professed allegiance to the
Church but reversed all the Church's methods; and where Gassendi, a
truer if a less influential physicist than Descartes, controverted the
spiritualistic positions of the latter in a singularly modern spirit of
rationalism. By this time, too, had begun to appear the impotence of
the Church against the ubiquitousness of modern heresy. She contrived
to strike where she should have spared, and to spare where she ought
in consistency to have struck. Galileo was probably, as he professed
to be, an orthodox Catholic in his main theological beliefs, yet
he was persecuted by the Inquisition; and though the story of his
"Still it moves" is a fable, he was forced to recant under threat
of torture. Descartes, who protested his loyalty to the Church,
was at least a new support to theism; but because his teachings were
adopted in France by the Jansenists, the quasi-Protestant enemies of
the Jesuits within the Catholic Church, they were ecclesiastically
prohibited, and his supporters in the Church and the university were
persecuted; while the prudent Gassendi, who at times reasons like an
atheist, contrived without protestation to keep on good terms with
the Church, of which he was actually a Canon. He had taken orders
solely for the sake of an income; and he was never disturbed, though
he wrote a vindication of Epicurus, one of the most nearly atheistical
of the leading Greek philosophers.

Nowhere is the new impulse to science more clearly seen than in papal
and Spanish-ruled Italy. There, as Bacon complained was the case nearly
everywhere throughout Europe, most scientific professors were poorly
paid, while the learned professions were well endowed; yet at the close
of the sixteenth century there did not exist a single distinguished
Greek scholar in the peninsula; and while this may have been due to
papal policy, the unfostered study of the natural sciences went forward
on all sides. Narrowly watched by the Church, the students nevertheless
propagated new science throughout north-western Europe. Unhappily,
as we have seen, the theological spirit still hampered its evolution,
but the study persisted.

From the middle of the seventeenth century onwards it is clear
that physical science by its very method and character undermined
theology. Here there were possible rational proof and intelligent
agreement, instead of the eternal sterility of theological debate
on irrational propositions. In France, Holland, and England, the
followers of Descartes, even when agreeing on a fundamentally wrong
theory of cosmic physics, made for rationalism by their discipline as
well as by what was accurate in their detailed science; the influence
of the English Royal Society was recognizably anti-clerical; and
from Gassendi onwards the whole scientific movement told decisively
against superstition, so that the belief in witchcraft was discredited
within a generation from the time of its worst intensity. Glanvil,
who in England professed a scientific skepticism, on Cartesian
lines, defended the superstition as Bodin had done in France,
and was supported not only by the theologians but by such a pious
man of science as the chemist Boyle, who was equally skeptical in
his own proper sphere; yet they could not restore credulity among
the thinking minds. More august beliefs were shaken in turn. Boyle
in his latter years set himself anxiously to defend Christianity;
and Newton was moved to exert himself even in the cause of theism,
which was newly undermined. But Newton himself was a Unitarian;
his distinguished contemporary the astronomer Halley was reputed a
thorough unbeliever; and Newton's own philosophy, which proceeded
on Gassendi as well as on the devout Kepler, was denounced by some,
including the German Leibnitz, as tending to atheism. Leibnitz in turn
stood wearily aloof from the Church in his own country. No personal
bias or prejudice could cancel the fundamental dissidence between
exact science and "revealed" dogma.

While the literary movement of English Deism in the eighteenth
century was not ostensibly grounded on physical philosophy, being
rather critical and logical, it always kept the new science in
view; and the movement in France, as set up by the young Voltaire,
connected itself from the first with the Newtonian philosophy, which
there had to drive out the Cartesian, now become orthodox. In the
hands of La Mettrie biological science pointed to even deeper heresy;
and for such propagandists as Diderot and D'Holbach all science was
an inspiration to a general rejection of religion. Even the pursuit
of mathematics developed pronounced unbelievers, such as D'Alembert
and Condorcet. When, finally, in the latter half of the century the
scientific spirit flagged or stagnated in England, first by reason of
the new growths of industry and the new imperial expansion, later by
reason of reaction against the French Revolution, it was the French
men of science, in particular the astronomers and mathematicians,
as Laplace, Lagrange, Lalande, and Delambre, who carried on the
profession of rationalism. In particular, Laplace's great contribution,
the nebular hypothesis, clinched on non-theistic grounds the whole
development of modern astronomy; and the philosopher Kant, who on that
point had in a measure anticipated him, never conformed to Christian
orthodoxy even while glosing it in the effort to conserve theism.

All the later generalizations of science have told in the same way;
and all have had to struggle for life against the instinctive hostility
of the Christian Churches, Protestant and Catholic alike. Geology,
after generations of outcry, made an end in the nineteenth century of
the orthodox theory of cosmic creation; the evolution theory drove
home the negation with a new constructive doctrine; and Darwinism,
after a no less desperate contest, has upturned the very foundations of
Christian ethics as well as dogma. As represented by Huxley, its chief
polemist, it is definitely non-Christian and non-theistic. It does not
countervail this essential tendency that a number of men of science
in each generation profess to adhere to Christianity. The adherence is
seldom thorough, and when it is, it is commonly recognized to stand for
lack of culture on the historical and ethical sides of the issue. The
result is that Protestant Christianity nearly everywhere capitulates
outwardly to natural science, professing still to save its own more
essential dogmas; while Catholicism forces upon its adherents either
"scientific nescience" or a dissimulation fatal to zeal.



§ 2. Philosophy, Cosmic and Moral

It lies on the face of our sketch of the movement of physical
science that it is subversive of Christian orthodoxy, though not of
extra-Christian theism. But since Giordano Bruno all cosmic philosophy
that keeps the tincture of religion has pointed to pantheism; and
all moral philosophy since Descartes has been more or less fatally
subversive of Christian dogma. In the great work of Spinoza (1671),
who partly proceeded on Descartes and partly transcended him, we have a
philosophy and an ethic that are reluctantly pronounced by respectful
theists to be virtually atheistic; and no great philosophy since has
reversed that impetus. The God of Kant and the God of Hegel are as
non-Christian as the Absolute of Bradley.

Moral philosophy had begun to be non-theological in Montaigne's day
(1580); and his disciple, Charron, constructed in his Wisdom what is
pronounced to be the first modern treatise on that footing. Less than a
century later the English Cumberland, although a bishop of the Church,
took a similarly rationalistic course in morals in his reply to Hobbes
(1672), making no appeal to revelation, though of course making no
attack on it; and the almost undisguised naturalism of Hobbes was
thus tacitly countenanced in fundamentals from the clerical side,
in the very act of repudiation. Shaftesbury, who became the most
influential moralist of the first half of the eighteenth century,
did but develop the naturalistic principle on avowedly theistic and
non-Christian lines. Bishop Berkeley, who assailed both Spinoza and
Shaftesbury, could justify his Christian beliefs only by arguing
that skeptics themselves, in the study of mathematics, accepted
many arbitrary propositions, and might as well accept the mystery
of Jesus Christ. Even Locke, though he stood for a "reasonable" and
non-dogmatic Christianity, was in effect an influence for deism in
respect of his philosophy.

All later moral philosophy of any standing has been either plainly
non-evangelical or essentially irreconcilable with the Christian
faith. Even the argumentation of Bishop Butler (1736) has no more
validity for it than for any other, and is finally as favourable to
atheism as to theism. Hume, who developed from deism into a final
agnosticism, was at all stages anti-Christian in his ethic as well as
in his metaphysic and his historical criticism of religion; and Adam
Smith was strictly deistic. The later and deeper German philosophies
of Kant and Fichte are no more truly helpful to Christianity, though
elaborate attempts have been made to adapt Kantism to its service;
and though Hegel finally proposed to rehabilitate its dogmas, his
German disciples for the most part became anti-Christian; one of
them, Feuerbach, becoming one of the most formidable critics of the
faith. The professionally Christian moral philosophies, such as that
of Paley in England (1785), have been abandoned by the sincerely
religious no less than by the students of philosophy. Coleridge,
seeking to give a philosophic aspect to the faith of his latter years,
had to fall back on the "modal" Trinity, and could make no judicial
defence of the doctrines of salvation and damnation.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, finally, the balance
of philosophic thought has been overwhelmingly hostile to Christian
beliefs. Everywhere, whether it be professedly utilitarian or
"transcendental," it is essentially monistic and evolutionist;
and while the expressly naturalistic doctrine, typified in the
teaching of Spencer, positively rejects all pretence of revelation,
the spiritistic schools do nothing for historic religion beyond
claiming to have reinstated a theism which is not "providential,"
and so amounts in practice to pantheism. The so-called materialism
of Germany, represented by the writings of Moleschott and Büchner,
though constantly assailed on metaphysical grounds, is the common-sense
conviction of millions of educated men; and the metaphysical attack
makes scarcely a pretence of claiming belief for conventional
religion. Christianity thus subsists without anything that can
properly be described as philosophic support, save as regards some
Catholic systems which rationalists or men of science rarely take the
trouble to examine, and the sentimental mode of reasoning latterly
labelled Pragmatism. This is really an unwarrantable application of
a term which its framer, Mr. C. S. Pierce, applied to a practice of
testing beliefs by ascertaining how far they are acted on in life. The
so-called "Pragmatism" of Professor William James and Mr. Schiller
is the vitally different process of certificating beliefs as true by
the amount of comfort and stimulus derived from them. This procedure
Mr. Pierce repudiates; but the bulk of current "Pragmatism" flies
that flag, and not his.

That method logically concludes nothing for or against any belief,
but may be made to seem to support almost any. It posits, in effect,
that true beliefs are those by which men can successfully live, but
offers no test of the reality of any alleged grounding of life upon
a belief. Empirically, the negative of any opinion may thus be as
easily substantiated as the affirmative, since the naturalist and the
supernaturalist may alike claim individual success and satisfaction;
and the adherents of the different faiths may do as much. For the
"Pragmatist" of this order, accordingly, two contraries may be equally
"true." Any resort to objective tests, the method of science, puts
that of Pragmatism (of this order) out of action. It has thus no
philosophic significance save as a quasi-philosophical reaffirmation of
the pietist claim of "experience," and leaves religion as it found it.

Other quasi-philosophical defences of Christianity are even less
durable. A considerable amount of temporary favour has been won by
what may be termed the Irrationalist defence, typified by the works
of Mr. Benjamin Kidd and Mr. A. J. Balfour. As put by the former,
it is a suicidal process of reasoning against reliance on reason,
the necessary effect being to discredit the verdict claimed,
as being attainable only through the very act of reason that is
condemned. As more subtly handled by Mr. Balfour, the Irrationalist
case takes the form of a denial that scientific beliefs, so-called,
are any more capable of "ultimate proof" than the beliefs which
constitute religion. We have here a very modern reversion to the
orthodox forensic method anciently pursued by Cicero, and in later
times employed by Huet, Pascal, and Berkeley. Its complete practical
failure in all ages might serve to indicate its necessary nugatoriness
to those who most affect it. Were the central thesis true, there is
obviously no more warrant on that basis for any one creed than for
any other; and a "solipsism" which warrants any and every claim alike
is of no use to the Christian Church, which seeks to warrant a given
revelation. Whatever be their abstract right to certainty, most men
in search of it inevitably test the less certain proposition in the
light of the more certain: and this bias, bound up with all sincere
mental life, is as fatal to anti-critical defences as it is vital to
all scientific advance. An inquiring age is not to be made credulous
by the argument from nescience.



§ 3. Biblical and Historical Criticism

Most men, in short, accept or reject religious creeds on the strength
not of any systematically philosophic reasoning, but of either
emotional bias or common-sense examination of concrete evidence. The
former is as a rule, though not always, susceptible of influence from
the latter. Thus the main instruments in turning men from Christian
credences have been the documentary and historical forms of criticism.

Such criticism, secretly frequent among educated men in the
sixteenth century, never ventured into print till the seventeenth,
and even then did so very circumspectly. English Deism begins its
literary existence with Lord Herbert of Cherbury, whose first work,
produced under French influences, appeared in Latin in 1624. His
position was that the doctrine of forgiveness for faith is immoral;
that all pretences of revelation are repugnant to moral reason;
and that as all so-called revelations are sectarian and mutually
exclusive, human reason must proceed for itself on a basis of natural
theism. Such audacity was possible in virtue partly of the resort to
Latin, partly of the high personal standing of the writer. The next
outstanding anti-Christian work is the Leviathan (1651) of Hobbes,
who ventured to publish in English under the doctrinally tolerant
rule of Cromwell. In his treatise, not only is the attitude of faith
constantly disparaged, despite constant resort to scriptural citation,
but there is a beginning of open criticism of the inconsistencies
of the Pentateuch. Such criticism seems to have gone much further
in private discussion long before that time; and it is clear from
many apologetic treatises that doctrinal unbelief was abundant;
but the publication of a skeptical work that could be read by the
unlearned marks an era of germinating unbelief. Spinoza's Tractatus
Theologico-Politicus (1670) carries the principle of rational textual
criticism of the Bible further; and after the French Catholic professor
Richard Simon had published in French his critical treatises on the
texts of the Old and New Testaments (1678 and 1689), though these
were professedly orthodox, Biblical criticism began a new life.

The first drastic attacks of a direct and businesslike kind on
orthodoxy were those of the English Deists of the early years of the
eighteenth century, typified in the works of Anthony Collins, who
soberly and amiably called in question alike revelation, prophecy,
and miracles. Soon such criticism was reinforced by the inquiry of
Middleton into Roman Catholic miracles, on lines which implicitly
called in question those of the gospels; and the essay of Hume on
miracles in general put the case against them on grounds which could
be turned only by arguments that evaded them. The polemic of the
whole French school of freethinkers, headed by Voltaire, thereafter
attacked every aspect of Jewish and Christian supernaturalism and
of Jewish and Christian history considered as a moral dispensation;
the English Unitarians, represented by Priestley, made a number
of converts to their compromise; and when Gibbon came to deal with
the rise of Christianity in his great work (1776-88), he set forth
on naturalistic grounds a tentative sociological explanation which
could not be overthrown by orthodox methods, and is to be superseded
only by a more searching analysis on the same lines. So decisive was
the total effect of the critical attack that in the last quarter of
the eighteenth century many German theologians within the Church had
begun to deal with the supernatural elements in the Old Testament on
rationalistic though temporizing methods, and some had even begun to
apply the same treatment to the New. Finally came, in England, the
powerful common-sense attack of Thomas Paine (1793), which at once
set up a movement of popular rationalism that has never since ceased.

