TENDENCIES OF EUROPEAN THOUGHT IN THE AGE OF
By the Rev. A. M. FAIRBAIEN, D.D.
The new intellectual movements . 690
Religion and philosophy . 691
Renaissance and Reformation. Latin and Teuton . 692
Characteristics of the two systems of thought . 693
Influence of Lorenzo Valla on the Reformers . 694
Mysticism Pico della Mirandola and Reuchlin . 695
Occasion of the Epistolae obscurorum virorum . 696
Erasmus and his influence . 697
The letters of Erasmus . 698
His critical work and religious attitude . 699
The spirit of the Latin Renaissance . 700
Gemistus Plethon and the Neo-Platonists . 701
The Platonic Academy. The new Aristotelians . 702
Pomponazzi and his philosophy . 703
The new scholasticism . 704
New attitude of the defenders of the Church . 705
Bernardino Telesio . 706
Campanella. Giordano Bruno .707
The life and death of Giordano . 708
His philosophy . 709
The French Renaissance . 710
Rabelais and Montaigne . 711
The Teutonic Renaissance . 712
Characteristics of the movement . 713
Luther. Jakob Boehme . 714
The Anabaptists. The will of God . 715
Heretical views of the Deity., 716
The philosophy of Predestination . 717
The new scholarship . .718
TENDENCIES OF EUROPEAN THOUGHT IN THE AGE OF THE REFORMATION.
WHEN the sixteenth century opens, the West, with the exception of Italy, is still medieval, distinguished by a superficial uniformity of mind, thinking ideas which it has ceased to believe and using a learned tongue which it can hardly be said to understand. When the century closes, the West, with the possible exception of Italy, now fallen as far to the rear as she once stood in the van, has become modern ; its States have developed what we may term a personal consciousness and an individual character, have created a vernacular literature and a native art, and have faced new problems which they seek by the help of their new tongues to state and to solve. In Spain, the land of ancestral and undying pride, the humours of a decayed chivalry have been embodied in a tale which moves to laughter without ever provoking to contempt. In Portugal the navigators have created afresh the epic feeling ; a new Iliad has been begotten, where swifter ships plough a vaster sea than was known to the ancient Greeks, where braver heroes than Agamemnon do battle against a mightier Troy, while travellers fare to remoter and stranger lands than those visited by Odysseus. In France, where the passion for unity is beginning to work like madness in the brain, Rabelais speaks in his mother tongue the praises of the new learning ; Montaigne makes it the vehicle of the new temper and its cultured doubt ; Clement Marot uses it to sing the Psalms of the ancient Hebrew race ; John Calvin to defend and commend his strenuous faith; while Descartes, born in this century though writing in the next, states his method, defines his problem, and determines the evolution of modern philosophy, in the language of the people as well as in that of the learned. In England the century began in literary poverty, but it ended in the unapproached wealth of the Elizabethan age. In Germany, where the main intellectual interest was theological and confessional, Martin Luther gave the people hymns that often sound like echoes of the Hebrew Psalter ; Kepler, listening to the music which nature reserves for the devout ear, discovered the unity which moves through her apparent disorder ; and Jakob Boehme, though but a cobbler, had visions of higher mysteries than the proud can see. The Netherlands proved
We are met at the threshold by a two-fold difficulty-one which concerns the included thought, and another which concerns the thought excluded. The sixteenth century is great in religion rather than philosophy, and stands in remarkable contrast to its immediate successor, which is great in philosophy rather than religion. With the latter, the great modern intellectual systems may be said to begin ; and to it belong such names as Bacon and Descartes, Hobbes and Locke, Spinoza and Leibniz, Gassendi and Malebranche. But without the earlier century the later would have been without its problems and therefore without its thinkers. The preeminence of the one in religion involved the preeminence of the other in thought ; for what exercises the spirit tends to emancipate speculation and raises issues that reason must discuss and resolve before it can be at peace with itself and its world. Hence the thought whose course we have to follow is thought in transition, dealing with the old questions, yet waking to the new, quickened by what is behind to enquire into what is within and foreshadow what is before. But, while the thought that is to concern us may thus be described as moving in the realm of our ultimate religious ideas, the thought that is not to concern us moves in the realm of political and social theory. The two realms touch, indeed, and even interpenetrate ; yet they are distinct. The ideal of human society is a religious ideal ; but it is a consequence or a combination of religious ideas rather than one of the ideas themselves. Hence, though certain of the most potent thinkers of the sixteenth century occupied themselves with the constitution and order of human society, with the actual or ideal State both in itself and in relation to the actual or ideal Church, yet they must here be rigorously excluded, and our view confined to the thought that had to do with the religious interpretation of man and his Universe.
