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But since this could not be, they bestirred themselves to apply it to their own uses; and, as they were in possession of all that then existed of education and intelligence, they entirely succeeded. The method of dialectics was, by its very nature, adapted to their purposes; the manner of argument prescribed by it was well suited to the perpetuation of error; and though it was not always so employed, yet it remained an irresistible weapon in the hands of the polemics, who acquired, by long experience, the most sophistical address in the use of it; who preserved and sharpened it in their own academies, and turned it with never-failing success against the first faint trembling movements of reviving truth.

After the fall of Constantinople the west was visited by another form of learning; and this too was in the first instance an object of terror to the Papacy. Yet this, like its predecessor, was presently patronised by the most enlightened pontiffs; and it enjoyed, with some intervals of disfavour, the countenance of the Vatican, from the time of Æneas Sylvius to that of Leo X. But the Chief of the church was in this matter more liberal than the mass of his ecclesiastical subjects. A clamour of disapprobation issued from the monasteries; the halls of the universities were long closed against the stranger, and the scholastic Divines who presided there began to tremble for their dominion. An open warfare presently broke out between these rivals; and the Humanists of Rome, if they imagined that their new literature would prove as obsequious a tool to the Papacy as the ancient method, or that the two could subsist in alliance or even in peace together, soon discovered their great mistake.

However; the operation of mere human learning would never have brought about a revolution in the church, like that of Luther. It might have occasioned the removal of some scandals; it might have exploded some

absurd practices; it might have roused the clergy to some sense of the shame, or at least of the danger, of ignorance; it might have purified the schools from much dogmatism and sophistry; and it might, too, have introduced very general infidelity among a generation whose ecclesiastical system was such, as scarcely to leave to the reflecting mind any other alternative than that of superstition or incredulity. But it would never have accomplished any extensive reformation: it would never have struck very deeply into the established evils, nor overthrown any large portion of them; or if it had, assuredly it would not have reconstructed on principles conservative of the religion, nor placed its reparations on an evangelical basis.

Erasmus was the representative of the most religious portion of the Humanists, and at the same time the bitter and persevering assailant of the most offensive abuses of the church. Yet how narrow were the limits of his opposition! how timid his approaches! and when the hour of danger really came, how faint his heart! nay, how miserable his apostacy! He discerned with keen perception the points of attack, and he skirmished about them with consummate skill; but no sooner did the assault become serious-no sooner did the towers at which he had shot his fiery shafts begin to totter, than he proved the weakness of his purpose. Yet, with all this, his previous exertions had produced incalculable good. He and his literary comrades had levelled innumerable obstacles and opened a broad path which could never again be closed. Only, while they rendered people dissatisfied with the actual condition of the church, they made no attempt to substitute anything better; they exposed error (as Luther once said of Erasmus), but they knew not how to teach truth.

Meanwhile the limits of information and intelligence

were already much enlarged, and were extending day by day. Fresh means of education were continually added to those already existing; and through God's good providence, an emperor of Germany received and communi cated the impulse. In a Diet assembled at Worms in 1495, Maximilian passed an edict, by which the Electors were commanded to erect public schools and academies in their respective states. Several were consequently founded; and among the most eminent were the universities of Frankfort and Wittemberg. The former was established in 1506 by Joachim, elector of Brandenburg, the latter by Frederick of Saxony in 1502. It was from these new foundations that there was the fairest hope of some improved system of education. Free from inveterate hereditary prejudices-untrammelled by any ancestral reverence for time-consecrated methods, statutes, or axioms-open to the light and breath of day, and pervious to the current from without, they promised to be the nurseries of bolder and better principles, and to unfold wider prospects and brighter destinies to the generations to come.

Many names are mentioned of individuals distinguished in different branches of literature or science, in the beginning of the age of which we are treating-in medicine, in jurisprudence, in philosophy, philology, and classical erudition. Among them are Leonicenus, Ruel, Linacer; Budæus, Schurffius, Cardan, Taurel, Zabarella, Scaliger, Copernicus; Mosellanus, Rhenanus, Pirckheimer; More, Pole, Hutten, Erasmus; Politian, Bembo, Vives, and Sadoletus; besides an obscurer host.* Their very numbers prove that the exercise of the intellect was no longer confined to the privileged or to the few; but that it extended at least as far as those classes, which are the

* See "Gerdesius Historia Evangelii Renovati," 1. i. sec. xiii. xiv.

most powerful organs of public opinion. And thus there existed at that time a sufficient diffusion of intelligence to make it at least probable, that any bold appeal to the first principles of reason, of justice, of freedom, of religion, would not be pronounced in vain.

Amidst this general intellectual and moral activity, there was one science only which remained stationary— that of religion. In the time of Erasmus theology was precisely in the state in which Thomas Aquinas had left it. Every other department of knowledge was thrown open; the knowledge of the soul and of the means of saving it continued exactly where it was. The same theorems were delivered in the same form, and defended by the same laborious ingenuity; dialectics were still paramount, to the exclusion of all other mental discipline; history, even the history of the church, was superficially, if at all, treated; and the study of the Scriptures was altogether set at naught. Nor was it only the quality of this instruction that was unaltered; the number of those who sought it was scarcely larger than in former days. No thirst for knowledge, profane nor even sacred, inflamed the body of the monks or clergy; while all around them was changing, they alone were contented to remain just such as they were and had been, till the laity, so long accustomed to consider learning as peculiar to their spiritual instructors, were surprised to find themselves on a level with them, if not already advanced above them.

Yet the theology of the schools was purer than the observances of the church, and the instruction of its ministers less defective than their morals; the religion was incomparably more corrupt in its practice than in its theory; the discipline was far more widely perverted than the doctrine. We may be spared the pain of enumerating proofs of a degeneracy which has been eloquently

denounced by many Roman Catholic writers, from St. Bernard to Gerson, from Gerson to Erasmus, from Erasmus to Bossuet. And since in this field so many iniquities had been confessedly perpetrated for so many ages; since it is the nature of unrepressed abuse to grow and prosper; and since the most monstrous examples set by Rome had been among the most recent, it is fair to suppose that the externals of the church were at least as reprehensible at the period of which we are treating, as at any other, preceding or subsequent.

Yet her exalted ministers and directors were never more secure, never more complacent than then. Never did they contemplate with greater pride the strength and dignity of their Zion. A thousand objects filled their hearts with satisfaction. The inviolate majesty of the Pope; the wealth and splendour of a pompous hierarchy united in his support; the enormous opulence and unsuspected fidelity of the monastic orders; the terrible triumphs of the inquisition; the seeming devotion and unanimity of the people, presented an imposing spectacle of power, which dazzled and blinded them.

Again; the princes of Christendom were invariably educated in the bosom of the church, and all their earliest prejudices were instilled into them by the clergy—a solid ground of trust to all who know, how few are the minds which ever throw off those prejudices, and those few, how late and after how many conflicts! Their interests, too, were for the most part connected with those of Rome. Some of them not uncommonly had recourse to her mediation to assist them in extorting money from their own subjects; and there was not one who did not court her friendship and tremble at her menaces.

The universities, the supposed depositaries of the future fidelity of mankind, carried their devotion to the Pope to its utmost limit. With the single exception of Paris, they

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