To all such rationalism, however, a strong check was set up for a
whole generation, especially in England, by the universal reaction
against the French Revolution. Hitherto the upper classes, there as
in France, had been noted mainly for unbelief in religious matters;
but when it was seen from the course of the Revolution that heterodoxy
could join hands with democracy, there was a rapid change of front,
on the simple ground of class interest. During the first generation
of the nineteenth century, accordingly, all English freethinking was
either driven under the social surface or classed as disreputable,
so that it was possible to assume a great revival of faith. In France,
similarly, the literary pietism of Chateaubriand seemed to have crowned
with success the official restoration of the Church's authority; and
even the intellectual revival was associated with Christian zeal on
the part of such energetic personalities as Guizot. Even in Germany,
though there the work of Biblical criticism on rationalist lines went
steadily on, there was a pietist revival. Before the middle of the
century was reached, however, it was clear that in France and Germany
rationalism was in full renascence; and in England, where such facts
are less readily avowed, scholarly writings even in the fourth decade
had begun to prove the solidarity of European culture.

As regards Biblical criticism, there appears to be a certain
periodicity of action. In the eighteenth century, when the work
done was mainly of the common-sense order, the French physician Jean
Astruc laid down a basis for exact documentary analysis by pointing
to the two elements of Yahwist (Jehovist) and Elohist narrative as
indicating two distinct sources. On such lines the earlier German
scholars of the nineteenth century long laboured, till the common-sense
criticism was lost sight of. In the meantime, however, a long line of
partially rationalist criticism of the New Testament culminated in the
Life of Jesus by Strauss; and educated Christendom was shaken to its
foundations, insofar as it ventured to read. Side by side with that of
Strauss, there proceeded in Germany a great movement of documentary
and historical analysis, till professional theology there became
almost identified with the surrender of Christian supernaturalism.

As the critical movement proceeded in England it came about that
an admired dignitary of its Church, Bishop Colenso, was convinced
on common-sense lines of the utterly unhistorical character of the
main Pentateuchal narrative, and courageously published his views
(1862). From that point the European criticism of the Old Testament,
which had been proceeding on the assumption of the genuineness
of the narrative, took a new course with such rapid success that
within a generation the whole mass of the Old Testament had been
either decisively or provisionally reduced, chiefly by Dutch and
German scholars, to a variety of sources never wholly in accordance
with the traditional ascription, and representing collectively a
vast historical process of fabrication. In the face of the facts,
the claim of "inspiration" still made for the books by some of the
scholars who expound the process of their composition is naturally
treated with indifference by educated men not professionally committed
to such a position.

With whatever bias the problem be approached, all really critical study
of the documents latterly tells against the Christian position. Writers
who, like Renan, have treated Christian origins in a spirit of
literary sympathy with that of belief, none the less undo faith,
and offer at best a sentimental historical construction in place of
the destroyed tradition. The orthodox defence, on the other hand,
grows rapidly less confident in the hands of scholarly men. The
later development of professional study, as set forth in the English
Encyclopædia Biblica shows a progressive collapse of the traditional
belief on almost every detail, some continental theologians now going
further in their rejection of it than many professed rationalists.

The general result of two generations of critical research and
controversy is that practically all Biblical students have accepted
the main results of the "higher criticism," whatever debate there
may still be over details. There is tacit or overt agreement that
the Hexateuch is a composite body of writings of many periods;
that the Mosaic authorship is a myth; that the quasi-historical
books are similarly works of redaction; that the Psalms are not
Davidic and the Solomonic books not Solomonic; and that the prophets
are endlessly manipulated. Even the view that all the prophets are
post-Maccabean finds some acceptance. And the dissolution of the Old
Testament tradition necessarily involves the New. Though the rigorous
documentary analysis of that lagged behind the criticism of the
Hebrew books, the general conceptions of miracles and of inspiration
have long lacked serious defence. Arnold's "Miracles do not happen"
startled only those who had been inattentive to the whole movement
of scientific and historical thought.

To-day it can hardly be said that there is any serious defence of
New Testament supernaturalism. Some years ago a large number of
Anglican clerics signed a memorial calling for a liberal attitude
towards all historical criticism of the texts, and this was followed
by an appeal to the Bishop of London asking that belief in the Virgin
Birth should no longer be required of candidates for holy orders. The
appeal was of course refused; but no competent inquirer doubts that
hundreds of clergymen of the orthodox Churches are Unitarian in their
beliefs. Living controversy now turns, not on the supernaturalism
of the gospels, but on the purely historical question as to whether
the Gospel Jesus ever lived; and over this issue Unitarians are
found to be as resentful as Trinitarians ever were on the Unitarian
issue. In Germany the debate has gone far, some of the more open-minded
theologians admitting that the old lines of defence must be abandoned
as inadequate. In England all critical processes take place more
slowly, but there is now accumulating a defensive literature which
tells of widespread unsettlement. The method of confident bluster is
found not to avail in an age which has seen the rapid abandonment of
so many vital positions, all in their time maintained with the same
contemptuous confidence.

The average layman has of course not yet been reached by such a
problem as that of the Historicity of Jesus; but he has long been well
accustomed to the defensive attitude in matters of faith. Down to the
time of Colenso the "sensations" of the controversy were over the books
which attacked. For a generation past the attack has been so general
that the new "sensations" were those set up by new attempts at defence
or counter-attack. Such books as the late Henry Drummond's Natural
Law in the Spiritual World, Mr. Benjamin Kidd's Social Evolution,
and Mr. Balfour's Foundations of Belief, in their turn elicited an
amount of excitement which told chiefly of eagerness for weapons of
defence against the rationalist invasion. None of the works named will
bear any critical scrutiny. Drummond's was repented of by its author,
as it well might; and the irrationalism of Mr. Kidd and Mr. Balfour
soon ceased to comfort the clergy who hastily hailed it as a means
of stablishing the faith.

What subsists is the mass of mainly conventional, formal, and
uncritical orthodoxy, the custom of the majority, which stands for the
same mental inertia as preserved ancient paganism substantially intact
for five hundred years after Socrates, and enabled its traditional
polytheism to overgrow early Christianity. And the professional defence
to-day is at many points singularly like that put forward for pagan
polytheism by the Platonists and Neo-Platonists. At its best it is
certainly not more philosophical than the performance of Plotinus;
at its worst not more hollow than the performance of Cicero.



CHAPTER III

POPULAR ACCEPTANCE


§ 1. Catholic Christianity

All through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and till near
the end of the eighteenth, the masses of Europe remained attached to
their respective Churches in despite of the play of criticism among
the more instructed. Whether popular religion be regarded as a matter
of habit and superstition or as the expression of a higher happiness
in religious rites, it has unquestionably numbered the great majority
down till recent times. How the Catholic Church recovered large parts
of Germany, practically all Poland and Bohemia, and for a time the
complete control of France, we have seen. Within her sphere popular
conduct was certainly no worse than in the age of her undivided power;
and where she could number within her fold minds like Paolo Sarpi,
the historian of the Council of Trent, in the sixteenth century; like
Pascal and Fénelon and Bossuet in the seventeenth; and like Vico in
the eighteenth, though in hardly any case are such leading spirits
found to be in thorough harmony with the papal system, she could not
but hold the respect of a great body even of educated people.

Her swarms of missionaries, too, seemed for a time to have begun a
new era of Catholic expansion in Asia and America, finding footing
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Japan, China, India,
Siam, Tonkin, as well as in North and South America. Sent forth by the
College of Propaganda (Congregatio de Propaganda Fide) founded in 1622,
they displayed a zeal never surpassed in the Church's history. In Japan
and China, in particular, they had for a time a dazzling success,
largely through the address of the Jesuits--whose policy was to win
converts by identifying native rites and beliefs with Christian,
never openly assailing but always seeking to assimilate them. As
early as 1549, Francis Xavier had preached the faith in Japan,
and at the beginning of the seventeenth century it seemed likely to
become the religion of the State. But Christians undid the Christian
cause. Between the various orders of Catholic missionaries there were
always deadly jealousies, all the others denouncing the Jesuits,
who in turn charged incompetence and malevolence on all; and the
increasing arrogance of the propagandists in Japan gave colour
to the hints of the Protestant traders, Dutch and English, that
Catholic missions were a prelude to Catholic conquest. The Japanese
emperor, accordingly, began a great persecution in 1587, and during
a number of years the Christian converts were slaughtered by tens of
thousands. Still the Jesuits persevered; but in the next generation
persecution began afresh. At length, in 1637, by a supreme effort,
the weakened Catholic flock were wholly destroyed or expelled. Once
more it had been demonstrated that really determined and rigorous
persecution by a majority in power can eradicate the Christian or
any other religion in a given sphere.

In Siam in the next century a slight success was similarly followed
by expulsion; and in China, where an outward success had been won as
a sequel to the expansion in Japan, and where the Christian cause
subsisted longer, despite some persecution and despite the fierce
dissensions of the different orders on points both of doctrine and
corporate conduct, it dwindled in the eighteenth century. The success,
indeed, had been all along illusory, as the Chinese had adapted
rather than adopted Christian forms, and merely carried on their
usual rites under Christian auspices. When, accordingly, the rival
orders at length forced on the papacy, in the teeth of the Jesuits,
a decision as to whether Chinese Christians should or should not truly
conform to Christian doctrine, and a decision against the Jesuits
was given, the semblance of conversion melted away, and a reversion
to Jesuit methods could not restore it. A similar decision made an
end of a rather flourishing movement of Jesuit Brahmanism in India
about the middle of the eighteenth century; and the other labours of
the Catholic missionaries in India were undone by the cruelties of
their own Inquisition.

Jesuitism had by this time been convicted of aiming in the old fashion
at its own worldly wealth, of troubling by its political plottings
the peace of every country it could enter, and of setting up its own
ambitions against the papal authority. In the East it had become a
great wealth-hunting corporation; in South America it was the same,
contriving for some generations to govern Paraguay in particular
wholly for its own enrichment; in Europe it provoked every Catholic
government in turn by its audacious attempts to control them. Thus it
was expelled from Portugal in 1759, from France in 1762, from Bohemia
in 1766; from Spain, Genoa, and Venice in 1767; and from Naples, Malta,
and Parma in 1768. At length, in 1773, the Society was suppressed by
a papal bull, and though it was revived in the nineteenth century it
has never since been the power it was, whether for evil or for good.

Of her extensions beyond Europe there thus remained substantially
to the Church of Rome at the end of the eighteenth century only
the Catholic populations of Central and South America and Canada;
and at the outbreak of the French Revolution, marked as it was by the
wholesale abjurations of Catholic priests and populace, it might have
seemed as if the reign of Rome in Europe were coming to an end. The
political movement, however, had outrun the educational; and as we have
seen, there was even a literary reaction at the Restoration. In Italy,
where the revolutionary movement had been hostile to the Church, the
reaction after 1815 was very marked. All criticism of Catholicism was
made a penal offence, and in the Kingdom of Naples alone, in 1825,
there were twenty-seven thousand priests, eight thousand nuns, as
many monks, twenty archbishops, and seventy-three bishops. In Spain
and France, too, the clergy worked hard to recover authority over
the people; and in Catholic Ireland they had never lost it, despite
all the efforts of Protestantism.

Everywhere, however, save in America, the struggle for existence has
gone against Catholicism in the nineteenth century. Catholic Ireland
has been in large measure depopulated through the failure of Protestant
England to solve its economic problems; and though this means a gain
to Romanism in the United States, there is no great likelihood that
that is permanent, or that Catholicism there will ever be very docile
to the papacy. France has become gradually more rationalistic, so much
so that the municipal government of Paris is usually in the hands of
freethinkers; and the recent expulsion of the recalcitrant religious
orders has proved the determination of the republican majority to put
down clerical influence. The movement of anti-theological Positivism,
founded by the teaching of Auguste Comte (d. 1857) on bases laid
by Saint-Simon, has never been numerically strong, but has affected
all French thought; and to-day there is scarcely one eminent French
writer who professes religious opinions. Even in Spain, so long the
stronghold of the faith, and still more generally in Italy, educated
men are as a rule either indifferent or hostile to the Church; and
the common people, especially the Socialists in the towns, have
gone the same way. Both in Spain and Portugal there are journals
zealously devoted to a propaganda of freethought; and the judicial
murder of Ferrer has but intensified hostility to the Church. National
union in Italy, accomplished in the middle of the century, has been
fatal to ecclesiastical supremacy. The papacy is unable to recover
its temporal power at Rome. In Catholic Belgium, the action of the
clergy is constantly fought by a ubiquitous freethought propaganda;
and Dutch Catholicism does not gain ground.

Some appearance of Catholic revival occurred in England in the second
and third generations of the nineteenth century, the "Oxford movement"
preparing the ground; but though John Henry Newman was followed
into the Catholic Church by a number of clergymen and rich laymen,
the movement soon ceased to be intellectually important, and the
popular success seems to have reached its limits. Though there is
much leaning to Rome in the High Church section of the heterogeneous
Anglican body, it is certain that while the economic basis remains
Protestant there will be no great secession. Economic considerations,
again, have latterly set up even in Catholic Austria--which with
Southern Germany is perhaps the most believing section of the Catholic
world--a movement with the watchword "Loose from Rome." In Brazil,
again, there has been a quite extraordinary development of Positivism
among the educated class; and the revolution which peacefully expelled
the last emperor--himself personally estimable, and not an orthodox
Catholic--was ostensibly wrought by the Positivist party. Portugal,
finally, has taken the same path.

Thus the age which saw the promulgation of the formal decree of Papal
Infallibility (1870) has seen the most vital decline that has ever
taken place in the total life and power of the Church of Rome. It
preserves its full hold to-day only on (1) the most ignorant or
most rural sections of the population of Catholic countries, (2)
the unintellectual sections of their middle and upper classes, and
(3) the emotionally religious or pietistic types, who are still,
by reason of the total circumstances, more numerous among women than
among men. Hence in the Catholic countries, female education being
there specially backward, the Church depends relatively even more on
women than do the churches of the Protestant world. But among women in
the Catholic countries also there goes on a process of rationalization,
Socialism doing some of the work of education where the other machinery
is inadequate.



§ 2. Protestant Christianity

The failure of Protestantism to gain any ground in Europe after the
sixteenth century had naturally the effect of increasing the zeal
of its adherents within their own sphere; and though nowhere did
Protestant organization compare in energy with that shown by the
Society of Jesus and the Roman College of Propaganda, the system of
popular education in several countries--as Switzerland, Scotland,
and parts of Germany--was raised much above the popular Catholic
level. Presbyterians in particular felt the need of popular schools
for the maintenance of their polity. The result was, after a time, a
certain improvement in the capacity and conditions of the common people
where other causes did not interfere. Thus the Protestant cantons
of Switzerland have in general been noted for a greater material
prosperity than that of the Catholic cantons; and in the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries Presbyterian Scotland, though naturally much
the poorer country, admittedly turned out a larger proportion of men
qualified for responsible positions than did episcopalian England.