It is customary to distinguish the Renaissance, as the revival of letters, from the Reformation as the revival of religion. But the distinction is neither formally correct nor materially exact. The Renaissance was not necessarily secular and classical-it might be, and often was, both religious and Christian ; nor was the Reformation essentially religious and moral-it might be and often was political and secular. Of the two revivals the one is indeed in point of time the
The roots of the difference may be found, partly, in the minds that studied the literatures, and partly in the literatures they studied, though even here the qualities, the interests, and the motives of the minds only stand the more clearly revealed. The difference is better expressed by a racial than by a temporal distinction ; the term " race," indeed, as here used does not denote a unity of blood, which can seldom if ever exist, but unities of language, inheritance, association, and ideas. In this sense, the Catholic South was in speech, in custom, in social temper, in political and municipal institutions distinctly Latin ; and for similar reasons the Protestant North may be termed Teutonic. Now of these two the Latin race was in thought the more secular, while the Teutonic was the more religious; but as regards custom and institutions the Latin peoples were the more conservative, while the Teutonic were the more inclined to radical change. And this is a difference which their respective histories may in some measure explain. The Latin race, especially in Italy, was the heir of the Roman Empire, still a vivid memory and a living influence; its monuments survived, its paganism had not utterly perished ; its gods were still named in popular speech ; customs which it had sanctioned and dreams which it had begotten persisted, having refused, as it were, to undergo Christian baptism. Italy was to the Latins as much a holy land as Palestine had been to the Crusaders, with graves and relics and shrines lying in every valley and looking out from every hill ; and these appealed all the more to the imagination since ecclesiastical Rome was a reality and imperial Rome a memory and a dream. The Eternal City was like a desolate widow who yet tarried and yearned for the return of the Caesar who had been her spouse.
And if Rome lived in the dust of her ancient roads and the ruins of her temples, the Italian peoples and States seemed singularly suggestive of Greece. Their republics and tyrants, their civic life and military adventurers, their rich cities with their colonies and commerce, their rapid changes of fortune, their swift oscillations from freedom to bondage and from bondage back to freedom, their love of art and of letters, their mutual jealousies and ambitions were Greek rather than Roman ; indeed at certain moments they might almost make us feel as if ancient Greece had risen from the dead and come to live upon the Italian soil. Here then the Renaissance could not but be classical : not the product of some accident like the capture of a city or the fall of an ancient dynasty,
Now these differing conditions made it as natural that the Teutonic Renaissance should concern itself with the early Christian ideal as that the Latin should with the ancient classical literature ; and, where they touched religion, that the one should be more occupied with its intellectual side and the other with its institutional ; for where the Roman Empire had lived the Roman Church now governed. The literature which the , Teutonic mind mainly loved and studied and edited was patristic and Christian ; but the literature which the Latin mind chiefly cultivated was classical and pagan. The Latin taught the Teuton how to read, to edit, and to handle ancient books ; but nature taught both of them the logic that binds together letters and life. As a consequence, the Latin Renaissance became an attempt to think again the thoughts, and live again the life, embalmed in the literature of Greece and Rome ; while the German Renaissance became an attempt to reincarnate the apostolical mind. The Latin tendency was towards classical Naturalism, but the Teutonic tendency was towards the ideals of the Scriptures, both Hebrew and Greek. Among the Latins almost every philosophical system of antiquity reappeared, though in an instructively inverted order ; but among the Teutons the field was occupied by theologies based on Augustine and Paul, while philosophy began as an interpretation, not of literary thought or societies, but of man, individual and social, as he had lived and was living.
Hence, in the region of belief the Latins were the more critical and the Teutons the more positive. The thought which the Latins studied was that of a world into which Christ had not .entered, though it was one in which Caesar had reigned ; but the thought which the Teutons cultivated had Christ as its source and God as its supreme object. The Latin Renaissance thus produced two most dissimilar yet cognate phenomena : intellectual systems affecting mainly the notion of Deity, and Orders like the Society of Jesus, organised for the work of conservation and reaction. On the other hand, the parallel phenomena produced by the Teutonic Renaissance were attempts either to revive the religion of the apostolic literature, or to found the Protestant Churches and States. What concerns us here is the new thought, and not the
We begin with the most obvious of the influences exercised by the Revival of Letters upon the thought of the sixteenth century, viz., those concerned with grammar and what it signified, and with language as the creation and the interpreter of thought. It has often been said that the Church preserved the knowledge of Latin as a living tongue ; but Lorenzo Valla (1406-57) would have said, if the tongue were still alive it were better dead. As a grammarian Valla held grammar to be higher than dialectic, for it took as many years to learn as dialectic took months ; and he may be said to have discovered literary and historical criticism by executing with its help judgment on three famous documents, viz., the Vulgate, which he condemned as faulty in style and incorrect in translation ; the Donation of Constantine, which he proved by its anachronisms to be late and false and forged ; and the Apostolic Symbol, whose terms and clauses he showed could not be of apostolic origin. His criticism of these documents (we omit all reference to that of the pseudo-Dionysius) was prophetic and more potent in a later generation than in his own. Erasmus published in 1505 the Ânnota-tiones on the Vulgate, and in a dedication which served as a preface he compared Valla as a grammarian and Nicolas of Lyra as a theologian ; and he argued from the errors which had been proved to exist in the version which the Church had in a sense canonised by use, in a way that was at once an apology and a call for his own edition of the Greek New Testament nine years before it appeared. In 1517 a copy of the De Donatïone Constantini Magni came into the hands of Ulrich von Hütten, who published it, and with his usual careless audacity dedicated it to the Pope, whom he straightway proceeded to denounce as a usurper and robber. Later this was sent to Luther just as he was meditating his De Captivitate Babylonien Ecclesiae ; and it strengthened his trust in the German people, confirmed him in the belief that the Pope was Antichrist, and fortified him for the daring deed of burning the Pope's Bull. The criticism of the Apostles1 Creed indicated a method of discussing dogma which only needed to be applied to become a theory of development capable of dissolving the vast systems of the traditional schools. We need not be surprised that Calvin speaks of Valla as " an acute and judicious man, and an instrument of the Divine Will."
