The Greatest Writer of the 19th Century » Brownson's Writings » The Church in the Dark Ages

The Church in the Dark Ages

Brownson's Quarterly Review, July, 1849

Art. III. - 1. Mores Catholicity: or Ages of Faith. By Kenelm H. Digby, Esq. Cincinnati: Catholic Socie­ty.     1841.    8vo.    Vols.  I. and II.
The Dark Ages: a Series of Essays intended to illus­trate the  State of Religion and Literature in the  Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Centuries, reprinted from the "British Magazine,"  with Corrections, and some Addi­tions.     By the   Rev.  S. R. Maitland, F. R.  S. and
F.  S. A., Librarian to  His  Grace   the   Archbishop  of Canterbury,   &c.     London :   Rivingtons.     1844.     8vo. pp. 498.
The Christian Examiner and Religious Miscellany.   Bos­
ton :  Crosby & Nichols.    May, 1849.    Art. I.

Our attention has been specially called to " the Dark Ages " by The Christian Examiner, the literary and theological organ of the American Unitarians, for May last, in an article entitled The Artistic and Romantic View of the Church of the Middle Ages, written, as we learn from the initials appended to it, by one of the ablest and most respectable of our New England Unitarian ministers.    Aside from its theology, with which, of course, we have no sympathy,  The Christian Ex­aminer is second to no periodical in the country ; and it was in its   pages  that Channing, Norton, Ware, the   Peabodys, Lamson, Walker, Frothingham, Dewey, Ripley, and others, first became generally known to the reading public, and ac­quired their literary reputation.    We have many pleasant, as well as painful, recollections connected with it, for we were ourselves for several years counted among its contributors ; and the men who gave it a character, and made it a leading organ of New England literature as well as of Unitarian theology, were,   for the  most part,   our  personal   acquaintances  and friends, whose many amiable  qualities, generous  sentiments, private and social virtues, we always delight to remember. The writer of the article we have designated is a young man of more than ordinary natural endowments, of respectable at­tainments, and a cultivated taste.    He is earnest, and seems really to have some principle, and to be disposed to treat those from whom he differs with fairness and candor.    He shows, in the article before us, better temper, more liberal feeling, more manliness, and more loyalty to truth, than we are accus­tomed to meet or to  expect from  writers who   oppose   the Church, and we have read him occasionally with  pleasure. His sneers are comparatively few ; his declamations are not very long, nor remarkably violent ; his reasonings, if his prem­ises were sound, would frequently be conclusive ;   and many of his criticisms are just and well merited.

The article itself is principally taken up with criticisms on various works which have recently appeared in favor of the Middle Ages, and more especially with a review of the Mores Catholicity, or Ages of Faith, by Kenelm H. Digby, one of the most remarkable literary productions of our times. With the writer's remarks on several of these works, especially those which have emanated from the Puseyite or Oxford school, we in the main agree. The Oxford men who re­main attached to Anglicanism, and even some others, in what they wrote before they abandoned it, appear to us to betray much childishness and want of manly criticism ; and their in­discriminate commendation of the Middle Ages is not less offensive to our judgment, and is even more offensive to our taste, than the indiscriminate condemnation of them so charac­teristic of our modern Evangelicals. Even Pugin's exclusive and  excessive  praise of   Gothic  architecture has  wellnigh turned our stomach, and driven us out of our former sober admiration of it. We have no sympathy with one-sided views in art, and just as little with the spirit that forgets that we have the same Church which our ancestors had, - that she is not dead, but living,-as dear to us as she was to the mediajval knights and monks, - as good, as wise, as powerful, as young, as fresh, as beautiful, as vigorous, as she was in the Dark Ages.

The writer in the Christian Examiner bestows his chief attention upon the Mores Catholicity, or Ages of Faith. He justly praises, and, if it were possible, even overpraises, this work for its immense erudition, at once comprehensive and minute ; but he contends that it is partial, deceptive, and not to be relied on as a faithful representation of the Middle Ages. It should, he thinks, be regarded not as an historical work, properly so called, but as " A Romance founded on Facts of Mediaeval History." It is impossible to conceive an author more thoroughly imbued with the spirit of romance, or more in­teresting for the rich and brilliant hues which his imagination throws over every object he presents. But the coloring he gives to the Middle Ages is his own ; he fails to present them, in their totality, as they really were, and he disguises or sup­presses such of their phenomena as are not agreeable to his Catholic faith or Catholic fervor. No man, we apprehend, has carefully read Digby's work, without feeling that there is some truth in this criticism. For ourselves, we admire the Mores Catholici for its various learning, its deep reverential tone, its undoubting faith, its sincere and fervent piety, and its noble appreciation of Catholic honor and Catholic hero­ism ; but we have never been able to give it any very high rank under the relations either of art or of science. The author is saturated with the religious, and also with the roman­tic, spirit of the later mediaeval times ; he has a keen relish for art, and we are told that his merits as a painter are beyond those of an amateur ; but as a writer he exhibits very little artistic skill. He has vast learning, and he accumulates a mass of materials from all sources, near and remote, open and recondite, at which we stand aghast ; but his power to mould these materials into a proper shape, to reduce his facts to their proper places, under-their proper laws, and to draw from them the proper inferences, seems to us to be more than ordinarily defective. His book is a chaos of erudition, of faith, piety, sentimentality, and  romance,  which,   indeed, may  often  be road for edification, for its gentle and subduing effects on the heart, hut which can seldom be consulted with entire con­fidence as a work of simple instruction. It does not give us, nor does it enable us to form, a complete picture of medi­aeval life in its totality ; it is one-sided, often fanciful, illusory ; and its rambling character, its absorbing subjectivity, its neg­lect of order, of method, of proper definitions and distinc­tions, render it not unfrequently as apt to suggest conclusions against Catholicity as in its favor.

In reading Digby's work, we certainly receive the impres­sion, that, in his view at least, society in the Middle Ages was in what we may regard as its normal state, really under the spiritual direction of the Church, and, with insignificant ex­ceptions, obedient to her doctrines and to her precepts, - that the Church was in fact, as well as in right, supreme, had all things her own way, and was able to realize for society, as well as for individuals, in the secular order no less than in the spirit­ual, her ideal of Catholic life on earth. The facts he relates, collected from all ages and nations, appear to be intended to illustrate that life, and to prove that it was, under both the secular and religious aspects, successfully realized. Hence to him the Middle Ages are peculiarly Catholic ages, that is, "ages of faith," as he expressly denominates them; and therefore to be not only admired, but imitated. But if this be really his view, he makes the Church responsible for their general and special character, and therefore binds himself to defend them in their totality, under their secular as well as under their religious relations, or to give up his Catholicity. This the writer in the Examiner has not failed to perceive, and hence he throws in Digby's face the iniquity, the vices, the corruptions, the barbarism of those ages, - which it were idle to attempt to deny or to conceal, - as a conclusive refuta­tion of the claims of the Church as the Church of God. Un­deniably false and monstrous as is the reasoning of our Unita­rian friend, nevertheless, as against Digby, it is apparently sound, and not easily set aside ; for it rests on an assumption which Digby himself certainly has the appearance, at least, of making, and nowhere of denying.