All the while, the influence of a Presbyterian clergy, in touch with
the people and able to ostracize socially those who avowed unbelief,
maintained in the Calvinistic countries a higher average of professed
orthodoxy, the normal effect of higher education being thus checked
on the side of religion. Scotland contributed little to the earlier
deistic movement of the eighteenth century, Smith and Hume having
taken it up after it had flourished for a generation in England;
and at no time was rationalism socially avowed to the same extent
in the north as in the south, the enlightenment of the lay authors
being confined to a small town circle.

On the moral and æsthetic side, however, popular Presbyterianism
tended to be hard and joyless, with the natural result, seen alike in
Geneva and in Scotland, of breeding much licence. On the other hand
there arose a higher reaction, towards intellectual interests; and
the Switzerland of the eighteenth century produced a remarkably large
proportion of scientific men; while in Scotland, where centuries of
theological life and strife set up even in the Church a notable spirit
of "moderation," both the physical and the moral or social sciences
were conspicuously cultivated. Popular freethinking was beginning to
follow in both cases, when the reaction against the French Revolution
arose to arrest it. When in the next generation there began in Scotland
the ecclesiastical struggle which ended in the formation of the Free
Church (1842) a new impulse was given to doctrinal fanaticism, which
the competition of three rival Presbyterian Churches was well fitted
to maintain.

Thus, though Scottish scholars have contributed largely to the "higher
criticism," the middle and working classes of Scotland all through
the nineteenth century have been at least outwardly more orthodox
than even those of England. They, too, however, have begun to exhibit
the common critical tendencies. As the results of Biblical criticism
become more generally known, church attendance tends to fall off,
despite the economic pressure Churchmen are able to use in small
communities. It is perhaps as much on account of the common need as
by reason of the growth of liberality that the two chief dissenting
Scottish Churches, the Free and the United Presbyterian (Voluntary),
have latterly amalgamated. Were it not that a large proportion of
the more energetic and stirring youth of the country leave it for
England and the colonies, the more conservative staying at home,
the process of change would probably be more rapid.

In the small communities of Protestant Switzerland a democratic
church polity had equally served to maintain a greater stress of
orthodox belief and practice than was seen in surrounding countries;
and the appointment of Strauss to a chair of theology at Zurich by a
Radical Government in 1839 led to an actual insurrection, set up and
led by fanatical clergymen. Catholic cantons later showed themselves
no less medieval. Nothing, however, avails to shut out critical
thought; Zeller received a chair at Berne in 1847; rationalism has
ever since steadily progressed; the number of theological students
as steadily falls off; and among the Swiss theologians of to-day
are some of the most "subversive" of the professional writers on
Christian origins. Popular rationalism necessarily begins to follow,
though less rapidly than in countries where the people and the clergy
do not ecclesiastically govern themselves.

In Protestant Holland and the Scandinavian States, of late years,
the decline of Christian faith has been still more marked. All are
considerably influenced by German culture; and in Protestant Germany
orthodoxy is gradually disappearing. There the long depression of
civilization begun by the troubles of the Reformation, and clinched
by the vast calamity of the Thirty Years War, was favourable to
a sombre religious feeling; and this, under the name of Pietism,
actually prevailed in the latter part of the seventeenth century,
triumphing over a movement of spontaneous freethinking. Peace and
the development of universities thereafter built up a learned class,
who especially cultivated ecclesiastical history; and as we have seen,
German theology had become in the primary sense rationalistic by the
end of the eighteenth century. After the fall of Napoleon there began
in earnest the education of the Prussian common people; and though to
this day the learned class are more apart from the general public in
Germany than in most other countries, the latter half of the nineteenth
century has seen a great development of popular secularism.

In 1881 the church accommodation in Berlin sufficed for only two per
cent of the population, and even that was not at all fully used. This
is the social aspect of Protestant Germany; and it effectively
confutes the periodic statements as to revivals of orthodoxy in the
universities. Such revivals are officially engineered and financially
stimulated: the mass of the people of Protestant Germany, at least in
the towns, have practically given up the Christian creed, even when
they do not renounce their nominal membership in the State Church;
and the great Socialistic party, which contains over three millions
of adult males, is pronouncedly rationalistic. In Scandinavia the
literary influence of such masters of drama and fiction as Ibsen and
Björnson creates a freethinking spirit on a very wide scale among the
middle classes, though the clergy are still illiberal; and in Holland,
where the churches are increasingly latitudinarian, there has been a
more competent journalistic propaganda of rationalism than in almost
any other country.

That the same general movement of things goes on in England
may be proved by reference to the almost daily complaints of the
clergy. Rationalism and secularism have advanced in all classes during
half a century, until their propaganda is accepted as a quite normal
activity; such writers as Spencer, Darwin, Huxley, and Clifford being
read by the more studious of all ranks. In recent years the cheap
reprints of the Rationalist Press Association have had millions of
readers. Churchgoing constantly declines in the towns; agnosticism
becomes more and more common among the educated classes; the average of
the workers in the large towns are fixedly alienated from the Church;
and the latter-day propaganda of the Salvation Army affects only the
less intelligent types even since, after refusing for twenty years
to deal with material problems, it has sought to establish itself as
a charitable organization for dealing with the "lapsed masses." As
regards the general influence of the churches it is observable that
whereas fifty years ago there were many clergymen and prelates noted
as important writers on non-theological matters, and whereas even
a few years ago there were still several bishops distinguished as
scholars and historians, there is now none so describable. So, in the
department of fine letters, there is scarcely a poet or novelist of
high standing who can be called a believing Christian. In the last
generation some distinguished men who were openly heterodox, as the
late Mr. Matthew Arnold, or very dubiously orthodox, as Mr. Lecky,
were wont to profess themselves good members of the Church of England;
but the normal tendency of rationalists is now to give the churches
up. The leading names in serious and even imaginative literature,
with a few exceptions which stand for popularity rather than weight,
are those of known unbelievers. In that category stood the late
Mr. George Meredith.

Of the state of thought in the United States it is difficult to speak
with precision. The latitude allowed to or taken by the majority of
the clergy keeps within the ostensible pale of the numerous churches
much opinion that elsewhere would rank as extremely heterodox; and
it was from American churchmen that there came the project of the
so-called "Rainbow Bible," in which the heterogeneous sources of the
Old Testament books are indicated by printing in variously coloured
inks. As in all countries where the clergy are democratically in touch
with the people, the breach between authority and modern thought is
thus less marked than in the sphere of the Catholic and Anglican
Churches. But in such a civilization, development is inevitably
continuous.

In the first half of the nineteenth century the prevailing creed
of educated New England, then noted for "plain living and high
thinking," was Unitarianism. This seems to have grown rapidly after the
Revolution, partly from seed sown by Priestley, who made New England
his home, partly from the Deism of the educated class. Nearly all the
leaders of the Revolution--Washington, Paine, Franklin, Jefferson,
Adams--had been Deists. But Deism is an inconvenient creed for
public men in a church-going or clerically-influenced world; and
Unitarianism, with its decorous worship and use of the Bible, was a
convenient compromise. Later "transcendental" teaching, such as the
movement around Emerson, led men in the same direction. Latterly,
however, the Unitarian congregations relatively dwindle; and while
some of the defection stands for the relapse of the children from
the strenuous thought of their fathers, some stands for complete
abandonment of the habit of worship.

At the same time popular rationalism has been greatly diffused in the
United States by the lecturing of the late Colonel Ingersoll, one of
the greatest orators of his time, as was his contemporary Charles
Bradlaugh in England. Each of those men probably convinced more of
his fellow countrymen of the untruth of the Christian creed than were
ever rationally persuaded of its truth by the preachers or teachers
of modern times. What preserves the form of faith in the States is
probably less the socio-economic pressure seen so commonly in England
and Scotland (since all life is franker and freer in the New World,
especially in the West) than the simple lack of leisure for study in
a community where competition for income drives all men at a pace
that almost seems to belie prosperity. A shrewd and pliable clergy
keeps itself rather better abreast of new scholarship and criticism
than does the mass of the flock; and men and women who first learn
from the pulpit something of the change of view passing over Biblical
study are not apt to turn away from the teacher as Europeans do from
an unteachable priest. But despite all accommodation the sense of an
absolute change is diffused, and there is record of western preachers
bidding farewell to the pulpit and being chorussed by laymen forsaking
the pew.

In strict keeping with the shrinkage of faith among the "higher" races
is the expenditure of effort to spread it among the "lower." Faith
naturally seeks the comfort of converts at lower intellectual levels;
and it is in some quarters able to report a certain expansion of
territory by such means. But the total statistics of Protestant
missions tell only of handfuls of converts scattered among the yellow
and brown and black races, a number grotesquely disproportionate to
the immense outlay. This goes on in virtue of the still sufficient
wealth of the churches, which are in consistency bound to respond to
missionary appeals while they profess belief in the Christian doctrine
of salvation. It is found, however, that the missionary system needs,
to maintain it, either an ever more substantial stipend or some other
opportunity of gain to the individual missionary; and the triviality
of the results becomes increasingly discouraging to all save the most
fervent faith. Disparagement of missionary labours on both moral and
political grounds is probably more common among professed churchmen
than among unbelievers, who sometimes, as in the case of Darwin, bear
cordial testimony to the merits and the success of some missionaries
as against the egoism of the normal trader in his relations with the
undeveloped races.

The final problem of Protestantism is its collective relation to
Catholicism; and in the first half of the nineteenth century many
Protestants still hoped to gain ground at the expense of the Church
of Rome, now that propaganda was free. No such success, however,
has taken place. It is found on the contrary that the more devotional
types tend to revert from Protestantism to Rome, while those who reject
Catholicism rarely become Protestants. In France this is peculiarly
apparent. At the Revolution, it was found that proportionally as
many Protestant pastors as Catholic priests were ready to abjure
their creed. In the religious reaction both Churches alike regained
ground; and the Protestant Church in France has always had adherents
distinguished for learning and moral earnestness. To-day, however,
though its members are relatively numerous in places of political
power, by reason doubtless of their serious and practical education,
their Church does not make any corresponding gains. Its numbers may
not latterly dwindle as steadily as those of the Catholic mass; but
there is no prospect that it will recover strength through Catholic
defections. In Austria, the anti-Roman movement already mentioned may
conceivably give rise to a non-Romish Church; but it is impossible
to forecast the issue.



§ 3. Greek Christianity

It is the pride of the Greek Church to call itself Orthodox; and in no
part of Christendom has the faith had less to fear from unbelief. Mere
sectarian strife, indeed, has never been lacking; and at the very
moment of the fall of Constantinople there was deadly schism between
the orthodox and those who were politically willing to unite with the
Latin Church. But vital heresy never throve. Political vicissitude in
the Eastern empire, from Constantine onwards, seems always to have
thrown the balance of force on the side of religious conservatism;
and so devoid is Greek ecclesiastical history since the Middle Ages
of any element of innovating life that the student is tempted almost
to surmise a national loss of faculty. Greek intellectual life since
the fall of Constantinople, however, is only a steady sequence from
that which went before. After the overthrow of the Latin kingdom set
up by the Crusaders, and the restoration of Greek rule, the whole
nation was very naturally thrown back on its traditions, recoiling
from further contact with the West; and the process of fixation
was repeated for what of Greek life was left after the Turkish
conquest. The extraordinary gift for despotic government shown by the
first race of Ottoman Turks brought about a resigned degradation on
the Christian side. Allowed a sufficient measure of toleration to make
them "prefer the domination of the Sultan to that of any Christian
potentate," they paid to him not only their taxes, but, for a time,
a large annual tribute of children, with perfect submission; and
thus, in the words of the British historian of modern Greece, they
"sank with wonderful rapidity, and without an effort, into the most
abject slavery." Many indeed became Mohammedans to escape the tribute
of children, which after a time ceased to be exacted, becoming rare
in the seventeenth century.

In such circumstances the Christian priesthood and remaining laity
were thrown very closely together, somewhat as happened in Ireland
under English rule, and the result was a perfect devotion on the
part of the Greek peasantry to their creed. It is accordingly
claimed as the force which preserved their nationality. But the
nationality so preserved could not well do much credit to the creed,
which, in turn, gave Greeks a ground of differentiation from their
conquerors without supplying any force of retrieval or progress. What
was secured was not moral union but merely doctrinal persistence in
the state of subjection; and the conqueror "availed himself of the
hoary bigotry and infantine vanity of Hellenic dotage to use the
Greek Church as a means of enslaving the nation." The first Sultan
sagaciously appointed a conservative Patriarch, and left Christian
disputes alone. The result was that the Church was kept impotent
by its own quarrels and corruptions. Unity of forms alone remained;
simony "became a part of the constitution of the Orthodox Church,"
the women of the Sultan's harem selling Christian ecclesiastical
offices; and Christian life as such set up in the Moslem onlookers an
immovable contempt. "No more selfish and degraded class of men has
ever held power," says Finlay, "than the archonts of modern Greece
and the Phanariots of Constantinople." Greek life remained at its
best in the rural districts, where the old village governments were
allowed to subsist, and where accordingly the people kept apart from
the corrupt and oppressive Turkish law courts. And in these districts,
as it happens, there has been the maximum of pagan survivals.

The Church in particular exhibited in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, in a worse degree, all the corruption and backwardness of
that of the West in the pre-Reformation period. Greek monasteries,
despite attempts at reform by single emperors, had long been in large
measure places of comfortable retreat for members of the upper classes;
and under Turkish rule they became still more so, acting however as
centres of political intrigue in addition. The result was that, with
every facility for such study as the Benedictines carried on in the
West, the Greek monks as a rule left learning alone, and were active
chiefly as Turkish political agents, in the manner of the Western
Jesuits. The secular clergy at the same time became so depressed
economically that they were commonly obliged to work with their
hands for a living; and though those of the country districts were
as a rule morally much superior to those of the towns, all alike were
necessarily very ignorant. In the towns, where many of the aristocracy
had become Moslems at the conquest, both clergy and monks frequently
apostatized to Islam, three cases being recorded in the year 1675;
and about that time there is a curious record of the Turks putting
a Christian renegade to death for cursing his own religion in the
divan. Moslems seem always to have retained a reverence for the Gospel
Jesus, considered as apart from his Church.

