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nius the son of Hermias, Isidorus and Damascius, the disciples of Proclus, followed, with an ardent emulation, the traces of their master, and formed successors who resembled them in all respects. But the imperial laws, and the daily progress of the Christian religion, gradually diminished the lustre and authority of these philosophers; and, as there were many of the Christian doctors who adopted the Platonic system, and were sufficiently qualified to explain it to the youth, this naturally prevented the schools of these heathen sages from being so much frequented as they had formerly been.

state of the empire, had much more influence, than the rules of equity and wisdom.

These alterations were, indeed, matters of small moment. But an affair of much greater consequence now drew the general attention; and this was the vast augmentation of honours and rank, accumulated upon the bishops of Constantinople, in opposition to the most vigorous efforts of the Roman pontiff. In the preceding century, the council of Constantinople had, on account of the dignity and privileges of that imperial city, conferred on its bishops a place among the first rulers of the Christian church. VI. The credit of the Platonic philosophy, and the pre- This new dignity adding fuel to their ambition, they exference that was given to it, as more excellent in itself, and tended their views of authority and dominion; and, enless repugnant to the genius of the Gospel than other sys-couraged, no doubt, by the consent of the emperor, reduced tems, did not prevent the doctrine of Aristotle from com- the provinces of Asia Minor, Thrace, and Pontus, under ing to light after a long struggle, and forcing its way into their spiritual jurisdiction. In this century, they grasped the Christian church. The Platonists themselves inter- at still farther accessions of power; so that not only the preted, in their schools, some of the writings of Aristotle, whole eastern part of Illyricum was added to their former particularly his Dialectics, and recommended that work to acquisitions, but they were also exalted to the highest sumsuch of the youth as had a taste for logical discussions, and mit of ecclesiastical authority; for, by the 28th canon of were fond of disputing. In this, the Christian doctors the council holden at Chalcedon in 451, it was resolved imitated the manner of the heathen schools; and this was that the same rights and honours which had been conferred the first step to that universal dominion, which the Stagi- upon the bishop of Rome, were due to the bishop of Conrite afterwards obtained in the republic of letters. A second stantinople, on account of the equal dignity and lustre of and yet larger stride toward this universal empire was the two cities, in which these prelates exercised their authomade by the Aristotelian philosophy during the controver- rity. The same council confirmed also, by a solemn act, sies which Origen had occasioned, and the Arian, Euty- the bishop of Constantinople in the spiritual government chian, Nestorian, and Pelagian dissensions, which, in this of those provinces over which he had ambitiously usurped century, were so fruitful of calamities to the Christian the jurisdiction. Pope Leo the Great, bishop of Rome, church. Origen, as is well known, was zealously attached opposed with vehemence the passing of these decrees; and to the Platonic system. When, therefore, he was publicly his opposition was seconded by that of several other prelates. condemned, many, to avoid the imputation of his errors, But their efforts were vain, as the emperors threw their and to preclude their being reckoned among the number weight into the balance, and thus supported the decisions of his followers, adopted openly the philosophy of Aristotle, of the Grecian bishops. In consequence then of the decrees which was entirely different from that of Origen. The of this famous council, the prelate of Constantinople began Nestorian, Arian, and Eutychian controversies were mana- to contend obstinately for the supremacy with the Roman ged, or rather drawn out, on both sides, by a perpetual pontiff, and to crush the bishops of Alexandria and Antioch, recourse to subtile distinctions and captious sophisms; and so as to make them feel the oppressive effects of his no philosophy was so proper to furnish such weapons, as pretended superiority; and no one distinguished himself that of Aristotle; for that of Plato was far from being more by his ambition and arrogance in this affair, than adapted to form the mind to the polemic arts. Besides, Acacius.c the Pelagian doctrine bore a striking resemblance to the Platonic opinions concerning God and the human soul; and this was an additional reason which engaged many to desert the Platonists, and to assume, at least, the name of Peripatetics.


Concerning the Doctors and Ministers of the Christian

Church, and its Form of Government.

