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of Christ's appearance.”. Hence, in his 8th Hom
”* ily on Jeremiah, he says, “ If the soul have not God the Father, if it have not the Son, saying, • I and my Father will come to him, and will make our abode with him, if it have not the Holy Spirit, it is desolate."
Thus Cyprian and Origen come together in their love and reverence for Christ, as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. This is the living stream which mingles with the philosophy, the literature, the politics, and the art of the modern world. We shall find it in all the centuries, coursing its way towards the grand consummation of truth, freedom, and righteousness, yet to come.
* Contra Cel. lib. viii. 12.
CHRIST IN THE MIDDLE AGES.
We have seen how Christianity, thrown into the crude mass of humanity, vitiated and enfeebled by idolatry and lust, won amazing triumphs. It partook, however, in its actual embodiment and application, of the spirit and tendency of the age. At heart, the Roman empire was corrupt, and destined to destruction, and not even Christianity could finally save it. Indeed, its dismemberment was a matter not only of political, but of moral necessity. The revolution and reconstruction of nations is one of God's methods of elevating and purifying society. Old forms pass away. New energies are brought into free and generous play. Indeed, society, in its best form, is an amalgam ; and it required the Roman and the Teutonic elements, moulded by Christianity, to give rise to the new and vigorous organization of modern society.
Taken, however, into the embrace of the state, first by Constantine, and subsequently by Charlemagne and Pepin, as an organized belief, with its hierarchy of forms and ministers, Christianity necessarily lost much of its original purity and power. Still, no amount of corruption could divest it of its inherent, life-giving energy. It yet spread, after the disruption of the Roman empire, in lines of renovation and blessing. The idols of heathen worship were abolished, and the worship of the true God was established in many barbarous climes. Idolatry and slavery, polygamy and gladiatorial shows, with the more unnatural forms of lust, so common among the heathen, disappeared from the civilized world.
The church, however, having become national and hierarchical, was used as an engine of political power. Whole nations were brought into it by mere baptism or conquest, without the slightest reference to their spiritual state. The conversion of a warrior, king, or chief, insured the conversion of his people. All must come under the yoke of Christ, whether they understand the gospel or not. Some of the northern barbarians, who overran the Roman empire, were nominal Christians; others were pagans; but all eventually submitted to the church; some from superstition, others from choice, and many from policy and force. The consequences can
• It is of the greatest moment, in estimating the claims of Chris. tianity, to distinguish between the mere human form, in which it is embodied, and Christianity itself, which never changes. The Chris. tianity of Christ, or of the Bible, is often a very different thing from the Christianity of man, or of society.
easily be foreseen. Paganism was mingled with Christianity. The virgin mother was adored as "the queen of heaven," temples were turned into churches, and churches into temples, adorned with images of the saints, and smoking with incense. The supper of our Lord was made a sacrifice, having a greater affinity with superstition than with enlightened religion. The Catholic church, as it termed itself, with some grand redeeming elements, became a mere external organization, to which vast additions were constantly made, partly by persuasion, and partly by violence. Abjuring the first element of our Savior's kingdom, which is spiritual and divine, and thence to be advanced only by the regeneration of true hearts, in a free, spontaneous manner, the Papal organization formed itself into a hierarchy of material forms and despotic forces, and insisted upon the submission of the world. The Christian people were excluded from all share in the government of the church; and freedom, even on the part of the inferior clergy, was utterly excluded. The sword and the keys were conjoined, and what could not be effected by persuasion was effected by force. Racks and gibbets, imprisonment and death, as well as the preaching of the gospel, were the means employed to secure this result. Undoubtedly, both within and without the church Catholic, a constant protest was uttered against all this; and here and there, during the middle ages, we find multitudes of good Catholics, as well as Protestants or heretics, abjuring these anti-Christian principles, and cultivating, as best they could, the spirit of a pure Christianity. Rome, with all her unity, has ever been a unity of compromises ; and, as she still possessed the word of God and the general theory of the gospel, as a system of reconciliation and reform, she retained, notwithstanding her corruptions, some regenerative power, some conservative social influence.
Hence, it has been well remarked, that " we ought to distinguish between Catholicism and Papacy.” The Catholic church, in itself considered, may be regarded as a different institution from the Papal hierarchy.
The latter is unquestionably anti-Christian; the former, imperfect and even corrupt, may yet embody, and undoubtedly does embody, much true piety. Immense, however, were the abuses of the Papacy, and through that of the whole Catholic body, at the time of which we are speaking. They had grown to such enormity in the days of Petrarch and Dante, that these two poets, Catholics both, denounced the Roman hierarchy, popes, cardinals, and monks, with unmeasured severity. Dante does not hesitate to put some of the popes