It is needless to say that Greek Christianity never had the slightest
countervailing success in converting Moslems. In addition to the
spectacle of Christian degradation constantly under their eyes,
the Turks were in a position to say that no trust could ever be
put in the good faith of a Christian State which made a treaty with
them. Thus even when the usual diseases of despotism and dogmatism
corroded the Turkish polity, the Christians counted for nothing as
an element either of regeneration or of criticism; and no Turk ever
looked to their creed as a possible force of reform, though in the
period of energy the ablest Turkish statesman always saw the wisdom
of ruling them tolerantly, in the Turkish interest, and sought to win
them to Islam. Outside of Greece proper, accordingly, the Greek Church
never regained any ground in the Turkish empire; and in the age of the
conquest, when the expulsion of Jews from Spain drove many of that
race to Turkey, they were everywhere preferred to Christians, whom
they ousted, further, from many industrial and commercial positions
in the towns, becoming the chief bankers, physicians, and merchants,
and so helping to depress the Christians.

No race could under such conditions maintain a high intellectual life;
and among Greek Christians orthodoxy was a matter of course. While
Venice held the Morea at the end of the seventeenth century, and while
Genoa ruled some of the islands, the same state of things prevailed
under Catholic rule. When accordingly the sense of nationality began to
grow in the eighteenth century, it was from the first associated with
the national religion. In the first quarter of the eighteenth century,
Catholic propaganda was carried on in Chios and elsewhere under French
auspices, and the Greek Church persuaded the Turkish Government to
prohibit proselytism. At no period does the strife between easterns
and westerns at the Holy Sepulchre seem to have ceased; and it
now began to worsen. The wars between Austria and Turkey, however,
began the gradual emancipation of the Greek people from servitude, by
putting an outside pressure on the Turkish Government; the Russians
continued the process; and the new friendly relations now set up
between Greek and other Christians developed a new Greek sentiment of
racial hostility to the Turks. At the same time, the hostility of the
Christian powers made the Porte inclined to attach the Greek upper
class by giving them privileges as Turkish officials, and thus the
national self-respect was on that side further encouraged, despite the
corruption of the favoured class. Probably Russian influence in the
eighteenth century did most to arouse national aspirations, Russia
being specially welcome as holding the Greek form of Christianity;
but the Russian attempt to secure sovereignty as the price of military
help checked the movement for independence; and it needed the contagion
of the French revolutionary movement to cause a vigorous revival. Then
Russia on political grounds combined with the Porte to resist French
influence from the Levant and the Ionian islands; and when in 1815 the
revived Ionian Republic was placed under British protection, Russia
and Turkey continued to combine in jealousy of Western influence.

English rule in the Ionian Islands in turn was "neither wise nor
liberal," and while it subsisted did nothing for Greek development;
but it remains the fact that Russia, holding the Greek creed, never
aimed sympathetically at Greek liberation. That came about at length
through the fervour of national feeling set up at the French Revolution
and encouraged by a common European sympathy, grounded not on religion
but on admiration for ancient and pagan Greece as the great exemplar
of civilization and intellectual life. The same admiration for their
ancestors was naturally aroused among the Greeks themselves, and
was their strongest political impulse. "Ecclesiastical ties greatly
facilitated union, but they neither created the impulse towards
independence, nor infused the enthusiasm which secured success."

Since the achievement of Greek independence, however, the people
have remained substantially orthodox. Though they are no longer
withheld from intercourse with the West, but have on the contrary
shown a large measure of cosmopolitanism, their intellectual life has
remained relatively fixed till the other day, the new complacency of
independence backing the old complacency of orthodoxy. An excessive
devotion to politics and political intrigue has absorbed the mental
activity of the people; and literary veneration for the classic past
has hampered the free play of intelligence on higher problems. The
"Gospel Riots" at Athens a dozen years ago exhibited the state of real
culture. On the urging of the Queen there had been made a translation
of the New Testament into the living language of the people, or into
one midway between that and the artificial academic tongue which
has been developed among the literary class. About that period,
however, what appears to be a more truly vernacular version began to
be published in an Athenian journal; and it was against this that the
students and others concerned directed their indignation, bringing
about by their disturbances an actual change of ministry. Orthodox
sentiment and orthodox ignorance appeared to be the moving forces;
so that at the beginning of the twentieth century Greece could
claim to be the most bigoted of Christian countries. Doubtless the
consciousness of possessing the continuous apostolic tradition has
been an important psychological factor in the special conservatism
of belief, as is literary past-worship in the conservatism of speech.

When we turn to Russia, where the creed of the Greek Church, though
under an independent Patriarch, is that of the State, we find the
usual phenomena of European intellectual life specially marked. In no
other country, perhaps, is rationalism or indifference more nearly
universal among the educated class, which is relatively small; and
nowhere is faith more uncritical among the mass. Among them the use
and adoration of icons--pictures or images of Jesus or the Madonna
or of the saints, embellished in various ways--is universal in both
private and public devotion; and a certain number of images, credited
with miraculous virtue, earn great revenues for the monasteries or
churches which possess them. The mass of the parish clergy (who like
those of Greece may marry before ordination, but not a second time)
are so ignorant as to be unconcerned about educated unbelief; and
the Church as a whole has little or no political influence, being
thoroughly subject to the political administration, or at least to
the authority of the Tsar.

In the medieval period monasteries in Russia underwent the same
evolution as elsewhere, the monks passing from poverty to corporate
wealth, and owning in particular multitudes of serfs. Their lands and
serfs, however, were secularized in the eighteenth century; and since
then, though some five hundred monasteries continue to exist, they have
counted for little in the national life. Ecclesiastical discipline
has in general been always rigorous under the autocracy; and in the
eighteenth century it was common to flog priests cruelly for almost
any breach of discipline. And though Russia has for ages abounded in
dissenting sects, at no time has any movement of reform come from the
clergy. No Church has been more steadily unintellectual. All progress
in Russia has come from the stimulus of western culture, beginning
under Peter the Great, and continuing throughout the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries; and though some men of genius, as the great
novelist, Dostoyevsky, who was anti-rationalist, and Count Tolstoy,
who was heretically religious, have been exceptions to the rule, the
higher Russian culture is predominantly rationalistic. The greatest
Russian novelist, Tourguénief, was a freethinker, as is Gorky to-day.

The numerous dissident sects of Russia, which represent in general
unorganized developments of the spirit of Bible-worshipping
Protestantism, have been broadly classed as follows: (1) Sects
such as the Molokani and Stundists, which found on the Scriptures,
but are not literalists, and resort at times to inward light for
interpretation. (2) Sects which disregard Scripture, and follow
the doctrine of special leaders. (3) Sects which believe in the
re-incarnation of Christ. (4) Sects given to the religion of physical
excitement; some being erotic, as the Jumpers; some flagellant, as
the Khlysti; some fanatically ascetic, as the Skoptsi or Eunuchs. All
alike, however near they may be to orthodoxy, are liable to official
persecution equally with the members of the modern sect of Dukhobortsi,
associated with Count Tolstoy, whose doctrine is non-resistance
and refusal to bear arms. Thus Christianity in Russia is variously
identified with the most medieval formalism and bigotry and the most
exalted enthusiasm for concord; while the march of intelligence
proceeds as far as it may in disregard of all supernaturalist
creeds. But the vast mass of the Russian peasantry stands for the
faith of the Middle Ages, and may now be said to constitute the most
religious section of total Christendom.

Between eastern and western Christianity, finally, there seems to be no
prospect of ecclesiastical fraternization, though hopes of that kind
have been sometimes floated in the Anglican Church. At the church of
the Holy Sepulchre the Greeks and the Latins are in chronic strife;
it was one of their squabbles that brought about the Crimean War; and
in the present year they have shed blood in one of their scuffles. [26]
The visitor to Jerusalem thus witnesses the standing spectacle of an
impassive Turkish soldier keeping the peace between mobs of Christian
devotees, eager to fly at each other's throats.



CHAPTER IV

THE RELATION TO PROGRESS


§ 1. Moral Influence

It is a deeply significant fact that in recent times the defence
of Christianity takes much more often the form of a claim that it
is socially useful than that of an attempt to prove it true. The
argument from utility is indeed an old one: it is an error to say,
as did J. S. Mill, that men have been little concerned to put it in
competition with the argument from truth; but the former is now in
special favour. Insofar as it proceeds upon a survey of Christian
history it may here be left to the test of confrontation with the
facts; but as it is constantly urged with regard to the actual state
of life and faith, it is necessary to consider it in conclusion.

The chief difficulty in such an inquiry is that the most irreconcilable
formulas are put forth on the side and in the name of belief. Commonly
it is claimed that all that is good in current morality is derived from
Christian sources; that morally scrupulous unbelievers are so because
of their religious training or environment; and that a removal of the
scaffolding of creed will bring to ruin the edifice of conduct that is
held to have been reared by its means. It is not usually realized that
such an argument ends in crediting to paganism and Judaism the alleged
moral merits of the first Christians. It might indeed be suggested,
as against the traditional account of their pre-eminent goodness,
that either they, in turn, owed their character to their antecedents,
or their creed lost its efficacy after the first generation. But the
historic answer to the claim is that there has never been any such
moralizing virtue in the Christian or any other creed in historically
familiar times as need alarm any one for the moral consequences of its
gradual disappearance. All sudden and revolutionary changes in popular
moral standards certainly appear to be harmful; but the great majority
of such changes in the Christian era have been worked under the
auspices of faith, having consisted not in the abandonment of belief,
but in the restatement of ethics in terms of "inspiration." Unbelief
proceeds with no such cataclysmic speed. It is not conceivable that
the gradual dissolution of supernaturalist notions will ever of itself
work such evil as is told of in the story of the military evangel
of Christianity in the Dark Ages, the Crusades, the Albigensian
massacres, the conquests of Mexico and Peru, the Anabaptist movement
at the outset of the Reformation, or the massacre of St. Bartholomew,
to say nothing of the death-roll of the Inquisition and the mania
against witchcraft. Even the bloodshed of the Reign of Terror in the
French Revolution, wrought under peculiar political perturbation,
was under the auspices not of atheists but of theists.

If it be asked wherein lies the specific value of dogma as a moral
restraint, in terms of actual observation, there are to be found
no facts that can induce a scientific inquirer to struggle for the
maintenance of a creed believed to be untrue in the hope that it will
prove morally useful. Moral evils may for the purposes of such an
inquiry be broadly classed under the heads of vice, crime, poverty,
and war; and only in regard to the first is there even a plausible
pretence that supernaturalist belief is a preventive. It might indeed
seem likely, on first thought, that a cancelling of supernaturalist
vetoes on the pleasures of the senses may lead to increased indulgence;
but those vetoes apply to all sensual indulgence alike, and no one now
pretends that unbelievers are more given to gluttony and drunkenness
than believers; though the latter may doubtless claim, in respect of
the Catholic Church, to include a larger number of extreme ascetics, as
do the votaries of faiths pronounced by Catholics to be false. While,
then, there may and do arise modifications of the religious formulas
of ethics, there is absolutely no reason to apprehend that any form of
conduct will be less considerate on naturalist than on supernaturalist
principles. The Christian doctrine of forgiveness for sins must do more
to encourage licence than can be done by any rationalistic ethic. Even
where naturalism might give a sanction which Christian dogma withholds,
as in the case of suicides, it is not found that any statistical change
is set up by unbelief. Poverty, again, has probably been normally
worse in Christian Europe throughout the whole Christian era than in
any previous or non-Christian civilization; and the most systematic
schemes for its extinction in recent times are of non-Christian
origin, though a personal and habitual effort to modify the stress of
poverty is one of the more creditable features of organized Christian
work. As regards crime, the case is much the same. The vast majority
of criminals hold supernaturalist beliefs, atheism being extremely
rare among them; and while many Christians have in the past done good
and zealous work towards a humane and rational treatment of criminals,
the only scientific and comprehensive schemes now on foot are framed
on naturalist lines, and are denounced by professed Christians on
theological lines, either as being sinfully lenient to wrongdoing
or as being "cold-blooded." Thus supernaturalism remains prone to
a cruel and irrational ideal of retribution, even while some of its
champions profess to combat scientific methods in the name of humanity.

It is in regard to the influence of religious teaching on international
relations, however, that the saddest conclusions are forced upon the
student of Christian history. The foregoing pages have shown how potent
has been organized Christianity to promote strife and slaughter, how
impotent to restrain them. If any instance could be found in history of
a definite prevention of war on grounds of Christian as distinguished
from prudential motive, it would have been there recorded. So flagrant
is the record that when it is cited the Christian defence veers round
from the position above viewed to one which unconsciously places the
source of civilization in human reason. Yet even thus the historic
facts are misstated. The enormity of Christian strifes in the past is
now apologetically accounted for by the fantastic theorem that hitherto
men have not "understood" Christianity, and that only in modern times
have its founder's teachings been properly comprehended. Obviously
there has been no such development: the gospel's inculcations of
love and concord are as simple as may be, and have at all times been
perfectly intelligible: what has been lacking is the habit of mind
and will that secures the fulfilment of such precepts. And recent
experience has painfully proved, once for all, that the religious or
"believer's" temper, instead of being normally conducive to such
action, is normally the worst hindrance to it.

An explanation is to be found in a study of the normal results
of guiding conduct by emotional leanings rather than by critical
reflection. The former is peculiarly the process of evangelical
religion. Hence comes the practical inefficacy of a love of peace
derived either inertly through acceptance of a form of words declared
to be sacred, or through an emotional assent to such words emotionally
propounded. Emotions so evolved are of the surface, and are erased
as easily as they are induced, by stronger emotions proceeding from
the animal nature. Only a small minority of Christians, accordingly,
are found to resist the rush of warlike passions; and some who call
most excitedly for peace when there is no war are found among those
most excited by the war passion as soon as the contagion stirs. It
may be noted as a decisive fact in religious history that in regard
to the war which raged while these pages were first being penned,
[27] the movement of critical opposition and expostulation succeeded
almost in the ratio of men's remoteness from the Christian faith. Among
the Quaker sect, so long honourably distinguished by its testimony
against war, there was a considerable reversion to the normal temper,
as if the old conviction had been in many cases lost in the process
of merely hereditary transmission. Among the Christian Churches so
called, by far the most peace-loving is the Unitarian, which rejects
the central Christian dogma. And among the public men associated with
the protest against the war, the number known to be rationalists was
proportionally as large as that of the supernaturalists was small. The
personal excellence and elevation of moral feeling shown among the
latter group is thus no warrant for seeing the cause in their creed. In
such matters there is no invariable rule, every section exhibiting
psychical divergence within itself; but it is now statistically clear
that the standing claim for the conventional creed as being peculiarly
helpful to the cause of peace is false. The title of "Bible-loving"
had for a generation been applied to England by its pietists. The same
title is confessedly applicable to the Boers of South Africa. Yet no
consciousness of a common creed ever availed to restrain the hatred
of the Christian mass in England towards their "enemy."

