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ciple is concerned. Nor can we be much profited in this work even by the medieval divines, or by those learned and enthusiastic writers in our own day, who are so nobly repairing the injustice so long and so generally done to the middle ages by Protestant, and to some extent even by Catholic, historians; for the questions of our times were seldom mooted in those ages, and when they were, as in the fourteenth century they began to be, they were summarily disposed of by authority, not by discussion. The middle ages had much to be admired and honored, but they have passed away, probably never to return. We are not to look to them for our models, nor for our ideal of a Christian society. The world was baptized then, but it was far enough from ceasing to be the world. The notion which some entertain, that the church in those ages had organized society to her own wishes, and that we must take the state of things which then obtained as the ideal we are to strive to realize, is one we cannot accept. We like on this point some reinarks of Count Franz de Champagny, which we trust he will permit us the liberty to quote :
“We are accustomed in our times, in consequence of a reaction fully justified by the injustice of the last century, to seek the perfection of Christian life and Christian works exclusively in the middle ages. We can no longer comprehend a Christian hero unless he has a cross on his breast ; Christian prayer seems almost impossible elsewhere than under Gothic ogives. The middle ages, or more strictly, the thirteenth cen. tury, are supposed to have been the grandest epoch of the church, her apogee, her moral era, before which there had been only a laborious infancy, and since which there has been only a rapid decline.
“I do not believe, I avow it, either in this maturity so tardy, or in this decline so rapid. The thirteenth century, great and glorious as it was for Christianity, does not appear to me to have been her only epoch of glory. I render it justice and admiration ; I do not think that I owe it an exclusive worship. I bow with reverence before the genius of a St. Thomas or a St. Anselm, without believing myself for that obliged to treat St. Augustine, St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, as pagans. I meditate in admiration and prayer under the magnificent ogives of the thirteenth century, without forgetting, however, those Romanesque churches of preceding centuries which the taste of our age still neglects, without .ceasing to love and respect those venerable basilicas of the city of Rome, marked still with the seal of the early Christian times. I recur with a loving curiosity to the natural and devout paintings of the middle ages, but I comprehend and appreciate none the less those paintings so beautiful of the Catacombs, where art, Grecian in its form, is already thoroughly Christian in its thought. I sacrifice not one Christian epoch to another, and above all do I refuse to admit that Christianity had in the thirteenth century, or in any other century, reached a culminating point, to the height of which it could never before attain, and after which it could do nothing but descend.
"I go even further; when I study our age, it seems to me that the first ages of the emancipated Christian church are those which it is the most useful to be recalled to our memories. We are no longer in the conditions of the middle ages. That infancy of Christian Europe, that uncivilized state of new peoples, against which the church struggled laboriously and gloriously, has had its day. We are an adult, too adult, society, and if there is in the past any thing that we should remember, it is the attitude of the church, in face of a society whose infancy, as ours, had long since passed away, and which suffered, as we suffer, from the excesses and vices, not from the want, of civilization. We are by our manners, unhappily perhaps, the Romans of Constantine, rather than the Franks of Clovis; and the fathers of the church who lived in the fourth and fifth centuries have written what is better adapted to our age, than the legendaries and scholastics of those centuries which are called, a little too absolutely, the ages of faith."*
We are much nearer in our manners, our moral habits, and our modes of thought, to the Romans under the earlier Christian emperors, than we are to our ancestors of the middle ages, and modern society, especially in our own country, is far more Roman than feudal. We live, too, all through Christendom, in an old and crumbling society, and our vices and errors are those of the Roman empire, from Constantine to Augustulus, rather than those of the middle ages. In the study of dogma, of morals, in seeking systematic arrangement, precision of thought, and exactness of expression, we must undoubtedly give our days and nights to the great medieval doctors, but in studying how to deal with a civilization in its decrepitude, with a society that crumbles around us, how to meet the errors which spring froin pride, refinement, excess, and sordid worldliness, we must leap over the middle ages and make ourselves masters of the great writers of the fourth and fifth centuries, and of the history of the Roman world from the time the church emerged from the catacombs to the downfall of the western empire. The ante-Nicene period has been studied with a great deal of care and success, as has lately been the period from the barbarian conquests to the revival of the Classics in the fifteenth century; but the fourth and fifth centuries --so rich in the great names of the church, so remarkable for Christian activity and beneficence, for the new character given to legislation, and the new efforts for social amel
*Revue Contemporaine, tome VIII., pp. 5, 6.
ioration, and so disastrous by Arian astuteness, tyranny, and persecution, and by the venality and corruption of placemen, the insupportable burdens imposed upon property, and barbarian invasions and conquests—are, after all, only imperfectly known, and have seldom been consulted for the lessons they afford applicable to our own age. We do not know a single intellectual, moral, or social question which comes up to-day, that was not raised and solved during those centuries, if not in the precise form in which we have to meet it, at least the same in substance. When you read St. Chrysostom, you feel that you are reading a contemporary author, and the question discussed by St. Augustine in his De Civitate Dei is really the great question we have to discuss' to-day. The non-Catholics of his time declared the decay and fall of the empire were owing to the introduction and spread of Christianity, and the non-Catholics of to-day tell us the decline of Spain and Portugal and the Italian republics from their former grandeur is owing to Catholicity. In the time of St. Augustine they charged to the church the political and social evils endured, and they charge the political and social evils of our times to the same
Then and now the real charge against our religion is, that she does not save the world from temporal ills, or create a paradise on earth. It is in the name of the world, at both epochs, that she is arraigned. To the great fathers of that epoch we must then recur for instruction as to the best mode of dealing with our own.
