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unwillingness and remonstrance of its early champions, till it had put on its banner a new name, and found itself battling for emancipation of thought, political and religious liberty, social justice, and human rights. Its course was not so designed, but it was foreordained and providential. The process was long and slow, before all that was implied in Luther's brave protest could be seen or understood. We have still long to wait, before the Reformation has done its perfect work. No increase of political liberty was either its intention or its direct result. But its emancipation of the mind from fetters of priestly authority, its challenge of falsehood in the name of the free conscience, was final and complete. The spell of that great despotism was broken. The shadow of its fear no longer barred the way for the human race towards liberty and truth.
When we speak of the great Catholic organization of Western Europe, let us clearly understand, then, that we speak of what is past, forever past. It is gone, and has left no rival or inheritor of its greatness. At its summit of power, its catholic pretensions were belied by the independence which the Eastern Church maintained from the first; and its dream of universal empire was hopelessly broken by the rise and the swift conquests of Mohammedanism. In the decline of its vigor, it found itself unable to rule down heresies by its merciless police, or to control by spiritual diplomacy the policy of kings; and so, from being the first, it became the second in its own dominion. In the crisis of its fate it was met by an antagonist of far inferior subtlety and skill, but of resolution, courage, and obstinate conviction which it could not match; and then its sceptre was broken. The Catholic Empire of the West was sundered. The proud name Universal no longer had a meaning, even within the limits that had owned its sublime and awful spell. The South and the North, the Latin and the Teuton, the crafty and imposing fascination of the Old, the fresh vigor and enterprise of the New, were set at variance, and have continued ever since divided, unreconciled, less and less able to conceive even the possibility of ever meeting again on the ancient terms. The change of fact requires a change of name. The Catholic Christendom of the Middle Age is
shared between the two powers which we may call modern Romanism and modern Protestantism, together with a third, which (under whatever title) may yet prove stronger than both. A rapid and summary view of the change more directly wrought in the period we have been considering will close what we have to say on the present topic.
The first thing that strikes us in the aspect of Christian Europe since the great battle of the Reformation is that the division line it drew parts two marked groups of nations or races, as well as two hostile forms of faith. Modern Romanism occupies almost precisely the well-defined limits of the Roman Empire of the West. Italy, Spain, and Gaul, with the provinces of the Danube, are what we now call Romanist, just as they once were Roman. Something may be due to the imperial rule embodied in the Civil Code, which stamped itself so powerfully on the institutions, manners, and life of whole populations, that their after history was compelled into conformity with that type. But it is easiest to represent the fact as ethnographers have laid it down for us. The free spirit of the North, in which Julius Cæsar found his equal match,which crushed, under Hermann, the legions of Augustus,which plunged in a wild series of invasions upon the very walls of Rome, which was scarce held in check by the converted Franks under Charles Martel and Charlemagne, — which asserted itself so long in the barbarian theology in the form of Arianism, and was only with difficulty subdued, by the spiritual weapons of an heroic army of monks and martyrs, to fealty under the vast empire of Christian Rome,- broke out in fresh revolt under Martin Luther, in the Peasants' War, in the struggle for liberty in Holland, in the sturdy Puritan republicanism of England, in the victorious march of the Scandinavian host under Gustavus Adolphus, the last defence of the perishing liberties of Central Europe. It was a war of races as much as creeds. And, waver as the boundaries might for a hundred and thirty years, they were fixed at last, to correspond with the boundaries of the moral and political geography of Europe.
The second thing we note is, that, while claiming the name, lineage, and sanction of the Catholic Church, while inheriting
its ritual and organization, while guarding its tradition, and wielding the forged and tempered keenness of its policy, modern Romanism has failed disastrously and ignominiously failed in every enterprise for the recovery of its ancient ground. Beginning with its hand-to-hand conflict with Luther, continuing with the long effort of Charles the Fifth to reinstate the league of Imperial and Papal absolutism, in which his craft was foiled by Maurice's deeper craft, — then that amazing contest in which Maurice's greater son-in-law, William of Orange, fought single-handed, as it were, for thirty years against the shrouded, subtle malignity of Philip, or the cold, devilish ferocity of Alva, - the long battle of King and Parliament in England, and the Huguenot wars of France, in each open and declared attempt to crush its antagonist, or regain its old dominion, the Church self-styled infallible and invincible has lost ground at every step. Its tone may be arrogant as of old; and it may here and there accomplish by secret machinery what it could not by open force. But as a power dealing in the world's affairs, on the wide stage of history, it is helpless, whether before its protectors or its foes. France is its cynical and jealous protector at Rome, and Austria, its spiritual vassal, gives it a dubious authority beyond the Alps; while the young kingdom of Italy waits impatient to set its constitutional throne in the city of the seven hills, and seal the final doom of the Papacy as a secular power among the nations. So humbled and cast down is the once proud temporal dominion of the Church.