1. SEVERAL causes contributed to bring about a change in the external form of ecclesiastical government. The power of the bishops, particularly those of the first order, was sometimes augmented, and sometimes diminished, according as the times and the occasions offered; and in all these changes the intrigues of the court and the political

See Eneas Gazæus in Theophrasto.

b Le Quien, Oriens Christ. tom. i. p. 36.

See Bayle's Dictionaire Historique, at the article Acacius. By all Palestine, the reader is desired to understand three distinct provinces, of which each bore the name of Palestine; and accordingly the original is thus expressed, Trium Palæstinarum Episcopum seu Patriarcham. After the destruction of Jerusalem, the face of Pa


II. It was much about this time that Juvenal, bishop of Jerusalem, or rather of Elia, attempted to withdraw himself and his church from the jurisdiction of the bishop of Cæsarea, and aspired to a place among the first prelates of the Christian world. The high degree of veneration and esteem, in which the church of Jerusalem was holden among all other Christian societies (on account of its rank among the apostolical churches, and its title to the appellation of mother-church, as having succeeded the first Christian assembly founded by the apostles,) was extremely favourable to the ambition of Juvenal, and rendered his project much more practicable than it would otherwise have been. Encouraged by this, and animated by the favour and protection of the younger Theodosius, the aspiring prelate not only assumed the dignity of patriarch of all Palestine, a rank that rendered him su

lestine was almost totally changed; and it was so parcelled out and wasted by a succession of wars and invasions, that it scarcely preserved any trace of its former condition. Under the Christian emperors there were three Palestines formed out of the ancient country of that name, each of which was an episcopal see; and it was these three dioceses that Juvenal usurped and maintained the jurisdiction. See, for a further account of the three Palestines, Spanhemii Geographia Sacra.


and independent of all spiritual authority, but also invaded the rights of the bishop of Antioch, and usurped his jurisdiction over the provinces of Phoenicia and Arabia. Hence arose a warm contest between Juvenal and Maximus, bishop of Antioch, which the council of Chalcedon decided, by restoring to the latter the provinces of Phoenicia and Arabia, and confirming the former in the spiritual possession of all Palestine, and in the high rank which he had assumed in the church. Thus were created, in the fifth century, five superior rulers of the church, who were distinguished from the rest by the title of Patriarchs. The oriental historians mention a sixth, viz. the bishop of Seleucia and Ctesiphon, to whom, according to their account, the bishop of Antioch voluntarily ceded a part of his jurisdiction. But this addition to the number of the patriarchs is unworthy of credit, as the only proof of it is drawn from the Arabic laws of the council of Nice, which are notoriously destitute of all authority. III. The patriarchs were distinguished by considerable and extensive rights and privileges, that were annexed to their high station. They alone consecrated the bishops, who lived in the provinces that belonged to their jurisdiction. They assembled yearly in council the clergy of their respective districts, in order to regulate the affairs of the church. The cognisance of all important causes, and the determination of the more weighty controversies, were referred to the patriarch of the province where they arose. They also pronounced a decisive judgment in those cases, where accusations were brought against bishops, and, lastly, they appointed vicars, or deputies, clothed with their authority, for the preservation of order and tranquillity in the remoter provinces. Such were the great and distinguishing privileges of the patriarchs; and they were accompanied with others of less moment, which it is needless to mention. It must, however, be carefully observed, that the authority of the patriarchs was not acknowledged through all the provinces without exception. Several districts, both in the eastern and western empires, were exempted from their jurisdiction. The emperors, who reserved to themselves the supreme power in the Christian hierarchy, and received, with great facility and readiness, the complaints of those who considered themselves as injured by the patriarchs; and the councils also, in which the majesty and legislative power of the church immediately resided; were obstacles to the arbitrary proceedings of the patriarchal order.


