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REVIEW OF THE AGE OF FAITH. 407.
in Italy in the twelfth century. Sculpture, at first merged in architecture, had extricated herself from that bondage in the fourteenth. The mendicant orders, acquiring wealth, became munificent patrons. From caligraphic illustrations to the grand works of Michael Angelo and Raffaele is a prodigious advance, yet it took but a short time to accomplish it. I have now completed the history of the European Age of Faith as far as is necessary for the purposes of this book. It embraces a period of more than a thousand years, counting from the reign of Constantine. It remains to consider the intellectual peculiarity that marks the whole period-to review briefly the agents that exerted an influence upon it and conducted it to its close. Philosophically, the most remarkable peculiarity is the employment of a false logic, a total misconception of the nature of evidence. It is illustrated by miracle-proofs, trial by battle, ordeal tests, and a universal belief in supernatural agency even for objectless purposes. On the principles of this logic, if the authenticity of a thing or the proof of a statement be required, it is supposed to be furnished by an astounding illustration of something else. (If the character of a princess is assailed, she offers a champion, he proves victorious, and therefore she was not frail. If a national assembly, after a long discussion, can not decide ” whether children should inherit the property of their father during the lifetime of their grandfather,” an equal number of equal combatants is chosen for each side; they fight; the champions of the children prevail, and therefore the law is fixed in their favor. A relic of some martyr is bought at a great price; no one seeks to criticise the channel through which it has come, but every one asks, Can it work a miracle? A vast institution demands the implicit obedience of all men. It justifies its claim, not by the history of the past, but by promises and threats of the future. A decrepit crone is suspected of witchcraft. She is stripped naked and thrown into the nearest pond: if she sinks, she is innocent; if she swims, she is in commerce with the Devil. In all such cases the intrinsic peculiarity of the logic is obvious enough; it shows a complete misconception of the nature of evidence. Yet this ratiocination governed Europe for a thousand years, giving birth to those marvelous and supernatural explanations of physical phenomena and events on which we now look back with unfeigned surprise, half disbelieving that it was possible for our ancestors to have credited such things. Against this preposterous logic the Mohammedans and Jews struck the first blows. We have already heard what Algazzali the Arabian says respecting the enchanter who would prove that three is greater than ten by changing a stick into a serpent. The circumstances under which the Jewish physicians acted we shall consider presently.
408 SUPERNATURAL LOGIC.
It will not be useless to devote a little space to this belief in the supernatural. It offers an opportunity of showing how false notions may become universal, embody themselves in law and practical life, and, wonderful to be said, how they may, without any thing being done to destroy them; vanish from sight of themselves, like night-spectres before the day. At present we only encounter them among the lowest peasant grades, or those who have purposely been kept in the most abject state of ignorance. Less than a century ago the clergy of Spain wished to have the Opera prohibited, because that ungodly entertainment had given rise to a want of rain; but now, in a country so intellectually backward as that-a witch was burned there so lately as AD. 1781-such an attempt would call up sly wit, and make the rabble of Madrid suspect that the archbishop was smarting under the rivalry of the prima donna, and that he was furbishing up the rusty ecclesiastical enginery to sustain his cause. In the day of their power the ecclesiastical profession were the supporters of this delusion. They found it suitable to their interests, and, by dint of at first persuading others to believe, they at last, by habit, came to believe in it themselves. The Mohammedans and Jews were the first to assail it philosophically and by sarcasm, but its final ruin was brought about by the action of the two other professions, the legal and the medical. The lawyers, whose advent to power is seen in the history of Philip the Fair, and whose rise from that time was very rapid, were obliged to introduce the true methods of evidence; the physicians, from their pursuits, were perpetually led to the material explanation of natural phenomena in contradistinction to the mystical. It is to the honor of both these professions that they never sought for a perpetuation of power by schemes of vast organization, never attempted to delude mankind by stupendous impostures, never compelled them to desist from the expression of their thoughts, and even from thinking, by alliances with civil power. Far from being the determined antagonists of human knowledge, they uniformly fostered it, and, in its trials, defended it. The lawyers were hated because they replaced supernatural logic by philosophical logic; the physicians, because they broke down the profitable but mendacious system of miraclecures by relics and at shrines. Yet the Church is not without excuse. In all her varied history it was impossible to disentangle her from the principles which at the beginning had entered into her political organization. For good or evil, right or wrong, her necessity required that she should put herself forth as the possessor of all knowledge within the reach of human intellect-the infallible arbitress of every question that could arise among men. Doubtless it was a splendid imposture, capable for a time of yielding great results, but sooner or later certain to be unmasked.
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