The Italian mind was simple in spite of all its subtle complexity, and in the Renaissance it was like the explorer who set out to find a new way to India and found a new world instead. It had no more typical son than Giovanni Pico délia Mirandola. He was-if we are to believe his nephew and biographer-chivalrous, beautiful, radiant, a man it was impossible to see without loving, an artist who loved art, a thinker who
Now, in his quest for truth and its purest sources, Pico heard of the Cabbala, and conceived it to be the depository of the most ancient wisdom, the tradition of the aboriginal revelation granted to man. And just then John Reuchlin, German mystic and scholar, found Pico. He was older in years but younger in mind. He had studied philology in Paris, law in Orleans, and he had lectured on Greek in Tübingen ; he was then on his second visit to Italy, with all the mystic in him alive and unsatisfied. The God whom he wanted, the logic of the Schools could not give him ; by their help he might transcend created existence, though even then what they led him to was only the boundless sea of negation. In Aristotle the impossible, in Plato the incredible, was emphasised; but in the region of spirit things were necessary which thought found impossible or reason pronounced incredible. The Neo-Pythagorean School saved Reuchlin from the tyranny of the syllogism and restored his faith. In this mood he came to Pico, and to his mood the Cabbala appealed ; its philosophy was a symbolical theology which invested words and numbers, letters and names, things and persons, with a divine sense. But Reuchlin was more than a mystic with a passion for fantastic mysteries ; he was also a scholar ; and the idea that there were truths locked up in Hebrew, the tongue which God Himself had spoken at the Creation and which He had then given to man, compelled him to learn the language that he might read the thought in the words of
Deity. So he put himself to school under a Jewish physician, acquired enough Hebrew to pursue his studies independently, and, as a result, published in 1506 his De Rudimentis Hebraicis. He himself named this book a monumentum aere perennius, and history has justified the name. It helped to define and determine the religious tendencies in Teutonic humanism, to change the fanciful mysticism that had begotten the book into a spirit at once historical, critical, and sane. It practically made the Hebrew Scriptures Christian, an original text which could be used as a Court of appeal for the correction of the translation and of the canon which the usage of the Church had accepted and endorsed. Knowledge of the language thus made the interpretation of the Old Testament more historical and more ethical ; it could now be read as little through the Gnosticism of the Cabbala as through the Roman associations of the Vulgate.
The event which took the Old Testament out of the hand of phantasy turned it into an instrument of reform ; for if it is doubtful whether Protestantism could have arisen without the knowledge of the Old Testament, it is certain that without it the Reformed Church could not have assumed the shape it took. In all this, of course, specific dangers might lie for the scholar who could no longer freely use the allegorism of Alexandria to convey the New Testament into the most impossible places of the Old, and who was therefore tempted to reverse the process and employ the language and spirit of the Old Testament in the interpretation of the New. But these dangers were still in the future ; for the present it will be enough to recall the story, told in an earlier volume, of the controversy between Reuchlin and Pfefferkorn, and of the burning of Reuchlin's books by the Inquisition. In consequence of this unjust treatment, the humanists addressed a series of letters, at once eulogistic and apologetic, to Reuchlin, which were published in 1514 under the title Epistolae clarorum Virorum. (The second edition in 1519 substituted " illustrlum " for " clarorum.")
This book suggested to one of the younger and brighter humanists, John Jäger-better known as Crotus Rubeanus, Luther's " Crotus noster suavissimus", a professor at Erfurt-a series of imaginary epistles written by vagrant students in the execrable dog-Latin of the Schools, to Ortwinus Gratius, otherwise Ortwin de Graes, professor of belles lettres at Cologne, a man whom Luther in his most emphatic and plain-spoken style described as " poetistam asinum, lupum rapacem, si non potius crocodilum." The Epistolae, while describing the experiences or adventures of their supposed authors,-and it is here where the characters so humorously reveal themselves-praise Gratius as well as the divines and divinity of the Schools, and censure the "poetae seculares"" or "juristae"" who had eulogised Reuchlin. In their composition various scholars collaborated, notably Ulrich von Hutten, then ablaze with the enthusiasm for Germany and the passion against Rome which made the
Strauss thought the Epistolae a supreme work of art, named them "eine weltgeschichtliche Satire" and placed them alongside Don Quixote, since they were pervaded by so excellent a humour as to be higher and better than any merely satirical production. There is here ground for ample and radical differences, but on one point there is none-the success of the satire. It deceived the very elect ; the friars who were satirised saw the truth of the portrait and did not feel its shame, even though the men of serious mind, who could not be deceived, were offended. Erasmus did not love it ; nor did Luther, who said " Votum probo, opus non probo" and named the author "einen Hanswurst"; but it made the Schoolmen ridiculous, and while they were laughed at Reuchlin was applauded. He died in 1522, six years after the Epistolae had appeared -the same year in which Luther published his New Testament- sorrowing over the lapse from the Church and from letters of his young kinsman, Melanchthon, and over the coming revolution which yet had in him a plain prophet and a main cause.