IV. Tais constitution of ecclesiastical government was so far from contributing to the peace and prosperity of the Christian church, that it proved, on the contrary, a perpetual source of dissensions and animosities, and was productive of various inconveniences and grievances. The patriarchs, who, by their exalted rank and extensive authority, were equally able to do much good and much mischief, began to encroach upon the rights, and trample upon the prerogatives of their bishops, and thus introduced, gradually, a sort of spiritual bondage into the church; and that they might invade, without opposition, the rights of the bishops, they permitted the latter, in their turn, to

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trample with impunity upon the ancient rights and privileges of the people; for, in proportion as the bishops multiplied their privileges and extended their usurpations, the patriarchs gained new accessions of power by the despotism which they exercised over the episcopal order. They fomented also divisions among the bishops, and excited animosities between them and the other ministers of the church. They went still farther, and sowed the seeds of discord between the clergy and the people, that all these combustions might furnish them with perpetual matter for the exercise of their authority, and procure them a multitude of clients and dependents. They left no artifice unemployed to strengthen their own authority, and to raise opposition against the prelates from every quarter. For this purpose it was that they engaged in their cause by the most alluring promises, and attached to their interests by the most magnificent acts of liberality, whole swarms of monks, who served as intestine enemies to the bishops, and as a dead weight on the side of patriarchal tyranny. The efforts of these monastic hirelings contributed more than any other means to ruin the ancient ecclesiastical discipline, to diminish the authority of the bishops, and raise, to an enormous and excessive height, the power and prerogatives of their insolent and ambitious patrons.

V. To these lamentable evils, were added the ambitious quarrels, and the bitter animosities, that rose among the patriarchs themselves, and which produced the most bloody wars and the most detestable and horrid crimes. The patriarch of Constantinople distinguished himself in these odious contests. Elate with the favour and proximity of the imperial court, he cast a haughty eye on all sides, where any objects were to be found on which he might exercise his lordly ambition. On one hand, he reduced under his jurisdiction the patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch, as prelates only of the second order; and, on the other, he invaded the diocese of the Roman pontiff, and despoiled him of several provinces. The two former prelates, though they struggled with vehemence, and raised considerable tumults by their opposition, laboured ineffectually, both for want of strength, and likewise on account of a variety of unfavourable circumstances. But the pope, far superior to them in wealth and power, contended also with more vigour and obstinacy, and in his turn, gave a deadly wound to the usurped supremacy of the Byzantine patriarch.

The attentive inquirer into the affairs of the church, from this period, will find, in the events now mentioned, the principal source of those most scandalous and deplorable dissensions, which divided first the eastern church into various sects, and afterwards separated it entirely from that of the west. He will find, that these ignominious schisms flowed chiefly from the unchristian contentions for dominion and supremacy, which reigned among those who set themselves up for the fathers and defenders of the church.

VI. No one of the contending bishops found the occurrences of the times so favourable to his ambition, as the Roman pontiff. Notwithstanding the redoubled efforts of the bishop of Constantinople, a variety of circumstances con

Dav. Blondel, de la Primauté de l'Eglise, chap. xxv. p. 332. Theod. Ruinart, de Pallio Archi-Episcopali, p. 445; tom. ii. of the posthumous works of Mabillon.

f Brerewood's Dissert. de veteris Ecclesiæ Gubernatione patriarchali, printed at the end of archbishop Usher's book, entitled, Opusculum de Origine Episcoporum et Metropolitanorum.


curred to augment his power and authority, though he had not yet assumed the dignity of supreme lawgiver and judge of the whole Christian church. The bishops of Alexandria and Antioch, unable to make head against the lordly prelate of Constantinople, often fled to the Roman pontiff for succour against his violence; and the inferior order of bishops used the same method, when their rights were invaded by the prelates of Alexandria and Antioch: so that the bishop of Rome, by taking all these prelates alternately under his protection, daily added new degrees of influence and authority to the Roman see, rendered it every where respected, and was thus imperceptibly establishing its supremacy. Such were the means by which that pontiff extended his dominion in the east. In the west its increase arose from other causes. The declining power and the supine indolence of the emperors, left the authority of the bishop, who presided in their capital, almost without control. The incursions, moreover, and triumphs of the barbarians were so far from being prejudicial to his rising dominion, that they rather contributed to its advancement; for the kings who penetrated into the empire, were only solicitous about the methods of giving a sufficient degree of stability to their respective governments; and when they perceived the subjection of the multitude to the bishops, and the dependence of the latter upon the Roman pontiff, they immediately resolved to reconcile this ghostly ruler to their interests, by loading him

with benefits and honours of various kinds.

