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of solid, durable, practical usefulness, whether we regard their own, or any subsequent age. Before I pass onward, I deem it important to make three remarks, on the subject of Greek and Roman Literature and Science.
The first is this. If the opinion expressed above, as to their usefulness in their own day, with a view to the people, on whom they conferred dazzling honors, but not practical blessings, be correct, it becomes a momentous question for those, who devote so many precious years to the classics, whether we can hope to derive from them, beyond the mere accomplishments of education, any solid and durable advantages, in comparison of those, which must flow from the sound, various and wholesome learning, from the profound and experimental wisdom, from the enlightened, practical and comprehensive philosophy of Modern writers.* there not a great question, which the general education, and all the institutions, of this country are fitting its people to examine and determine? The educated men of our day are occasionally thinking of it. The educated men of the next generation, will reflect upon and debate it. The educated men, who shall close the present century will reconsider and decide it. This is the question- Are not the languages and authors of Greece and Rome to be regarded as INSTITUTIONS, once indispensable, invaluable ; but, having answered their end, shall they not now yield, especially in our country, to a higher order of institutions, viz. the Science and Literature of modern nations ?
My second remark is, that the absolute failure of Greece and Rome, in moral philosophy, both practical and theoretical notwithstanding all their genius and taste, all their intellect and learning, teaches us, emphatically and eloquently, that man unassisted by Revelation, however richly he may be gifted by Nature, must be the victim of darkness and error, on the most important of all subjects—Duty-whether to our Maker, to ourselves, or to our fellow mortals; whether social or domestic, public or private. When that accomplished scholar, Sadolet, was recommending to Cardinal Pole, with all the enthusiasm of a disciple, the study of the Platonic philosophy, he replied, with equal judgment and taste, that since the promulgation of Christianity, the ancient philosophy was like Tenedos, in Virgil's description:
See Note B.
* « Est in conspectu Tenedos, notissima famâ
Insula, dives opum, Priami dum regna manebant;
“ Nunc, tantùm sinus, et statio malefida carinis.” And do we not see that the total failure of the Greeks and Romans in political philosophy, is due to the same cause, as their failure in morals? viz. an ignorance of the only true foundations of society and government, of the authority of public, and the obedience of private men, of the political and civil rights of the citizen? All these, according to the wise principles and experienced judgment of modern times, are laid in moral obligation, with God as its author, and Man as its subject. In a word, the code of public morals is founded on the code of private morals. Government is regarded as an institution for the good of society, and rulers but as agents; whilst the relative rights and duties of the governor and the governed, are referred to the plain, practical sense, to the divine, yet simple wisdom, to the pure, the just, the immutable principles of Christian morals. In fine, the New Testament, is the moral constitution of modern society.
My third remark is, that whatever advantages philosophers, whether the Oriental or the Grecian, may have conferred on the world, before the coming of the Savior, they are all outweighed by the incalculable injury, which the principles of philosophy occasioned to the cause of true religion, for many centuries after the Christian æra. In reading ecclesiastical history, we are struck by this remarkable fact, that philosophy was a more formidable enemy than any other, which Christianity encountered; that the most dangerous and destructive heresies arose from the unnatural influence of the Eastern and Western philosophy over religion: and, that among the greatest of the Christian Fathers, this was productive too often of errors and dissensions, equally dishonorable to the men, and pernicious to the cause. Such were the effects resulting from the ancient philosophy, when its history is traced, concurrently with that of religion.
Science and literature can hardly be considered as having left any monuments, worthy of particular notice, in the Eastern Empire, after the fall of the Western ; nor indeed had any very important services been rendered, prior to that time in the Eastern. Before we proceed to consider the general state of Science in the West, after the decline of learning, let us survey the Eastern empire down to the fall of Con
stantinople, for after this æra, we may take our final leave of that portion of the world.
Though learning continued to bear fruit, in the Eastern empire, at Constantinople and Alexandria, for many centuries after its extinction in the West, yet we find no works of remarkable eminence. In point of originality there is nothing. In history, philosophy, mathematics, and metaphysics there are some compositions of second rate, and many of third and fourth rate. excellence. But when the question is asked, what practical, solid advantages, accrued to the people of that, or of any subsequent age, during this period of more than a thousand years from all that was done by the devotees of Science, we must reply, little or nothing.