The recent history of the near East conveys a similar lesson. For
generations the Turkish autocracy was able to keep down the Christian
peoples under its rule by means of their mutual hates. It was
not community of religion that brought about the Balkan and Greek
combination of 1912: it was military and political calculation; and
the overthrow of Turkey was no sooner completed than the Christian
combatants were on the verge of war with each other. Between Greek and
Bulgarian there seems to be to-day the same animosity as existed in
the Dark Ages; and Greek orthodoxy declaims against the "irreligion"
of educated Bulgaria, while the mass of the Bulgarian people remains as
superstitious as that of Greece. As regards standards of conduct, the
former seem to have capped every savagery of which Turkish irregulars
have ever been guilty. Whatever may be the outcome of freedom for
self-development in the light of western civilization, there is plainly
nothing to choose as between Christian and Moslem moral material in
those regions after two thousand years of Christianity. Such facts
bring out once for all the sociological truth as to the part played
by Christianity in civilization. The progress of the more advanced
States has not been caused by creed. If that were the lifting factor,
Abyssinia should be on the same plane with the leading European
States. Once more, it is not Christianity that has civilized modern
Europe, but the variously caused and conditioned progress of Europe
that has civilized Christianity; even as the conditions and forces
of ancient Hellas civilized its paganism.

Such tests are of course not those that will be first put by a
scrupulous mind seeking to know whether the Christian creed be
true. Rather they are forced on such a mind by the tactics of
believers, who as a rule seek to evade the fundamental issue. It
is not unlikely, therefore, in view of present painful experience,
that for some time to come the stress of defence will shift to the
attempt, never entirely abandoned, to defend the faith on evidential
or philosophic grounds. We have thus to consider finally the apparent
effects of Christian credences and institutions on the intellectual
life of the time.



§ 2. Intellectual Influence

So far as it can be historically traced, the intellectual influence
of Christianity was relatively at its best when it began to be
propounded as a creed in critical relation to Judaism. Intellectual
gain was checked as soon as it became a substantive creed, demanding
submissive acceptance. From that point forward it becomes a restraint
on intellectual freedom, save insofar as it stirred believers to
a one-sided criticism of pagan beliefs, a process of which the
educational effect was promptly annulled by a veto on its extension
to the beliefs of the critics. It has been argued indeed that modern
science has been signally advanced by the mental bias that goes
with monotheism; but the historical fact is that Jewish monotheism
was much less friendly to science than Babylonian polytheism; that
the beginnings of Greek science were among polytheists and, perhaps,
atheists; that Saracen monotheism owed its scientific stimulus to the
recovered thought of polytheistic Greece; and that, whatever impulse
a truly monotheistic philosophy may have given to modern science,
the usual influence of Christian belief has been to override the idea
of invariable causation in nature. Even after the belief in recurrent
miracles is disavowed, the doctrine and practice of prayer remain to
represent the old concept.

On the other hand, the kind of violence done to the instinct for
concrete or historical truth by the frauds and delusions of the early
and medieval Church, though greatly attenuated in modern times, has
never ended. Critical judgment has only slowly recovered the strength
and stature it had in the pre-Christian world; and wherever faith
has plenary rule such judgment is liable to arbitrary interdict. It
is true that even in the nineteenth century some great servants of
science have been either orthodox Christians or devout theists. Faraday
and Joule, Pasteur and Kelvin, are cases in point. But instead of the
religious creed having in such cases furnished the cue or the motive
to the scientific work done, it is found to be out of all logical
relation to it, and to be a mere obstruction to the scientific use
of the reason on the religious problem itself.

To a considerable extent the rigid adherence to religious beliefs or
professions in defiance of evidence is on all fours with any other
form of conservatism, as the social and the political. Inasmuch,
however, as religion proffers both a specific comfort in this life and
a specific reward in another, it has a power of intellectual fixation
with which no other can compare; and there is something unique in the
spectacle of religious doctrines kept in an unchanged form by means
of an economic basis consecrated to them. It has been seen in the
foregoing history that for two thousand years no creed with such a
basis has been overthrown either wholly or locally save by a force
which confiscated its endowments or suppressed its worship. Thus,
and thus only, did Christianity triumph over southern and northern
paganism; thus did Islam triumph over Christianity in parts of its
world, and fall again before it in others; and thus did Protestantism
expel Catholicism from many countries and suffer expulsion in turn
from some of them. Where endowments can subsist, with freedom of
worship, no form of doctrine that is wedded to the endowments ever
yields directly to criticism.

Christianity has thus had in the modern world a relatively more
sinister influence on the intellectual life than was wrought by any
phase of paganism even in periods when the intelligence of the ancient
world was divorced from its established religion. The divorce is now
more complete than ever before; but the bribe to conformity is greater
than ever, relatively at least to the light of the time. The result
is a maximum of insincerity, whether or not the bribe is given by a
standing endowment. Dissenting or voluntary churches in the Protestant
countries offer an income to more or less educated men on condition of
propounding the creed of the past; and the more intelligent minority
within the churches are weighed down in every effort at a modification
of doctrine by the orthodoxy of the uncritical or fanatical many,
who control the endowments. Social and commercial life conform
to the conditions, and everywhere the profession of belief is far
in excess of the actuality--a state of things unfavourable to all
morality. The very attempt to adjust the system to the pressure of
modern thought exhibits the process of demoralization. From the clergy
we have neither straightforward defence nor straightforward avowal of
old error. Christianity is defended not as being true but as being
socially useful and privately comforting; and a general pretence is
made of maintaining the continuity of a historic creed whose central
and fundamental dogmas are no longer held save by the most uncritical.

It is not only in religion and ethics that the influence of endowed and
organized Christianity is thus intellectually baneful. Every science in
turn, from the days of Galileo, has had to fight for its life against
the sanctified ignorance of all the churches; and while the physical
sciences, which can be taught without open reference to traditional
error, have carried their point and received endowment in turn,
happily without being tied down to any documents, the moral sciences
are either kept in tutelage to theology in the universities of many
countries, our own included, or forced to leave out of their scope
the phenomena of religion itself, and in particular the sociological
problem of Christian history. At the beginning of the present century
there was not a single chair of sociology in a British university
[28]; and even in the United States, where such chairs are common,
they and the historical chairs alike are barred from any free treatment
of religious evolution. Ethical teaching is similarly limited; and a
science which on that side threatened to turn the flank of religious
doctrine--to wit, phrenology--was at an early stage of its progress
in the first half of the nineteenth century successfully ostracized,
so that, lacking the expert handling without which no science can
be kept sound, it has been relegated even for most naturalists to
the limbo of exploded error, without ever having been scientifically
developed or confuted.

In fine, the science of society, the most momentous of all, is by
reason of the very nature of organized religion kept in trammels,
lest it should undermine the reign of faith. It makes its way in
virtue of the whole scientific movement of the age, and is perhaps most
progressive in the countries where, as in France and Italy, an official
Catholicism has prevented the academic compromise between faith and
science which is effected in the Protestant world, but is powerless to
keep independent science out of the universities. In those countries,
however, there are compromises of other kinds; and in modern France
there has been seen, in the case of Captain Dreyfus, the spectacle
of the clerical influence combining with that of the army to enforce
an insensate act of injustice, less from any intelligent motive of a
direct bearing than for the sake of a general alliance in which each of
the two great conservative and anti-progressive institutions backs the
other for general reactionary ends. Thus religious feeling abets social
and political malice; and such movements as that of anti-Semitism,
fostered by Christian organizations, can secure support from others
as the price of clerical support.

As a result of its autocratic and centralized system, further,
Catholicism is a special force of political conservatism in Catholic
countries, with the single exception of Ireland, where its dependence
on the mass of the people has thus far kept it in close alliance with
their nationalist movement in despite of any papal restrictions. Such
an alliance is of course unfavourable to intellectual progress on other
lines; and English Protestant policy, largely directed by sectarian
feeling, has thus preserved in Ireland the type of Catholicism it
fears. Such Catholicism still tends to retard popular education;
and the one general advantage the Protestant countries can claim over
the Catholic is their lower degree of illiteracy. On the other hand,
the rationalism of the more enlightened Catholic countries, where the
Church lacks official power, is as a rule more explicit, more awake
to the nature of the force opposed to it; while in Protestant Germany
it is little concerned to oppose a Church with small organized or
academic influence, and till lately attempted little popular criticism
of faith. Every country thus presents some special type of intellectual
harm or drawback resulting from the presence of organized Christianity;
and in all alike it makes in varying degrees an obstacle to light.

In the highest degree does this seem to be true of the land where it
has had the longest continuous life. Alone among the nations Greece
contributes nothing to the world's renovation. Italy, despite the
papacy, has a swarm of eager and questioning thinkers, working
at the human sciences; Spain stirs under all the leaden folds of
clericalism; but Greece, where the faith has never undergone eclipse
since Justinian's day, remains intellectually almost Byzantine, vainly
divided between Christian dogma and an external classic tradition,
neither ancient nor modern. Yet this is the one European country where
belief is ostensibly untroubled by its enemy. It is hard to say how
far the surface of orthodoxy conforms to the mental life underneath;
but there is no escape from the conclusion that a new mental life can
return to the land of Aristotle only in the measure in which it fully
readmits from the West the spirit of search and challenge which he
and Socrates left to re-inspire a world growing moribund under the
spell of faith.



§ 3. Conclusion and Prognosis

It follows from the foregoing history and survey that Christianity,
regarded by its adherents as either the one progressive and civilizing
religion or the one most helpful to progress and civilization, is in
no way vitally different from the others which have a theistic basis,
and is in itself neither more nor less a force of amelioration than any
other founding on sacred books and supernaturalist dogmas. Enlightened
Christians with progressive instincts have justified them in terms
of Christian doctrine, even as enlightened Moslems, Brahmans,
and Buddhists have justified their higher ideals in terms of their
doctrine; and the special fortune of Christianity has lain in this,
that after nearly a thousand years in which it was relatively
retrograde as compared with Islam, which during a large part of
the time was progressive, both being what they were in virtue of
institutions and environment, the environment was so far politically
changed that the Christian countries gradually progressed, while the
Moslem countries lost ground. To-day it is becoming clear to instructed
eyes that the faiths were not the causal forces; and in Asia the rapid
development of Japan in the past generation has vividly demonstrated
the fallacy of the Christian view. As there was great progress under
ancient paganism, under each one of the great creeds or cults of Asia,
under Islam, and under Christianity, so there may be much greater
progress in the absence of them all, in virtue of a wider knowledge,
a more scientific polity, and a more diffused culture.

The ultimate problem is to forecast the future. A confident faith
in continual progress is one of the commonest states of mind
of the present, the consciously scientific age; and in view of
the unmistakable decadence of the creeds as such, it is natural to
rationalists to expect an early reduction of Christianity to the status
now held by "folk-lore," a species of survival dependent on ignorance
upon the one hand and antiquarian curiosity on the other. But while
this may be called probable, there can be no scientific certainty in
the matter. For one thing, the process must for economic reasons be
much slower than used to be thought likely, for instance, in the time
of Voltaire, who allowed a century for the extinction of the Christian
creed. Voltaire was so far right that a century has seen Christianity
abandoned, after a reaction, by a large part of the best intelligence
of our age, as it was by that of his. But there may be more reactions;
and there is always a conceivable possibility of a total decadence,
such as overtook the civilization of the old Mediterranean world.

The question is at bottom one of political science. Greek and Roman
civilization failed primarily through the incapacity of the ancient
States to set up a polity of international peace, secondarily
through the effects of the military despotism which that failure
superinduced. As the problem is all of a piece, avoidance of the
old error will presumably mean avoidance of the old doom. A similar
political failure in the modern world would in all likelihood mean the
same sequence of military imperialism, possibly with better economic
management, but with the same phenomena of intellectual decline and
reversion to fanaticism and superstition among populations debarred
from political activity and free speech. It is indeed dimly conceivable
that, as has been suggested by way of fiction, the mere warfare of
capital and labour may end in the degradation of the people, and
the consequent reduction of upper-class life to the plane of mere
sensuous gratification and "practical" science. In either event, a
religion now seen by instructed men to be incredible may be preserved
by a community neither instructed nor religious.

The hope of the cause of reason then lies with the political ideals
and movements which best promise to save democracy and to elevate
the mass. It is hopefully significant that, as we have seen, the
most systematic and scientific of these movements are pronouncedly
rationalistic; and it is safe to say that their ultimate success
depends on their rationalism. All past movements for the social
salvation of the mass have failed for lack of social science;
and dogmatic Christianity in its most humane and sympathetic forms
remains the negation of such science. What is called "Christianity
without dogma" is merely humane sentiment misnamed.

It is essential to a durable advance, however, that it should be pure
of violence, and utterly tolerant. When popular education has emptied
all or any of the churches, as it has already gone some way towards
doing, the spontaneous revenue of those which are voluntary bodies will
in the main have ceased; and by that time the majority will be in a
position to dispose of national funds in the social interest. Such
a course will be facile to a society which provides work for all
and sustains all; and when the bribe of sectarian endowment is thus
made void, the more factitious life of ancient error will be at an
end. But the most speculative construction of the future provides for
the widest individual and psychological freedom; and there will have
been no true triumph of reason if philosophic and historic error,
recognized as such, have not a free field. The Utopia of rationalism
will be reached when supernaturalism in the present sense of the
term shall have passed away as the belief in witchcraft has done,
without pressure of pains and penalties. And that Utopia will be the
rendezvous, belike, of more than one social ideal--of all, indeed,
which trust to reason for the attainment of righteousness.