Among all the prelates who ruled the church of Rome during this century, there was not one who asserted his authority and pretensions with such vigour and success, as Leo, surnamed the Great. It must however be observed, that neither he, nor the other promoters of the same claims, were able to overcome all the obstacles that were laid in their way, or the various checks which were given to their ambition. Many examples might be alleged in proof of this assertion, particularly the case of the Africans, whom no threats or promises could engage to submit the decision of their controversies, and the determination of their causes, to the Roman tribunal.


VII. The vices of the clergy were now carried to the most enormous excess; and all the writers of this century, whose probity and virtue render them worthy of credit, are unanimous in their accounts of the luxury, arrogance, avarice, and voluptuousness of the sacerdotal orders. The bishops, and particularly those of the first rank, created various delegates, or ministers, who managed for them the affairs of their dioceses; and courts were gradually formed, where these pompous ecclesiastics gave audience, and received the homage of a cringing multitude. The office of a presbyter was looked upon of such a high and eminent nature, that Martin, bishop of Tours, audaciously maintained, at a public entertainment, that the emperor was inferior, in dignity, to one of that order. As to the deacons, their pride and licentiousness occasioned many and grievous complaints, as appears from the decrees of several councils.c

These opprobrious stains, in the characters of the clergy,

a Du-Pin, de Antiquâ Ecclesiæ, Disciplinâ, Diss. ii. p. 166. Melch. Leydeck. Historia Eccles. Africanæ, tom. ii. Diss. ii. p. 505.

Sulpitius Severus, de Vitâ Martini, cap. xx. p. 339, compared with Dialog. ii. cap. vi. P. 457.

See Dav. Blondel. Apologia pro Sententiâ Hieronymi de Episcopis et Presbyteris, p. 140.

would never have been endured, had not the greatest part of mankind been sunk in superstition and ignorance, and people in general formed their ideas of the rights and liberties of Christian ministers from the model exhibited by the sacerdotal orders among the Hebrews, during the prevalence of the law of Moses, and among the Greeks and Romans in the darkness of paganism. The barbarous nations also, which, on the ruin of the Romans, divided among themselves the western empire, bore, with the utmost patience and moderation, both the dominion and vices of the bishops and priests, because, upon their conversion to Christianity, they became naturally subject to their jurisdiction; and still more, because they considered the ministers of Christ as invested with the same rights and privileges, which distinguished the priests of their fictitious deities.

VIII. The corruption of an order, appointed to promote, by doctrine and example, the sacred interests of piety and virtue, will appear less surprising when we consider, that multitudes of people were in every country admitted, without examination or choice, into the body of the clergy, the greatest part of whom had no other view, than the enjoyment of a lazy and inglorious repose. Many of these ecclesiastics were confined to no fixed places or assemblies, and had no employment of any kind, but sauntered about wherever they pleased, gaining their maintenance by imposing upon the ignorant multitude, and sometimes by mean and dishonest practices. But if any should ask, how this account is reconcileable with the number of saints, who, according to the testimonies both of the eastern and western writers, are said to have shone forth in this century, the answer is obvious; these saints were canonised by the ignorance of the times; for, in an age of darkness and corruption, those who distinguished themselves from the multitude, either by their genius, their writings, or their eloquence, by their prudence and dexterity in conducting affairs of importance, or by their meekness and moderation, and the ascendancy which they had gained over their resentments and passions, were esteemed something more than men; they were reverenced as gods; or, to speak more properly, they appeared to others as men divinely inspired, and full of the Deity.

IX. The monks, who had formerly lived only for themselves in solitary retreats, and had never thought of assuming any rank among the sacerdotal orders, were now gradually distinguished from the populace, and were endowed with such opulence and such honourable privileges that they found themselves in a condition to claim an eminent station among the supports and pillars of the Christian community. The fame of their piety and sanctity was at first so great, that bishops and presbyters were often chosen out of their order; and the passion of erecting edifices and convents, in which the monks and holy virgins might serve God in the most commodious manner, was at this time carried beyond all bounds.