In 1516, two years after the first volume of the Epistolae, Erasmus' Novum Instrumentum appeared. The man himself we need neither discuss nor describe. He was a humanist, that is, his main interest was literature; but his humanism was German; that is, the literature which mainly interested him was religious. In an age of great editors he was the most famous; but he was not a thinker, nor a man who could seize or be seized by large ideas and turn them into living and creative forces. His greatest editorial achievements were connected not with the classics, where his haste and his agility of mind made him often a faithless guide, but with the New Testament and the Fathers of the Church. Religion he loved for the sake of letters rather than letters for the sake of religion. He had a quick eye, a sharp pen, a fine humour, and could hold up to man and society a mirror which showed them as they were. He was fastidious and disliked discomfort, yet he could make it picturesque and amusing. His letters are like a crowded stage on which his time lives for ever ; and we can hear and see even as his ear heard and as his eye saw. We are, indeed, never allowed to forget that he is a rather too self-conscious spectator; and that while all around him men differ and he is a main cause of their differences, yet there is nothing he more desires than to be left alone to live as untroubled as if he had no mind. He is "so thin-skinned that a fly would draw blood"; yet, or possibly therefore, he is a good hater, especially of the ignorant mob, the obtuse and vulgar men who could not see or feel the satire within the compliment or the irony hidden in an ambiguous phrase.
He is one of the men whose unconscious revelations of himself have a nameless charm ; we see him as a student whose very circumstances
Yet, if we would know Erasmus, he must be studied in his more serious works, as well as in his letters. There we shall find the clergy of all grades from the friar and the parish priest to the Pope, the superstitions and ceremonies, the pilgrimages and fastings, the distinctions in dress and food, the worship of relics and of Saints,-pilloried and satirised and killed, at least so far as ridicule can kill. And his lighter moods express his graver mind; and unless this mind be known there is no person in history to whom we shall find it harder to be just. He is a proud and a strong man, when questions are at issue for which he supremely cares ; but he will seem to us indifferent or vain or weak where
But the sagacity-which saw in the Epistle to the Hebrews a work instinct with the spirit but without the style of Paul, which doubted whether John the Apostle were the author of the Apocalypse, which discerned in Luke the Greek of a writer skilled in literature, which perceived in the Gospels quotations from a memory which could be at fault, or which inferred textual errors even where the authorities were agreed-is characteristic of the honest scholar and indicative of the courageous man. What is still more significant, is the deliberate way in which as an editor and exegete he repeats the views and reaffirms the arguments of his more occasional works. Stunica charged him with the impiety of casting doubt on the claims and the authority of the Roman See and of denying the primacy of Peter. The Church, Erasmus said, was the congregation of all men throughout the whole world who agreed in the faith of the Gospel. As to the Lord's Supper, he saw neither good nor use in a body imperceptible to the senses ; and he found no place in Scripture which said that the Apostles had consecrated bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord. Heathenism of life and Judaism of worship had come upon the Church from the neglect of the Gospel. Ceremonies were positive laws made by Bishops or Councils, Popes or Orders which could not supersede the laws of nature or of God. The priest who wore a lay habit or let his hair grow was punished ; but if he became a debauchee he might yet remain a pillar of the Church.
These were brave things for a man so timid as Erasmus and so desirous of standing well with the authorities of the Church to say; and in saying them he was governed by this historical idea :-things unknown to the New Testament were unnecessary to the Christian religion ; what contradicted the mind of Christ or hindered the realisation of His ends was injurious to His Church. This idea determined the attitude of Erasmus both to Rome and to Protestantism. He, indeed, honestly believed that where Lutheranism reigned there literature perished ; and that to restore the knowledge of the New Testament was to bring back the mind of Christ, who was the one teacher God had appointed, and therefore the sole and supreme authority in His Church. Hence, his difference from Luther was as inevitable as his difference from Rome, and more absolute, for in the one case he differed from a man, in the other from a system. It has often been said that his De libéra arbitrio enabled him to express his difference from Luther without expressing his agreement with Rome,
So far we have been occupied with the formal rather than the material side of thought ; now we must consider the latter, or thought in its objective expression as at once evolved, governed, and served by the critical method.
We begin with the Latin Renaissance. Its thought grew out of the study of Classical literature, though it reversed rather than followed the sequences of the Classical mind. The one began where the other ended, in an eclectic Neo-Platonism, or a multitude of borrowed principles reduced by a speculation, more or less arbitrary, to a reasoned unity which was yet superficial ; but it ended where the other began, in attempts to interpret the nature within which man lived, with a view to the better interpretation of man. Though the order of evolution was inverted, it was yet in the circumstances the only order possible. For the mind which the voice of literature awakened could only respond to a voice which was articulate and intelligible. The mind was old in speculation, though its problems were new, and its age was reflected in the solutions it successively attempted or accepted. It had been educated in schools where theology reigned while Aristotle governed ; and it revolted from the governing minister out of loyalty to the reigning sovereign, whose authority extended over regions of too infinite variety to be administered by his narrow and rigid methods.
