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In the year 410 Alaric, King of the Visigoths, captured and sacked Rome. In 640 the Arabs, under the banner of Mohammed, took possession of Alexandria, and burned the great library of the Ptolemies. So the deluge of barbarism rolled over the ancient seats of learning and culture, till all the world lay a waste of heaving ignorance and cruelty. Learning retreated to monasteries and desert caves. Civilization went into total eclipse. Art and polite literature ceased to be even a possibility. Physical Science, which under the Ptolemies and previously had begun to make encouraging progress, ceased its discoveries. Until the fourteenth century scarcely a work of art was executed in the whole of Europe worthy of preservation; scarce a book was written worthy of perusal; and, except the mariner's compass, not an invention was made worthy of note at the present time. Everything beautiful, elegant or thoughtful in human intelligence long since had been suffocated to death by the black fumes of stupid barbarism. Everything except Christianity. Christ had not ceased to be a vital power in the world. Piety everywhere, in a humble way, flourished. Christianity, essentially missionary, was silently busy all those hard, dark and cruel ages, assimilating the enormous mass of political corruption and barbarism which had been thus rudely thrust
into her all-devouring ecclesiastical system. Without doubt Christian institutions failed to bear the strain and became themselves barbarous, and the hierarchy of the Dark Ages undeniably went with civilization into eclipse. But genuine religion survived, and with intense energy strove to leaven the whole crude lump. The force of Christianity for seven centuries was expended in the purely missionary effort to humanize the so-called Christian world.
The Reformation was the first sign given by the Church of the Middle Ages of its assimilation of ancient heathenism and of its latent vitality. And even the Reformation, though an earnest effort to return unto the simplicity of the Master, lacked much of appreciating His wisdom, His charity and the scope of His mission. Indeed we can assert with truthfulness, not that during these eighteen centuries the Church has been Christianizing the world, so much as that Christ has been Christianizing the Church.
And if Inquisitions and Dragoonades and pompous idolatries in ecclesiastical history be referred to, the reply is at hand. The fountain of a river is not responsible for the filth of its tributaries. The Mississippi at St. Louis is laden with mud, but it would be fallacious to argue that therefore the upper waters were foul. The
mud comes in on the Missouri. Have patience and those turbid waters will in time drop their sediment, and at last will issue forth pure upon the Gulf of Mexico. Christianity has been fouled by its tributaries, but it will in time issue pure as its original fountain.
THE TRUTH IN PARABLE.
"The Christian Gospel is pictorial. Its every line or lineament is traced in some image or metaphor. All God's revelation is made to the imagination. And all the rites and services and ceremonies of the ancient time were only a preparation of draperies and figures for what was to come—the basis of words sometime to be used as metaphors of the Christian grace. Christ is God's last metaphor."-HORACE BUSH
GREAT teachers, who would instruct their kind in new truth, encounter two serious difficulties as to method.
First, there are no words fitted to convey their novelties of thought. The vocabulary of any language represents only what has been conceived and what is still current in the minds of men. Speech comes into being and grows to utter daily needs and to describe customary usages. A man of genius, then, who sees what none but he has yet discovered, and who would tell the world, must coin new words, or else use old ones with a new meaning. In either case, he will seem to say one thing and mean another. Perforce he must use language suggestively, he
must talk in parables. The growth of words, in number and in meanings, gives us the entire history of human progress. The loftiest terms were once commonplace. "Tragedy" of old was but a goat song, "comedy" but a village ditty. The word "book" originally designated the bark of the beech-tree, on which our barbarous ancestors scribbled their thoughts. "Scribe" and "scrub" are cousins. "Spirit" once meant simply breath, and "lord" is the Saxon "hlaford"—loaf-giver.
A teacher in new things can only avail himself of this expansiveness in language; and, taking such words as best suit his purpose, he must breathe into them his own inspiration. But this necessity increases greatly the difficulty of making himself understood. In moulding a language he is educating a whole people and providing instinctive knowledge for future generations; and the inertia to be overcome is
This inertness is increased by a second difficulty, the general inability of men to understand novelties. Using language suggestively, the teacher appeals to the intelligence of his audience; and too often it fails him. The most lucid expositions of unwonted truths and facts fall in general upon dull ears. Francis Galton, the author of a recent but already famous work