Our readers are well aware that we are not among those who are continually decrying the Middle Ages ; we have frequently defended them, and are always ready to defend them, against their calumniators. We are far from believing them to have been throughout, under all their relations, so dark, so utterly wretched, as it has been for a long time commonly imagined, and we by no means admit that the present is so far in advance of them as modern advocates of progress would persuade us ; but we have never supposed that we were bound to praise them indiscriminately ; we are far from being prepared to regard our Church as implicated in the totality of their phenomena, and we cannot permit either our friends or our enemies to lay them, with all their evil as well as their good, upon our back, and compel us to carry them with us wherever we go, or else give up our Catholic faith and worship. They are, thus taken, a load which we have no disposition to carry, and which no man has the right to insist upon our carrying. As we often say, we are Catholics of the Middle Ages, because Catholicity never varies, and undergoes no development in the sense of the be­lievers in " the progress of the species," and because the Catholic, as a Catholic, of one age is the Catholic of every age. But as men, as affected by simply human movements, we belong to the nineteenth century, in which our lot is cast, and we labor to serve our own generation, under the conditions to which it and we are subject, without calumniating either the past or the present.

The apparent error of Digby, and the real error of his Uni­tarian opponent, as of nearly all the modern adversaries of the Church, is in neglecting to make a very obvious distinction be­tween the divine element in the Middle Ages, represented by the Church, and the human element that subsisted and operated by its side ; and in failing to distribute to each of these ele­ments its appropriate share of the collective phenomena. The secular or human element then, as before and since, held di­vided empire with the Church, and is answerable for a portion of the phenomena we encounter in mediaeval history ; and as the Church was then not alone, was not the sole operative or efficient cause, it is obviously unjust, as well as unscientific, to hold her responsible for any portion of those phenomena, except those which, directly or indirectly, proceeded from her as their principle.

As far as the part of the Church, or her influences and effects, are concerned, Digby's work misstates, miscolors, exagger­ates, nothing, and fails, if in anything, simply in falling short of the full truth. We-are to distrust it only when it goes beyond the religious element, and the facts dependent on it, and claims to be a faithful picture of mediaeval life in its totality, of what depended on the human as well as the divine.    It is then a false picture ; for the human element was not so Catholicized, nor, as to its independent and hostile operations, confined with­in so narrow limits as its author supposes ; and the Church was not so supreme, did not, in fact, exert so exclusive or so abid­ing a control over entire mediaeval life, as he represents.   Here is the grand defect of Digby's book, and here is the point on which we insist.    There is no truth in the assumption which Digby appears to make, and which our Unitarian friend really does make (p. 371), that "the Church had a thousand years of almost triumphant ascendency."    In this world the Church is militant, never triumphant.    Only he who perseveres unto the end is permitted to triumph.    That the supremacy of the Church was generally admitted, in the Middle Ages, as a doc­trine, - that she maintained an ascendency over heresy greater than she did at some periods before them, or than she does now, - as far as our present argument is concerned, - may or may not be true ; but that she had an almost triumphant ascendency, or anything approaching it, over the secular order, is utterly false ; and throughout the entire thousand years supposed, she had not for one moment her unrestrained freedom, and often, often, had she to struggle for her very existence against pagans, heretics,  schismatics,   Mahometans, and  lawless, ambitious, licentious, and barbarous sovereigns.    Never, indeed, did she give more unequivocal proofs of her supernatural origin and support, than in those ages of ignorance, violence, and blood,- never did she struggle with more manifest supernatural con­stancy and force, or win more glorious trophies to her celestial prowess ; but never found she her path beset with greater dif­ficulties, or was her just dominion resisted by more numerous, fiercer, more powerful, or more obstinate enemies.

The assumption, that the Church reigned quietly and peace­fully during the Middle Ages, is warranted by no authority, and is contradicted by the whole history of the period. That period extends from the beginning of the sixth century to the close of the fifteenth. A simple glance at its history will suffice to dis­sipate the illusion, that the Middle Ages were all the work of the Church, or that she worked throughout them comparatively at her ease. Those ages open with the destruction of the Western Roman Empire and the permanent settlement of the Northern Barbarians on its ruins. For all Western Europe the old Grreco-Roman civilization is destroyed, save the wrecks preserved by the Church, and some few towns in Italy and Gaul.    The old cultivated populations are in great measure exterminated, and the few that survive have been plundered, impoverished, and for the most part reduced to slavery. Over the vast extent of the once flourishing, wealthy, and highly civ­ilized and Christianized provinces of the Empire, you see noth­ing but ruined cities, deserted towns and villages, large tracts of once cultivated land becoming wild, a thin population, com­posed of miserable, trembling slaves, and rude, ignorant, proud, arrogant, and merciless barbarian masters. The churches and religious houses have been demolished or plundered ; the schools and institutions of learning, so numerous and so richly endowed under the Empire, have disappeared ; the liberal arts are despised and neglected ; the domestic arts, except a few, are lost or forgotten ; war, pillage, general insecurity, misery, want have loosened all moral restraints, unchained the passions, and given free scope to vice and crime ; the clergy are few, poor, illiterate, for their conquerors, as subsequently in Ireland, have left them no means of education, and, besides, they belong for the most part to the conquered races, and are therefore de­spised. The barbarian conquerors and masters, moreover, are not all even nominally Catholic. Many of them are Arians ; more of them are pagans, still adoring their old Scandinavian and Teutonic deities, and looking with proud disdain on the Christian's faith and the Christian's worship. An Arian king­dom has been erected in Northern Africa, another is establish­ing itself in Northern Italy ; what is now Switzerland and Eastern France was subject to the part heretical, part pagan, but wholly savage Burgundians ; in the rest of France there are portions of the old Gallo-Roman population that have not yet re­ceived the faith, and portions of the old Celtic population who in their dense forests still cherish their ancient Druidism ; the barbarian kingdom in Spain has but recently and imperfectly yielded to Catholicity ; the British churches have lost their vigor, and are confined to the narrow district of Wales, and through all the rest of Britain paganism is rampant, and the altars smoke with sacrifices to Woden and Thor. Ireland alone, at this period, is a Catholic oasis in the immense desert of heresy and barbaric infidelity. Belgium in part, all Ger­many, all Northern and all Eastern Europe above the Byzan­tine empire, are one unbroken Cimmeria of heathenism ; and even Rome herself is not all Catholic, nor even all Chiastian. Such is a birdseye view of what is now the most civilized and the ruling part of the globe, at the opening of the Middle Ages ; and such, after having once Christianized the Empire, was the new world committed to the charge of the Church. Far more disheartening were her prospects than when she con­cealed herself in the catacombs, or bled under Nero, Decius, Maximian, and Diocletian ; and far more laborious was the task now before her, than that which she had accomplished in passing from that " upper room" in Jerusalem to the throne of the Ccesars.