The literature which enlarged the outlook changed the mind; it could not think as it had thought before or believe as it had believed concerning the darkness and error of pagan antiquity. The light which dwelt in ancient philosophy broke upon it like an unexpected sunrise, which it saw with eyes that had been accustomed to a grey and creeping dawn. And this means, that Classical thought was seized at the point where it stood nearest to living experience, and yet formed the most expressive contrast to it. This point was where philosophy had done its
Plethon emphasised in every possible way the differences between Plato and Aristotle, refusing to allow them to be reduced to a mere question of terminology. This teaching lifted men above the arid syllogisms of the schools, enriched their view of themselves and nature, of God and history, and gave reality to the ancient saying " ex oriente lux."" For it came more as a religion than as a philosophy ; even the apparatus of worship was mimicked; ceremonies were instituted, holy or feast days were observed ; celebrities became saints, before the bust of Plato a taper was ceremoniously burned. The neophytes underwent a species of conversion ; Marsilio Ficino (1433-99) was said to have been called in his youth to be a physician of souls, and designated as the translator of the two great masters, Plato and Plotinus. Man was conceived as like unto God, and was named divine ; his destiny was to seek eternal union with the God from whom he came. That God was the archetype of the universe, its unmoved mover and orderer, the ground of all our reasoning, the light of all our seeing. He knew the world from within when He knew Himself, for creation was only the expression of the divine thought, God as it were speaking with Himself, and man overhearing His speech.
The circle of those devoted to the study of this philosophy contained the most distinguished scholars of the day. Besides Ficino there stood his friends or converts, Angelo Poliziano, though his fame is mainly philological; Cristoforo Landino, the exponent of Horace, of Virgil,
But though Plato lived in the New Academy, Aristotle still reigned in the older Schools. He had been too efficient an instrument in education to be easily pushed aside ; but the thought which is to shape living mind must not itself be dead. Hence the men, who were by birth as well as by discipline Aristotelians, set themselves to rejuvenate the ancient Master and change his obsolete speech into the language of the day. Three tendencies at once showed themselves, one which interpreted Aristotle in the sense and manner of Averroes ; a second which construed him by the help of the Greek commentators, especially Alexander of Aphrodisia; and a third which laboured to reconcile him with Plato, some of the last-named going to Aristotle for their physics, but to Plato for their metaphysics. It soon became evident that the philosophical questions involved theology and raised issues affecting certain dogmas of the Church. These issues were more sharply defined in the Aristotelian than in the Neo-Platonic Schools and seriously alarmed the Church. How this was and with what reason, Pomponazzi (1462-1524)-Peretto, or little Peter, as he was affectionately named-will help us to understand.
Reverence for Aristotle had become in him a second nature; and though he writes poor Latin and knows no Greek, and is, as he said, in
This is what would be called to-day a system of philosophical agnosticism, where man's ignorance becomes a plea, if not a reason for
But here certain new forces which seriously affected the course and the development of Latin thought must be referred to and analysed. The ecclesiastical situation began to change, and the temper of the Renaissance changed with it. Thought had revived without conscious antagonism to the Church, though with the clear sense of opposition to the Schools and their methods. Churchmen had been forward in cultivating the new spirit, had encouraged and studied its literature, appreciated and promoted its art. But the Reformation, with its attendant incidents, made the Church suspicious of movements which might contain the seeds of revolt, while the Renaissance, always sensitive to
One of the earliest fruits of this change of feeling was the revival of Scholasticism and the increased influence of the Spanish mind upon the Italian. This revived Scholasticism, which was bred mainly in two Orders, both of Spanish origin, the Dominican and the Jesuit, and introduced by them into schools and universities, pulpits and Courts, learning and literature, was used to prove the necessity of the Church to religion, of the Pope to the Church, and of all three to society and the State. It had the learning which the Renaissance created, but was without its knowledge of antiquity, its sympathy with it, or its belief in finding there virtue and truth. Its purpose was indeed quite specific : to prove not that the Church was the mother of culture or mistress of art, but that she was the sole possessor of truth, the one authority by which it could be defined, authenticated, and guaranteed. The line of defence was bold : the Church was the creation of God, its government His express design, its rulers instituted by His immediate act. Secular rulers were but mediate creatures of God, appointed through the people and responsible to them ; but spiritual rulers were His immediate creation and responsible to Him alone. And since the Church was the sole custodian of truth, it was not permissible to seek it without her or outside her; to profess to have found it independently was to be heretical ; to obey what had been so found was to fall into the deadliest schism. The argument may have been narrow, but it was clear and strenuous; it may not have converted opponents, but it convinced friends. The Church became conscious of her mission ; she was the guardian of thought, the guide of mind. She alone could judge what was truth and what error, what men ought to do or ought not to know. And as she believed so she acted, with results that are broadly written upon the face of history. The new Scholastics converted their own Church from the Catholicity which encouraged the Renaissance to the Romanism which suppressed its thought.
