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Lastly, this was the period which witnessed the apogee of Christian monarchy under S. Louis, the liberation of modern languages from the throes of their birth, and the rise of Universities, to which, with all their faults, all the unbelief and heresies with which they were too often infested, the intellect of Christendom still owes its training ; truly a magnificent period of intellectual emancipation and admirable progress, presided over by the faith which has overcome the world, a period in which it has been said that "individualities triumph through unity; and while nations have their own proper existence, Christendom is crowned with universal glory."

« Let us pause yet a moment,” says the same writer, "and before delivering over to the torrent of ages the great period which we have been examining, let us cast upon it one last look of love and immense regret. It is an epoch that stands alone in the annals of humanity, a time of perfecting and of glory, in which the harvest of two hundred years of labours is gathered in.

Never has it been given to man to behold a spectacle like to this; never has the superiority of the West over the East shone forth more brightly; never has the cause of God and of Christendom appeared more triumphant or more glorious. Something of the magnificence of Sinai accompanies the victory of the Cross. As over the doorway of the great cathedrals which this period has raised the Son of Man is seen coming in His majesty, and all the voices of nature, all the powers of earth and of heaven, celebrate His greatness.” *

We have dealt chiefly with the thirteenth century, because in it all the chief glories of the Middle Ages are centred, their leading characteristics seen at their best. In saying this we do not at all mean to say that each century had not also its own special characteristics, good or bad, or to deny what F. Dalgairns asserts, that there may have been as much difference between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries as between the fourteenth and the nineteenth. Still we believe that throughout the period known as the Middle Ages, while each century has its own very marked features, there are certain broad and leading characteristics which run through them all, and distinguish them both from earlier and later times; just as the last three centuries, although each bears upon it the mark of some special form of rebellion against God and His Church, may all be classed together as ages of Apostasy. These leading characteristics may be thus summed up: the universal public recognition of the Christian principle, as the foundation of all order, all civilization, in other words, of Christendom; so that however often order might be disturbed, or the course of civilization interrupted, recovery was always possible, and even comparatively easy; the public homage paid to Christ's kingship over the earth in the subordination of the temporal to the spiritual, of emperors, and kings, and peoples, to the Vicar of Christ, at least for a time, when the harvest sown by S. Gregory VII. had been gathered in,-a subordination not perfect, it is true, but so far perhaps as was possible in a world always by nature antagonistic to Christ; the general subjection of all science and learning to faith, so that however much unbelief might break out in individuals or in particular places, as in some of the universities, or heresies, at first of Eastern origin, although later on of Western birth, fasten like a blight upon some of the leaves of God's beautiful flower of Christendom, then opening into fullest blossom, the beauty and glory of the whole were not, substantially at least, impaired; the obedience of all the arts and their ministry to the service of the Church of God, so that she stood out before the eyes of men clad in a vesture of gold, girt about with variety. Add to all this the central position occupied by this period in the history of the development of the Church's doctrines and devotions by the Definition of the fourth Lateran Council, touching the Sacramental Presence of the centre of the Church's life, and by its more solemn enthronement in her outward worship; the immense expansion of the public worship of God's Mother; the rise in the West of devotion to S. Joseph; the gathering up of all science, Divine and human, so far as was then possible, into one vast synthesis, by the Doctor of the B. Sacrament, as if in honour of our Lord enthroned therein as the King of the whole earth; and we shall hardly be wrong in saying that no other period of the Church's history so nearly realized upon earth the harmony of the natural and the spiritual, the natural and the supernatural, the temporal and the eternal, the human and the Divine. It was the temporal reign of the Church on earth, a brief foreshadowing of her more perfect reign hereafter, when the creature itself, which now groaneth and travaileth in pain, shall · be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the children of God; and yet only brief, because of the growing wickedness of men, not because of any growing weakness in herself. For although the above leading characteristics are for the most part centred in one century, yet the whole period shares in them more or less, either by leading up to and preparing the way for their more brilliant and striking manifestation, or because, after their full splendour had shone forth, their rays did not at once fade away, but still continued

* Le Riancey, tome viii. pp. 301, 331.

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for a while to illumine the world. Thus, on the one hand, Charlemagne, S. Leo III., and Sylvester II., led up to S. Gregory VII. and his mighty work, the fruits of which were gathered by Innocent III. ; Joannes Erigena, Gerbert, Lanfranc, Anselm, S. Bernard, Hugh and Richard of S. Victor's, and Peter the Lombard, prepared the way for Albert the Great, S. Thomas, and S. Bonaventure. On the other hand, while Boniface VIII., Calixtus III., and Pius II. continued the policy and guarded from attack the work of S. Gregory VII., preserving for Christ at least His Kingship over the West, Gerson, Ruysbrock, Thauler, B. Henry Suso, Gerard Groot, the author of the “Imitation,” and our own Walter Hilton testified still to the supremacy of the highest wisdom, the contemplation of God, upon which S. Thomas had founded his theology,* “all the great men of the fourteenth century,” we may again repeat, on the authority of Victor Cousin,

were mystics.” Prominent among all, Dante, the creator of Italian poetry, and almost of the Italian tongue, the spokes. man, as Carlyle has truly called him, of the Middle Ages, summing up their inner life, embodying in all respects save one,—the temporal Supremacy of the Holy See,—the triumphs of the Medieval Church, enshrining in all else the sublimest soul of Mediæval Christianity in a “mystic, unfathomable song,” building up the whole theology of the schools, the dogma of S. Thomas, the mysticism of S. Bonaventure, into one vast cathedral of glorious poetry, into which the mythology of old heathen days is forced to enter and offer its gifts to Christ the Lord of all. The "Divina Commedia” is the partial Sum of the Middle Ages themselves, as well as of their theology and philosophy, the shrine in which they are preserved for the veneration of all after-ages. Upon it stands the image of Christ risen from the dead, and round about it we may still read the words, Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.I

