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lius Agrippa, who endeavoured, like the Prince of Mirandula, to impart a cabalistic form to the system of the Greek Philosopher. In our own day the admixture of Platonic notions with German philosophy, has taken a more decided shape in the ambitious effort to revive the long extinct rivalry of Neoplatonism against Christianity, and to supplant the sublime dogmas of the Christian Faith by the indistinct conceptions which owe whatever beauty they possess, to the resemblance which may be traced between them, and the early traditionary belief of which the Christian Church possesses the most perfect development. The immediate results of Platonism becoming popular with any generation, or in any country, are pernicious, the permanent results are beneficial.
The consequence which is immediately felt is, that of creating an unreal and enthusiastic tone of the national mind, which it must be the object of every well-regulated society to repress within very restricted límits. Sensible and practical views of life become, with the majority of persons, incompatible with the emotional and highly wrought condition, which a very general attention to too poetical views of things is sure to engender. A morbid and sentimental state of feeling is thus produced utterly alien from the requirements of practical life, a state which escapes from being disgusting merely because it is pitiable and absurd. Such a state is not unfrequently produced in individual instances, where the emotions are not kept under control; and there have been instances of communities, such as a large section of the intellectual world of Germany, at the present day, exhibiting similiar phases of their mental constitution. There is, no doubt, a certain class of minds for whom the immediate effect of the study of the emotional class of writers may prove serviceable. But such minds as will derive this advantage, must possess very sensible safeguards, of which none others can be found than those of earnest and abiding piety, or a strong and masculine vigour of the intellectual faculties. The former quality communicates a charm to the realization of the maxims of Plato, contained in the life of Dr. Henry More, the recollection of whose amiability and virtues have long given an additional attractiveness to Platonism within the halls of Cambridge. The latter endowment, combined indeed with the former in a most exalted degree, preserved Augustine from the unintenVOL. XLVIII.-No. XCV.,
tional aberrations of some of the most distinguished of his contemporaries.
However unhealthy may be the effects first produced by the ideal and emotional philosophy, its ultimate results are conducive to the refinement of society, It acts as an antidote against the material tendencies of an age, and is often introduced by the recoil which sometimes takes place, from the excessive predominance of a gross and sensuous philosophy. Thus we find that one of the causes which principally conduced to the reinfusion of the idea of Platonic Spiritualism into modern speculation, was the exaggerated materialism of the schools of Locke and Condillac, and of the Encyclopædists during the later half of the 17th, and during the 18th centuries.
At present, as was to have been expected, spiritualism has again begun to manifest symptoms of corruption, and to give indications that it has passed the point of development at which it can be serviceable to society. Fichte and Schelling, on the continent, and Coleridge, Kingsley, and Blackie in England, exhibit it to us in this exaggerated and degraded form, and give evidence in their writings how much the cause of any philosophy may suffer from the zeal of its intemperate and too enthusiastic votaries.
The animated contest which at the period of the revival of letters, was maintained concerning the respective merits of Plato and Aristotle, by such distinguished combatants as George of Trebizond and Scholarius, was not an exceptional one in the history of the relations of the two great systems of philosophy which they founded. Aristotle from the beginning occupied a position directly opposed to that of Plato, in as far as anything which is supplementary can be said to be opposed.
Aristotle's massive and sagacious intellect could not be borne away by vague ideas of mystery and harmony. He perfectly understood how great was the concealed perfection of nature ; but he equally understood that it was not possible in our mortal state, to possess more than an ahstract vision of the glories which are behind the veil. He therefore believed that whilst the intellect might be most profitably exercised upon the deepest questions of philosophy, they were to be approached from the practical and not from the ideal side; that they were to be explored by calm investigation of the intellect, carefully confining itself within its proper sphere, rather than by the aid of the
deceitful analogies, or splendid a priori conceptions which a prolific imagination might so readily supply. Within the range of his gigantic faculties he embraced every department of human knowledge and attained to an intellectual eminence probably only surpassed by the Hebrew king, who at once composed inspired oracles, and at the same time wrote “ of every tree, from the cedar which is on Mount Libanus, to the hyssop that groweth on the wall." In every branch of knowledge on which the human mind cares to be informed, Aristotle summed up the results of preceding labours, and superadded the most profound and judicious reflections. A mind so eminently practical, and which whilst it analysed every subject as far as intellect could penetrate it, deemed of lesser moment the mere outward form of its thoughts, was not sought after with the same ardent worship, as his great rival during the first centuries of Christianity. Nor is this to be wondered at. During those early centuries, vast as were the intellectual treasures of the Church, the emotional nature of the Christian was more acted on and more developed, than was his mental constitution, Christian charity still burns brightly and warmly, but we ever recur to that primitive period as the season of the most glowing zeal when grace nerved the soul each day for the fiery triumph of martyrdom. Such was not a time for dry and dialectical disputation; the entrancing eloquence of Plato was more deeply felt than the profoundest reasoning of the Stagyrite. A deep enthusiasm pervaded the entire society, and the fathers who taught in western Asia and in the schools of Alexandria or Constantinople, felt the same influences which peopled the Lybian deserts with saints, and made every laura the theatre of heroic deeds which shamed the proud boasts of the stoic, and cancelled the claiins to perfect virtue of a Seneca or an Antonine.
