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In the works of these great men, the skeleton as it were of civil society, the true form of its parts, their simplest relations to one another, and by what means those relations are disordered and preserved, may be most clearly perceived. But our society derives its immediate growth from the chaos of the middle ages, and there we must trace out the source of its peculiar evils. The main use of ecclesiastical history is thus to be obtained from studying it analytically; from following upwards those evil currents of neglect, of uncharitableness, and of ignorance, whose full streams we find now so pestilent. We thus arrive at the pretended conversion of the barbarians; an event of immense importance, as explaining the more confirmed separation of the clergy and laity in modern times, and the incomplete influence which Christianity has exercised upon the institutions even of Christian countries. But the barbarians found the Roman world in no healthy state; and Christianity had

Social

shared in the general corruption. helplessness, and intellectual frivolousness, had long characterised the state of society; the first derivable in the eastern provinces from a period earlier than the Roman conquest, but encouraged and heightened alike. under the proconsular and imperial governments: the other to be traced to a still older date, and connected with more complicated causes; the showiness of ancient literature, calculated, owing to the dearness of books, for recitation to a number rather than for solitary reading; the unavoidable difficulties which obstructed the path of physical inquiry; the artificial difficulties opposed under a despotic system to the prosecution of political science; and the undue concentration of men's attention from those causes upon rhetoric and metaphysicsstudies indispensable in an active state of society, when physical and social inquiries are pursued with vigour-studies which we are unwisely neglecting, whilst all our danger

lies the other way, but which are wholly unfit to be the sole or principal intellectual food of our nature, unfit to be followed for their own sake, but most useful as a guide and strengthener of our minds for more practical and particular inquiries; ennobling when they withdraw us from the exclusive dominion of Utilitarianism, but enfeebling and paralysing when they injure practical wisdom, and turn us from Christians and citizens into diputants about words and abstractions. These two evils then of the Roman world, social helplessness and intellectual frivolousness, infected the Christian church from its earliest period, and have been the principal causes of the abandonment by the church of its own government, and leaving it in the hands of the clergy; and of those fatal strifes of words, which, whatever was the proportion of error on the side of the respective disputants, were in themselves, and in the very fact of their agitation, a corruption of the simplicity of Christian faith.

But while the student is thus engaged, there is great need that he should keep his spirit and his intellect continually refreshed, by constant recourse to the great springs of truth, divine and human. It is a perilous employment for any man to be perpetually contemplating narrow-mindedness and weakness in conjunction with much of piety and goodness. It is perilous either to his understanding or his faith, according as the moral or intellectual part of his own nature may happen to be predominant. And therefore let all who study ecclesiastical history, or the mass of ecclesiastical writers, preserve a lively knowledge of the Scriptures on the one hand, and of the master works of human wisdom on the other. Both these are alike necessary for if the Scriptures had been sufficient, we should not have had Milner and other writers of that party; if the greatest works of human wisdom had been sufficient without the Scriptures, we should not have had Gibbon. Both

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are necessary, I am not now speaking of moral improvement, but of the understanding's perception of truth;-the Scriptures, to remind us without ceasing that Christianity in itself is wholly free from the foolishness thrown around it by some of its professors; the great works of human genius, to save us from viewing the Scriptures themselves through the medium of ignorance and prejudice, and lowering them by our perverse interpretations in order to make them

countenance our errors.

Some perhaps even now may object to the notion that human wisdom can enable us to

interpret God's Word. I need not quote here the various texts of Scripture which are commonly brought forward to support this objection; and which, forced as they are from their real meaning, confirm the statement which they are supposed to confute. Undoubtedly no bad man, no careless liver, is likely, by the mere aids of criticism or intel

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