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of national power, of the utilisation for the common advantage of national resources, which ennoble a Materialistic tendency, because, though they start from matter, yet they leaven it with force. This would result in the Materialism of prosperity: Rome knew that of decay. Philosophy is compatible with the first, as with all that has principles; she disappears, or has rather already disappeared, when those horrors break in of which we will here forbear to say anything
Yet we must point out the undeniable fact, that, in the centuries when the abominations of a Nero, a Caligula, or even of a Heliogabalus, polluted the globe, no philosophy was more neglected, none was more foreign to the spirit of the time, than that of all which demanded the coldest blood, the calmest contemplation, the most sober and purely prosaic inquiry—the philosophy of Demokritos and Epikuros.
The age of Perikles was the blossoming-time of the materialistic and sensationalistic philosophy of antiquity : its fruits ripened in the time of Alexandrian learning, in the two centuries immediately before Christ. 4
But as the masses under the Empire were drunk with the double intoxication of vice and of the mysteries, no sober disciple was to be found, and philosophy died out. In those times, as everybody knows, prevailed Neo-Platonic and Neo-Pythagorean systems, in which many nobler elements of the past were overpowered by fanaticism and Oriental mysticism. Plotinus was ashamed that he had a body, and would never name his parents. Here we have already in philosophy the height of the anti-Materialistic tendency-an element that was still mightier in the field to which it properly belonged—that of Religion. Never have religions flourished with such wild luxuriance and in such wide variety, from the purest to the most abominable shapes, as in the three first centuries after Christ. No wonder, then, that even the philosophers of this time often appeared as priests and apostles. Stoicism, whose doctrine had naturally a theological turn, first yielded to this tendency, and was therefore the longest respected of the older schools, till it was outbid and supplanted by the ascetic mysteries of Neo-Platonism.5
4 It is therefore at once unfair and pendent as Draper shows himself in inaccurate when Draper, in his in his final judgments and his whole mode many respects valuable “History of of thought, there nevertheless appears the Intellectual Development of Eu- in his account of Epikuros, and perrope,” identifies Epikureanism with haps still more in the way in which the hypocritical infidelity of the men he makes Aristotle an experienceof the world, to whom “ society is in- philosopher, the obvious influence of debted for more than half its corrup- erroneous traditions. tions” (vol. i. pp. 168, 169). Iude
It has been often said that incredulity and superstition further and excite each other; yet we must not allow ourselves to be dazzled by the antithesis. Only by weighing the specific causes and by the severe discrimination of time and circumstance can we see how far it is true.
When a rigorously scientific system, resting upon solid principles, on well-considered grounds excludes faith from science, it will most certainly, and even more entirely, exclude all vague superstitions. In times, however, and under circumstances in which scientific studies are as much disordered and disorganised as the national and primitive forms of faith, this proposition has indeed its application. So was it in imperial times.
5 Zeller, Phil. d. Griech., iii. 1, S. who resorted to them for a solution of 289, E. T. tr. Reichel (= Stoics, &c.), perplexing cases of practical morals, p. 323: “In a word, Stoicism is not or under the influence of despondency only a philosophic, but also a religious
." For the extinction of system. As such it was regarded by the Stoic influence, and its supplantits first adherents, and as such, ing by the Neo-Platonic mysticism, together with Platonism, it afforded comp. Lecky, loc. cit., p. 337. in subsequent times, to the best and Zeller, iii. 2, S. 381, observes: “Neomost cultivated men, a substitute for Platonism is a religious system, and declining natural religion, a satisfac- it is so not merely in the sense in tion for religious cravings, and a sup- which Platonism and Stoicism may port for moral life, wherever the in- also be so described : it is not merely fluence of Greek culture extended." content to apply to the moral duties Lecky, Hist. Eur. Morals, i. 327, and spiritual life of man a philosophy says of the Roman Stoics of the first starting from the idea of God, but two centuries : "On occasions of nevertheless attained by a scientific family bereavement, when the mind method. But even its scientific view is most susceptible of impressions, of the world reflects from first to last they were habitually called in to con- the religious disposition of man, and sole the survivors. Dying men asked is thoroughly dominated by the wish their comfort and support in the last to meet his religious needs, and to hours of their life. They became the bring him into the most intimate perdirectors of the conscience of numbers sonal communion with the Deity.”
There was then, in truth, no tendency, no need of life which had not a corresponding religious form; but by the side of the wanton festivals of Bacchus, the secret and alluring mysteries of Isis, there silently spread, wider and wider, the love of a strict and self-denying asceticism.
As in the case of individuals who have become blasé and enervate after exhausting all pleasures, at last the one charm of novelty remains—that of an austere, selfdenying life; so was it on a large scale in the ancient world; and thus it was only natural that this new tendency, being as it was in sharpest contrast with the cheerful sensuousness of the older world, led men to an extreme of world-avoidance and self-renunciation.6
Christianity, with its wonderfully fascinating doctrine of the kingdom that is not of this world, seemed to offer the most admirable support to these views.