Two centuries after the epoch of persecutions had ceased, and when the epoch of controversy in its most important forms had nearly passed away, the statesmanlike intellect of Boetius formed itself upon the study of Aristotle, and assisted in giving currency to such portions of his works as were not opposed to the truths of Christianity. In making choice of Aristotle in preference to Plato, indifference to the graces of Plato's language did not influence the selection of a Scholar, whose writings in the judgment of such a critic as Cassiodorus, present even
amid the corruptions of Latinity so common in the fifth century an Augustan polish and purity of style.
Subsequently John Damascene advocated the system of Aristotle, and though employed against Catholic doctrine by the Arabian logicians as well as by Abelard and the Albigenses, it was finally purified and consecrated to the service of religion, by the great St. Thomas of Aquin. The subsequent history of Aristotelian philosophy merges itself for a long period in the history of scholasticism, of which the system of Aristotle constituted the substratum. The subsequent history and influences of the Aristotelian system are too generally known to need recapitulation here.
The effects on modern intellectual progress of the other schools of Grecian philosophy have been comparatively trivial. Justin Lipsius revived Stoicism for a brief period, and was followed by Heinsius and Gataker, whose most valuable contribution to the cause of that philosophy, is his essay
on the meditations of Antoninus." Zelesus in his work, "de natura rerum," endeavoured to restore the teaching of Parmenides; and Perigord attempted in a more attractive manner, in an imaginary disputation between Aristæus and Charilaus, to effect the same service for the speculations of the Ionians. The claims of Epicurus have been more ably advocated by Gassendi, but in this instance, as well as in the others mentioned, the effect produced has been trifling and but of short duration.
No teachers of the ancient world have shared in the undoubted pre-eminence assigned by the consentient suffrages of every generation, to the two great representative minds, whom we have thus rapidly contrasted, and who have been indebted for their boundless sway to the unerring fidelity with which they have given expression to those impulses and powers of the soul of which they were respectively the exponents. They have transmitted to us exact transcripts of the two sides of nature which they had respectively chosen for the objects of their contemplation, and in their writings they hold up to us two perfect mirrors which untarnished and unobscured after the lapse of so many centuries, still reflect the faithful images which the skill of the mighty artists first taught them
to create and to retain.
ART. II.-The New Glories of the Catholic Church. London,
Dublin, and Derby : Richardson and Son. 1859. WE
E are very glad that an attempt has at length been
made to awaken the attention of Catholics, in this country, to the glories of our Church in the East. China, Cochin China, the Corea, Tong-king, are names familiar enough to the British public; but always under the one aspect of worldly policy,—how far it is possible to conquer, how far politic to make concessions,—what advantages we can gain for ourselves, or, still more anxious enquiry, if we should miss any point, 'which of our adversaries will take it up ;-what chance of their passing us in the one stern competition for power and profit. If any other sound arises amidst the din, it relates merely to natural productions, to some few curiosities, at best to descriptions of that beauty of scenery which it is now so much the fashion to idolize. We ask, and that not merely in a Catholic sense, but, is it really true that in this
of enlightenment, we have lost the feeling by which, in all ages, the best and wisest of men have been actuated ? That “the noblest study for mankind is man, has been a doctrine received with universal consent. Surely that study must be most deeply interesting when we behold human nature under the influence of supernatural motives, and stimulated tọ actions beyond its own unassisted strength; when the philosopher can study-the believer recognize and adore, the action of a superior and supernatural influence, upon our common nature.
Such a spectacle is presented to our eyes at this present time. We have read of the persecutions of Christians in former ages, in our own country, not so long ago; but that was not enough for our unbelieving generation. We were to witness these wonders, if not with our own eyes, yet with demonstration as strong as we can ever have of any thing, not actually passing within our sight. No one of the events which have caused fleets to be fitted out, and regiments to be raised, are more certain, more publicly known, in the localities where they took place,-more capable of demonstration, than are the heroic martyrdoms continually occurring amongst these foreign converts to our