Before, however, we try to answer these two questions, we must call to mind a piece of advice which no historian ought ever to neglect. Anyone who wants to determine the real value and significance of any great phenomenon or mighty product of history must first and foremost inquire into the work which it accomplished, or, as the case may be, into the problem which it solved. As every individual has a right to be judged, not by this or that virtue or defect, not by his talents or by his frailties, but by what he has done, so the great edifices of history, the States and the Churches, must be estimated first and foremost, we may perhaps say, exclusively, by what they have achieved. It is the work done that forms the decisive test. With any other test we are involved in judgments of the vaguest kind, now optimistic, now pessimistic, and mere historical twaddle. So here, too, in considering the church as developed into Catholicism, we must first of all ask, In what did its work consist? What problem did it solve? What did it achieve? I will answer the last question first. It achieved two things: it waged war with nature-worship, polytheism, and political religion, and beat them back with great energy; and it exploded the dualistic philosophy of religion. Had the Church at the beginning of the third century been asked in tones of reproach, “How could you recede so far from where you began? to what have you come?” it might have answered: “Yes, it is to this that I have come; I have been obliged to discard much and admit much; I have had to fight—my body is full of scars, and my clothes are covered with dust; but I have won my battles and built my house; I have beaten back polytheism; I have disabled and almost annihilated that monstrous abortion, political religion; I have resisted the enticements of a subtle religious philosophy, and victoriously encountered it with God the almighty Creator of all things; lastly, I have reared a great building, a fortress with towers and bulwarks, where I guard my treasure and protect the weak.” This is the answer which the Church might have given, and truthfully given. But, some one may object, it was no great achievement to wage war with nature-worship and polytheism, and to beat them back; they had already rotted and decayed, and had little strength left. The objection does not hold. Many of the forms in which that species of religion had taken shape were, no doubt, antiquated and approaching extinction, but the religion itself, the religion of nature, was a mighty foe. It even still avails to beguile our souls and touch our heart-strings with effect, when an inspired prophet voices its message; how much more so then 1 The hymn to the Sun, giving life to all that lives, produced a profound and lifelong religious impression i even upon a Goethe, and made him into a Sun-worshipper. But how overpowering it was in the days before science had banished the gods from nature. Christianity exploded the religion of nature — exploded it not for this or that individual; that was already done—but exploded it in the sense that there was now a large and compact community refuting nature-worship and polytheism by its impressive doctrines, and affording the deeper religious temper stay and support. And then political religion! Behind the imperial cult there was the whole power of the state, and to come to terms with it looked so safe and easy—yet the Church did not yield a single inch; it abolished the imperial system of state-idols. It was to place an irremovable landmark between religion and politics, between God and Caesar, that the martyrs shed their blood. Lastly, in an age that was deeply moved by questions of religious philosophy, the Church maintained a firm front against all the speculative ideas of dualism; and, although these ideas often seemed to approximate closely to its own position, it passionately met them with the monotheistic view. The struggle here, however, was rendered all the harder by the fact that many Christians —