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been felt, and now found an avenue for development. Roger Bacon, by uniting practice with theory, ushered in a new era in the intellectual history of Europe. Scholasticism had proven its barrenness after ages of extensive trial. The necessity of innovation and change was acknowledged on all hands. The halls became deserted when once the Angelic, the Irrefragable,' the Seraphic, the Subtle, and other intellectual divinities had expounded their respective systems to crowds of admiring and wondering auditors. They were no longer the scenes of acute discussion between minds of the highest order. If still frequented at all, they were occupied by men of inferior capacities, who were utterly unable to sustain the exalted reputation of their predecessors, They were forsaken by the rising intellect of an age which sought advancement, and were not content with the exploded nullities which had diverted the infancy of the European mind. The last doctor of eminence among the Scholastics was Gabriel Biel, professor at Tübingen, who died in 1495. His works are principally a Collectorium ex Occamo in L. IV. Sententiarum, the last contribution of any ability ever made to the theology of the schools.
The history of literature, like that of conquest, is marked by constant revolutions. Every series of years has its great, commanding favorite. These, in their turn, arise to exercise a controlling power over the kingdom of truth, and are then dethroned to give place to successors destined to pass through the same inevitable process. Libraries are the cemeteries of departed genius, the tombs of neglected worth. The undisturbed dust of ages accumulates over the productions of those, whose moving thoughts and words directed the mental activities of their age. Many of them now sleep in long, unbroken silence, while other men and other principles play prominent parts in the great drama of human affairs.
Thus Scholasticism has had its brilliant era of supremacy. It now suffers under much neglect and decline. It may never more be reänimated, or regain even a tinge of its former glory. In the Middle Ages, religion showed itself in the erection of vast monasteries and gigantic
temples. In the solitary silence of the cloister, the pious few sought to attain to greater holiness. Thus theology, as a science, assumed the scholastic form. Now, the spirit of the age has changed. Men strive to advance in holiness and philanthropy, by engaging in extensive benevolent enterprises, by which the spiritual and social welfare of our race is promoted. The very same spirit of ardent devotion, which four centuries ago induced men to spend their lives in the monotonous exercises of the cloister, now urges them to embark upon the restless sea, and spend their energies in preaching the gospel of a risen Saviour, where the palm-tree waves in the southern breeze, or where the Himmaleh Mountains cast their mighty shadows.
That the present comparatively neglected state of the Scholastic Theology is not to be regretted is sufficiently plain. John of Salisbury, in his day, bitterly complained that the Parisian dialecticians made no advancement in the pursuit of truth; for after an absence of several years from their lectures, he found them, upon his return, engaged in urging and refuting the same arguments, in making the same attacks, in performing the same exploits, and in achieving the same victories over imaginary foes. The arguments of the Angelic Doctor were exploded by the attacks of the Irrefragable, and he, in turn, was sorely undermined by the intrigues of the Subtle. They at length presented the amusing spectacle, of furious combatants rejoicing over triumphs they knew not what, exulting over prostrate foes they knew not whom.
Hence it is, that in modern theological investigations, few allusions are made to the Scholastics as authorities. If we wish to find these champions now, we must, for the most part, seek them in the dark recesses of European libraries. They will be found still arrayed in their glory, especially in the Romish Universities and faculties of theology. Were they to look out from their obscure habitations now, they would meet few but strangers in the present generation. Nevertheless, that they served an useful purpose during the earliest portion of their career, we firmly believe. Had not this bright but eccentric star arisen, and thrown its rays athwart the gloomy horizon, illuminating the dreadful and chaotic scene with a subdued and glimmering light, the nations would have sunk into irrevocable darkness. That darkness might even now have rested upon us; ruinous to every noble moral, and intellectual activity.
We therefore revere the Scholastic Theology as a relic of former days. It is not devoid of interest as an object of literary research. Whoever desires to test his acuteness by handling the most intricate sophisms, and almost learn “to see what is not to be seen, need but enter into the discussions of these writers. By studying their productions, especially the most celebrated of them, he will have his intellectual optics made amazingly acute. He will be thus initiated into the modes of thought and of theological discussion, which prevailed in the most eminent universities long ages since. He will be able to compare the relative advances which have been made, from that day to this, in the modern modes of treating the theological system. Very various inferences might indeed be drawn from this retrospect.