SYNOPSIS OF LITERATURE


Part I--PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY


Chapter I--The Beginnings

§ 1. Documentary Clues

A good introduction to the rational discussion of the whole problem
of origins is furnished in Radical Views about the New Testament,
by Dr. G. A. van den Bergh van Eysinga, trans. from the Dutch by
S. B. Slack (R. P. A., 1912). The Unitarian view is freshly put by
Wilhelm Soltau in The Birth of Jesus Christ (Eng. tr., Black, 1903). Of
the countless works discussing early Christian literature and the
formation of the New Testament "Canon," the following may be consulted
with profit: All relevant articles in the Encyclopædia Biblica (A. &
C. Black); Supernatural Religion: An Inquiry into the Reality of
Divine Revelation, 6th ed. revised, 1875, two vols.; 3rd vol. 1877;
R. P. A. rep. in one vol., 1902; A Reply to Dr. Lightfoot's Essays,
by the same author, 1889; An Introduction to the Study of the New
Testament, by Dr. Samuel Davidson, 2nd ed. revised, 1882, two vols.;
The Apostolical Fathers, by Dr. James Donaldson, 1874 and later;
Renan's preface to his Saint Paul, the Appendice to his L'Antéchrist,
and his Les Évangiles; E. B. Nicholson's compilation, The Gospel
According to the Hebrews, 1879; History of the Canon in the Christian
Church, by Professor Reuss, Eng. tr. 1890; Apostolical Records of
Early Christianity, by the Rev. Dr. Giles, 1886; Strauss's second Leben
Jesu, tr. in Eng. (not always accurately) as A New Life of Jesus, 2nd
ed. 1879, two vols.; and the old research of Lardner on The Credibility
of the Gospels (Part II, ch. i to xxix in vol. ii of Works, ed. 1835)
which covers the ground pretty fully, indeed diffusely. As to the
Pauline epistles see Van Manen's article in the Encyclopædia Biblica,
and T. Whittaker's Origins of Christianity (R. P. A., 1909). The most
comprehensive account of the early sources is Harnack's Geschichte der
altchristlichen Literatur bis Eusebius (1893) in two great volumes;
and the still bulkier Chronologie which follows thereon. More
compendious surveys are Professor Gustav Krüger's Geschichte der
altchristlichen Literatur in den ersten drei Jahrhunderten, 1895; and
Dr. James Donaldson's History of Christian Literature and Doctrine,
three vols., 1864-66. Of real value is the survey of Professor Arnold
Meyer, Die moderne Forschung über die Geschichte des Urchristentums,
1898. [The writings ascribed to the Apostolic Fathers are translated
in the first volume of the "Ante-Nicene Library"; those ascribed to
Justin Martyr in the second volume.]



§ 2. The Earliest Christian Sects

The sources as to the Nazarenes and Ebionites are given by Bishop
Lightfoot in his ed. of the Epistle to the Galatians, p. 298,
ff. (diss. reprinted in Dissertations on the Apostolic Age, 1892,
p. 74, ff.); also in W. R. Sorley's Jewish Christians and Judaism,
1881, p. 66, ff. Both proceed on the traditional assumptions. Critical
discrimination between the Ebionites and "Nazarenes" begins in modern
times with Mosheim, Vindicia Antiquæ Christianorum Disciplinæ
contra Tolandi Nazarenum, 1720. See also his Commentarium de
rebus Christianorum ante Constantinum, 1753, Sæc. II, § xxxix
(Eng. tr. vol. ii, p. 194, ff.). His position was developed by
Gieseler (1828), and has become the basis of later ecclesiastical
historiography, as in the above-cited writers, and in Weizsäcker's
Apostolic Age. A new and more searching analysis of the phenomena, on
lines previously suggested but not developed, is made by P. Hochart
in his Études d'histoire religieuse, 1890, chs. iv and v. For the
positions of the present section, in so far as they are not there
fully reasoned, the grounds will be found in the author's Christianity,
and Mythology, Part III, 1st Div. § 9, and in the National Reformer,
1888, March 18 and 25, April 1, 8, and 15. On the Nazareth problem
see Dr. Cheyne's article in the Encyclopædia Biblica, and Professor
Burkitt's paper on The Syriac Forms of New Testament Proper Names
(in Proc. of the British Academy, vol. v, 1912, pp. 17-18).



§ 3. Personality of the Nominal Founder

Of the more rationalistic Lives of Jesus, so-called, that of Renan
is the most charming and the least scientific; those by Strauss the
most systematic and educative; that of Thomas Scott, "The English Life
of Jesus," the most compendious view of the conflicts of the gospel
narratives. Evan Meredith's Prophet of Nazareth (1864) is rather a
stringent criticism of the whole Christian system of ethics, evidences,
and theology (rejecting supernaturalism but assuming a historical
Christ) than a scientific search for a personality behind the
Gospels. It however passes many acute criticisms. Later German Lives
of Christ, such as those of Keim and B. Weiss, are useful in respect
of their scholarly comprehensiveness, but have little final critical
value. A more advanced stage of documentary criticism than is seen in
any of these is reached in the second section of the article Gospels,
by Professor Schmiedel, in the Encyclopædia Biblica. The grounds
on which the present section carries the process of elimination yet
further are developed in the author's Christianity and Mythology, Part
III, The Gospel Myths, Div. ii; also in his Pagan Christs. Concerning
the Talmudic Jesus the documentary data are given by Lardner, Works,
ed. 1835, vol. ii; Baring Gould, The Lost and Hostile Gospels, 1874;
Joel, Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte, Breslau, 1880; Derenbourg,
Essai sur l'histoire et la Géographie de Palestine, 1867; Gustav Rösch,
Die Jesusmythen des Judenthums, in Theolog. Studien und Kritiken,
Jahrg. 1873, 1 Heft, pp. 75-115; R. T. Herford, Christianity in Talmud
and Midrash (1904); T. Theodores, essay on The Talmud in Essays and
Addresses by Professors and Lecturers of Owen's College (Macmillan,
1874), pp. 368-70; and Lightfoot, Horæ Hebraicæ, on Matt. ii, 14,
xxvii, 56, and Luke vii, 2. Later developments of the problem are
to be followed in the works of A. Kalthoff, The Rise of Christianity
(Eng. tr. R. P. A., 1907) and Was wissen wir von Jesus? (pamph. Berlin,
1904); T. Whittaker's Origins of Christianity; Professor Arthur
Drews's The Christ Myth (Eng. tr. Unwin); Professor W. B. Smith's
Der vorchristliche Jesus (1906) and Ecce Deus (R. P. A., 1912); and
Drews's The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus (Eng. tr. R. P. A.,
1912). Compendious views of the process of textual analysis, as applied
to the Gospels by students who still hold to the historic actuality of
the Gospel Jesus, may be found in The Synoptic Problem, by A. J. Jolly
(Macmillan, 1893); The Formation of the Gospels, by F. P. Badham (Kegan
Paul, 2nd ed. 1892); The Common Tradition of the Synoptic Gospels,
by Dr. Abbott and W. G. Rushbrooke (Macmillan, 1884); and The First
Three Gospels, by J. Estlin Carpenter (Sunday School Association, 2nd
ed. 1890). Of the extensive continental literature of this subject
during the past half-century, typical and important examples are
Baur's Kritische Untersuchungen über die kanonischen Evangelien (1847),
Scholten's Het oudste Evangelie, 1868 (tr. in German, 1869); Gustave
D'Eichthal's Les Évangiles, 1863; H. J. Holtzmann's Die synoptischen
Evangelien, ihr Ursprung und geschichtliche Charakter, 1863; Berthold
Weiss's Text-kritik der vier Evangelien, 1899; J. Wellhausen,
Einleitung in die drei ersten Evangelien, 1905; A. Schweitzer's
Von Reimarus zu Wrede (Eng. tr. The Quest of the Historical Jesus,
Black, 1910); and Alfred Loisy, Le quatrième Évangile, 1903; Les
Évangiles Synoptiques, two vols. 1907-8. Loisy's general conclusions
are given in his Jésus et la tradition évangélique, 1910. Holtzmann's
Lehrbuch der historisch-kritischen Einleitung in das Neue Testament
(2te. Aufl. 1885) is a good summary of the general discussion on the
documentary side up to its date.



§ 4. Myth of the Twelve Apostles

As to the Jewish Twelve Apostles, consult Jost, Geschichte des
Judenthums, 1850, ii, 159-60; Kitto's Cyclopedia of Biblical
Literature, art. Apostle; Basnage, Histoire des Juifs, ed. 1716,
liv. iii, ch. ii, §§ 7, 8, 10, 11; Mosheim's Commentaries as before
cited, Eng. tr. i, 121-23; and other authorities discussed by the
author in the National Reformer, 1887, May 8 and 15, November 20
and 27, December 4; also in Christianity and Mythology, Part III,
Div. i, § 19. For recent views on the alleged apostolic epistles
see Professor Arnold Meyer's work, cited under § 1. The text of the
important Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, first published in 1883,
is ably edited and translated by Professors Hitchcock and Brown (London
ed. Nimmo), whose version was made the basis of a revised translation,
with variorum notes, by the author, published in the National
Reformer, November 1 and 8, 1891. The Teaching has appeared also in
the following translations: By Dr. Farrar, in the Contemporary Review,
May, 1884; by the Rev. A. Gordon (tr. sold at Essex Hall, London);
by M. Sabatier with text and commentary (Paris, 1885); by Professor
Harnack; and by the Rev. Mr. Heron in his Church of the Apostolic Age,
1888. As to its obviously Jewish basis compare Dr. Taylor's Teaching
of the Twelve Apostles, 1886, with Harnack's Die Apostellehre und die
jüdischen beiden Wege, 1886. On the "Brethren of the Lord" see Bishop
Lightfoot's excursus, reprinted in his Dissertations on the Apostolic
Age. The Judas myth and the characteristics of Peter are discussed
in Christianity and Mythology, Part III, Div. i, §§ 20, 21; also in
Professor Drews's Die Petrus Legende (Frankfurt a. M., 1910). For
the Egyptian God Petra see the Book of the Dead, Budge's tr., p. 123.



§ 5. Primary Forms of the Cult

The theory that the gospel narrative of the Last Supper, the Passion,
the Betrayal, Trial, Crucifixion, and Resurrection constitute a
mystery-play or plays is set forth by the author in Pagan Christs. On
pre-Christian Semitic "mysteries" see Professor Robertson Smith's
Religion of the Semites, Lect. vi-xi; and on the ancient conception of
sacrifice in general consult that work; also Wellhausen's Prolegomena
to the History of Israel, Eng. tr. Pt. I. ch. iii; the work of Fustel
de Coulanges on La Cité Antique; and Dr. J. G. Frazer's great treatise
The Golden Bough (2nd ed. three vols. 1900, 3rd ed. nine vols.,
now in process of publication). Concerning the private religious
societies among the Greeks, the standard authority is M. Foucart,
Les Associations religieuses chez les Grecs, 1873; see also ch. xviii
of Renan's Les Apôtres. The imitation of pagan institutions in the
Christian Church is dealt with by the late Dr. Edwin Hatch, in his
Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church,
1890; and some of the relations between the Jewish Passover and
coincident pagan feasts are suggested in the valuable old treatise
of J. Spencer, De Legibus Hebræorum (1685 and later), lib. ii,
cap 4. The part played by the child-image in pagan and Christian
mysteries is noted in Christianity and Mythology, Pt. II, Christ
and Krishna, sec. xiii. On other details consult Schürer, History
of the Jewish People in the Time of Christ, Div. II. The question
as to the rise of baptism comes up in the Clementine Homilies and
Recognitions, on which see Baur, Church History, Eng. tr., vol. i;
where also will be found the material of the controversy on the date
of the Easter sacrament. As to the manner of crucifixion in antiquity
see Dr. W. Brandt's Die evangelische Geschichte und der Ursprung des
Christenthums, 1893, Theil II, § 5, and Pf. Hermann Fulda's treatise,
Das Kreuz und die Kreuzigung (Breslau, 1878).



§ 6. Rise of Gentile Christism.

The early and bitter strife between the Jewish and Gentile parties in
the Christist movement was first exhaustively studied by the Tübingen
school. See the important works of its founder, F. C. Baur, Das
Christenthum und die christliche Kirche der drei ersten Jahrhunderte,
1853 (Eng. tr. The Church History of the First Three Centuries, 1878,
two vols.) and Paulus, 1845 (Eng. tr. two vols. 1873); also the work
of Zeller on the Contents and Origin of the Acts of the Apostles
(Eng. tr. two vols. 1875, with Overbeck's Introduction to the Acts,
from De Wette's Handbook). Compare the somewhat more conservative
treatise of Weizsäcker, The Apostolic Age of the Christian Church,
Eng. tr. two vols. 1894, and the orthodox Neander's History of
the Planting and Training of the Christian Church by the Apostles
(Eng. tr. two vols. 1851), where however some decisive admissions are
made as to the narrative of the Acts. One of the most comprehensive
surveys of the documentary discussion is J. Jüngst's Die Quellen der
Apostelgeschichte (Gotha, 1895). Some interesting concessions are
made by Professor Ramsay in his work on The Church and the Roman
Empire before A.D. 170 (1893). On the Gentile parallels discussed
consult Frazer's Golden Bough and Havet's Le Christianisme et ses
origines. The questions raised by the vogue of the term "Chrestos" are
well set forth and discussed in the brochure of the late Dr. J. Barr
Mitchell, Chrestos: A Religious Epithet, its Import and Influence
(Williams and Norgate, 1880). Compare Renan, Saint Paul, p. 363,
and refs. Various aspects of the general problem are set forth in
the Monumental Christianity of J. P. Lundy (New York, 1876). For
a full view of Gnosticism see Baur, Die Christliche Gnosis, 1835,
and C. W. King, The Gnostics and their Remains, 2nd ed. 1887; and for
a survey of Samaritan tenets see J. W. Nutt, Fragment of a Samaritan
Targum, 1874 (Introduction), and Reland's Dissertatio de Monte Garizim,
in his Diss. Misc., Pars I, 1706. A view of the ancient practices of
cutting and gashing in the presence of the dead, etc., is given in John
Spencer's treatise De Legibus Hebræorum, lib. ii. cc. 13, 14. The Myth
of Simon Magus was discussed by the author in the National Reformer,
January 29, February 5, and February 19, 1893.



§ 7. Growth of the Christ Myth

For details and references as to the pagan myths embodied in the
Gospels, see the author's Christianity and Mythology, Parts II and
III. The evolution of the doctrine of the Logos is discussed by
Professor James Drummond, in The Jewish Messiah, 1877, and Philo
Judæus, 1888; by M. Nicolas, Des doctrines religieuses des Juifs,
1860; and in Schürer's Jewish People in the Time of Christ, Div. II,
vol. iii. As to its early form among the Babylonians see Tiele,
Histoire comparée des anciennes religions égyptiennes et semitiques,
French tr. 1882, pp. 182-83. Dr. Frazer presents the evidence as to
the Semitic usage of sacrificing a mock king in his Golden Bough,
where however the problem is obscured by the acceptance of the
Gospels as historical records. See also the article on Jesus als
Saturnalien-König, by P. Wendland, in Hermes, xxxiii (1898).



