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since the ultimate issues were not in man's hands. For the same reason the economic virtue of thrift and the civic virtues of courage and justice were discounted. Likewise intellectual virtues were of little value for there were no intellectual problems. It was primarily a matter of an emotional attitude, not of scientific interpretation. Since purity of heart was one of the prerequisites of entrance into the kingdom the Christian group offered most uncompromising opposition to the standards of pagan morality. In fact the strenuousness of the utterances of Paul and even of Jesus sowed the seeds for the ascetic movement which afterward culminated in monasticism.
There were also external forces tending to accentuate these passive virtues. The saints had constantly borne in upon them the fact that they were an oppressed and ostracised group. Christianity possibly as early as the days of Nero became a religio illicita. The constant plaint of the Christian apologists was nomen ipsum crimen; to own the name was a criminal offense. There is some basis of truth, therefore, for Nietzsche's famous characterization of Christian ethics as a Sklaven-Moral. It was entirely natural that an oppressed group should capitalize those traits which enabled it successfully to survive in a harsh and despotic society. This was not to be the last time in history that a group gloried in the days of its triumph in qualities at first forced upon it by the stern logic of necessity. To boast of what was once a badge of shame may be a subtle form of self-adulation. Cromwell's despised "Round Heads" so emphatically convinced the world of their merits that today we still find occasionally a sentimental loyalty to a Puritanical faith that has long since served its day.
Finally it is difficult to overestimate the part played in the struggle of the early Christian group for survival by the philosophy of suffering, itself the outgrowth of oppression. The antagonism of Jew and Gentile united to fix in their minds a thought which the example of their Founder had impressed upon them, namely, that through their suffering was to come the spiritual regeneration of the world. Group enthusiasm rose to such a pitch on the question of martyrdom that all sense of proportion was lost. The circular
letter gotten out by the Church of Smyrna upon the martyrdom of Polycarp, 155 A.D., which became the model for a long series of acts of the martyrs, first clearly enunciated the idea that martyrdom is the supreme favor one can demand of heaven. Martyrdom became thus but a speedy and glorious anticipation of the divine consummation. Out of this noble but misguided ethic of superlatives came the mediaeval saint and relic worship which restored in Christian form almost all the peculiarities of pagan polytheism. Nor was this the worst result of this unbridled enthusiasm for the martyr's crown. It led to the negation of political and social duties and to the needless violation of the purest and tenderest loyalties of the human heart. Lecky thus describes the martyrdom of St. Perpetua, an only daughter and a young mother twenty-two years old, upon whom her aged father depended for support and consolation:
He appealed to her by the memory of all the tenderness he had lavished upon her, by her infant child, by his own gray hairs that were soon to be brought down in sorrow to the grave. Forgetting in his deep anguish all the dignity of a parent, he fell upon his knees before his child, covered her hands with his kisses, and, the tears streaming from his eyes, implored her to have mercy upon him. But she was unshaken though not untouched; she saw her father frenzied with grief dragged from before the tribunal; she saw him tearing his white beard, and lying prostrate and broken-hearted on the prison floor; she went forth to die for a faith she loved more dearly-for a faith that told her that her father would be lost forever.'
Summing up the early Christian ideal of the saint we may say that it was based upon religious sanctions arising primarily from a personal attitude to God, loyalty to whom was the source of moral effort and the basis of brotherly co-operation and sympathy. The mise en scene of the final act of the drama was otherworldly. In the glow of enthusiasm for the expected consummation all questions as to rights, all distinctions as to property, social position, or political power disappeared. The saint then had no place for any moral values that emerge through conflicting interests or are accentuated through courageous assertion of personal rights. He had no appreciation of a social order that is kept at the highest History of European Morals, I, 415, 416.
pitch of vitality and capacity for progress through rational direction and control of contending forces. He recognized no rights or honors that are not the free gifts of the divine grace and therefore he had no immediate interest in the achievement nor in the maintenance of social justice. He was indifferent to existing conditions because he was fully convinced that the Kingdom of God and his righteousness would only be possible with the coming of a new heaven and a new earth.
