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Distribution of Controversies.
the practical question of the springs of human action, and the conditions and modus operandi of individual salvation, engaged their warmest interest. The Eastern Churches, meanwhile, took little or no share in it, having still on hand unexhausted materials for controversies more congenial to their taste, because more purely speculative, on points connected with the mysteries of the Godhead, and the Person of Christ. The whole Christianity of Western Africa rejected, with an almost instinctive repugnance, the colder and more philosophic reasonings of Pelagius; and, under the leadership of Augustine, as their great oracle and hero, its Churches threw themselves into the controversy with their characteristic impetuosity and ardour. But, in contrast to all this, in the East the glowing writings of Augustine were not understood, probably not known. Or, if they were, yet his "predestinarian notions," even with the attractive charm of the metaphysical speculations to which they have so close an affinity, "never seem to have been congenial to the Christianity of the Greeks;" and neither Constantinople nor Alexandria took any interest in these questions. It is, indeed, a remarkable fact, and one signally illustrative of the characteristic difference existing, ab initio, between Greek and Latin Christianity, that, of the two great ecclesiastical controversies in the first four centuries, each should have had its own heroes and its peculiar battle-field; the Eastern and the Western Churches taking, separately and by reciprocal turns, the different parts of champions and spectators. But so it was. The Pelagian controversy, mainly in the hands of Western disputants, was carried on in a spirit equally earnest, and sometimes by means equally objectionable, with those which marked the earlier controversy on the subject of the Trinity. But, as in the former case, so in the latter, the sympathy with what was going on, was almost wholly restricted to that half of the general Church, still reputed, nevertheless, to be one and indivisible, in which the controversy had originated. While the East stood aloof, serene and unimpassioned, throughout the Pelagian controversy, the Nestorian controversy, which, with its kindred controversies, involved the whole East in a continual flame, and made the settlement of the dogmatic system of the Church a strife of two centuries, was contemplated by Latin Christianity with a retaliatory indifference; and, like several other Eastern feuds, made so little progress in the West, as scarcely to disturb the equanimity of even Rome itself.
"While Council after Council promulgated, reversed, re-enacted their conflicting decrees; while separate and hostile communities were formed in every region of the East, and the fears of persecuted Nestorianism, stronger than religious zeal, penetrated for refuge remote countries into which Christianity had not yet found its way,
VOL. IV. NO. VII.
in the West there was no Nestorian or Eutychian sect. Some Councils condemned, but with hardly an audible remonstrance, their uncongenial heresies; the doctrines are condemned, but there appears no body of heretics whom it is thought necessary to strike with the anathema. The Bishop of Rome, unembarrassed with the intricacies of the question, which had no temptation for his more practical understanding, with the whole West participating in his comparative apathy, could sit at a distance, a tranquil arbiter, and interfere only when he saw his own advantage, or when all parties, exasperated or wearied out, gladly submitted to any foreign and unpledged judgment."-Latin Christianity, vol. i., pp. 137, 138.
Again, the difference in the characteristic features which, on its introduction into the system of external Christianity, Monasticism exhibited in the East and in the West, respectively, finds its explanation, to a great extent, in local circumstances, both contemporaneous and historical. In its principle as a system of religious, and not merely philosophical, asceticism, it had its origin in the remotest East. But in its expansion westward, it was already spreading its insidious and bewitching leaven in Egypt and its vicinity at least, if not also in Palestine and Syria, when Christ appeared. The Eastern Churches were thus the earliest to be affected by it. The origin of asceticism, and especially of that species of it which may be called "monasticism proper," as connected with Christianity, is referred by Dean Milman and others to the fourth century. But if Ricaut is to be credited, Eremites, at least of Christian, as well as of other names, were to be found in considerable numbers at a much earlier period. Speaking of Mount Athos, he observes that,—
Though St. Basil was the first author and founder of the order of Greek monks, so that before his time there could be none who professed the strict way of living in convents and religious societies, I mean in Greece; yet certainly, before this time, the convenience of the place, and the situation thereof, might invite Hermites, and persons delighted in solitary devotions, of which the world, in the first and second century, did abound."*
At all events, according to Sozomen,† towards the close of the third century, there were thousands of monks Egypt and its vicinity, rivalled in numbers by the monks of Palestine, Syria, and the adjoining countries; and numerous monasteries had already been established in all these places.‡ Whereas it was not until the time of Athanasius and Jerome,
* "Present State of the Greek and Armenian Churches," (A.D. 1678,) p. 218. +"Ecclesiastical History," lib. vi., cap. 43.