Nor was it only at the beginning of the Middle Ages that the Church found herself in face of a hostile world. The hostility continued till the close of the period, and even then did not cease, but broke out under a new form, that of Protestantism, with undiminished virulence. It was in the Middle Ages, we must remember, that Mahometanism sprang up in the desert, and, breaking forth with wild and ferocious fanaticism for eight hundred years, devastated the fairest and most fertile regions of the earth; that the Iconoclasts persecuted the Church and sought to prepare it for Islamism ; the Greek schism originated and was consummated ; the Huns made their new invasion from the East; the Saracens ravaged the South of Italy and France, and established themselves in Spain ; the fierce and shaggy Norsemen came down from the frozen North, with their wild courage, their savage cruelty, and their Scandinavian super­stitions ; the dissolute Albigenses renewed the heresy of Manes, and perpetrated their horrors ; the Beghards, Wicliffites, fol­lowers of the Evangile Eternelle, and other sectaries, arose, and by their pantheistic and socialistic movements and insurrec­tions in England, France, and the Low Countries, preluded not unworthily the pantheistic and socialistic revolutions which we have seen, during the last year, convulse all Europe, and threat­en the destruction of all law, all order, all society, both civil and religious. Add to these great facts, the deplorable effects of which are still widely and deeply felt, that during these same ages there was scarcely a moment of peace between the civil and the ecclesiastical powers. The civil authority never ceased to encroach on the spiritual, and the Church was obliged to maintain a constant and severe struggle to prevent herself from being swamped, so to speak, by the state, as the schismatical and heretical churches of England, Russia, Scandinavia, and Northern Germany have been and now are. In order to pro­tect society and herself against armed heathenism, Mahometan­ism, and barbarism, the Church was obliged to revive, or suffer to be revived, in Charlemagne, the Western Roman Empire, be­fore Europe was prepared for it; and ever after she was but too happy when in his successors she did not find, instead of a pro­tector, a cruel, oppressive, and sacrilegious spoiler.   It is easy now to say, that the revival of the Empire was premature and bad policy; but it was the best thing possible at the time, or, if it was not, it was inevitable so far as the Church was concern­ed, and she could not have prevented it if she had tried.    Pi­ous as Charlemagne was, he never suffered religion to interfere with his ambition, or the Church to stand in the way of realiz­ing  his   projects of temporal aggrandizement.    The Empire once reestablished, barbaric as it necessarily was, a formidable schism between the temporal authority and the spiritual com­menced, which continued to widen as long as the Empire exist­ed.    Rarely was there a " Kaisar" of "the Holy  Roman Empire," from Charlemagne to Charles the Fifth, that respect­ed the freedom of the Church, that allowed her to exercise her spiritual discipline without his interference, that permitted her without restraint to manage her own affairs, or that did not wage open or secret war against her.    Rarely did the Church, in her struggles for religious liberty against the temporal powers, come off victorious ; never was she able, through the whole period of the Middle Ages, to gain, and never yet has she gained, in even a single Catholic state, the freedom and independence she en­joys here in these United States, which is all she asks, and all she has ever struggled for.    The very instance of Philip the Fair of France insulting Boniface the Eighth, and successfully braving his authority, cited by the writer in the Examiner to prove the " enormous power of the Popes," is a striking proof of their weakness, and of how completely they lay at the mercy of the crowned despots and tyrants.    The sainted Hildebrand, the seventh Gregory, one of the most powerful of the succes­sors of St. Peter, was driven from his throne by the temporal authority, and died in exile.    We all know that the rivalries and machinations of the temporal powers effected and sustained the great and scandalous schism of the West, which the Church could never have survived if she had not been upheld by the arm of the Almighty.    It is all a delusion, the notion which some seem to cherish, that the Church met no resistance in the Middle Ages, and that emperors, kings, princes, and nobles demeaned themselves as her obedient sons.    Their submission was the exception, not the rule, and  their protection  of the Church was seldom anything but a pretext for enslaving her. They seem never to have responded to her call to execute the sentences she pronounced, unless it suited their humor, flattered their ambition, or promised them some temporal aggrandize­ment. They seldom heeded her spiritual censures, or her ex­communications, if they persuaded themselves that they could guard against their evil temporal consequences ; and it was rare, indeed, that a prince, even excommunicated and deposed, could not command the support of his army, of the greater part of his own subjects, and even of the national clergy. Godfrey of Bouillon, subsequently the pious Crusader, fights for Henry of Germany after the Pope has deposed him, against his competi­tor Rudolph, sustained by the Church. If the barons of England desert John Lackland, it is for reasons of their own, not be­cause he is under excommunication ; and a few years after, they can conspire against him at Ilunnyrnede, under the lead of Archbishop Langton, in defiance of the excommunication pro­nounced by the Pope against them.

Nothing is more evident to every one who has studied them without being captivated by their romance, or blinded by his hatred of Catholicity, than that the Church was by no means the only force at work in the Middle Ages, and that she was far enough from being able to carry out into practical life all her own views, and of having everything to her own liking.    She had by no means a u thousand years of almost triumphant as­cendency for the full trial of experiments," as our Unitarian friend rashly asserts. She was resisted on every side ; her rights were perpetually invaded ; her authority was continually braved; her discipline was seldom suffered to have free course ; her cler­gy, when they did not add the feudal to their ecclesiastical char­acter, and become princes and barons as well as priests, were treated by the representatives of the barbarian conquerors with contumely and contempt; and her doctrines, her precepts, her admonitions, were scorned or set at naught by the great when­ever it suited their humor or their passions.    The Church be­came the possessor of great riches, it is true ; but her wealth bore witness full as much to the vices, the crimes, and the dis­orders as to the piety and zeal of the times, and, moreover, she possessed them, in no small part, simply in her accidental character of the public almoner.    The donations and bequests she received were not seldom made by a tardy and doubtful repentance, in the hope, we fear often vain, of purchasing re­pose for the soul of a sinner whose life had been spent in break­ing every precept of the Decalogue.    The "baron bold" of romantic poetry was  not unfrequently a bold blasphemer, a dissolute and sacrilegious wretch, an oppressor of his people, measuring his rights only hy his might. We are not insensi­ble to the charms which romance lends to the Middle Ages, or to the golden hues which a rich and fervid imagination spreads over them when contemplating them at a distance, or in brilliant lamp-light ; but whoever has ventured to look at them, stripped of all the deceptive coloring of his own fancy, in their nakedness, as they actually were, will quickly dismiss the pleasing illusion that they were in any peculiar sense " ages of faith," or that it is from them that we are to form any adequate notions of what are really JWores Catho-lici, or Catholic morals and manners. Not in them, indeed, had our good Mother the fair field and the fitting opportunity to realize her idea of Catholic secular life. Faith there was, and piety, and charity, and heroic sanctity, such as has never been surpassed, and the blessed fruits of which we and all modern civilized nations are now reaping ; but alas ! some­thing else was there too,-something which did not proceed from the Church, which she did not sanction, which she never ceased to oppose, but which resisted all her supernatural efforts, and continued to exist in spite of her.