Chapter II--The Environment

§ 1. Social and Mental Conditions in the Roman Empire

The sociological forces and tendencies in the Greek and Roman
civilizations are discussed in the author's Evolution of States,
Part I; also in A Short History of Freethought, vol. i, ch. iii, v,
vi, and vii. For the social bearing of ancient religion consult
Fustel de Coulanges, La Cité Antique; Boissier, La Religion
romaine d'Auguste aux Antonins (2 tom. 4e édit. 1892); Burckhardt,
Griechische Culturgeschichte, 3 Bde. 1898-1900; Farnell, The Cults
of the Greek States (five vols. 1896-1908); Maury, Histoire des
religions de la Grèce antique, 3 tom. 1857; and Kalthoff's Rise of
Christianity. Renan has many suggestive pages on social conditions,
particularly in Les Apôtres; but heed must be taken of the frequent
contradictions in his generalizations. As to the religious life of
the Greek private religious societies, see ch. xvii of Les Apôtres;
the treatise of M. Foucart, before cited; Dr. Hatch's Bampton lectures
on The Organization of the Early Christian Churches; and his Hibbert
lectures on The Influence of Greek Ideas, etc., before cited. For
Rome, see Professor W. Warde Fowler's Social Life at Rome in the Age
of Cicero (1909); and Professor Samuel Dill's Roman Society from Nero
to Marcus Aurelius (1908).



§ 2. Jewish Orthodoxy

Schürer's Jewish People in the Time of Christ gives the main clues
from Josephus, the Talmud, and the O. T. apocrypha. See further
M. Friedländer's Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Christenthums
(Wien, 1894) for light as to the relations between the Pharisees
and the common people. For a good general view see Reuss, Histoire
de la théologie chrétienne au siècle apostolique (2e édit. 1860),
liv. i. Nicolas, Des doctrines religieuses des Juifs, 1860, gives a
fuller research. Accounts of the surviving "Nestorians" are given in
Missionary Researches in Armenia, by E. Smith and H. D. O. Dwight,
1834, and in Dr. A. Grant's The Nestorians, 2nd. ed. 1843.



§ 3. Jewish Sects

A good conspectus and discussion of the data as to the Essenes is given
by Dr. Ginsburg in his pamphlet The Essenes, 1864. On the sects, see
also Schürer, Div. ii, vol. ii; Bishop Lightfoot, Dissertations on the
Apostolic Age; and Oskar Holtzmann, Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte,
1895.



§ 4. Gentile Cults

A general view of non-Christian in relation to Christian religion is
most readably presented in M. Salomon Reinach's Orpheus: Histoire
generale des Religions (6e édit. 1909). The best mythological
dictionary is Roscher's great Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen
und römischen Mythologie, but Preller's Griechische Mythologie and
Römische Mythologie and Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography
and Mythology (three vols. 1844-49) give most of the data. A general
notion of the infiltration of pagan religion into Christianity may
be gathered from Les Saints Successeurs des Dieux by P. Saintyves
(1907); and Rendel Harris's The Dioscuri in Christian Legend (Oxford,
1903). In regard to the cults of Attis and Adonis, consult Frazer's
Adonis, Attis, Osiris (vol. iv of new ed. of Golden Bough) and Foucart
Des Associations religieuses chez les Grecs; for the cult of Dionysos,
the same and Frazer's Golden Bough; also (with caution) Mr. R. Brown's
Great Dionysiak Myth, two vols. 1877-8, and the older Recherches
sur le Culte de Bacchus of Rolle (3 tom. 1824), both works of great
learning. Lucian's treatise De Dea Syra gives special information
on Syrian religion. Sidelights are thrown on the cults in question
by the Christian Fathers, in particular Julius Firmicus Maternus, De
errore profanarum religionum (best ed. Halm's); Epiphanius, De Hæresis;
Hippolytus, Refutation of all Heresies (trans. in Ante-Nicene Library,
vol. vi). The main clues to the Osiris cult are in The Book of the Dead
(Eng. tr. by Budge, 1898) and Plutarch's treatise On Isis and Osiris,
which should be read, however, in the light of Tiele's or some other
competent History of Egyptian Religion. The main data as to Mithraism
are collected in the author's essay in Pagan Christs. The standard
research on the subject is Cumont's Textes et Monuments Figurés
relatifs aux Mystères de Mithra (1896-9: add. vol. 1913). Valuable
light is thrown on the oriental side of Christian mythology by
Professor Hermann Gunkel, Zum religionsgeschichtlichen Verständnis
des Neuen Testaments, 1903, trans. in The Monist, Chicago, 1903.



§ 5. Ethics: Popular and Philosophic

The parallels and coincidences between the teachings of Paul and of
Seneca are fully set forth by Bishop Lightfoot in the excursus on
Paul and Seneca reprinted in his Discussions on the Apostolic Age,
where also the significance of the parallels is considered and the
literature of the subject described. In the general connection may be
consulted Havet's Le Christianisme et ses origines, 4 tom. 1872-84;
Martha's Les Moralistes sous l'empire romain, 14e édit. 1881; Lecky's
History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne; Professor
Dill's Roman Society During the Last Century of the Empire of the West;
Baur's Drei Abhandlungen zur Geschichte der alten Philosophie und ihres
Verhältniss zum Christenthum (new ed. 1876), where there is a thorough
discussion of Seneca's case; Professor M. Baumgarten's Lucius Annæus
Seneca und das Christenthum (1895); Uhlhorn's Conflict of Christianity
with Heathenism (Eng. tr. from 3rd Ger. ed. 1879); Renan's Marc Aurèle,
and ch. xvii. of Les Apôtres; W. Soltau's Das Fortleben des Heidentums
in der altchristlichen Kirche, 1906; Professor Max Pohlenz's Vom Zorne
Gottes: Eine Studie über den Einfluss der Griechischen Philosophie auf
das alte Christentum, 1909; J. A. Farrer's Paganism and Christianity,
1891 (rep. R. P. A.); W. M. Flinders Petrie's Religion and Conscience
in Ancient Egypt, 1898; and Ludwig Feuerbach's Essence of Christianity,
Eng. tr. by Marian Evans (George Eliot). The Jewish Rabbinical ethic is
defended as against Christian attack in an able article on "Rabbinic
Judaism and the Epistles of Paul" by C. G. Montefiore in the Jewish
Quarterly Review for January, 1901. Some of the other issues are
discussed in detail in the author's Short History of Freethought,
vol. i, chs. iv, vi, vii.



Chapter III--Conditions of Survival

§ 1. Popular Appeal

See the references to ch. ii. § 5, concerning the prevalent moral
ideas. As to the Montanists and other ascetic and antinomian sects
see Baur, Church History, Eng. tr. vol. i, Pt. III, also Hatch,
as cited. Concerning the results of the need to appeal to the pagan
populace, note the admissions of Mosheim, Ecclesiastical History,
2 Cent. Pt. II, chs. iii and iv; of Dr. John Stoughton, Ages of
the Church, 1855, Lect. iv; of Waddington, History of the Christian
Church, 1833, pp. 87, 89; and of Milman, History of Christianity,
B. iv, chs. i and iii.



§ 2. Economic Causation

The organization of the Assyrian and Babylonian priesthoods may be
gathered from Sayce, Hibbert Lectures on the Religion of the Ancient
Babylonians. On the Greek priesthoods compare Burckhardt, Griechische
Culturgeschichte, Bd. II, Abs. II, § ii. As to the wealth of the
priestly caste in Egypt see Diodorus Siculus; and on that of Rome,
Gibbon's 15th chapter. On the later Judaic priestly finance see the
references given as to the Jewish Twelve Apostles under ch. i, § 4. The
process of growth of an order of "ethical lecturers" is indicated by
C. Martha, Les Moralistes sous l'empire romain, 4e édit. 1881; also by
E. Havet, Le Christianisme et ses origines, tom. i, ch. iii. Compare
Grote, History of Greece, end of ch. xlvi, and his Plato and the
Other Companions of Sokrates, per index, as to the sophists. The
financial side of the pagan mysteries is partly illustrated in the
Metamorphoses of Apuleius. Compare also Foucart, Des Associations
religieuses chez les Grecs. Gibbon's fifteenth chapter deals in the
main with a later period, but throws general light on this also. See
also Renan's Marc Aurèle, ch. xxxi; and especially Dr. Hatch's Hibbert
Lectures, lect. iv, and Lecky's History of European Morals.



§ 3. Organization and Sacred Books

Dr. Hatch's Organization of the Early Christian Churches recognizes,
on nominally orthodox principles, the fact that the structure
was a natural adaptation to environment, on old type-lines. Of the
movement of Apollonius of Tyana, good accounts are given by Professor
A. Réville, Apollonius of Tyana, the Pagan Christ of the Third Century,
Eng. tr. 1866; by Mr. T. Whittaker in his Apollonius of Tyana, and
other Essays (Sonnenschein, 1906); and in the essay of Baur in his
Drei Abhandlungen. Two somewhat "free" translations of Philostratus'
Life of Apollonius have lately been produced--by Dr. F. C. Conybeare
and Professor Phillimore (each 2 vols.)--as to which see the Literary
Guide of April, 1913. On the formation of the canon see the references
to ch. i, §§ 1, 3. As to Manichæism see those given below, Pt. II,
ch. ii.



§ 4. Concession and Fixation

On developments of doctrine in general the fullest modern treatise
is Harnack's History of Dogma (Eng. tr. 1894, six vols.), but the
critical student must revise many of Harnack's judgments. The same
author's Outlines of the History of Dogma (Eng. tr. 1893) are at
many points suggestive; and Hagenbach's History of Dogma is still
useful. Hatch is well worth consulting in this connection.



§ 5. Cosmic Philosophy

As to the Fourth Gospel and the doctrine of the Logos see the
references given for ch. i, § 7; also the relevant articles in the
Encyclopædia Biblica; the work of Loisy on the Fourth Gospel, before
cited; the fourth and fifth chapters of Renan's Les Évangiles, which
give his latest ideas on the problem; Reuss's Histoire de la théologie
chrétienne au siècle apostolique, 2e édit. 1860, tom. ii, liv. vii; and
J. J. Tayler's treatise, An Attempt to Ascertain the Character of the
Fourth Gospel (1867). Baur and Strauss may also be profitably studied.



Part II--CHRISTIANITY FROM THE SECOND CENTURY TO THE RISE OF ISLAM

Chapter I--Scope and Character of the Unestablished Church


§ 1. Numbers and Inner Life

Gibbon's fifteenth chapter is still valuable here. Compare Hatch,
Organization; Renan, Saint Paul, concluding chapter; and the church
historians generally. As to Britain, see Wright's The Roman, the Celt,
and the Saxon, 4th ed. 1885. On the personnel and emotional life
of the early church compare Louis Ménard, Études sur les origines
du Christianisme, 1893; Loisy, L'Évangile et L'Église, 1904; Renan,
L'Église Chrétienne and Marc Aurèle; Tertullian, passim; J. A. Farrer,
Paganism and Christianity; Dr. John Stoughton, Ages of the Church
(pp. 42-43--orthodox admissions).



§ 2. Growth of the Priesthood

Hatch, as before cited, is here a specially good guide; and Neander,
General History of the Christian Religion and Church (trans. in Bohn
Lib.), gives a copious narrative (vol. i, sect. ii). On episcopal
policy compare the series of popular monographs under the title "The
Fathers for English Readers" (S.P.C.K.) and the anonymous treatise
On the State of Man Subsequent to the Promulgation of Christianity
(1852), Part II, ch. iv. Mosheim (Reid's ed. of Murdock's trans.) here
deserves study. The question of priestly morals is handled in almost
all histories of the Church. Cp. Gibbon, chs. xxi, xxv, xxxviii. Lea's
History of Sacerdotal Celibacy (2nd ed. 1884) is a full and valuable
record. As to the papacy see references given below, Part III, ch. i,
§ 3.



§ 3. The Gnostic Movement in the Second Century

Baur's Die christiche Gnosis (1835) remains perhaps the most
comprehensive study of this subject; but C. W. King's The Gnostics
and their Remains adds to his elucidations. Matter's Histoire
critique du Gnosticisme (2e édit. 1843-44) remains worth study;
as is Neander's general account of the Gnostic sects in vol. ii of
his General History. See shorter accounts in Baur's Church History
(vol. i), in Mosheim's, and in that of Jeremie (1855).



§ 4. Marcionism and Montanism

Neander, Hatch, and Baur, as last cited, give good views. Tertullian,
who wrote a treatise Against Marcion, and himself became a Montanist,
is a primary authority. See also De Soyres, cited on p. 98.



§ 5. Rites and Ceremonies

Bingham's Christian Antiquities (rep. 1855) gives abundant details;
but see also Smith's Dictionary of Christian Antiquities. Mosheim
traces the development century by century.



§ 6. Strifes over Primary Dogma

These may be followed in brief in Mosheim, or at length in Harnack's
History of Dogma, or in Hagenbach's earlier manual, which is more
concise. Hatch's Influence of Greek Ideas is light-giving at some
points; and Dr. Albert Réville's Histoire du dogme de la divinité de
Jésus Christ (2e édit. 1876) is a good conspectus of its subject. For
a briefer general view see Stoughton's Ages of the Church, Lect. v and
vii. The history of the so-called Apostles' Creed is fully discussed
by M. Nicolas, Le Symbole des Apôtres, 1867, and in Harnack's work
on the same subject (Eng. tr. 1901).



Chapter II--Relations of Church and State

§ 1. Persecutions

Consult Gibbon, ch. xvi; Niebuhr, Lectures on Roman History,
Eng. tr. Lect. cxli; and Boissier, La Fin du Paganisme (2e édit. 1894),
tom. i, Appendice, for critical views, as distinguished from those
of the ecclesiastical historians. Compare also Milman's account in
the first chapter of his History of Latin Christianity. The alleged
Neronian persecution is specially sifted by Hochart, Études au sujet de
la persécution des Chrétiens sous Néron, 1885. For a complete record
of the cult of the emperors see Le Culte Impérial, son histoire et
son organisation, par l'Abbé E. Beurlier, 1891.



§§ 2, 3, 4. Establishment and Creed-Making; Reaction under Julian;
Re-establishment; Disestablishment of Paganism.