The monastic orders did not all observe the same rule of discipline, or the same manner of living. Some followed the rule of Augustine, others that of Basil, others that of Antony, others that of Athanasius, others that of a Epiphanius, Exposit. Fidei, tom. i. op. p. 1094.-Mabillon's Reponse aux Chanoines Reguliers.

Severus, de Vitâ Martini, cap. x. p. 320. Dial. i.

cap. xxi. p. 426. f Severus, Dial. i. p. 419.-Norisius, Histor. Pelag. lib. i. cap. iii. p. 273. tom. i. op.-Histoire Literaire de la France, tom. ii. p. 35.

Pachomius; but they must all have become extremely || which are either entirely lost, or, if any remain," are only negligent and remiss in observing the laws of their res- extant among the Nestorians, and in the Syriac language. pective orders, since the licentiousness of the monks, even Nilus, disciple of Chrysostom, composed several treatises in this century, was even proverbial, and they are said to of a practical and pious kind; but these performances dehave excited in various places the most dreadful tumults rive more merit from the worthy and laudable intention and seditions. All the monastic orders were under the of their author than from any other circumstance. protection of the bishops in whose provinces they lived; nor We pass over in silence Basilius of Seleucia, Theodotus of did the patriarchs claim any authority over them, as ap- Ancyria, and Gelasius of Cyzicum, for the sake of brevity. pears with the utmost evidence from the decrees of the XI. A Roman pontiff, Leo I. surnamed the Great, councils holden in this century.b shines forth at the head of the Latin writers of this century. He was a man of uncommon genius and eloquence, which he employed however too much in extending his authority; a point in which his ambition was both indefatigable and excessive.k

X. Several writers of considerable merit adorned this century. Among the Greeks and Orientals, the first place is due to Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, so famous for his learned productions, and the various controversies in which he was engaged. It would be unjust to derogate from the praises which are due to this eminent man; but it would betray, on the other hand, a criminal partiality, if we should pass uncensured the turbulent spirit, the litigious and contentious temper, and other defects, which are laid to his charge.

After Cyril we may place Theodoret, bishop of Cyrus, (or Cyropolis,) an eloquent, copious, and learned writer, eminent for his acquaintance with all the branches of sacred erudition, but unfortunate in his attachment to some of the Nestorian errors."

Isidore, of Pelusium, was a man of uncommon learning and sanctity. A great number of his epistles are yet extant, and discover more piety, genius, erudition, and wisdom, than are to be found in the voluminous productions of many other writers.1

Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, few of whose writings are now extant, acquired an immortal name, by his violent opposition to Origen and his followers.

Palladius deserves a rank among the better sort of authors by his Lausiac History and his Life of Chrysostom. Theodore of Mopsuestia, though accused after his death of the greatest errors, was one of the most learned men of his time. Those who have read, with any attention, the fragments of his writings, which are to be found in Photius, will lament the want of these excellent compositions,


Sulp. Severus, Dial. i. cap. viii. p. 399.

b See Jo. Launoii Inquisitio in Chartam Immunitatis B. Germani, op. tom. iii. part ii. p. 3. In the ancient records, posterior to this century, the monks are frequently called Clerks. (See Mabillon's Præf. ad Sæc. ii. Actor. Sanctor. Ord. Benedicti.) And this shews, that they now began to be ranked among the clergy, or ministers of the church.

The works of Cyril were published at Paris by Aubert, in six vols. folio, in 1638.

d The Jesuit Sirmond gave at Paris, in 1642, a noble edition of the works of this prelate in four volumes; a fifth was added by Garnier, in 1685. We must observe, in favour of this excellent ecclesiastic, so renowned for the sanctity and simplicity of his manners, that he abandoned the doctrines of Nestorius, and thus effaced the stain he had contracted by his personal attachment to that heretic, and to John of Antioch.