This, then, is what we have now to see ; and so we resume our discussion of the thought which, as it faced the second quarter of the sixteenth century, began to feel the creeping shadow of the future. The change came slowly-for mind loves a violent catastrophe as little as nature -still it came and was marked by the rise of physical in succession to metaphysical speculation. The Neo-Platonic school had tended to a mystical and allegorical conception of the world, which implied a doctrine of the divine immanence and looked towards Pantheism. The Aristotelians, on the other hand, emphasised the ideas of cause and Creator,
This theory could not satisfy men who believe in a philosophy of immanence ; and efforts were soon made to dislodge it. One of the earliest and most notable of these stands associated with the name of Bernardino Telesio (1508-80). He was a devout son of the Church as well as a zealous student of nature, and he disliked Aristotle for two reasons : first, because his philosophy knows neither piety nor a Creator; and, secondly, because he tried to interpret nature without questioning herself. Telesio's fundamental principle was this : nature must be explained in her own terms according to the method of experience and by the instrument of the senses. He conceived matter as a substance incapable of increase or decrease, more or less passive, yet susceptible of being acted upon by two forces, heat and cold, which, as causes, respectively, of expansion and contraction, produce all motion and all change. The heavens are the home of heat, and the earth of cold ; and the constant effort of heat to illumine the dark and quicken the cold issue in a conflict whence come all the movement and variety of nature. The whole proceeds according to immanent laws and without the intervention of God. Nature is self-contained and self-sufficient; which however did not mean that she is without intelligence ; on the contrary, there is a soul in things ; each supplements and serves the other ; mind lives in each, and works through the whole. Bacon saw in Telesio a return to Parmenides ; others have seen in him an anticipation of Kant; others again have construed his principle "non ratione sed sensu" as if he were the first of modern empiricists, the forerunner of the sensuous philosophy, both English and French. In all these views there is a measure of truth. He clothed his doctrines in a guise more or less mythical ; he could best conceive natural forces as personal, and he was never so ideal as when he meant to be most realistic. But he intended to be true to his principle, to construe nature not through metaphysics or theology, but from herself alone. It is this that makes him so significant in the history of thought, anticipating so much of what Bacon achieved, and places him, in spite of his crude and allegorical nomenclature, amid the forefathers of modern physics.
The speculations of Telesio did not stand alone ; they were characteristic of his race and time. Italy, during what remained of the century,
From England he wandered back to France and thence to Germany, where he lectured at Wittenberg and eulogised Luther, who had "like a modern Hercules fought with Cerberus and his triple crown." He was elected to a professorship at Helmstedt; which he soon forsook for Frankfort. But the home-sickness which would not be denied was on him, and he turned back to Italy where bloomed the culture which was to him the finest flower of humanity, where dwelt the men who moved him to love and not to hate, whose speech and thought threw over him a spell he could not resist. He was denounced to the Inquisition ; spent eight years in prison, first in Venice and then in Rome ; and, finally, on February 17,1600, he was sent to the stake. Caspar Scioppius, a German who had passed from the Protestant to the Roman Church, and who loved neither Bruno nor his views, tells us that when the prisoner heard his sentence he only said, "You who condemn me perhaps hear the judgment with greater fear than myself." And he adds that at the stake Bruno put aside a crucifix which was held out to him, and so entered heaven proclaiming how the Romans dealt with "blasphemous and godless men." A modern admirer sees, in the eyes uplifted to the blue, a spirit that would have no dark image stand between him and the living God.
It is customary now to describe Bruno's system as a form of pantheism. The term was not known then, or indeed for more than a hundred years after his death, which means that the idea is as modern as the term. Bruno was roundly named, just as Spinoza was later, an atheist, for men thought it was all one to identify God with nature and to deny His independent existence. The systems were indeed radically unlike ; for while the one was a theophantism or apotheosis of nature, the other was
He conceived this universe as infinite, and so rejected the ancient scholastic idea of a limited nature with its distinctions and divisions of place, its here and there, its above and below, its cycles and epicycles. But the universe, which has no centre and therefore no circumference, has yet a unity for consciousness, and wherever consciousness is its unity appears. And this unity signifies that order reigns in the universe ; that its phenomena are connected; that individual things are yet not insulated; and this coherence implies that all are animated by a common life and moved by a common cause. And this cause must be as infinite as the universe ; for an infinite effect can proceed only from an infinite cause, and such a cause can be worthily expressed only in such an effect. But there is no room for two infinities to exist at the same moment in the same place ; and so the effect must be simply the body of the cause, the cause the soul of the effect. Hence the cause is immanent, not transcendent ; matter is animated, the pregnant mother who bears and brings forth all forms and varieties of being. And the soul which animates matter and energises the whole is God ; He is the natura naturans, Who is not above and not outside, but within and through, all things. He is the monad of monads, the spirit of spirits, carried so within that we cannot think ourselves without thinking Him.
There are, indeed, other expressions in Bruno ; God is described as " the supersubstantial substance," as " the supernatural first principle,1' exalted far above nature, which is only a shadow of divine truth, speaking to us in parables. And this is possible, because in every single thing the whole is manifested, just as one picture reveals the artist's power and promise. But these things signify that he refused to conceive God as a mere physical force or material energy, and held, on the contrary, that He must be interpreted in the terms of mind or spirit. He hates, indeed, the notion that nature is an accident, or the result of voluntary action ; and he labours to represent it as a necessity, seeking by a theory of emanation or instinctive action to reconcile the notions of necessity and God. Yet he does not conceive the best as already attained. Everything in nature strives to become better ; everywhere instinct feels after the good, though higher than instinct is that which it seeks to become, the rational action that wills the best. Thought rises, like sense and instinct, from lower to higher forms. Heroic love, which desires the
Bruno's speculations were those of a poet as well as a philosopher ; and were in various ways prophetic. His death by fire at Rome signified that Italy had neither the wit nor the will to understand men of his kind ; that for her the Renaissance had run its course, so that men must pursue its problems elsewhere in the hope of a more satisfactory solution. Descartes' "de omnibus dubitandum est" was but the negative expression of Bruno's positive effort after emancipation from authority, the freedom without which thought can accomplish nothing. Spinoza's substantia, with its twin attributes of thought and extension on the one hand, and Leibniz' monadology on the other, carried into more perfect forms the quest on which he had embarked. But to us he has an even higher significance ; he is the leader of the noble army of thinkers who have tried at once to justify and to develop into a compléter system of the universe the dreams and the doctrines of modern science. It is this which makes him the fit close of the movement, which began by waking the old world from its grave and ended by saluting the birth of the thought that made the whole world new.