To conclude. We keep in mind the important distinction between the Church's own outward growth in wisdom and grace, which will never end on earth, and her influence over the world, which has varied at different periods of her history; in other words, between Christianity and Christendom. We have seen that there is one point in that history, up to which her influence over the world and its civilization gradually increased,

* F. Vaughan's “Life of S. Thomas," vol. i. p. 800.

+ Carlyle, “ Lectures on Heroes," Lect. iii. Milman's “Latin Chris. tianity," vol. ix. b. xiv. ch. 2 and 5,

I Ozanam, “ Dante et la Philosophie Catholique au treizième Siècle," partie iii. ch. 4 and 5.

at which it culminated, and after which it gradually declined,

a point in her history which is also a central point in the development of her dogma, devotion, and theological scienceand when all these good things of which we have spoken above, and need not now repeat, come together at her bidding to the feet of Christ as King over the earth. We have discovered moreover, that the ages which immediately preceded and followed this great central period shared more or less in its glories and leading characteristics. Above all, we cast our eyes upon our own times, the offspring of three centuries of rebellion against the Church, and behold Christendom a heap of ruins; the corner-stono of the temporal princedom of the Vicar of Christ removed out of its place; the intellect of man in open enmity to God; sciences and arts divorced from religion; the Christian principle ignored; all the governments of the world apostate from Christ; a corrupt and material civilization, in which the naturalism and paganism of the old Roman empire have come to life again, eating away the energies of men; the great antichristian Revolution that maketh desolate, triumphant in the city of the Saints. And as a conclusion from all this, we do not see how we can avoid the conclusion, that never did the Kingdom of God, which itself can know no decrease, take such possession of the world as in the Miļdle Ages. No doubt, as we have always owned throughout, there were then many evils, as there must ever be ; much sin, much corruption of heart even in high and holy places, even unbelief and heresy from time to time; much darkness and ignorance, notwithstanding all the light. No doubt the later glories of material civilization were wanting, for then men's minds were absorbed in the higher sciences ; but these too would have come in as rich abundance had the reign of the Church continued, and they would have come, too, stripped of many of their present dangers; nay, even then were coming. “We doubt,” says Macaulay, * " whether any country of Europe, our own excepted, have at the present time reached so high a point of wealth and civilization as Italy had attained four hundred years ago." Still, the glory of the Middle Ages lies

” in this, that however great their evils, however strong the opposition of the world, Christ's law, as the public law of Christendom, was stronger; the Christian principle was the principle of all, and so Christ reigned. The Middle Ages, therefore, may be said to differ from earlier and later ages in having witnessed-for too short a time indeed and in too poor

* Essay on Machiavelli.

a way,--but still for some time and in some way, which might also have been longer had it not been for men's perversity, the temporal reign of Christ and of His Church upon the earth, as distinguished from their spiritual reign: an anticipation, a foreshadowing of their final victory over all things, when Christ himself shall come again to judge the earth at the latter day. Whether in the unknown future such a time may ever come again to the Church before the end, even as more than once there have been foreshadowings of the last Antichrist, is known to God alone. But surely it is a solemn thought that, while the first twelve hundred years of her history were but a preparation for her earthly crowning, the last six hundred have but witnessed her gradual temporal deposition and ultimate temporal dethronement; although, to her children of course, she is ever queen, and dearer far in her crown of thorns and robe of scorn than on her throne of glory,

It may perhaps be said that this view of the Church's influence over the world might lead men to suppose that, after all, the Church is a human institution, able to influence the world for awhile as long as she had some special work to do in it and for it, and then gradually losing all influence over it, and becoming a thing of the past. There would be truth in this objection, if it could be shown that there is any decay in the Church herself, to which the decrease of her influence could be attributed, rather than to the perversity of men. But we have seen that the Church is ever young, and that for her there is no decay; any more than there was decay in our Lord's work of redemption, or want of vigour in His teaching, when men's hearts turned against Him, and they cried that they had no king but Cæsar. The Church is as Divine, as royal in the hour of her dethronement by the world, as her Lord in the hour of His rejection by the Jews. In the end, too, the victory will rest with the Church; none of God's works fail, although there is much of seeming failure in all His works. Seeming failure is one of the mysteries of the kingdom of nature, as well as of the kingdom of grace. The greater number of seeds cast into the earth never spring up into life. The greater number of men born into the world never reach their prime. God created the angels, yet vast hosts of the angels fell away from Him; He created the world and man, and straightway by man sin entered into the world, and death by sin. God sent His Son into the world to save the world, and men crucified Him. But, even as the failure of what is sown in nature cannot rob her of her glory and her beauty, or the premature falling away of so many men interfere with the destinies of the human race, so shall nothing in the kingdom

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