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These epistles amount to 2012, and are divided into five books. They are short, but admirably written, and are equally recommendable for the solidity of the matter, and the purity and elegance of their style. The best edition of Isidore's Epistles, is that which was published by the Jesuit Scott, at Paris, in 1638.

See Euseb. Renaudot, Historia Patriarchar. Alexandrinor. p. 103. See Assemani Bibl. Oriental. Clement. Vatic. tom. iii. part ii. p. 227. It appears by this account of the works of Theodore, that Dr. Mosheim had not seen the Dissertations of the late duke of Orleans, in one of which that learned prince has demonstrated, that the commentary upon the Psalms, which is to be found in the Chain or Collection of Corderius, and which bears the name of Theodore, is the production of Theodore of Mopsuestia. There exists, also, beside the fragments that are to be found in Photius, a manuscript commentary of this illustrious author upon the twelve minor prophets.

Orosius acquired a considerable degree of reputation by the History which he wrote to refute the cavils of the Pa gans against Christianity, and by his books against the Pe lagians and Priscillianists.1

Cassian, an illiterate and superstitious man, inculcated in Gaul, both by his discourse and his writings, the discipline and manner of living which prevailed among the Syrian and Egyptian monks, and was a sort of teacher to those who were called Semi-Pelagians."

Maximus of Turin published several Homilies, which are yet extant, and, though short, are for the most part recommended both by elegance and piety.

Eucherius, bishop of Lyons, was one of the most consi derable moral writers that flourished among the Latins in this century."


Pontius of Nola, distinguished by his eminent and fervent piety, is also esteemed for his poems, and other good performances.

Peter, bishop of Ravenna, obtained by his eloquence the title of Chrysologus; nor are his discourses entirely destitute of genius. P

Salvian was an eloquent, but, at the same time, a melancholy and sour writer, who, in his vehement declamations against the vices of his times, unwarily discovers the defects of his own character."

Prosper of Aquitaine, and Marius Mercator, are abundant

All the works of Leo were published at Lyons, in 1700, by the care of the celebrated Quesnel of the Oratory.

1 See Bayle's Dictionary, at the article Orosius. A valuable edition of this author, enriched with ancient coins and medals, was published at Leyden, in 1738, by the learned Havercamp.

m Histoire Literaire de la France, tom. ii. p. 215.-Simon, Critique de la Biblioth. Ecclesiastique par Du-Pin, tom. i. p. 156.-The works of Cassian were published at Frankfort, in 1722, with a copious Commentary by Alardus Gazæus.

See a satisfactory account of this prelate, in the Histoire Literaire de la France, tom. ii. p. 275.

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This pious and ingenious ecclesiastic is more generally known by the name of Paulin. See Hist. Lit. de la France, tom. ii. p. 179. The best edition of his work is that published by Le Brun, at Paris, 1685. P Agnelli, Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiæ Ravennatis, tom. i. p. 321. Hist. Liter. de la France, tom. ii. p. 517. The authors of the history here referred to, give a different account of Salvian's character. They acknowledge, that his declamations against the vices of the age, in his Treatise against Avarice, and his Discourse concerning Providence, are warm and vehement; but they represent him, notwithstanding, as one of the most humane and benevolent men of his time. It is, however, beyond all doubt, that he was extravagantly austere in the rules he prescribed for the conduct of life. For what is more unnatural than to recommend to Christians, as a necessary condition of salvation, their leaving their whole substance to the poor, to the utter ruin of their children and relations? It must, however, be confessed, that his austerity in point of discipline was accompanied with the most amiable moderation toward those who differed from him in articles of faith. There is a most remarkable passage to this purpose, in his treatise concerning Providence, book v. p. 100.

ly known to such as have employed any part of their time and attention in the study of the Pelagian disputes, and the other controversies that were agitated in this century. Vincent of Lerins gained a lasting reputation by his short, but excellent treatise against the sects, entitled Commonitorium.a

Sidonius Apollinaris, a tumid writer, though not entirely destitute of eloquence; Vigilius of Tapsus; Arnobius the younger, who wrote a commentary on the book of Psalms; Dracontius, and others of that class, are of too little consequence to deserve more particular notice.


Concerning the Doctrine of the Church during this Century.


