Imatges de pÓgina

ample, expressed the basic Greek ideals of life, proportion, measure, balance, rhythm, rational self-control. The Christian saint, however, was a new creation; his fundamental virtues were no longer temperance, courage, wisdom, and justice, but faith, hope, and love. Love without measure had taken the place of rational self-control! There were new emotions, new attitudes, new views of life; and these new values, these new ideals, actually distorted classical linguistic forms; the new wine broke the old bottles. Christianity actually evolved a new repertoire of sentiments and attitudes and ideas; the portrayal of Christian experience in connection with the life of Jesus in Christian art makes this evident to all. The result was a Christian literature, old in materials, but new in spirit. These new feelings were the symbols of a new world.

The Inner Life is an Impossible Ideal

The Middle Ages was a period whose chief characteristic was the fusion of opposites, the struggle of contradictions. The older pagan elements were in constant warfare with the newer Christian spirit; the former characteristics were rooted in the world-old instincts of the human mind, the Christian spirit was a new attitude which aimed at a complete transformation of the world. The Greek and Roman consciousness expressed itself in the medieval state; but the state to the medieval Christian consciousness was merely a secular or worldly organization which—as the moon borrows all its light from the sun-derived its temporary significance from the Church. The Greek

love of wisdom was kept alive in Scholasticism but the mediæval intellect never faced reality directly as did the Greek mind; mediæval philosophy was but an instrument in the service of Christian faith. The dualism of state and church is paralleled by the dualism of knowledge and faith. This juxtaposition of conflicting ideals is most apparent in the medieval ethics of the family; the Christian dogma of the divine mother and the Germanic idea of the sacredness of woman, go along with the monastic doctrine of the utter sinfulness of sexual love and marriage! The world-old pagan instinct of sex, with its love of child and its devotion to woman, stood in open opposition to the medieval type of abstract spirituality. In the institution of chivalry there was evolved and refined the quasi-Christian sentiment of love. But this new sentiment was not made the basis of the Christian family until the period of the Reformation. Mediæval chivalry was the result of the influence of the Prince of Peace over the god of war; but the warriors of Charle magne or even the warrior monks of the Crusades could hardly have understood the true significance of the Sermon on the Mount. Mediæval art revealed the reality of the "inner" life; but it never synthesized the "inner" and the "outer" worlds.

Nor need we be surprised at the number of unsolved contradictions in the Middle Ages; for the Middle Ages represent a break in the development of Western civilization. There could not have been a complete synthesis of the newer Christian conscience and the old pre-Christian institutions-the state, learning, the family, art, and literature-in the Middle Ages

because the fall of the Roman Empire removed the very foundations of culture and civilization, upon which the new conscience might have built a still higher level of life. Had the old foundations of culture remained in Palestine and Greece and Rome, there might have been a gradual transformation of the older ethnic morality of Moses and Solon and Cato by the newer morality of Socrates and Epictetus and Jesus. But the older civilizations of the West passed away. The Catholic Church was the only link with the past. To her fell the task of laying the foundations for another civilization. The Christianity of the Middle Ages was not the Christianity of Jesus; it was rather a continuation of the Hebrew priesthood, whose business was not to preach the Gospel but to teach the Law. The ethics of Jesus would have been impossible in the Middle Ages. The world demanded unity and order, not freedom; and the medieval Church met this need. It was a period of centralization; the Emperor symbolized unity of government, the Pope, unity of religious belief; Scholasticism guaranteed unity of thought; art provided a medium for the expression of a common religious experience; the Latin language gave all Europe a common medium of thought and social interTo provide a spiritual authority coördinate with the Empire; to evolve a system of morals and religion compatible with reason; to transform the spirit of war; to transmute the instinct of sex into the sentiment of love, and thus to lay the basis for a new type of family; to create a type of art and architecture which made real and dominant the spiritual life; to give to the world a new kind of emotional experience-such


were the achievements of the Middle Ages.

They were epoch-making achievements, for upon these achievements, and upon these alone, as its necessary foundation, could modern morality be developed.



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