Thursday, March 22, 2018 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

William Edward Hartpole Lecky (1838 – 1903)

Irish historian.
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There can indeed be little doubt that for nearly two hundred years after its establishment in Europe, the Christian community exhibited a moral purity which, if it has been equaled, has never for any long period been surpassed. Completely separated from the Roman world that was around them, abstaining alike from political life, from appeals to the tribunals, and from military occupations; looking forward continually to the immediate advent of their Master, and the destruction of the Empire in which they dwelt, and animated by all the fervor of a young religion, the Christiana found within themselves a whole order of ideas and feelings sufficiently powerful to guard them from the contamination of their age.
Lecky quotes
In looking back, with our present experience, we are driven to the melancholy conclusion that, instead of diminishing the number of wars, ecclesiastical influence has actually and very seriously increased it. We may look in vain for any period since Constantine, in which the clergy, as a body, exerted themselves to repress the military spirit, or to prevent or abridge a particular war, with an energy at all comparable to that which they displayed in stimulating the fanaticism of the crusaders, in producing the atrocious massacre of the Albigenses, in embittering the religious contests that followed the Reformation.
The stately ship is seen no more,
The fragile skiff attains the shore;
And while the great and wise decay,
And all their trophies pass away,
Some sudden thought, some careless rhyme,
Still floats above the wrecks of Time.

There have certainly been many periods in history when virtue was more rare than under the Caesars; but there has probably never been a period when vice was more extravagant or uncontrolled.
Whence has come thy lasting power.
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