Still another thing we observe, that, along with this decay of outward power, there has been a deeper interior decay. The faith, the conviction, the earnest conscience, and the enlightened thought, that, embodied in an institution, give it victory and strength, are no longer the inheritance of Rome. She has ceased in any sense to be a guide to the intellect and conscience of mankind. So far from making fresh conquests in the realm of thought, or winning larger provinces of the world's moral life, it is with a feeble and wavering grasp she holds her own. The dogma of infallibility, on which her existence itself is staked, hangs like a drag upon her march. Science, which once she repudiated and condemned, avenges
itself by exhibiting credentials more certain, and winning an empire more sure over nature and human destiny. Learning, which she cherished once, has opened paths she dare not follow. The free conscience she strove to chain with creeds and trammel by rules of priestly discipline reacts upon the sources of her inward life. Distrust of the natural reason and conscience which she pronounced evil and accursed, so as to play into the hands of her ghostly policy-returns upon her in a deep, hollow, interior unbelief, that, with multitudes of her more enlightened subjects, saps the very foundation of piety and morals. We cannot fail to see that, with all the show and sincerity of devotion in Papal countries, with all the signs of affectionate and confiding piety among the humble and sincere, that hearty, intelligent conviction, that bold, confident grasp of truth, that downright, honest, believing, cultivated thought, which takes in the life of the present and the strength of the future, is no longer the patrimony of Rome. She is no longer the sovereign and guide of the world's intelligence; and the sceptre of her august dominion slips slowly, yet surely, from her grasp.
It would be interesting, in this connection, to consider the nature of that sway-more wide-spread in space, and in some regards more imposing to the imagination, than that of Hildebrand or Innocent-which modern Romanism has in part retained from the ancient dominion, in part wrested from the conflict, and ripened by the experience of these last three hundred years; and to compare it with that authority over man's beliefs and lives which modern Protestantism has endeavored to set up in place of that which it had assaulted. But this, although the proper sequel of the remarks now made, our limits at present will not allow.
It would also be interesting to sketch the group of remarkable men who from time to time bore the standard that Martin Luther first set flying, whether in the field of bloody battle, in the cabinet where the plots of despotism had to be undermined, or in the war of creeds that followed out his brave search of truth. Melancthon, the gentle, scholarly associate, the clear and refined intellect, whose feebler personality is so dominated by the intensely vitalized will of the great Re
former; Carlstadt the radical, who takes at one grasp what he can take of the new doctrine, and goes about, with blunt and blundering good faith, to put it to its plainest uses, blind to the gentle pietisms and nice distinctions that made the master so reluctant to tamper with the ancient faith; Calvin, ascetic, dyspeptic, and an exile, who first brought something morbid and morally wrong into the Reformed faith, which he would follow out with a certain hard and sad consistency, yet true as steel when the creed must be proved by any act or suffering of his own; the more subtile and daring thinkers, like Servetus and Socinus, who turned the current of the revolution so early into forbidden paths, and revived heresies for a thousand years under the ban of all good Christian souls; - how rich and how full of dramatic life is that history of the Reformed dogma which the mention of these names recalls!
Then the marshalled champions of despotism on the one hand, and liberty on the other, in that age all crowded with strife the most tragic and desperate, perhaps, that human history has to show. The young Emperor, growing prematurely old in the warfare that welcomed him, a precocious boy of nineteen, as he leaped to the shining goal of his ambition, and preserving through his near forty years of shifting fortune a stately gravity not unworthy of his century and his birth; the wary, unscrupulous Maurice of Saxony, playing like a gambler the great prize of his people's liberty into the hands of their oppressor, only to make more sure and ruinous the stroke of strategy by which he foils him at last, and then, his task done, suddenly and ingloriously passes out of sight; Coligny, the great Admiral, the purest, truest, noblest, of the sons of France in her most heroic age, who "with the genius of a warrior combined the fervor of a religious reformer," whose religion was the religion of a patriot, a devout Christian, and a free-hearted man, the first victim of St. Bartholomew, stabbed treacherously in his sick-bed, and his mutilated body made the ghastly merriment and mockery of a Paris mob; William of Orange, by marriage allied with both Saxon and Frenchman, of more heroic life and more tragical fate than either, so serene in that high ambition which aimed singly at his country's liberty from oppression and freedom of soul, so princely