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POLITICAL  CHANGES.                              „*
all causes.. They may be entirely beyond the reach of pre-
vention by any causes, material or spiritual—as much so a
plagues and other distempers ; or there may be no prevention
within reach as long as the existing organization of society
continues. As Thomas of Sarzano became pope in 1447
under the name of Nicholas V., he saw no signs of evil to
the church in the humanism to which he had long been de-
voted ; he encouraged Greek and Roman learning, and founded
the Vatican library. Yet it is now clear that these new stud-
ies broke up the stagnation of thought, became rivals of theo-
logical learning and even threw it into the shade, spread a
love for liberty and a spirit of free-thinking after the antique
pattern among Italian scholars, and were one of the leadino-
causes of the general revolution which became manifest in
Europe in the middle of the fifteenth century.
The old political writers were familiar enough with political
changes, and we shall ere long go back to Aristotle for some
of his results as drawn from the history of the Greek cities
and brought  into  a philosophical  form.    But as they had
small experience of the operation of spiritual causes on a lanre
scale in changing opinion within   the political sphere, the
power of such causes they could not duly estimate.   *And
although Plato was well aware of the necessity of religion in
conserving political order, Aristotle has very little to say on
this matter.    In fact, I have found no passage where he con-
templates what the effect might be of such a general atheism
and irreligion as that which soon followed his era.   The power
of judging with justice, concerning the vast influences Of spir-
itual and social causes upon the forms and spirit of govern-
ments, was never within the reach of the human mind until
a general unity of thinking had been caused in the Christian
world by Christianity, and until   under its protection other
agents in modern civilization had given each its contribution
to modern times.    The case'of spreading ideas all over the
civilized world gives rapidity,   energy, and distinctness, to
every new turn of human thought.
Some of these causes of change act directly on political