Undoubtedly, it will not answer to recognize in modern society only the human element, and to attempt to explain all its phenomena from the point of view of simple human activi­ty. In no age, certainly in no age since the advent of our Lord, is it true to say that all in human history is the product of man alone. The Christian religion, the Catholic Church, has placed in the modern world a divine element, supernatural in its source, in its principle, in the mode of its operation, and in its effects. This element was in the Middle Ages, repre­sented there by the Catholic Church ; and all the phenomena or historical facts of those, as of all other ages, which pro­ceeded from her, or have received her sanction, we as Catho­lics are bound to maintain, and are ready to maintain, against all challengers, to be just, right, pure, holy, and salutary to the life of society and of the individual soul. But if we are bound to recognize the part of the Church, we are equally bound to recognize the part of man. Because we recognize the Church in the Dark Ages, it must not be supposed that we recognize only her, and hold her, or concede that she is to be held, responsible for all the phenomena we meet in their history. She never subsists alone, and neither in society nor in the individual, in professedly Catholic states nor in pro­fessedly Catholic men, is she the only efficient cause or operative force. In the individual believer, human nature remains after regeneration ; the flesh survives, and, as long as we live, lusteth against the spirit, making the Christian's life, whatever its interior peace or consolation, one unremitting warfare, from which there is no escape. This, since true of the in­dividual, must also be true of society. In every society, large or small, by the side of the Church subsists fallen hu­man nature, with its evil concupiscence, its grovelling pro­pensities, its disorderly affections, its fierce and ungovernable passions. It will not answer to overlook the facts which have their origin in this source, nor will it answer to charge them to the account of the Church. Both elements coexist, both have their respective phenomena which are intermingled and grow together in history, as grow together the wheat and the tares in the same field. In forming our judgment we must discriminate between them ; and if we do this, and assign to each element its own phenomena, or the class of facts of which it is the principle, we shall have no difficulty in grant­ing all that the most unscrupulous of the enemies of Catholicity allege against the Middle Ages themselves, and yet maintaining the claims of the Church as the infallible Church of God.

The discrimination we here insist on, all Catholic writers, Digby among the rest, no doubt, silently intend, and suppose they never fail to imply ; but when writing with reference to those who are out of the Church, and who therefore have an interest in overlooking it, they seem to us not to make it as clear, as express, as prominent, as its importance demands. Thus Digby, who certainly would, if called upon, admit its propriety and even its necessity, - wishing to present a popular argument for the Church, addressed to the emotions and the affections rather than to the pure intellect, and unhappily con­sulting the tastes, prejudices, and tendencies of the Pusey-itish class of his former Anglican friends, as if they were the fair representatives of the uncatholic world, at least of the Protestant portion of it, - passes it over as if it were a matter of sheer indifference ; and assuming, or appearing to assume, that all was substantially Catholic in mediaeval times, ¦- that society was then in its normal state, - that the Church found herself in the midst of a civilization, surrounded by a secular order, precisely to her mind, - that there was nothing in the measures she adopted, the policy she pursued, the institutions she cherished, designed simply to meet an exceptional state, to provide for accidental wants or temporary exigencies, and which, under other circumstances, would be neither necessary nor desirable, - looks at everything through the Claude Lor­raine glass of his own sunny imagination, sees everything coleur de rose, and writes as if the human element - then, as ever, but too active - had been wholly suppressed, and as if the Church had supernaturalized the whole secular order, and made it one with herself by infusing into it her own divine and supernatural life. Our Unitarian friend, wishing to obtain an argument against Catholicity, is delighted to find this conceded to his purpose, assumes as unquestioned the exclusive ascendency of the Church, makes no discrimination between the phe­nomena which are really hers and those which are really not hers, and, fixing his eyes solely either on facts which have the corrupt human element for their principle, or on meas­ures which, though adopted or approved by the Church, have their reason and justification in the exceptional secular order of the times introduced by the barbarian conquest, and not to be brought within the rule except after centuries of painful and often interrupted civilizing labors, he finds enough, and more than enough, that no man of ordinary virtue and intelli­gence can approve, and which we should be utterly unable to reconcile with the claims of the Church, if we were bound to maintain or to concede that she had in the Middle Ages full power to suppress the lawless workings of our fallen nature, or to shape the entire secular order to her will. Digby, as­suming or conceding the exclusive dominion of the Church, finds scarcely a defect in the secular life, as must have been the case if she had in fact had the dominion he concedes ; our Unitarian friend, taking the same exclusive dominion for grant­ed, from the manifest defects of the secular life concludes the defects of the religious life, - that the Church must herself have been defective, barbarian, and superstitious, - as con­cluded Machiavelli and Rousseau, and as conclude all our modern Socialists ; - falling thus into a monstrous error, which we should suppose the age, if its boasted intelligence had the least foundation in fact, could easily escape.

Making the proper discrimination, we as Catholics can judge the Middle Ages with as much freedom as can they who are not Catholics, or as we ourselves can judge pagan Greece or Rome, Egypt or Syria., India or China, or modern Mahometan and Protestant nations themselves. Of their aggregate phe­nomena, the Church is undoubtedly responsible for that portion of which she is the principle, or which she has expressly or tacitly sanctioned ; but these are all good, and, reference had to time and circumstance, the severest critic, unless he sets all reason and common sense at defiance, cannot bring even the shadow of a reproach against them, as Digby's work itself proves, and as many of the adversaries of the Church admit, and have admitted over and over again. As to the remaining phenomena or historical facts, those which did not proceed from the Church, but depended on causes and influences hos­tile to her, and against which she never for one moment ceased to struggle, we have no responsibility, and feel in them no special interest. Our Church is not implicated in them, for she neither produced nor approved them, and was indeed no slight sufferer from them ; she is not answerable for not having prevented or suppressed them, for she can govern men, collectively or individually, only by moral power, through rea­son, conscience, and free will. The Divinity of our Saviour was not implicated in the treachery of Judas Iscariot, nor were the truth and sanctity of his religion rendered questiona­ble by the fact, that, when he was arrested and brought before the Roman governor, his disciples all forsook him, and Peter thrice denied him. The moral disorder and wickedness of the world furnish no argument against Divine Providence,--in no sense impugn the goodness of God, or the wisdom or the power of his government; because he has made man a free agent, governs him by the law of freedom, not by the law of necessity, and does and will do no violence to his free will. The Church, as the representative of God on earth, can gov­ern only as he governs, and is, therefore, restricted to a moral dominion over men. She cannot coerce them into sanctity ; she cannot force them against their wills to receive her sacra­ments, and it would avail nothing if she could ; for although they do not depend on the recipient for their efficient power, they can produce their sanctifying effect only when he inter­poses no obstacle to their operation ; and an obstacle he does interpose when his will is against them, or, if old enough to have a will, is not for them.