This ideal which was so effective within the small group of early Christians did not suffice to meet the demands of the rapidly expanding faith that finally triumphed under Constantine. The very qualities that gave the apostolic group a most effective basis for solidarity carried the seeds of subsequent conflict and disintegration. An uncompromising and transcendental ethic based upon the expectation of the speedy end of the world, with the resulting discrediting of property, political life, and even of family ties, doubtless proved a powerful means for eliciting the spirit of sacrifice and the noblest feelings of group loyalty and of comradeship but it did not provide a satisfactory basis for a permanent social order. The ideal of the New Testament saint contemplated only a select community living in society but with no real interests in the immediate problems of the community. This social isolation made it possible to carry one phase of the moral life, namely, that of the ideal, to the highest pitch of perfection. For the purity and loftiness of its aims, for the charm of an ethical ideal that said to the saint "be ye perfect as your father in heaven is perfect," primitive Christianity left nothing to be desired. The indefeasible is the last word of moral idealism.
But the ideal is only one phase of the moral life. If the ideal is not to remain little more than the bright dream of well-intentioned visionaries it must be embodied in social activities. This side of the moral life was almost entirely neglected by the early saint. He had no theory of society and yet he must live in an advanced social order.
It was inevitable then with the access of Christianity to worldpower and with the rise of a new social order in the Middle Ages that the conception of the saint should undergo extensive modifi
cations. The ideal of the saint as preached by Paul, Ignatius, or Tertullian would have destroyed rather than furthered the social equilibrium demanded by the age of Aquinas. For the fundamental idea of early Christian saintliness, and perhaps its greatest weakness, lies in its pronounced dualism. It implies a sharp distinction between the worldly and the otherworldly, the natural and the supernatural. Indeed the moral dynamic of the primitive Christian saintliness lay in the frank acknowledgment of this dualism both in theory and practice. The existing social order was justified only as an instrument of moral discipline, or as the dark and imperfect background which served to accentuate the glory and transcendent beauty of the things that "do not yet appear." This is the fundamental idea of Augustine's great work the "City of God" which is the classic statement of the Christian philosophy of society and of history.
With the increasing identification of Christianity, at least in its institutional forms with society, the social values began to assert themselves. Hence the Middle Ages faced the problem of formulating the ideal of the saint which would conserve the moral idealism and the spiritual dynamic of the primitive otherworldly attitude and at the same time make a place for the values represented by society and its institutions. The solution which in time the Middle Ages worked out of this twofold problem of preserving the spiritual function of the saint and at the same time of making him an integral and necessary part of the social order arouses the profoundest admiration. That solution is still imperfectly perpetuated by the Roman Catholic church but with a strange and almost pathetic disregard for its lack of harmony with the changed conditions of modern life.
The unity of the mediaeval world-view, especially as it was formulated by Thomas Aquinas, does not always appear on the surface of things. To be sure we have in the church a great politicoreligious institution dominating apparently every phase of life. The church was the source of absolute authority and truth, the divine institution equipped with sacramental forms for the dispensation of supernatural power in grace and salvation. Subordinated to this supreme authority though vitally related to it as parts
of one organic whole, we have the classes and groups of society and the still lower levels of animate and inanimate nature. The cement by which mediaeval thinkers united these heterogeneous elements was found in the lex naturae of the Stoics, the teachings of the Bible, the tradition of the Fathers, and the philosophy of Aristotle. The result was indeed a wonderfully symmetrical structure in which all the various gradations of values embodied in physical nature and society were arranged in one logical whole, reaching their culmination and final interpretation in the spiritual sovereignty of a worldchurch.
Side by side with this idea of a world-church, however, and often antagonistic to its secularizing tendencies we find another conception of society, drawn directly from the gospels, which is constantly being emphasized from century to century. The dominating note here was ascetic or Weltverneinung, and the typical form through which it found expression was monasticism. The monastic orders with their ever-recurring efforts for reform were the logical continuation of the otherworldly saintliness of early Christianity. The monastic sects insisted that religion is primarily a subjective relation between the individual and God independent of the objective guarantees of the ecclesiastical forms. From the point of view of secularized Christianity the source of moral and spiritual energy lay in an institution which is superior to the life of the individual, and is the depository of absolute truth and supernatural spiritual power. For the ascetic, moral perfection was a personal matter and dependent upon ceaseless watchfulness; hence one cannot be content with a lesser degree of moral perfection nor may he relax his personal efforts in reliance upon cunningly devised and ecclesiastically sanctioned machinery for the manufacture of morality. Moral relativity from the secular point of view was a constituent element of the status quo in that it permitted the varying grades of moral perfection and the hierarchical constitution of society. For the ascetic sin was not to be tolerated because it permitted a stable social equilibrium but it must be eradicated and a new social order created after the evangelical ideal. On the one hand we have a secularized moral ideal based upon the principle of relativity and thereby permitting the introduction of some sort of unity into the