The religion of the oppressed and the slave, of the weary and heavy-laden, attracted also the luxurious rich who could no longer be satisfied with luxury and wealth. And so with the principle of renunciation was allied that of universal brotherhood, which contained new spiritual delights for the heart seared by selfishness. The longing of the wandering and isolated spirit after a close tie of community and a positive belief was satisfied; and the firm coherence of the believers, the imposing union of communities ramifying everywhere through the wide world, effected more for the propagation of the new religion than the mass of miracles that was related to willingly believing ears. Miracle was, in short, not so much a missionary instrument as a necessary complement of faith in a time that set no measure to its love or its belief in miracles. In this respect not only did priests of Isis and magicians compete with Christianity, but even philosophers appeared in the character of miracle-workers and Godaccredited prophets. The feats of a Cagliostro and a Gassner in modern times are but a faint copy of the performances of Apollonius of Tyana, the most famous of the prophets, whose miracles and oracles were partly believed even by Lucian and Origen. But the result of all this was to show that only simple and consistent principles can work a lasting miracle—that miracle, at least, which gradually united the scattered nations and creeds around the altar of the Christians.7
6 An account of this extreme, as it third century, is to be found in Lecky, inade itself specially felt after the Hist. Eur. Morals, ii. 107 foll.
Christianity, by preaching the gospel to the poor, unhinged the ancient world. 8 What will appear in the fulness of time as an actual fact, the spirit of faith already apprehended in imagination-the kingdom of love, in which the last are to be first. The stern legal idea of the Romans, which built order upon force, and made property the immovable foundation of human relations, was met by a demand, made with incredible weight, that one should renounce all private claims, should love one's enemies, sacrifice one's treasures, and esteem the malefactor on the scaffold equally with one's self.
7 As to the spread of Christianity, the wave of credulity that brought compare the celebrated fifteenth chap with it this long train of Oriental ter of Gibbon, which is full of mate superstitions and legends. . . . Its rial for the estimation of this fact miracles were accepted by both friend from the most varied standpoints and foe as the ordinary accompani. More correct views, however, are put ments of religious teaching." forward by Lecky in his “History of 8 How much the influence of the European Morals,” and in the “His- Christian care for the poor was felt is tory of Rationalism in Europe.” As shown by the remarkable fact that the chief work on the theological side, Julian 'the Apostate,' in his attempt may be named Baur, das Christen- to supplant Christianity by a philothum, u. die christliche Kirche der sophic Greek State - religion, openly drei ersten Jahrhunderte. From the recognised the superiority of Chris. philosophico - historical standpoint, tianity in this respect to the old reli. E. von Lasaulx, der Untergang des gion. He recommended, accordingly, Hellenismus u. die Einziehung seiner in order to rival the Christians in Tempelgüter durch die christl. Kaiser, this respect, the establishment in München, 1854. For further every town of Xenodocheia, in which literature, see in Ueberweg in the strangers should be received without “History of the Patristic Philosophy,” respect to creed. For the maintea section of his history which unfortu- nance of them, and also for distri. nately has not met with the approba- bution to the poor, he devoted con. tion it deserves (comp. my Biographie siderable sums of money. “For it is Ueberwegs, Berlin, 1871, S. 21, 22). disgraceful,” he wrote to Arsacius,
On the miracle-mania which the high - priest of the Galatians, marked this period, compare particu- “that no one of the Jews begs, while larly Lecky, Hist. of Eur. Morals, the atheistic Galileans not only main. i. 393. Also p. 395 as to miracle- tain their own poor, but also any working philosophers: “Christianity whom we leave helpless.”—Lasaulx, Hoated into the Roman Empire on Untergang des Hellenismus, S. 68.
A mysterious awe of these doctrines seized the ancient world,9 and those in power sought in vain by cruel persecutions to repress a revolution which overturned all existing things, and laughed not only at the prison and the stake, but even at religion and law. In the bold self-sufficiency of the salvation which a Jewish traitor, who had suffered the death of a slave, had brought down from heaven as a gracious gift from the eternal Father, this sect conquered country after country, and was able, while clinging to its main principles, little by little to press into the service of the new creation the superstitious ideas, the sensuous inclinations, the passions, and the legal conceptions of the heathen world, since they could not be wholly destroyed. The place of old Olympus, with its wealth of myth, was occupied by the saints and martyrs. Gnosticism constituted the elements
& Compare Tacitus, ls, xv. ciating amongst themselves, together 44, where it is said that Nero laid the with their hatred of others, was blame of the burning of Rome upon frequently made a subject of rethe Christians. He “inflicted the proach to the Jews also. Lasaulx, most exquisite tortures on a class Untergang des Hellenismus, S. 7 hated for their abominations, called foll., shows the internal necessity of Christians by the populace. Christus, this view of the Romans, and quotes from whom the name had its origin,suf. similar judgments from, Suetonius and fered the extreme penalty during the the younger Pliny. In the same place, reign of Tiberius, at the hands of one of very accurate references to the intoler. our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and ance (strange to Greeks and Romans a most mischievous superstition, thus alike) of the Monotheistic religions, checked for the moment, again broke amongst which Christianity particuout, not only in Judaea, the first larly from the first took up an offensive source of the evil, but even in Rome, attitude. Gibbon reckons as one where all things hideous and shame of the chief causes of the rapid propaful from every part of the world find gation of Christianity its intolerant their centre and become popular. zeal, and the expectation of another Accordingly, an arrest was first made world. For the threatening of of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon the whole human race with the evertheir information, an immense multi. lasting torments of hell, and the intude was convicted, not so much of fluence of this threat upon the Rothe crime of firing the city, as of hat. mans, comp. Lecky, Hist. Eur, sed against mankind.” Their asso. Morals, i. 47 foll.