There is an inexcusable want of science, as well as gross injustice, in holding the Church responsible for the conduct of those members of her external communion who disobey her instructions, and will not comport themselves as her faithful and dutiful children. Science traces effects to their cause, and classifies phenomena according to their principle. It is not science, but nescience, to ascribe lo the Church phenomena which, though found intermingled with hers, she has not produced, and  which  are  repugnant  to  her.    Our  modern travellers, who have so much to say of the ignorance and cor­ruption  they  meet   or pretend   they   meet  with   in  Catholic countries, would do well to bear this in mind.    The individuals they hold up as exhibiting the fruits of Catholicity are precisely those  who do not exhibit them,-are precisely those  who neglect the teaching and break the precepts of the Church. The practical eflects of any religion must be judged of from lhe uniform characters of those who sincerely and  faithfully practise it, not from the characters of those who do not.   Who­ever would  look for the fruits of Catholicity must  look  for them in her obedient children, who believe what she teaches and do what she commands.     The moral and religious worth of these no sane man can really question.    The rule which we adopt in reference to Catholic individuals we must adopt in judging of Catholic nations and Catholic ages.    The glory of the  Church  is not  tarnished  by human   depravity,  even though it is found in persons attached to her external com­munion.    Let this be always borne in mind, as well when we judge the Middle Ages as when we judge the Christian ages which preceded or which have followed them.      The   glory of the Church in the Middle Ages is, not that there was then no human depravity, no injustice, no ignorance, no supersti­tion, no violence, no barbarism, but that she was able to re­sist the hostile influences to which she was exposed, to pre­serve herself from becoming ignorant, superstitious, violent, or barbarous, and that, by unwearied effort and constant strug­gle, she was able gradually to get the better of those hostile influences, to subdue the barbarism, to restore social order, and to recover  civilization, to place it on a solid and imperish­able basis, and to provide lor its future advancement.    Here is her glory under the secular point of view.      The darker the colors in which you paint those ages, the grosser and more revolting you prove their barbarism to have been, the more do you enhance her merit, the more unequivocal testimony do you bear to the fact that she is God's Church, upheld by his al­mighty arm, and assisted by his supernatural presence.  Had she been human, she would have been carried away by the floods of Northern   barbarism and  have  become herself barbarian ; had she been human, had she not been God's Church, she could never have survived the wreck of the old Grrcco-Ro-man civilization, but would have been dashed to pieces with it; had she been human, had she not been God's Church, she could never have stood firm and immovable as wave after wave of barbarians rolled on and beat with fearful impetuosity against her, - could never have gained an influence over those fero­cious hordes, whose sole occupation was war and plunder, pen­etrated their hearts with some portion of her own light and warmth, infused into their souls sentiments of gentleness, meek­ness, love, and peace, and raised them to be the foremost na­tions of the earth. The greater the task she had before her, the greater was her need of Divine assistance,'and the greater her glory in having accomplished it.

We may, perhaps, find here one of the reasons why Cath­olics, who have from earliest infancy been reared in the bosom of the Church, appear so indifferent to mediaeval history, and show so little solicitude to prove, that, on its secular side, it was not as dark and forbidding as Protestants heretofore have been accustomed to represent it.    They have, in fact, no spe­cial interest in vindicating it.     They seek their Lord, not in the dead past, but in the living present, - in the Church that is, and is to be until the consummation of the world, unvaried and invariable ; and they may well leave the history of their antiq­uity, save so far as necessary to repel charges preferred against the Church, to those outside of her communion.    Hence, the attempted rehabilitation of mediaeval society in our days is the work of Protestants ; the Romantic School is of Protestant German origin ; the greater part of the recent historical works, many of them really able and learned, which have refuted the stale charges against the Popes and the Church in the Middle Ages, are nearly all from Protestant, at least uncatholic, au­thors ; and the mania which rages for reviving mediaeval arts, tastes, usages, and institutions chiefly affects Oxford men and their friends, disturbing the equilibrium of comparatively few Catholics.    It is an admirable economy, that they who see that their Church is a mere corpse should seek to dress her in the robes of the past, instead of those of the present.    It spares the living and does no harm to the dead.    Indeed, we are ex­pecting the assailants of the Church to shift, erelong, their position, and to attempt lo rob her of the glory of having sub­dued the barbarians and founded modern civilization, by stoutly maintaining that there were no barbarians to subdue ; that the Goths,Vandals, Huns, Franks, Burgundians, Longobards, &c, were highly cultivated and polished tribes, far in advance of the degenerate races they invaded and supplanted \ that the Middle Ages were admirable for their successful and complete realiza­tion of the loftiest arid most perfect civilization ; and that we poor Romanists fail to be Catholic, because we fail to be suf­ficiently mediaeval ! We are looking for books and pamphlets intended to prove that the grand error of tlie Popes, their grand apostasy, which caused and justified the Reformation, consisted in their regarding the invaders and destroyers of the Roman Empire as barbarians, in resisting their advanced civilization, and laboring to impose upon them the inferior and effete civil­ization of Greece and Rome. Nay, we already see evident indications that we are soon to be subjected to this new line of attack ; and in more than one Puseyite publication we detect the germs of the view we here suggest, and which the Roman­ticists seem to us to be pledged by their fundamental principles to develop and mature.

It does not enter into our present purpose to discuss at length the actual character of the Dark Ages on their purely human and secular side. As far as the Church was implicated in their phenomena, we accept them and glory in them ; but as it re­gards all lying beyond, we feel comparatively indifferent. Under the point of view of humanity, it matters little to us, as Cath­olics, how dark, how superstitious, how turbulent, violent, or barbarous they were. Certainly we do not believe, and it will take much to persuade us, that they were truly civilized ages, either when compared with the present or when compared with classic antiquity. Civilization is a word, no doubt, not easy to define, and different persons may define it differently ; but as we define it, the Middle Ages, aside from what they owed to the Church, were barbarous ages. We take the word in what we suppose to be its ordinary sense, as designating the exterior and interior life of a cultivated and polished people, having a fixed residence, and living under the empire of law, as distin­guished from the empire of mere arbitrary will ; and making abstraction of religion and what is derived from it, our standard of civilization is thatof ancient Greece and Rome, combining the vo/^og of the former with the jus of the latter. Here, we frank­ly confess, we are Gracco-Roman, and to us all tribes and na­tions are barbarian just in proportion as they recede from the Graco-Roman standard. We do not assert, we do not pre­tend, that, prior to Greece and Rome, no people had been truly civilized ; we raise here no question as to whether the GriEco-Roman civilization was indigenous or whether it was borrowed ; we simply assert that the civilization of Greece and Rome, at their most flourishing period, under the purely human point of view, is the standard civilization of history and of human philosophy. Nowhere else does history show us man receiving, under all the aspects of his nature, so high, so thor­ough, so symmetrical, and so masculine a cultivation as under this wonderful civilization. Grseco-Roman art embodies the highest ideal truth conceivable without the Christian revelation. The Phidian Jove embodies the highest ideal, not indeed of the Divinity, but of the full-grown man, without Christianity, in the order of nature. Eliminate from the Graco-Roman civiliza­tion all that it contains which depends on its false religion, or on its corruptions or misapplication of the principles of the primitive revelation in the sphere of the supernatural, add the Christian religion, and animate it with the Christian spirit, the Christian's faith, and the Christian's love, and you have a civilization beyond which there is nothing to seek.