We have not as yet approached the French Renaissance, which has indeed an interest and character of its own. It was, while less philosophical, more strictly educational, literary, and juristic than the Italian ; and may be described as both Teutonic and Latin in origin. It entered the north and penetrated as far as Paris with the Adagia of Erasmus, published in 1500; but it reached the south from Italy, crossing the Alps with the gentlemen of France who accompanied their Kings on those incursions which had, as Montaigne tells us, so fateful an influence on the French morals and mind. Correspondent to this difference in origin was a difference in spirit and in the field of activity. In the north the Renaissance made its home in the schools, and worked for the improvement of the education, the amelioration of the laws, and the reform of religion, as names like Bude, Pierre de la Ramée, and Beza, may help us to realise ; but in the south it was more personal and less localised, its learning was nearer akin to culture than to education, and it loved literature more than philosophy. Hence the forms it assumed in France can hardly be said to call for separate discussion here. Especially is this true of its more northern form ; a better case might be made out for the southern. To it belong the great names of Rabelais and Montaigne ; but their place is in a history of literature rather than of thought, though both affected the course of the latter too profoundly to be left unmentioned here.
Coleridge has said that Rabelais was " among the deepest as well as boldest thinkers of his age " ; that the rough stick he used yet " contained a rod of gold " ; and that a treatise could be written " in praise of
Montaigne is of all Frenchmen most thoroughly a son of the Renaissance. He loves books, especially the solid and sensible and well-flavoured books written in the ancient classic tongues, the men who made and those who read them, and he loved to study man. He says : " Je suis moy mesme la matière de mon livre." And he does not understand himself in any little or narrow sense, but rather as the epitome and mirror of mankind. The world in which he lived was not friendly to the freedom of thought which was expressed in affirmative speech or creative conduct, and so he learned to be silent-or sceptical. He had seen men hate each other, willingly burn or be burned, out of love to God ; and he was moved by pity to moralise on the behaviour of those who were so positive where they could not know, and so little understood the God in whom they professed to believe that they never saw what the love of Him bound them to be and to do. The man that he studied and described was not abstract but concrete man, with all his foibles and failings, limited in his nature but infinite in his views, differing without ceasing from his fellows, and not always able to agree with himself. And man, so conceived, dwells amid mystery, has it within him, and confronts it without. Custom may guide him but not reason ; for reason builds on arguments, whose every position depends on another, in a series infinitely regressive. "Les hommes sont tourmentés par les opinions qu'ils ont des choses, non par les choses mesmes.'" Where man is so ignorant he ought not to be dogmatic ; where truth is what all seek and no one can be sure that he finds,
God is unknown even in religion ; as many as the nations of men so many are the forms under which He is worshipped. And when they try to conceive and name Him, they degrade Him to their own level. God is made in the image of man rather than man in the image of God ; to the Ethiopian He is black, to the Greek He is white, and lithe and graceful ; to the brute He would be bestial and to the triangle triangular. Man, then, is so surrounded with contradictions that he cannot say what is or is not true. Wisdom was with Sextus Empi-ricus when he said : " iravrl \6ya) Xoyoç IVoç àvTiKelrai. Il n'y a nulle raison qui n'en ait une contraire, dit le plus sage parti des philosophes-" Where man so doubts he is too paralysed to fight or to affirm. Montaigne's sympathies might be with those who worked and suffered for a new heaven and a new earth ; but his egoism inclined to the conventional and followed the consuetudinary. Prevost-Paradol termed him "une perpétuelle leçon de tempérance et de modération.'" But this is a lesson which men of culture may read contentedly ; while those who struggle to live or to make life worth living will hardly find in it the Gospel they need.
