In order to make even clearer the condition of mankind in the next epoch, which is a characteristic phenomenon of the remarkable rise of religious feeling, it would be quite useful to turn our attention to the transitional stage connecting the epoch of faith with the preceding period. The vague wanderings in the paths of the philosophical schools, the torturous tension of the spirit tormented by “eternal questions,” the eagerly longing to resolve these questions, and the passionate search for truth that flowed from it, are the hallmarks of the transition period. We find a reflection of the inner state of the people of that time in a work from the 2nd century AD. – “Clementines”. His hero, Clement, reveals the state of his spirit in the following way: “From an early age I was overwhelmed by doubts, and I myself do not know how they got into my soul. Will my existence end with death, and will not the memory of me disappear, as infinite time covers in oblivion all human deeds? But, in that case, did it make sense to be born into this world? When was the world created and what was before its creation? If the world has existed for centuries, should it exist forever; and if the world has a beginning, it should have an end. What will happen at the end of the world if not silence and mortal peace? Or maybe something will happen that is now impossible to think about? Carrying in myself constantly these questions, which arose of my own accord, I suffered greatly, turned pale, exhausted; and the most horrible thing was that when I wanted to get rid of such thoughts, as useless and unnecessary, they clung to my soul with new force and caused me new tortures… Possessed by such thoughts, I turned to the schools of philosophers, for to get some resolution of doubts there, but I found nothing there but the construction and destruction of certain philosophical positions, eternal disputes, in which, for example, the opinion that the soul is immortal, and vice versa, that it is subject to death. The first opinion prevailed – and I rejoiced, the other triumphed – and I fell into despondency again. This is how the different views led me in one direction or another, and I had to admit that things are presented not as they really are, but in the form in which one or another point of view imagines them. And again my head was dizzy and I suffered with all my soul. “
Apparently, it was not only Clement who suffered and suffered under the oppression of unsolvable doubts. So did the people of his day, in search of solace for their wandering soul. The general awakened spiritual thirst also influenced philosophy. The latter, yielding to the demands of religious feeling, wanted to correct her previous mistake and undertook to erect the same building she had been working on for so long. Philosophers became creators of religious systems. The beliefs of Chaldea, Persia, and even distant India came to the fore. Of all the world’s religions, philosophers sought to create a new world religion, and as a result of these efforts, Alexandrian theosophy and Neoplatonism emerged. But all these attempts proved fruitless; philosophy has lost its credibility. A new star has risen in the world — Christianity, and in this religion of love and forgiveness the religious feeling of humanity has found a way out for itself.
When the Christian religion appeared, it found the religious feeling of people in crisis. It gave a strong impetus to this consciousness, and provoked a reaction with remarkable force. Tired of previous wanderings and fruitless attempts, tormented by skepticism and doubt, human thought longed for peace and finally found it where all working and burdened people still find refuge. Man’s spiritual powers have found a field for the widest development, and the world seems to have celebrated its triumph and its salvation through the mighty impulse of religious enthusiasm. It is not necessary to explain at length how this impulse manifested itself wherever the light of the gospel penetrated and reached the word of redemption. Interrogations, the sword, the shackles of prison, all the torments that human malice could invent could not shake the power of faith. Calmly, as if at a feast, people went to slaughter, and the glow of the fires only illuminated the burning faces with the flame of religious feeling. This flame spread farther and farther, embracing the old world and infusing new life into the veins of humanity. True, the initial animation faded relatively soon, but the rise of religious life lasted a whole millennium.
Many accusations have been leveled against the Middle Ages and many dark sides have been pointed out in the life of those times. These are centuries of darkness, ignorance and superstition, when the world was considered inhabited by unclean spirits, witches and others. under., when man could not realize the most ordinary natural phenomena, and was content with their rough personifications. Then the thought fell into a deep sleep, frozen by authority. Then freedom was trampled on illegally, human dignity was humiliated with impunity. Then the Inquisition ruled with its horrors, then its fires burned, drowning out the moans of the human beings tormenting them. The historian disgustedly stopped at these phenomena and tried to pass this sad epoch at once, not recognizing in it any significance for progress and seeing in it simply a ten-century cessation of human development.
No one will undertake to justify the dark sides of medieval life and idealize this period of history. For the historian, as such, he will never get a pink color. But it is not in this situation that one wishes to study the course of the religious life of mankind. He is not interested in the point of view of the objective observer of the scale of the measured event, but in the point of view of the psychologist, who gives the question a completely different look. Medieval history paints before us a spectacular picture of the kingdom of the Church, faith and religion. The contrast between these centuries and the previous state of society is inadvertently striking. Until the Christian world ended with skepticism, indifference and apathy; the Christian world began its life with the resumption of the religious movement. Many events in history would be completely incomprehensible to us if we did not take into account the main engine of life during this period, the main life impulse of human activity – religious feeling. Take, for example, dogmatic theological debates, all the excitement about heresies, schisms, and so on. At first glance, it seems rather strange that theological, sometimes too delicate, issues can conquer society in such a way that it can be debated in the streets and squares, exiled, deprived of property, social status and other misfortunes. Every strangeness disappears when we remember the moods of the people at that time. Religion was not something abducted to them, religious truths were not just mental exercises that did not go beyond the realm of thought. On the contrary, religion was for them a work of life and convictions, had the most vital interest, and there was no area of human relations where its influence did not penetrate. Man selflessly surrendered to the will of Providence, in a selfless sense of devotion stood prostrate before the altar and entrusted his only good to the Church. From here all areas of life received a religious imprint. The state and the Church entered into an inseparable union that it was even difficult to determine where one ended and where the other began: the functions of state and church life were so intertwined. The very idea of theocracy, the realization of which constituted and still constitutes the pium desiderium of the papacy, could have arisen and existed, and even partially realized, only in the Middle Ages. The world domination of the popes, their aspirations for unconditional authority and blind obedience are explained by the purely psychological and spiritual state of Europe. In this state finds its explanation one of the most remarkable events in history – the Crusades. What could have caused huge masses of people to leave their home, homeland, even family, and set out for an unknown distant land where the Savior of the world once was? For several generations the people with unstoppable force rushed east; this happened as a new migration of nations. There are writers (Robertson) who see this as nothing more than the greatest monument to human stupidity. But such a stern condemnation cannot be considered fair. The Crusades are not a monument to human stupidity, but the most significant monument to religious feeling. It was this stimulus that moved the huge crowds and only the simple words: “God willing,” hundreds of thousands of brave warriors gathered under the banner of the cross, lighting before them the shining star in the roar of the battle with Muhammad’s moon. And that historian, who in this grandiose phenomenon does not want to see anything but stupidity, reveals himself as an extremely bad psychologist and simply does not pay attention to the guiding principle of the whole medieval life of man, determining all his actions – big and small.