Tried by this standard, under the secular and human aspect of civilization, the Midtlle Ages cannot stand the test. The tribes which overthrew the old Western Roman Empire were barbarians, and inflicted on civilization what, had it not been for the Church, would have been an irreparable evil, of the magnitude of which, confining our views to man merely as a social being and an inhabitant of this earth, we are utterly unable to form any adequate conception. The downfall of ancient Rome and its civilization stands alone in history, and we seek in vain for the record of an event analogous to it. Even ex­ternal nature, if we may believe the accounts transmitted to us, felt the shock, and the seasons became inclement as society became barbarous. The changes in the natural world in parts of Italy, Gaul, and Britain seem to have been hardly less ter­rific than those of the political and social world. The down­fall of Rome was also a terrible calamity to religion. It un­did in a moment the labors of ages, and for long centuries crippled the missionary enterprises of the Church, repressed her expansive energies, and imposed upon her the immense labors - not yet completed - of re-civilizing mankind, and of restoring civilization to the height it had previously attained, or at least to the height at which she found it, when, emerging from the catacombs, she assumed, in the person of Constantine the Great, the imperial purple, and encircled her brows with the imperial diadem.

Nor let it be supposed that these labors of re-civilizing the world were not demanded by the spiritual order.    We know our Church is catholic ; we know that she can reach the heart of the barbarian or the savage, as well as of the civilized man, and can infuse into him her holy faith, her purifying and her sanctifying grace ; but it is nevertheless true, that she finds herself at home, in her normal relations to social and secular life, only in the bosom of a high and true civilization. Man was originally constructed, and society was originally organized, with reference to the Catholic Church, and she can find them adapted to her purposes as a social or national religion, only in proportion as she finds them in their normal state. Their nor­mal state is that of civilization. Neither man nor society, as we know from infallible faith, began either in savagism or barbar­ism. Savagism and barbarism have resulted from the corrup­tions which supervened as men departed farther and farther from the original seat of the human race, and from the primitive revelation. There must have been, therefore, an original nor­mal civilization. This civilization, probably, at no period has ever wholly ceased to exist, although k may have had its seat now in one nation and now in another. But, however this may be, it is evidently, at their flourishing period, domiciliated in Greece and Rome, and is preserved or reproduced in the Graeco-Roman civilization, under its human and secular rela­tions, in its purity and vigor. Being normal, and realizing the original type as far as possible without Christianity, the Church must have an especial affinity for it, and must bear to it a rela­tion perfectly analogous to that which Catholic theology bears to sound philosophy. Where, then, it does not exist, she must seek to introduce it, and where it has fallen into decay or been destroyed, she must seek to restore it; - not, indeed, as a preparation for the reception of her faith and charity by individ­uals, - for that would deny her catholicity, - but as the con­dition of domesticating herself, so to speak, in the country ; of converting or securing the conversion of the nation itself, - bap­tizing, as it were, its very soil ; of becoming the vivifying sap of all its institutions, and the informing principle of its whole instinctive and unconscious life.

History, as well as speculation, establishes this view. The Church, in converting the Empire, found nothing in the Gra:co-Roman order of civilization to change, nothing in its essential constitution of the state, nothing in its general economy of life, public or domestic, - in the res publica or the res domestica, - and very little in the laws themselves. The great body of the civil law, still the public law of all Catholic, and, to a great extent, of some Protestant states, existed and was in force before the introduction of Christianity.    The changes required were, for the  most part, purely  spiritual, such as conversion of itself effected, or as the Church, in the discharge of her purely spirit­ual functions, could herself effect, without the aid of the civil power.    What we mean is, that there was nothing in the order of the civilization that constrained her; and after the law had rec­ognized her and ceased to enjoin paganism, she had no other ob­stacles to contend against than those which human depravity in individuals always and everywhere interposes to her operations. On the other hand, though the Church has certainly converted innumerable individuals who were strangers to the Grreco-Ro-man civilization, we can call to mind, at this moment, no nation which had not originally received that order of civilization or has not subsequently been subjected to it, at least in its essential principles, that has ever accepted, or, if it has at one time ac­cepted, has for more than a brief period retained, the Catholic faith.    When the barbarians invaded the Empire, the limits of the Macedonian and Roman conquests were very nearly those of Christendom.    The Church had indeed extended her mis­sions beyond, but they were the mere outposts pushed into the enemy's country, or, as it were, the military occupation of a country whose conquest was not yet completed.   Other nations assuredly have been brought within the pale of Christendom, but they have remained within only as the Church has succeed­ed in civilizing them, - so to speak, Greeco-Romanizing them. Wherever the barbaric element has remained predominant in the national life, as in Russia, Scandinavia, Prussia, Saxony, Northern Germany, or where, through exterior or interior causes, it has regained the preponderance, as in England and the once Christianized Oriental nations, the nation has relapsed into hea­thenism, or fallen off into heresy or schism.    In several of the nations which have fallen off from the Church, the old barbaric institutions, traditions, customs, and hereditary hatred of Gncco-Roman civilization always survived in the heart of the people, and nourished a schism between its national life and its Chris­tian faith.    In nearly all, the barbaric monarchy was retained after the conversion, or subsequently introduced or developed ; and between the barbaric monarchy - that is, Oriental despot­ism, the distinctive principle of which is, that the common­wealth is the private properly of the prince, the natural termi­nation of all barbaric chieftainship - and the Grteco-Roman polity, whose distinctive principle is that the  prince  represents the majesty of the state, - is the first magistrate of the republic, bound to govern according to law, - there is an eternal and irreconcilable hostility, because between them there is all the difference that there is between liberty and slavery. Barbarism is essentially slavery, - or rather slavery is the distinctive principle of barbarism, - and the distinctive principle of Grseco-Romanism is liberty. Hence, as the Church always and everywhere presented herself as the un­compromising asserter of liberty, upholding the supremacy of law, and declaring it no less binding on princes than on their subjects, on the master than on the servant, barbaric nations and barbaric governments, recognizing no authority but mere will, would not, and as such could not, submit to her spiritual jurisdiction.

With these views of the relations of the Church to civiliza­tion, and which it would be easy to confirm by decisions of the Holy See, and by a reference to the history of modern mis­sions in barbarous and savage countries, we can have no dis­position to defend the Middle Ages, save in what they owed to the Church, and cannot be expected to sympathize with their sentimental and romantic admirers. Under many rela­tions we believe that, after the tenth century to the middle of the fourteenth, they were far superior to the present, though not under the relations of civilization properly so called. But what they are principally lauded for by our sentimentalists and Romanticists is precisely that in them which was the least in accordance with Catholicity and genuine civilization ; for it is what proceeded from their barbaric, not from either their Christian or their Graco-Roman, elements. The revival of Letters in the fifteenth century - that century of wonderful ac­tivity and enterprise - was a great event, and its bearing on human culture has hardly been over-estimated ; but it came in a shape hostile to the Schoolmen, and even to Catholicity, and it revived to a fearful extent the old Gnuco-Roman gen-tilism. Paradoxical as it may seem, in doing this it prepared the way for another revival, which this age witnesses, not less impor­tant, and far more dangerous ; namely, the revival of barbaric gentilism. The Humanists of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries have produced the Romanticists of the nineteenth century. They seized upon the Graco-Roman elements of modern society, sought to render them exclusive, to develop and realize them independently, on the one hand, of the Church, and, on the other, of mediaeval barbarism, and they deprived them of life, and brought forth a dead and petrified classicism, as offensive to good taste us to true piety,-as inca­pable of aiding the growth of a truly human as of a truly Christian life. The Romanticists revolted at this petrified classicism, and, already gentilized by the old Humanists, had no alternative but to seek a living literature in developing the barbaric elements of the Middle Ages, and realizing them independently of the Greek and Roman elements, and also of Catholicity. This they attempted, and their success would be the restoration, not of cultivated and polished gentilism, but of rude, unpolished, barbaric heathenism, after the Teu­tonic and Scandinavian modes.