Boissier's La Fin du Paganisme goes very fully into the question of
Constantine's conversion and policy, but does not supersede Beugnot,
Histoire de la destruction du paganisme en occident, 1835, 2 tom. (Both
are misleading on the subject of the labarum, as to which see the
variorum notes in Reid's Mosheim, and in Bohn Gibbon, ad loc.) Compare
Gibbon, chs. xix-xxv, and Hatch, Organization. A good modern survey
is Victor Schultze's Geschichte des griechischrömischen Heidentums,
2 Bde. 1887. Newman's Arians of the Fourth Century gives an intensely
orthodox view of its subject. Mosheim and Milman and Neander are more
judicial. See also Harnack's Outlines, and the references given above
to ch. i, § 6. On Manichæism it is still well to consult Beausobre,
Histoire critique de Manichée et du Manichéisme. Compare Mosheim,
Commentaries on the Affairs of the Christians, vol. iii, and the
account of Neander, General History, vol. ii. The legend of Manichæus
is discussed in the author's Pagan Christs. Rendall's The Emperor
Julian: Christianity and Paganism, 1879, is a learned and competent
research, usually fair, and gives light on the previous reigns, as well
as on Julian's. Gibbon's survey here remains important. On Gregory
of Nazianzun there is a monograph by Ullmann (Eng. tr. 1851). See
Milman as to the falsity of the death-legend concerning Julian. As
to the disestablishment of paganism, Beugnot and Schultze are the
best guides, but Boissier is discursively instructive.



Chapter III--Failure with Survival

The narrative may be checked throughout by Neander's General History of
the Christian Religion and Church (trans. in Bohn Lib.); by Mosheim,
with the variorum notes of Reid's edition; by Gibbon's chapters;
by the histories of dogma; by the above-cited monographs on the
Fathers, St. Chrysostom's Picture of his Age (S.P.C.K. 1875), and
Rev. W. E. Stephens's St. Chrysostom, His Life and Times (1872);
by Milman's History of Latin Christianity, vols. i and ii; by
Finlay's History of Greece (Tozer's ed.), vols. i and ii; and by
Bury's History of the later Roman Empire (two vols. 1889). On the
intellectual life compare further Boissier, La Fin du Paganisme;
Ampère, Histoire littéraire de la France, 1839, tom. i and ii; and
Lecky's History of European Morals.



Part III--MEDIEVAL CHRISTIANITY

Chapter I--Expansion and Organization

§ 1. Position in the Seventh Century

Hatch (Organization) is still a guide. For special details consult
Smith's Dictionary of Christian Antiquities. Bede's Ecclesiastical
History gives some specific ideas as to the early life of the medieval
Church. Bryce's Holy Roman Empire is valuable for its general view.



§ 2. Methods of Expansion

Neander's General History of the Christian Religion and Church,
Milman's History of Latin Christianity, Hardwick's History of the
Christian Church: Middle Age (1853), and the variorum notes in Reid's
Mosheim, give most of the documentary clues. But national histories
should specially be consulted at this stage--e.g., Crichton and
Wheaton's Scandinavia (2nd ed. 1838, two vols.); Geijer's History of
Sweden (Eng. tr. of first three vols. in one, no date); Blok's History
of the Dutch People (Eng. tr., five vols. 1898-1907); Krasinski's
Sketch of the Religious History of the Slavonic Nations (1851). The
subject of Tithes is carefully and compendiously dealt with in A
History of Tithes, by the Rev. H. W. Clarke (Sonnenschein, 1891).



§ 3. Growth of the Papacy

In addition to the general histories consult Gregorovius' Geschichte
der Stadt Rom (Eng. tr. 2nd ed. 1901) and The Pope and the Councils,
by "Janus" (tr. 1869 from German). Hefele's History of the Christian
Councils (Eng. tr., 1871-1896, five vols.), though by a Catholic
scholar, is generally accepted as the standard modern work on its
subject. Hallam's View of the State of Europe during the Middle
Ages is still valuable for its general views. Fuller details may be
had from monographs on leading popes--e.g., Voigt's Hildebrand und
sein Zeitalter (French trans. by Abbé Jager, with added notes and
documents, 1847) and Langeron's Grégoire VII et les origines de la
doctrine ultramontaine (1874). On the ancient Egyptian parallels see
Maspero, Histoire ancienne des peuples de l'orient.



Chapter II--Religious Evolution and Strife

Consult the ecclesiastical historians already cited, and compare
R. L. Poole, Illustrations of the History of Medieval Thought (1884),
as to Agobard and Claudius. For the special worships of Mary and
Joseph see the popular Catholic manual "The Glories of Mary,"
and P. Paul Barrie's "Glories of Joseph" (Eng. trans. Dublin,
1843 and later)--extracts in C. H. Collette's Dr. Newman and his
Religious Opinions, 1866--also Newman's Letter to Dr. Pusey, as there
cited. Sketches of the history of auricular confession are given in
Rev. B. W. Savile's Primitive and Catholic Faith, 1875, ch. xiii,
and in Confession, a doctrinal and historical essay, by L. Desanctis,
Eng. tr. 1878; and sketches of the history of indulgences in Lea's
History of the Inquisition, i, 41-47; De Potter's Esprit de l'Église,
vii, 22-29; and Lea's Studies in Church History, 1869, p. 450. Of the
Albigensian crusades a full narrative is given by Sismondi, Histoire
des Français, tom. vi and vii--chapters collected and translated in
Eng. vol., History of the Crusades against the Albigenses (1826). The
most comprehensive study of the chief heresies of the Middle Ages
is Döllinger's Beiträge zur Sektengeschichte des Mittelalters, 2
Bde. 1890. On the rationalistic heresies consult Ueberweg's History
of Philosophy, Hermann Renter's Geschichte der religiösen Aufklärung
im Mittelalter (1875-77); Poole's Illustrations of Medieval Thought,
and Renan's Averroës et l'Averroïsme. On the anti-clerical and
anti-papal heresies compare Neander, Mosheim, Milman, Hardwick,
and Poole. The fortunes of the Lollard movement are discussed in the
author's Dynamics of Religion.



Chapter III--The Social Life and Structure

Of the historians cited in the last chapter, most are serviceable
here. Consult in addition Lea's Superstition and Force (3rd ed. 1878),
Berington's Literary History of the Middle Ages, Dunham's Europe in the
Middle Ages, and Ampère's Histoire Littéraire, before cited. There
are good lives of Savonarola by Perrens (French) and Villari,
Eng. tr. See also J. A. Symonds, Renaissance in Italy: Age of the
Despots. On slavery compare Larroque, De l'esclavage chez les nations
chrétiennes (2e édit. 1864); or see the author's Evolution of States,
per index. An excellent general view of the Crusades is given in
the manual by Sir G. W. Cox ("Epochs of History" series). The latest
expert survey of the subject is that of M. Seignobos, in the Histoire
générale of MM. Lavisse and Rambaud. For a survey of the effect of
Christianity on European life in general see Mr. McCabe's The Bible
in Europe: an Inquiry into the Contribution of the Christian Religion
to Civilization (R. P. A., 1907) and The Religion of Woman (1905).



Chapter IV--The Intellectual Life

Again the same general authorities may be referred to, in particular
Lea's History of the Inquisition; also White's History of the Warfare
of Science with Theology (two vols. 1896), Gebhart's Les origines de
la renaissance (1879), Burckhardt's Civilization of the Renaissance
in Italy (Eng. tr. in one vol. 1892), Buckle's Introduction to the
History of Civilization in England, Whewell's History of the Inductive
Sciences, Baden Powell's History of Natural Philosophy (1834); and for
the different countries their special histories. Draper's Intellectual
Development of Europe is to be followed with caution. As to Gerbert
see the Vie de Gerbert of M. Olleris, 1867. On the general question
see the volumes of F. H. Perrycoste on Ritual, Faith, and Morals and
The Influence of Religion Upon Truthfulness (R. P. A. 1910, 1913). The
effect of the Inquisition on literature is exactly and instructively
set forth in G. H. Putnam's The Censorship of the Church of Rome
(two vols. 1906).



Chapter V--Byzantine Christianity

Finlay's History of Greece and Professor Bury's History of the later
Roman Empire and History of the Eastern Roman Empire, 802-867 (1912)
are the main authorities in English apart from the ecclesiastical
histories.



Part IV--MODERN CHRISTIANITY

Chapter I--The Reformation

In addition to Neander, Mosheim, Milman's History of Latin
Christianity, and Hardwick's Church History: The Reformation
(rep. 1886), consult Ullmann's Reformers before the Reformation
(Eng. tr. two vols. 1855), McCrie's Histories of the Reformation in
Spain and Italy, Ranke's History of the Reformation (Eng. tr. one
vol. ed. Routledge), and History of the Popes (Eng. tr. three
vols. Bohn Lib.), Beard's Hibbert Lectures on the Reformation, Felice's
Histoire des Protestants de France (trans. in Eng.), Krasinski's
History of the Reformation in Poland, Professor H. M. Baird's History
of the Rise of the Huguenots, two vols. 1880; also the current
Lives of the leading reformers, and the special histories of the
nations. Creighton's History of the Papacy during the Reformation
(six vols.) has special merit as a fresh and full research. As to the
witch-burning mania consult Lecky's Rise and Influence of Rationalism
in Europe. On the Jesuits compare Nicollini's History of the Jesuits,
1853, and Mr. McCabe's A Candid History of the Jesuits (1913). On
the medical work of Servetus and others see an interesting article
by Dr. Austin Flint, in New York Medical Journal, June 29, 1901.



Chapter II--Progress of Anti-Christian Thought

As to the physical sciences, compare White, Baden Powell, Whewell,
and Draper, as above cited; also Draper's Conflict between Religion and
Science (Internat. Lib. of Science); and the series of Histories of the
Sciences published by the R. P. A. On the development of philosophy,
cosmic and moral, and of Biblical Criticism, see the references in
the author's Short History of Freethought. A specially full and
illuminating study of modern thought is made in Mr. A. W. Benn's
History of English Rationalism in the Nineteenth Century (two
vols. Longmans, 1906).



Chapter III--Popular Acceptance

For the history of Catholicism since the seventeenth century consult
Mosheim and Neander, also the History of the Fall of the Jesuits, by
Count A. de Saint-Priest (Eng. tr. 1845), and Mr. Joseph McCabe's The
Decay of the Church of Rome (1909). There is an extensive literature
on the controversy between Anglicanism and Catholicism in the middle of
the nineteenth century, following on the Tractarian movement, as to the
latest phases of which see the Secret History of the Oxford Movement,
by Walter Walsh. For references as to recent developments in Protestant
and other countries see again the author's Short History of Freethought
and Mr. Benn's full record of the nineteenth century. The fortunes of
Greek Christianity may be traced through Finlay. Compare Villemain,
Essai sur l'état des Grecs depuis la conquête musulmane, in his Études
d'histoire moderne (nouv. ed. 1846). Concerning the state of religion
in modern Russia, see Wallace's Russia. As to missions in general,
see the able and comprehensive survey, Foreign Missions, by C. Cohen
(Freethought Publishing Company), and A Chinese Appeal to Christendom
Concerning Christian Missions (R.P.A., 1912). The existing situation
as between Christianity and rationalism is well set forth in Philip
Vivian's The Churches and Modern Thought (R.P.A., 1911).



NOTES


[1] Subsequently, on other lines, in the volume entitled Pagan Christs.

[2] Comparative Religion, by J. Estlin Carpenter; "Home University
Library," 1912, end.

[3] See Pagan Christs, 2nd ed. Pt. II, ch. ii, §§ 15-16.

[4] The thesis that the epistles are all supposititious is ably
sustained by Van Manen in the Encyclopædia Biblica. See his positions
well summarised by Mr. T. Whittaker, The Origins of Christianity
(R. P. A.).

[5] The point is discussed in Pagan Christs, 2nd ed. Pt. II, ch. i,
§ 10.

[6] See Wladimir Lessevich, La Légende de Jesus et les traditions
populaires, 1903. (Ext. de la Revue Internationale de Sociologie.)

[7] See Pagan Christs, 2nd ed. Pt. II, ch. i, §§ 7-12.

[8] See Christianity and Mythology, 2nd ed. p. 209; Pagan Christs,
2nd ed. p. 143.

[9] See Christianity and Mythology, 2nd ed., p. 396 and refs.

[10] See Christianity and Mythology, 2nd ed. Pt. III, Div. i, § 29.

[11] See Christianity and Mythology, 2nd ed. Pt. III, Div. i, § 10.

[12] Id. ib. § 5.

[13] See Christianity and Mythology, 2nd ed. Pt. III, Div. i, § 3.

[14] Id. p. 367; Pagan Christs, 2nd ed. p. 145.

[15] See Pagan Christs, 2nd ed. Pt. II, ch. ii, §§ 2-3.

[16] Luke xvii, 7-10 (Gr. "Servant" is a wilful mistranslation:
the word is "slave").

[17] See Miss Harrison's Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion,
2nd ed. pp. 413-425.

[18] A myth of verbal misunderstanding. The original titanoi were
"white-clay-men," men with whitened faces, after the fashion of so
many mystic mummeries among savages. (Work cited, p. 493.)

[19] This also derives from a primitive concept of a Beer-God. See
Miss Harrison, as cited, p. 419.

[20] See "Mithraism" in Pagan Christs, 2nd ed. Pt. III, p. 327 sq.

[21] See on the whole subject Christianity and Mythology, 2nd
ed. p. 403 sq.

[22] Compare the Second Epistle of John, v. 7, as to the "many
deceivers" who "confess not that Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh."

[23] As to Montanus, see Montanus and the Primitive Church, Hulsean
Prize Essay, by John De Soyres, 1878.

[24] Realism derived from the doctrine, ascribed to Plato by Aristotle,
that "universals," the ideas of species, etc., exist independently of
individual objects, and existed before them. This is "Extreme Realism,"
put in the formula, universalia ante rem. Nominalism was the doctrine
that only individuals have real existence, and that ideas of species
are but names. There was an intermediate position, that of Aristotle,
that universals exist in individual objects--universalia in re. This,
known as Moderate Realism, is but a verbal compromise, which does not
concede the Realist claim. The motive for that lay in the religious
bias to claim for ideas, or "spiritual" concepts, a higher validity
and reality than it accords to "material" things. The same tendency
expressed itself in the Moslem doctrine that the Koran is uncreated
and eternal.

[25] See the author's Short History of Freethought, 2nd ed. ii,
34 sq.: and Montaigne and Shakespeare, 2nd ed. pp. 191, 196, 198 sq.

[26] This was written in 1901. It holds equally true in 1913.

[27] I.e., the South African War, in 1901.

[28] A beginning has since been made.





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