We turn now to the Teutonic Renaissance. Like the Latin, it began as a revolt against the sovereignty of Aristotle ; but, unlike the Latin, its literary antecedents were patristic and Biblical rather than classical. They were, indeed, so far as patristic, specifically Augustinian, and, so far as Biblical, Pauline. With Augustine, the underlying philosophy was Neo-Platonic, with a tendency to theosophy and mysticism ; with Paul, the theology involved a philosophy of human nature and human history. This does not mean that other Fathers or other Scriptures were ignored, but rather that Paul was interpreted through Augustine, and Christ through Paul. This fundamental difference involved two others. In the first place, a more religious and more democratic temper, the religious being seen in the attempt to realise the new ideals, and the democratic in the strenuous and combatant spirit by which alone this could be accomplished. The thought which lived in the Schools could not resist the authority that spoke in the name of the Church and was enforced by the penalties of the State ; but the thought which interpreted God to the conscience was one that bowed to no authority lower than His. In the second place, Teutonic was more theological than Latin thought. The categories, which the past had formulated for the interpretation of being, it declined to accept ; and so it had to discover and define those which it meant to use in their stead. The God with whom it started was not an abstract and isolated but a living and related Deity; and man it conceived sub specie aetermtatis, as a being whom God had made and ruled. The very limitation of its field was an enlargement of
Luther's Article of a Standing or Failing Church, Justification by Faith alone, is the positive side of the idea which is negatively expressed as the bondage of the will ; and the idea in both its positive and negative forms implies a philosophy of existence which may be stated as a question thus : How is God, as the source of all good, related to man as the seat and servant of evil ? God and man, good as identical with God and evil as inseparable from man, are recognised, and the problem is : how is the good to overcome the evil ? The man who frames the problem is a mystic; God is the supreme desire and delight of his soul ; and he conceives sin as a sort of inverted capacity for God, the dust which has stifled a thirst and turned it into an infinite misery. Now, Luther has two forms under which he conceives God's relation to man, a juristic denoted by the term "justification," and a vital denoted by the term "faith." "Justification " is the acquittal of the guilty : " faith is nothing else than the true life realised in God." The one term thus describes the universe as ethically governed, while the other describes man as capable of participating in the eternal life ; and the two together mean that he can realise his happiness or his end only as he shares the life of God and lives in harmony with His law. The philosophy here implied is large and sublime, though its intrinsic worth may be hidden by the crudity of its earliest forms. The Lutheran doctrine of the communicatio idiomatum attempts, for example, to establish a kind of equation between the ideas of God and man. The person of Christ is a symbol of humanity ; in it man can so participate as to share its perfections and dignity. Christ's humanity is capable of deity ; God lives in Him now openly, now cryptically, but ever really ; and His humanity so penetrates the Deity as to touch Him with a feeling of our infirmities and make Him participant in our lot as we are in His life.
This is the very root and essence of German mysticism, which gives to the German hymns their beauty and their pathos, which inspired the speculations of Brenz and Chemnitz, and which later determined Schelling's doctrine of "indifference" or the "identity of subject and object," and Hegel's "absolute idealism." If we read Boehme from this point of view, how splendid his dreams and how reasonable his very extravagances become ! We are not surprised to hear him speak of the necessity of antitheses to all being, and especially to the life and thought of God, of evil being as necessary as good, or wrath as essential as love in God, who is the fundament of hell as well as of heaven, both the everlasting No, and the eternal Yes. He dwells in nature as the soul dwells in the body ; there is no point in the body where the soul is not, no spot in space and no atom in nature where we can say, " God is not here." The man who is His image, who is holy as He is holy, good as He is good, is of no other matter than God. This may be Pantheism, but it is not rational and reasoned like Bruno's ; it is emotional and felt, a thing of imagination all compact. It is born of the love that
" Wem Zeit ist wie Ewigkeit Und Ewigkeit wie Zeit, Der ist befreit Von allem Streit."
Of course, such a change as Luther instituted could not but powerfully affect the minds of men. But certain concomitants must not be set down as effects ; and the Peasants' War had its causes in centuries of German history, though among its occasions must be reckoned the ideas which the Reformation had thrown as it were into the air. But quite otherwise was it with the Anabaptist movement. While it sprang up and flourished in provinces and cities where Zwingli was potent as well as in places more expressly Lutheran, yet it belonged more specifically to the Lutheran than to the Reformed Church. To discuss its causes and forms would carry us far beyond our available space. It is enough to say • the principle of parity which it emphasised was more antagonistic to the one Church than to the other. Luther created his Church by the help of Princes ; Calvin founded his on the goodwill of the people. The system that claimed fullest freedom for the individual could find less fault with the latter than with the former. And it is significant that the heresies which troubled the Lutherans were largely political and social, while those that afflicted the Reformed were mainly intellectual and moral. In nothing is the character of a Society more revealed than in the heresies to which it is most liable.
Zwingli and Calvin alike conceived God under the category of will, and construed man and history through it. Both held faith to be a consequence of, rather than a condition for, election ; man believed because God had so decreed, and into His will every step in their upward or downward progress was resolved. Now, this emphasis on the will of God necessarily threw into prominence the ideas of God and will, with the result that the main varieties of opinion in the Reformed Church concerned these two ideas. If the will of God was the supreme and sole causality in all human affairs, and if the will always was as the nature was, it became a matter of primary consequence to know what kind of being God was, and what His nature and character. This question was
The problem was soon attacked from another side. The field in which the will of God was exercised was the soul of man. That will concerned, therefore, him and his acts ; if these acts were done because God had so determined, then two consequences followed ; the acts would show the quality of the will, and the man would not be consciously free, would know himself an instrument rather than an agent. The criticism from these points of view was mainly northern ; those who urged it did so in the interests of man and morality. In Calvin's own lifetime the doctrine of foreordination, or of the operation of the Divine will in its
There are still large fields of thought to be traversed before we can do even approximate justice to the mind of Protestantism ; but our space is exhausted. All we can now do is to drop a hint as to what was intended ; we should have wished to sketch the Renaissance that followed