‡ Aones, according to Sozomen, was reputed to have been the first who led a monastic life in Mesopotamia. And, as though he would make his own virtues doubly illustrious by contrast with the less (?) saintly of Old Testament worthies, the place selected as the home, so to speak, of his celibate virtues, was no other than the Padan of old, where Jacob made Rachel his wife !"-Ecclesiastical History, lib. vi., cap. 33.
that is, about a century later, that Cœnobite monasticism was adopted in Central and Western Europe, or even in Western Africa, to such extent as to have attracted the attention of ecclesiastical writers. This appears from Tertullian, who, writing in the second century, and specially representing the Western Churches, says, "We are no Brahmins, or Indian Gymnosophists, no dwellers in the woods, no recluses retired. from the haunts of men.'
Moreover, the monasticism of the Churches of the East affected a severity in its discipline more nearly resembling the original type, than did that of the less mystic and more practical Western Churches. It were, perhaps, too much out of harmony with Dean Milman's estimate of Latin Christianity, and not quite consistent with the facts of the case as to its earlier history, to say with Jortin, that "the difference between the Eastern and Western monks was, that the first were usually the greater fools, and the latter the greater knaves." But the monasticism of the latter
"Was practical more than speculative; it looked more to the performance of rigid duty, the observance of an austere ritual, the alternation of severe toil with the recitation of certain sacred offices, or the reading appointed portions of books, than to dreamy indolence and meditative silence, only broken by the discussion of controverted points of theology. It partook of that comparative disinclination to the more subtle religious controversy, which distinguished Roman from Greek and Oriental Christendom; and, excepting the school of semi-Pelagianism propagated by the Oriental Cassianus, among the monasteries in the neighbourhood of Marseilles, the monasteries were the seats of submissive, un-inquiring," and the Dean might have added-purblind and gloomy, "orthodoxy."-Vol. i., pp. 409, 410.
As to external austerities, it is not strictly in accordance, either with historical truth, or with the Dean's own statements elsewhere, to say that "the Roman character embraced monastic Christianity in all its extremest rigour, its sternest asceticism, with the same ardour and energy," as that with which it "interworked Christianity in general." He elsewhere gives us his own authority for saying, that "the Hermits in the West had neither the ingenious nor the ostentatious self-tortures which were common in the East; nor had they any men who stood for decades of years upon a lofty pillar." To the latter statement, indeed, there was a solitary exception, in the case of one Vulfilaic, a monk of Lombardy, (A.D. 591,) who had a pillar erected for him at Treves, and stood upon it barefoot, enduring great hardship in the winter; until the Bishops compelled him to come down, and to live like other monks;
telling him that the severity of the climate would not permit him to imitate the great Simeon of Antioch.* But, in general, the Western monks were rather the disciples of the old Prophet Elijah and of John the Baptist, than of St. Simeon, or any other of the self-martyred Eastern fanatics. But what might be wanting in outward austerities, was abundantly made up by the severity of the restrictions and privations which were imposed upon the inner man. The luxurious appetite for intellectual and imaginative indulgence, which, according to his own statement, was so perilous to Jerome in his cave at Bethlehem, as to require stripes, by way of supplement to prayer and fasting, for the purpose of its being held in due restraint, had small chance of being pampered in "the narrow cell or mountain-cloister." Rather, in the solitudes which were the homesteads of the Western recluses, its chance, and more frequently its certain doom, was that of absolute starvation and extinction. Still, these intellectual hardships, as they must often have been felt to be in the first instance, found their relief, in part, from other circumstances, created by the very position into which they were thus so unnaturally thrown. În every thing that lives, and especially in every thing that has a tendency to growth, or a power of expansion, whether it be vegetable or animal, intellectual or spiritual, there is a law of nature, irresistible while life continues, in virtue of which, if it be hindered or compressed in one direction, it will, with a redoubled power, exert itself in another. Thus, in the case in question,—
"If the reason was suppressed with such unmitigated proscription, the imagination, while"-still true, so far as might be, to the power of habit-"it shrunk from those metaphysical abstractions which are so congenial to Eastern mysticism, had full scope in the ordinary occurrences of life, which it transmuted into perpetual miracle. mind was centred on itself; its sole occupation was the watching the emotions, the pulsations of the religious life; it impersonated its impulses; it attributed to external or to foreign, but indwelling powers, the whole strife within. Every thing fostered-even the daily labour, which might have checked, carried on in solitude and in silence, encouraged the vague and desultory dreaminess of the fancy. Men plunged into the desert alone, or united themselves with others,
* Fleury, "Ecclesiastical History," book xxxv., chap. 22.
