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converts in the first. The paucity of references to sins of the flesh, and to fraud, is to be accounted for by the actual rarity of such offences. For a short time, then, the artificial selection effected by the persecutions kept the Church pure; and from the happy pictures which we can reconstruct of this period we can judge what a really Christian society would be like.
The history of institutional Catholicism must be approached from a different side. Troeltsch argues with much cogency that the Catholic Church must be regarded rather as the last creative achievement of classical antiquity than as the beginning of the Middle Ages. Its growth belongs mainly to the political history of Europe; and the strictly religious element in it is quite subordinate. There is, as Modernist critics have seen, a real break between the Palestinian Gospel and the elaborate mystery-religion, with its graded hierarchy, its Roman organisation, its Hellenistic speculative theology, which imposed its will upon the Empire in the fourth century. The Church, as Loisy says, determined to survive and to conquer, and adapted itself to the demands of the time. It has travelled far from the simple teaching of the earthly Christ; though we may, if we choose, hold that His spirit continued to direct the growing and changing institution which, as a matter of history, had its source in the Galilean ministry. In truth, however, the extremely efficient organisation of the Roman Church began in self-defence and was continued for conquest. It is one of the strongest of all human institutions, so that it was said before the war that it is one of the 'three invincibles,' the other two being the German Army and the Standard Oil Trust.
But our admiration for the subtle and tenacious power of this corporation must not blind us to its essentially political character. Its policy has been always directed to self-preservation and aggrandisement; it is an imperium in imperio, which has only checked fanatical nationalism by the competing influence of a still more fanatical partisanship. In the present war, the problem before the Pope's councillors was whether the friendship of the Central Powers or that of the Entente was best worth cultivating; and the unshaken loyalty of
Austria to the Church, together with a natural preference for German methods of governing as compared with democracy, turned the scale against us. In Ireland, in Canada and in Spain the Catholic priests have been formidable enemies of our cause. As for the other Churches, they have not the same power of arbitrating in national quarrels. The Russian Church has never been independent of the secular government; and the Anglican and Lutheran Churches can hardly be expected to be impartial when the vital interests of England or Germany are at stake. Lovers of peace have not much to hope for from organised religion. National Christianity, as Mr Bernard Shaw says, will only be possible when we have a nation of Christs.
The downfall of the medieval European system, though in truth it was a theory rather than a fact, has removed some of the restraints upon war. The determining principle of the medieval political theory was the conception of a 'lex Dei,' which included the 'lex Mosis,' the 'lex Christi,' and the 'lex ecclesiæ,' but which also, as 'lex naturæ,' comprised the law, science, and ethics of antiquity. These laws were super-national, and no nation dared explicitly to repudiate them. They formed the basis of a real system of international law, resting, like everything else in the Middle Ages, on supposed divine authority.
This theory, with its sanctions, was shattered at the Renaissance; and the Machiavellian doctrine of the absolute State, accepted by Bacon and put into practice by Frederick the Great, has prevailed ever since, though not without frequent protests. The rise of nationalities, each with an intense self-consciousness, has facilitated the adoption of a theory too grossly immoral to have found favour except in the peculiar circumstances of modern civilisation. The emergence of nationalities was often connected with a legitimate struggle for freedom; and at such times esprit de corps seems to be almost the sum of morality, the substitute for all other virtues. Loyalty is one of the most attractive of moral qualities, and it necessarily inhibits criticism of its own objects, which has the appearance of treason. But, unless the aims of the corporate body which claims our absolute allegiance are right and reasonable, loyalty may be, and
often has been, the parent of hideous crimes, and a social evil of the first magnitude. The perversion of esprit de corps does incalculable harm in every direction, destroying all sense of honour and justice, of chivalry and generosity, of sympathy and humanity. It involves a complete repudiation of Christianity, which breaks down all barriers by ignoring them, and insists on love and justice towards all mankind without distinction. The worship of the State has during the last half-century been sedulously and artificially fostered in Germany, until it has produced a kind of moral insanity. Even philosophical historians like Troeltsch seem unable to see the monstrosity of a political doctrine which has caused his country to be justly regarded as the enemy of the whole human race. Eucken, writing some years before the war, in a rather gingerly manner deprecates Politismus as a national danger; but he does not dare to grasp the nettle firmly. It is possible that this deification of the State in Germany may be in part due to an unsatisfied instinct of worship. In Roman Catholic countries, where there must be a divided allegiance, patriotism never, perhaps, assumes such sinister and fanatical forms.