But we have no space to develop this subject as we could wish, and we must content ourselves with the few hints we have thrown out. We think the fourth and fifth centuries will help us to understand our own times far better than the twelfth and thirteenth, and we are sure that the first want of our Catholic controversialists is to understand the real character of the present age. We do not in saying this imply any want of this understanding on the part of his Eminence; indeed, his essays prove that he does understand both his age and country. "We only say that the highchurch controversy is a specialty, and by no ineans the great controversy of our times. We, however, cannot conclude without expressing our deep gratitude to the illustrous author for the pleasure and the profit we have derived from his admirable essays. We only wish there were more of them; and long may he live to instruct and edify the faithful, to refute heresy, and to elevate the tone of Catholicity, both in his own country and in ours.
LUTHER AND THE REFORMATION.
(From Brownson's Quarterly Review for January, 1855.)
The life of Luther is the first of four very interesting and important biographies published by the late M. Audin, and which taken together form a passably complete popular history of the Protestant reformation, admirably adapted to counteract the bad effects of such publications as M. Merle d'Aubigné's widely circulated romance on the same subject. These biographies, after that of Luther, are the lives of Calvin, Leo X., and Henry VIII. Of these, that of Pope Leo X., is generally regarded as the best, and we are surprised that it has not yet been translated into our language. In composing these works the author had access to the original documents preserved in the archives of the Vatican and the libraries of Florence and Bologna, to the historical collections of Strasburg, Lyons, Mayence, Cologne, and Wittenberg, and to almost any number of German and Latin pamphlets of the time. He made a diligent and conscientious use of the materials at his disposal, and has cleared up many obscure passages in the history of the period, and presented many of the actors in the movement, Catholic as well as Protestant, in a new light. He has robbed the chief reformers of the unmerited glory with which their partisans liad invested them, and presented them to the world in all their native weakness and deformity. He has vindicated the Catholic party of the time, and rescued the principal Catholic opponents of the reformers from the aspersions cast upon them by their unscrupulous adversaries." He is candid and impartial, and, so far as we are able to judge, has produced a very reliable, as well as a brilliant and interesting, popular history of the more prominent characters and events of the terrible Protestant movement in the sixteenth century. We hope the whole four works, making nine volumes octavo in the last edition as revised by the author, will be translated into our language, and circulated widely wherever it is spoken. They will make an important addition to our meagre English Catholic library, and contribute much to a right appreciation of the reformers.
* History of the Life, the Writings, and the Doctrines of Luther. By
M. AUDIN. Translated from the last French edition, by WILLIAM B. TURNBULL, Esq. London: 1854.
M. Audin, born at Lyons, 1793, originally studied for the priesthood; but not taking orders, he turned his attention to law, and was admitted to the bar.
He does not appear, however, to have practised his profession, and he devoted his life to literature, as an author and a bookseller, till his. death, which took place February 9, 1851. He was a sincere and earnest Catholic, and has rendered no mean service to religion and historic truth by his works on the reformation. No man out of Germany, even if in Germany, has done more to separate or disentangle in the popular mind that mingled yarn of history and romance, of truth and fiction, which Protestant authors for these three hundred years have palmed off upon the credulous, not of their own communion alone, as the authentic history of the Protestant movement. He is conscientious and painstaking, but we cannot regard him as very sagacious or profound; and under the relation of style and manner he is not sufficiently grave and dignified to suit our taste or to inspire us with full confidence in his judgment. He takes too much pains to be striking and brilliant, and appears to weigh the phrase more than the thought. One feels that he was writing in the bosom of a frivolous community, for readers who draw their instruction from the saloon, the theatre, or the feuilleton, and are to be arrested only by a tableau or a dramatic representation of historical events.
Regarded as popular works, as they probably were designed to be, we esteem very highly Áudin's biographies ; but regarded as studies on the reformation, they are deficient in philosophical depth and comprehensiveness. They take, in our judgment, quite too narrow and too superficial a view of the great Protestant movement, and afford us very little aid in understanding its real causes and internal character. The author has rendered a tardy justice to the Catholic party of the time, and proved its immeasurable superiority in solid and polite learning, in civilization and refinement, in virtue and manners, to the party of reform, and has shown to the last degree of evidence that the reformers were coarse and brutal, false and hypocritical, proud and selfish, lustful and ambitious, who shrunk from no baseness, and scrupled at no arts or falsehood that seemed likely to serve their purposes against the church. This, no doubt, is much,