+ Sozomen and other writers have been pleased to claim Elijah as the founder and patron of monasticism. There is a legend to the effect that the hermit St. Paul was fed, in his seclusion, after the manner of Elijah. For Fleury informs us, that on the occasion of a visit paid to him by St. Anthony, as they discoursed together, they saw a raven perched upon a tree, which, flying gently, came and laid a whole loaf before them, then flew away. 'Ha!' says St. Paul, see the goodness of the Lord, who has sent us food. For these sixty years have I received half a loaf daily; but, upon your coming, Jesus Christ has doubled the portion.' ”—Ecclesiastical History, book xii., chap. 16.
Extension of Christianity.
(for there is no contagion so irresistible as that of religious emotion,) under a deep conviction that there was a fierce contest taking place for the soul of each individual, not between moral influences and unseen and spiritual agencies, but between beings palpable, material, or at least having at their command material agents, and constantly controlling the course of nature."-Latin Christianity, vol. i., p. 411.
Considerable stress is laid by Dean Milman on the superior activity of the West, as compared with the East, in the propagation of their respective forms of Christianity. But it was not until the final extinction of Paganism,-at least, not until the separation of Greek from Latin Christianity,-that the contrast between them, in this respect, was very remarkable. Previously to the period last-mentioned, and even so early as the year 300, Christianity, under Eastern patronage, "had found its way among the Goths and some of the German tribes of the Rhine."
"The Visigoths first embraced the Gospel, as a nation; they were followed by the Ostrogoths: with these the Vandals and the Gepida were converted during the fourth century. At the close of the fifth century the Franks were converted, and at the beginning of the sixth, first the Alemanni, then the Lombards; the Bavarians in the seventh and eighth; the Frisians, Hessians, and Thuringians in the eighth; the Saxons by the sword (!) of Charlemagne in the ninth. With the exception of the latter, the whole of these nations were the conquests of Arian Christianity, or embraced it during the early period of their belief. But of those early Arian Missionaries, the Arian records, if they ever existed, have almost entirely perished. The Church was either ignorant, or disdained to preserve their memory. Ulphilas alone, the Apostle of the Goths, has, as it were, forced his way into the Catholic records, in which, as in the fragments of his great work, his translation of the Scriptures into the Maso-Gothic language, this admirable man has descended to posterity. His ancestors, during a predatory expedition of the Goths into Asia, under the reign of Gallienus, had been swept away with many other captives, some belonging to the Clergy, from a village in Cappadocia, to the Gothic settlements north of the Danube. These captives, faithful to their creeds, perpetuated and propagated among their masters the doctrines of Christianity."History of Latin Christianity, vol. i., pp. 269-273.
But afterwards the contrast is very strongly marked. They "ceased," in a great degree, in comparison with their brethren in the West, "to be creative or aggressive," with reference to efforts for the spread of Christianity. This did not, however, arise wholly from difference of inherent or acquired character,
* The Christianity of the Goths, according to Fleury, was not Arian at the first. Till the time of the return of Ulphilas from his embassy to Constantinople, A.D. 378, "they had followed the apostolical doctrine which they had at first received; and even at that time they did not wholly forsake it."-Fleury's Ecclesiastical History, book xvii., chap. 36.