Two exceptions, however, are to be made, and they are equally applicable to the Eastern and Western empires. It is a bold opinion, but I express it with confidence, that the Civil Law, did as much, if not more for the substantial happiness of the people, among whom it was administered, than all the other Sciences and Literature of Greece and Rome. I hesitate not to say also, that the real welfare of the nations of Modern Europe, has been more effectually promoted by the former, than the latter. That exercised a decided, permanent, meliorating influence over the feudal system of the North. It laid the basis of the law of nations, and of the improved municipal law of continental Europe: and we may justly say, that it was among the ancients, the only great effort of common sense, for the good of the people, in domestic and social relations. One important consideration must not be forgotten—it is, that the Civil Law, as compiled and settled by Justinian, was the work of a Christian prince, for a Christian people. For myself, I rejoice in the belief, that it never would have existed, but for the enlightening, purifying spirit, the mild wisdom and the practical justice of the Christian system. Had the political constitution of Europe been as much improved, as its civil administration, by this admirable code, our own day of popular rights and popular happiness had not been so long deferred. But while it is expedient, even for despots, that the civil right of subjects should be well defined, generally understood, and faithfully protected; because they are efficient means to ensure domestic peace and order; yet abso. lute monarchs must ever act the opposite part, as to politcal rights.
The second exception from the general opinion, which I have expressed, relative to the Learning and Science, both of the East and West, after Thales, is found in Christianity. Under its influence, the various means of practical moral education, were far more usefully employed, than they had ever been, for the best interests of mankind. The Greeks and Romans did nothing for the solid good of the human race, in comparison of the services rendered to the cause of true religion, by the Greek and Latin fathers, with all their faults and errors. Perhaps, it may be said, that such men as Origen and Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustin and the Christian Cicero, would never have been what they were, but for the philosophers and orators, the poets and historians of Greece and Rome. I grant it freely, but remark at the same time ; first, that these very men, had they been less imbued with worldly philosophy and eloquence, would have cultivated far more than they even did, the peculiar philosophy, morality and eloquence of the scriptures: and secondly, that Christianity has never invited the assistance of philos. ophy, except to repel the attacks of philosophers and philosophical heretics. Had Celsus and Hierocles, Porphyry and Zozimus : had Cerinthus and Valentinian, Manes, Arius and Nestorius, never appeared in the ancient world: had Voltaire and Bolingbroke, Shaftesbury, Mandeville and Hume, never written the infidel philosophy of modern times, Religion would not have summoned around her, the logic and eloquence of her great defenders. The Gospel requires no such weapons. She, in her own cause, and left to herself, arms the sacramental host of God's elect, in panoply divine, of Faith, Hope and Charity, such as the Redeemer gave, Apostles taught, and Martyrs died for. Her principles and practice, her reasonings and eloquence, require no aid, no not the least, from Socrates, Aristotle and Plato, from Demosthenes or Tully.
It is scarcely necessary to dwell on Arabian Science and Literature; since the former scarcely existed, except in the form of Mathematics and Medicine: and the latter has never produced any material effects on the character and welfare of Society. Indeed, amidst the splendor and magnificence of the Harouns of Bagdat, and the Abderames of Cordova, we behold amongst the Saracens of the East and West, the same state of things, as in the Ancient Eastern empires. All their lavish expenditure in favor of Arts and Sciences, was for the glory of the prince and his court, for the honor of the national character, and not for the solid happiness of the people, in social, domestic, or individual life. I
pass over the many centuries, between the decline and revival of learning, with the remark, that little more was done in that interval of a thousand years, than to preserve and transmit, chiefly in monastic establishments, the ancient authors, which now survive. And yet those guardians of classical learning, upon the interruption of the trade to the East, effaced many of the works of Greece and Rome, to prepare the parchment, for their own barbarous compositions.
Let us now consider the History of Science and Learning, between the revival of letters in modern Europe, and the present time. However interesting and curious may have been the character and progress of knowledge among the Ancients, they bear no comparison with the depth of interest, which people after people has felt, and shall continue to feel, in the Arts and Sciences of the modern world.
That a revival of learning would have taken place in Western Europe, although Constantinople had not fallen, may be readily believed. In the principal countries, men of great eminence in different departments, had appeared, from time to time, and the human mind seemed to be gathering and training its strength, for that sustained effort, which the community of European nations, has been making, during more than three centuries. Danté, Petrarch and Boccacio, first plucked the olive branch of literature, after a deluge of ten centuries. Spain, France and Germany; Holland, Great Britain and Switzerland, emulated this illustrious example: and the North and South, the Middle and the West, soon became, as it were, a mighty brotherhood in the cause of Science. During this period of three hundred years, many an interval, and sometimes a frightful hiatus occurs, in the literary history of particular nations. But the European world has not been stationary, much less retrograde; for if we take a comprehensive view of Society, in relation to human knowledge, its improvement has been successive, though irregular. Even in this, the autumnal age of the world, at the going down of the sun, a Nation has arisen European in language and descent, which has laid the foundations of literature, broader and deeper than ever nation did before, in the nature of Man, in the character of universal society, in the principles of social order, in popular rights and popular government, in the welfare and education of the people.