, where the human mind groped its way
through heavy clouds of tradition, inquisitive activity assumed universally the form of doubt.
From discussions on religion, it turned to the analysis of institutions and opinions.
Having, in the days of Luther and Calvin, pleaded the Bible
against popes and prelates and the one indivisible church, it now invoked the authority of reason, and applied it to every object of human thought; to science, speculative philosophy, and art; to the place of our planet in the order of the heavens and the nature and destiny of the race that dwells on it; to every belief and every polity inherited from the past; to the priestly altar which the veneration of centuries had glorified; to the royal throne which the Catholic church had hallowed, and which the social hierarchy of feudalism had required as its head.
Skepticism was the method of the new reform; its tendency, revolution.
Sad era for European
which was to advance towards light and liberty only through universal distrust; and, before faith could be inspired by genial love to construct new governments, was doomed to gaze helplessly as its received institutions crumbled away.
The Catholic system embraced all society in its religious unity; Protestantism broke that religious unity into sects and fragments; philosophy carried analysis through the entire range of human thought and action, and appointed each individual the arbiter of his own belief and the director of his own powers.
Society would be organized again; but not till after the recognition of the rights of the individual.
Unity would once more be restored, but not through the canon and feudal law; for the new Catholic element was the people.