defeat; and the cultivated world stood ready to wel-
come a new era. The forms of religion, government, military service, and industry, which lent to the social organization of the Middle Age
a compacted unity, were undermined; and the venerable fabric, clinging to the past, hung over the future as
A mighty rock,
Which has, from unimaginable years,
Sustained itself with terror and with toil
Over a gulf; and with the agony
With which it clings, seems slowly coming down.
The dynasties which received their consecration from the Roman church, would cease to array themselves in arms against the offspring of the reformers; in the long tumultuous strife, Protestantism had fulfilled its political ends, and was never again to convulse the world.
But from Protestantism there came forth a principle of all-pervading energy, the common possession of civilized man, and the harbinger of new changes in the state.
The life-giving truth of the Reformation was the right of private judgment.
This personal liberty in affairs of conscience had, by the illustrious teachings of Descartes
, been diffused through the nations which adhered to the old faith, under the more comprehensive form of philosophical freedom.
Everywhere throughout intelligent Europe
, the separate man was growing aware of the inhering right to the unfettered culture and enjoyment of his whole moral and intellectual being.
Individuality was the groundwork of new theories in politics, ethics, and industry.