But the more the teachers of Romish Theology of the present day adhere to these antiquated writers, as defensive authorities for their ecclesiastical absurdities, which some of them tenaciously do; the more they will resist the advancing spirit of the age in which they live. Nor will it answer to unite them partially with modern standards and ideas, or the most approved modes of treating theological science now, as others of them do; for they cannot coalesce. In either case, they will be thrown ignominiously into the rear, in that great and memorable race, which the nations are now running, and which has for its terminus the distant throne of eternal truth. The art of dialectics, when applied to the theological system, during the era of mediæval darkness, when all mind was stagnant, when all free inquiry was crushed beneath the superincumbent mass of ignorance and superstition, was adapted, in the nature of the case, to produce some improvements. After it had worked its natural results in such an atmosphere, and, by its intellectual agitations, driven away the mists of mental gloom which had then brooded over the European mind, all its efficacy was expended. It had fulfilled its destiny. But now the circumstances of the case have altered. Man seems to be aiming at perfectibility. Mind makes gigantic strides, passing at one prodigious bound, the obstacles which the mighty of former generations had cautiously approached, blinked up at, and turned away disheartened. Distant realms of the natural, as well as the intellectual universe, untraveled by the mental sun of other days, whose vast solitude had been unbroken by the most adventurous of by-gone ages, are now subjected to human sway; and the deepest secrets of the past eternity are thrown open to the gaze of every votary of science. Under such circumstances, no such eccentric movements, no such gyratory progress, as Scholasticism by ages of trial had proved itself to be, will content the minds of men. What it was from the tenth to the fourteenth centuries, it no longer continued to be until the sixteenth. Now its influence would be far less commendable, than in its last stages of existence. It is far behind the age. From its crumbling throne, once so superior, it must look upward to unexpected heights which now tower far above it. It would stand aghast, were it to come forth and survey modern ideas and developments, and would retreat again into that obscurity, in which it has very wisely ensconced itself, and view the progress of great mental and moral revolutions from a safe distance.
THE ESSENES, MORALLY AND HISTORICALLY CONSIDERED.
By WM. HALL, JR., New York.
BEFORE the advent of Christianity, the consciences of men in various quarters, and by various modes of activity, gave tokens of wakefulness. Judea, in particular, as the centre of Monotheism, the region of ancient communications from heaven, the depository of the sacred writings held in trust by them for the benefit of mankind, was the scene of peculiar moral manifestations, more or less creditable to human nature, and all attesting its connection with a higher world, as well as its need of spiritual aid. Hence, the wide-spread Messianic feeling, and the number and earnestness of the sects and opinions which characterized the Jewish history at the era of Christ's advent.
In the tableaux vivans of that interesting period, Josephus, Philo, and Pliny being authorities, we behold a group of serious, interesting people, known by the name of Essenes. They had a real place in that complex of characters which formed the dramatis persona of the important scenes and actions recorded by the Gospel writers. The sacred theatre and age of redemption cannot be seen in its true historical light, if this element of the then intellectual and religious life of Judea be not taken into account. Their proximity to Christ's historical position in time and space, gives them an importance to which neither the skeptic nor the believer can be indifferent.
To say fully what and who the Essenes were, is not our present object; we design to give, in the first place; a condensed view of this peculiar body of men, representing as they did the asceticism, Pythagoreanism, religious romanticism, theophilanthropy, the monkish pietism of the Jewish nation in the age of the Redeemer,-chiefly derived from the writings of Dr. Neander, and then add some further reflections on their moral and historical relations.
There are several inquiries of much interest appertaining to them, which it may be found profitable to bring into view. Among the Jewish theologians in Palestine, at this era, we find the three different leading tendencies which are wont ordinarily to confront each other in the decline of religions : those who confound the inward and the outward of religion, or in the outward quite forget the inward,—who make a multitude of human ordinances, adventitious to religion, the chief point of religion, and who place the essence of religion in a dead ceremonial, and a dead orthodoxy; then those who resist this false appearance, but who, because the living, inner religious sense, the susceptibility for the Divine, is wanting in them, overstep the just limits of this opposition, and, therefore, because the true spiritual sense does not accompany and guide their critical tendency, while justly attacking human ordinances claiming a Divine authority, at the same time reject, as of human institution, much deeper truth; and finally, those warmer souls, in whom the contemplative habit rules too strongly, who, withdrawing into themselves from the conflict of opinions among the learned, seek in subjective feelings or views, the realization of their religious ideas-Mystics, either from a more practical or a more contemplative tendency. These three principal tendencies of religious feeling, which often return under altered forms, we here recognize in the three classes of Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes.
Out of the struggle of theological and political parties there had come forth a community of pious men, who had passed through manifold experiences, at first, probably (according to Pliny the elder), withdrawn into the quiet region on the west side of the Dead Sea, where they lived together in close union, partly in similar union with the later monks, partly as mystic orders in all times. From this community were afterwards formed other smaller ones, in the towns and in the country of Palestine. They called themselves Essenes (Εσσηνoι or Εσσαιοι). They busied themselves with peaceful professions : husbandry, cattle-raising, handiworks, and especially the healing art, which was an object of peculiar interest and study. Probably, too, they believed themselves to be guided by a higher light in the investigation of nature, and in the application of remedial powers, Their science of nature and the healing art certainly appear to have had a religious, theosophic character, as they also claimed to possess prophetic gifts. The Essenes were, without doubt, distinguished from the great mass of ordinary Jews, by this, that they were acquainted with, and aimed at something higher than merely dead, external ceremonials—that they strove after holiness of disposition and inward communion with God. They were distinguished by their quiet, pious lives, by which, amidst all political revolutions in Palestine, they were esteemed by all parties, even by the heathen, and were able to maintain and propagate themselves, by their industry and charity, their obedience to the government as the ordinance of God, and their fidelity and love of truth. Every Yea and Nay must, in their community, have the value of an oath ; for, said they, every oath pre-supposes a reciprocal mistrust which should not find place in a community of honest men. Only in one case was an oath permitted among them, as a sacramental ordinance for those, who, after a three years' novitiate, were received into