But we shall not understand the attraction which this naked immoralism in international affairs exercises over the minds of many who are not otherwise ignoble, if we do not remember that the repudiation of the Christian ethical standard has been equally thorough in commercial competition. The German officer believes himself to have chosen a morally nobler profession than that of the business-man; he serves (he thinks) a larger cause, and he is content with much less personal reward. Socialist assailants of our industrial system, much as they dislike war, would probably agree with him. It is not necessary to condemn all competition. The desire to excel others is not reprehensible, when the rivalry is in rendering useful social service. But it cannot be denied that the present condition of industry is such that a heavy premium is offered to mere cupidity; that the fraternal social life which Chistianity enjoins is often literally impossible, except at the cost of economic suicide; and that in a competitive system a business
man is, by the very force of circumstances, a warrior, though war is an enemy of love and destructive of Christian society. When the object of bargaining is to give as little and gain as much as possible, the Christian standard of values has been rejected as completely as it was by Machiavelli himself. The competition between two parties to a bargain is often a competition in unserviceableness. Money is usually made by creating a local and temporary monopoly, which enables the vendor to squeeze the purchaser. In all such transactions one man's gain is another man's loss. This state of things, the evils of which are almost universally recognised and deplored, marks the end of the glorification of productive industry which was one result of the Reformation.
Hardly anything distinguishes modern from medieval ethics more sharply than the emphasis laid by Protestant morality on the duty of making and producing something tangible. Theoretically the Protestant may hold that 'doing ends in death,' and he may sing these words on Sunday; but his whole life on week days is occupied in strenuous 'doing.' We find in Calvinism and Quakerism the genuinely religious basis of the modern business life, which, however, has degenerated sadly, now that the largest fortunes are made by dealing in money rather than in commodities. In the books of Samuel Smiles, and in Clough's poem beginning 'Hope ever more and believe, O Man,' we find the Gospel of productive work preached with fervour. It is out of favour now in England; but in America we still see quaint attempts to make business a religion, as in the Middle Ages religion was a business. In these circles, it is productive activity as such to which value is attached, without much enquiry as to the utility of the product. The result has been an immense accumulation of the apparatus of life, without any corresponding elevation in moral standards. The mischiefs wrought by modern commercialism are largely the fruit of the purely irrational production which it encourages. There are, says Professor Santayana, Nibelungen who toil underground over a gold which they will never use, and in their obsession with production begrudge themselves all inclinations to recreation, to merriment, to fancy. Visible signs of such unreason appear in the relentless and hideous aspect which life
puts on; for those instruments which emancipate themselves from their uses soon become hateful. A barbaric civilisation, built on blind impulse and ambition, should fear to awaken a deeper detestation than could ever be aroused by those more beautiful tyrannies, chivalrous or religious, against which past revolutions have been directed.' We cannot, indeed, be surprised that this ideal of productive work as a means of grace, precious for its own sake, has no attraction for the masses, and that independent thinkers like Edward Carpenter should write books on 'Civilisation, its Cause and Cure.'
This Puritan ideal is not so much unchristian as narrow and unintelligent; but the money-making life has of late become more and more frankly predatory and anti-social. The great trusts, and the arts of the company-promoter, can hardly be said to perform any social service; they exist to levy tribute on the public. We may say therefore that, though war between the leading nations of the world had become a strange idea and a far-off memory, we had by no means risen above the principles and practices of war in our internal life. The immunity from militarism hitherto enjoyed by Britain and the United States was a fortunate accident, not a proof of higher morality. Our fleet protected both ourselves and the Americans from the necessity of maintaining a conscript army; but we had drifted into a condition in which civil war seemed not to be far off, and in which violence and lawlessness were increasing. By a strange inconsistency, many who on moral or religious grounds condemned wars between nations were found to condone or justify acts of war against the state, organised by discontented factions of its citizens. Revolutionary strikes, prepared long in advance by forced levies of money which were candidly called war-funds, had as their avowed aim the paralysis of the industries of the country and the reduction of the population to distress by withholding the necessaries of life. These acts of civil war, and disgraceful outbreaks of criminal anarchism, were justified by persons who professed a conscientious objection to defending their homes and families against a foreign invader. This state of mind proves how little essential connexion there is between democracy and peace. It discloses a confusion of ideas even greater than