We are not disposed to deny that the Schoolmen were de­fective in taste. They wrote barbarous Latin, and were seldom good Greek scholars ; their humor was grotesque rather than delicate, and their jokes smacked of men who live among themselves, remote from the great world ; their forms were dry and rigid, and their rules too narrow and too unelastic for the play of the free spirit and expansive genius of man. The Humanists, in combating them and substituting the purer taste and the more symmetrical and graceful forms of ancient art, did a valuable service to the cause of human culture and re­finement. So the Romanticists, in freeing us from the fetters of a dead classicism, from the narrow and pedantic rules of men who servilely copied the exterior forms, but were inca­pable of producing in the free and original spirit, of the an­cient classics, and permitting us to move more at our ease, according to our natural dispositions, have served the cause of good literature. By their excavations of mediaeval ro­mance from the tombs of centuries, and their importations from the old mystic East, they have enlarged our literary hori­zon and augmented our literary materials, for which we cheer­fully render them all fitting acknowledgment. But as the Hu­manists, along with their classicism, revived old gentile theo­ries and speculations, by which they ruined philosophy and shook the faith of no small part of Christendom while pro­fessing to labor to confirm it, so the Romanticists, to the extent of their influence, must revive the old barbaric heathen­ism, and tend to ruin literature, art, philosophy, and through them both religion and civilization. The Humanists gave us heathenism, but it was cultivated heathenism, which, as to its forms, was repugnant neither to good taste nor to Chris­tianity ;  the   Romanticists, the Humanists of our time, giveus heathenism to an equal extent, and what is worse, rude, uncouth, barbaric heathenism, with its grotesque images, its gigantic figures, its huge disproportioned shapes, its hideous and grinning monsters, which no Christian art can baptize, no power can lick into a Christian shape, inform with a Chris­tian soul, or train to a civilized behaviour. Do the best pos­sible, it will always remain the man-bear of recent German romance.

Nothing would be more amusing, if the matter were not so grave, than to see our Romanticists parading the old me-diteval romances, chronicles, ballads, lays, and roundelays, as genuine specimens of Christian literature. Indeed, the irony is too obvious to be witty. Even if sometimes the thought and sentiment happen to be Christian, the form is barbarian. The medifcval romancers frequently profane Christian thoughts and expressions, as the old magicians profaned the Sacred Host in their spells; but the substance of their works is always derived from heathen sources. The Troubadours of Prov­ence are moved by their own corrupt passions, and sing under Arabic, Moorish, and Manichfcan influences ; the Trouveres of Normandy, the bards of Armorica and Wales, the Minne­singers of Germany, recite or sing, for the most part, the old barbaric and heathen memories and superstitions of their respective nations, which long survived, and are not even yet wholly extinct, in the heart of the old Celtic, Scandinavian, and Teutonic families. To call the mediaeval literature pro­ceeding from these sources Christian is only to prove how far we have lost, or never received, the true conception of Christianity. In admiring such a literature, we give no evi­dence of a return towards Catholicity ; we only show that we are doing our best to return to the state of the barbaric na­tions before the Church had commenced the work of their conversion, and are trying to satisfy our souls with mere vaga­ries, or to enrich ourselves with the debris of old barbaric nationalities, idolatries, and superstitions.

As to the Middle Ages themselves, we conclude, with an Italian writer, that " they are admirable for their Christian genius, and the nations then, so far as they were animated by the Catholic idea, undoubtedly far surpassed the most culti­vated people of gentile antiquity ; but except that which they derived, in effect, from religion, we know not what there is in their annals to be admired, and the modern encomiasts of feudalism, chivalry, Gothic architecture, &c, appear to us little reasonable and very dull." In all those lofty qualities of the civilized man, in themselves indifferent to vice ov virtue, the man of mediaeval history appears to us far inferior to the man of Greek and Roman antiquity. Compared with the latter, he seems to us a mere dwarf, stunted and warped in his growth by a one-sided and incomplete culture. We find in the me-diajval man, the moment he steps out of religion, very little of that simplicity, naturalness, repose, sustained courage, pru­dent energy, sedate strength, greatness of soul, constancy of will, firmness of resolution, or force of character, which so strikes and charms us in the men of classic antiquity. There is, as Gioberti - a writer whom we like for some things, and dislike for many - has well suggested, a considerable distance between the men of Plutarch and Livy, and the romantic heroes and lion-hearted warriors of Boiardo and Ariosto, with their mad adventures and their silly love-makings.

The causes of this inferiority of the mediieval man, and per­haps equally of the man of our times, we have no space to consider now at length. The remote cause of it lies, no doubt, in the depravity of human nature, in consequence of which men will do a thousand times more to improve themselves and society for the sake of self, or of worldly or human great­ness, than they will for the sake of God, or at the command of duty. Hence, in a certain sense, all those religions which are the most consonant to corrupt human nature, and give the largest scope to selfish and worldly motives, will always, for a time at least, be more favorable to the growth of the quali­ties we have named than Christianity itself. Hence we should look for more striking manifestations of them under paganism, Mahometanism, Protestantism, or modern Radi­calism, than under Catholicity ; for these impose fewer re­straints on our motives of action. Christianity, if there is any truth in what we have said in the course of this article, demands, along with her supernatural virtues, the highest hu­man excellence, because she demands for her permanent home in a nation, and her free and regular action on the mass of the people, the highest and truest civilization. But she cannot encourage the cultivation of human greatness for the sake of self, society, or the world ; for though she recognizes and uses these as means, she will never suffer them to be sought as ends. Here is her glory, her strength, and at the same time her weakness. Paganism could suffer us to cultivate and perfect our natures for their own sake, and permit us to propose human greatness as our end. Protestantism virtually, if not avowedly, does the same. The Church not only tolerates, but seeks, the improvement of society, its progress and per­fection, yet only for the sake of the purposes of our present existence, and as facilitating the operation of the means of securing eternal life. Radicalism or Socialism disdains to look so high or so far, and is content to propose the prog­ress and perfection of society for its own sake. As the motives paganism, Protestantism, and Radicalism propose or tolerate are those which are the most agreeable to fallen na­ture, we can easily understand that, for a time, their adherents should be more remarkable for the qualities we have pointed out than the great body of Catholics, who can cultivate them only from purer, loftier, and more distant motives, therefore motives less powerful for a depraved will and a corrupt con­cupiscence. Here, undoubtedly, is the real cause of the in­feriority of the modern to the ancient man, - an inferiority which results from his actual moral and religious superiority.

Though the remote cause is in the corruption of human nature, and the fact that paganism imposed less restraint on its operations than Catholicity, the proximate cause of this inferiority is in the schism which has always existed, since the institution of the Church, between the secular and the spiritual elements of society. The secular element has never been brought into harmony with the spiritual. The Church could not do it at first, because the state was pagan, and per­secuted her; and it took her full three hundred years to con­vert it. But she had no sooner converted it, than the barba­rians began their invasion, and she had to commence her struggle against barbarism, which, in part, still continues. She has never been able to baptize secular life, and to institute a culture as perfect for it as that which she has always sus­tained is for the religious life. The secular order has there­fore, from the first, remained outside of Christianity, and the secular mind has never been informed with the Christian spirit. The spirit of all secular art, secular literature, secular sci­ence, even when cultivated by Catholics, is and always has been, from Nero to Mazzini, unchristian. This is obvious to every one. Whenever we leave the religious order, escape its external control, and,abandon ourselves instinctively to secu­lar pursuits, or in any degree yield to the spirit of the secular order, however pure our intentions in the outset, however firm our faith, sincere and earnest our attachment to our religion, we are imperceptibly borne away in a direction hostile to Chris­tianity, and, ere we suspect danger, are sunk in the quicksands of vice or dashed against the rocks of heresy or infidelity. We have a striking proof of this in Lamennais, another in Pa­dre Ventura, and still another, we fear, in Gioberti,- three of the greatest, and, in various ways, most extraordinary men of our times. All three set out sincere, earnest, and enlightened Catholic priests, with rare philosophical genius and attainments, and rarer knowledge of the spirit and tendencies of the age. Lamennais has fallen to the lowest depths ; Ventura has, by his recent conduct at Home, outraged the feelings of the whole Catholic world ; and Gioberti, as his case now stands, or as it is known to us, we must regard as having betrayed his religion and forfeited all his claims upon sincere Catholics. What can more clearly prove that the secular order remains even to this day unbaptized, and that whoever follows its spirit is sure to find himself on the side against the religion of God ?

Our modern literature is all full of this schism between the two orders, and the secret of most of the movements of our times is the effort to heal it. From Pusey to Parker, Ventura to Proudhon, the Hegelians to the Fourierists and Icarians, the harmony of the two orders is the secret, in general the avowed, object. But, unhappily, nearly all efforts not only fail, but tend to widen the breach ; because they are efforts to heal the schism by harmonizing the spiritual with the secular, instead of the secular with the spiritual. Here is the grand difficulty. As friends of religion, we are obliged to hold on, in most coun­tries, to things as they are,- to desist from efforts to effect such educational improvements and social ameliorations as are good in themselves, such as are really needed, and such as we arc most anxious to effect,-because we cannot, in the present state of the world, make a single move in their behalf, without throw­ing the power into the hands of the men who would subject the spiritual order to the secular, destroy the whole influence of religion, and with it the very conditions of civilization. The certain evil that would follow would infinitely outweigh the good we could effect. If any one doubts it, he has but to meditate on the exile of the Holy Father at Gaeta, and con­sider what during the last year has taken place at Rome. The Holy Father attempted wise and judicious reforms in his states, and, in consequence, was driven from his throne, not by the men opposed to them, but by the very men who clamored for them, who feasted him a whole year for them, and in whose favor they were more especially efFected. The very attempt on his part to ameliorate the temporal order drove him into exile, and gave up his dominions to as miserable a set of infidel vagabonds, as cowardly a set of miscreants, as the sweepings of all Italy could furnish. If the men who so clamor for reform, and so strenuously urge the amelioration of the secular order, would lay aside their hostility to religion, and consent to work with the Church, under her spiritual guidance, she would soon, through them, effect all needed ameliorations, establish a true system of secular culture, effect a new civilization, which would give us tempered together in one, as Gioberti demands, the full-grown Christian and the full-grown man, as much superior to the ancient Grceco-Roman civilization as the morals of Chris­tianity are superior to those of paganism. But the thing is not possible so long as they are able, and continue, to keep the secular order armed to the teeth against her. But as human depravity will last as long as the world stands, the schism be­tween the two orders will probably never be entirely healed, and the glorious results for civilization, so easy to eftect if men were only reasonable, or not madmen or fools, will probably remain for ever without being fully attained. All we can do is to be faithful to the spiritual order, and to labor diligently to realize them as far as possible, - not for the sake of the tem­poral good to be secured, but for the sake of the purposes of our present existence, and the free and unimpeded action of the Church in preparing men for eternal life.

Our Unitarian friend will find, if he meditates what we have written, his article answered as far as answer it needed. We have not followed him step by step, nor was it necessary ; we suppose him capable of applying principles, when they are fur­nished to his hand, without our applying them for him. He will see that we rely no more than he does on poetry and romance as evidence of the truth of religion. To some minds they may be occasions of conversion, and they were in some respects so in our own case, dry logic-grinder as many people suppose us to be, for they removed certain obstructions there were to the operation of the grace of God on our heart; but causes or grounds of conviction they never were, and never can be. Christian art has its uses, and important uses they are, too. Persons of a certain temper may be led by it to reflect on the claims of the Church, or it may soften their feelings and sub­due for the moment their prejudices, and prepare them to listen to her claims. So far, it contributes, and legitimately, to conversions ; but as an argument addressed to the reason, or as a mo­tive of credibility, it is of no value, for it may well be question­ed if Christian art, as pure art, has over surpassed, or even equalled, pagan art.

We recognize no Church of the Middle Ages ; but the Church in the Middle Ages, as in all ages, our Unitarian friend will see, we hold to be irreproachable, not, indeed, be­cause we are a great admirer of those ages themselves, nor because we believe they were themselves irreproachable, but because what there was in them objectionable proceeded from causes independent of the Church and hostile to her, which she had no power to control, and could remove only in pro­portion as she could induce men to become voluntarily her sub­jects. There were, doubtless, things which she did then that she would not do now ; for the circumstances now are different, and do not demand, might not even justify, them. She is in the world to bless it; and while her doctrines and principles remain eternally unvaried and invariable, she applies them with perfect freedom to the circumstances of time and place. She never permits herself to become the slave of routine or of stereo­typed modes of exterior action. When society is in an excep­tional state, she deals with it accordingly. When it throws upon her the burden of providing for the poor, she does it in the best manner existing circumstances allow. We rejoice when we read that seventeen thousand poor were fed in one day at Clu-ny, and we see in the fact her maternal solicitude and fore­thought for even the temporal subsistence of her children ; but we see no evidence in it of the perfection of the secular order of the time, and no reason for wishing to perpetuate a state of society that leaves such a number of poor daily to be fed at a single monastery. Many of the institutions which the Church founded and cherished in the Middle Ages have passed away, or must pass away, with the social changes which are constant­ly taking place ; but this is no cause of reproach to her, or of alarm to us. Others, better adapted to the altered circum­stances of new ages, she will institute in their place, and gain the same ends by other means. And thus it is, that, while we adhere to the Church in all times, and because we do so, we are free to condemn barbarism wherever we find it, and to labor with all our zeal and ability for an advanced, and, if possible, an ever-advancing, civilization.