I. MANY points of religion were more largely explained, many of its doctrines determined with more accuracy and precision, than they had been in the preceding ages. This was one result of the controversies that were multiplied, at this time, throughout the Christian world, concerning the person and nature of Christ; the innate corruption and depravity of man; the natural inability of men to live according to the dictates of the divine law; the necessity of the divine grace in order to salvation; the nature and existence of human liberty; and other such intricate and perplexing questions. The sacred and venerable simplicity of the primitive times, which required no more than a true faith in the word of God, and a sincere obedience to his holy laws, appeared little better than rusticity and ignorance to the subtile doctors of this quibbling age. Yet so it happened, that many of the over-curious divines, who attempted to explain the nature, and remove the difficulties of these intricate doctrines, succeeded very ill in this matter. Instead of leading men into the paths of humble faith and genuine piety, they bewildered them in the labyrinths of controversy and contention, and rather darkened than illustrated the sacred mysteries of religion by a thick cloud of unintelligible subtilties, ambiguous terms, and obscure distinctions. Hence arose new matter of animosity and dispute, of bigotry and uncharitableness, which flowed like a torrent through succeeding ages, and which all human efforts seem unable to vanquish. In these disputes, the heat of passion, and the excessive force of religious antipathy and contradiction, frequently hurried the contending parties into the most dangerous and disgraceful


II. If, before this time, the lustre of religion was clouded with superstition, and its divine precepts were adulterated with a mixture of human inventions, this evil, instead of diminishing, increased daily. The happy souls of departed Christians were invoked by numbers, and their aid implored by assiduous and fervent prayers, while none stood up to censure or oppose this preposterous worship. The question, how the prayers of mortals ascended to the celestial spirits, (a question which afterwards produced

This work of Vincent, which is commended by our author, seems scarcely worthy of such applause. I see nothing in it, but that blind veneration for ancient opinions, which is so fatal to the discovery and progress of truth, and an attempt to prove that nothing but the voice of tradition is to be consulted in fixing the sense of the Scriptures.

An ample account of Vincent, Prosper, and Arnobius, is to be found in the Histoire Literaire de la France, tom. ii. p. 305, 342, 369. See the Institutiones Divinæ of Lactantius, lib. i. p. 164, and Hesiod. Op. et Dies, ver. 122. Compare with these, Sulp. Severus, Epist. ii. p.

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much wrangling, and many idle fancies,) did not yet occasion any difficulty; for the Christians of this century did not imagine that the souls of saints were so entirely confined to the celestial mansions, as to be deprived of the privilege of visiting mortals, and travelling when they pleased, through various countries. They were farther of opinion, that the places most frequented by departed spirits were those where the bodies which they had formerly animated were interred; and this opinion, borrowed by the Christians from the Greeks and Romans, rendered the sepulchres of the saints the general rendezvous of suppliant multitudes. The images of those who, during their lives, had acquired the reputation of uncommon sanctity, were now honoured with a particular worship in several places; and many imagined that this worship drew down into the images the propitious presence of the saints or celestial beings they represented; deluded, perhaps, into this idle fancy by the crafty fictions of the heathen priests, who had published the same things concerning the statues of Jupiter and Mercury. A singular and irresistible efficacy was also attributed to the bones of martyrs, and to the figure of the cross, in defeating the attempts of Satan, removing all sorts of calamities, and in healing, not only the diseases of the body, but also those of the mind. We shall not enter into a particular account of the public supplications, the holy pilgrimages, the superstitious services paid to departed souls, the multiplication of temples, chapels, altars, penitential garments, and a multitude of other circumstances, that showed the decline of genuine piety, and the corrupt darkness that was eclipsing the lustre of primitive Christianity. As none in these times forbade the Christians to retain the opinions of their pagan ancestors concerning departed souls, heroes, demons, temples, and other things, or even to transfer them into their religious services; and as, instead of entirely abolishing the rites and institutions of ancient times, these institutions were still observed, with only some slight alterations; all this swelled of necessity the torrent of superstition, and deformed the beauty of the Christian religion and worship with those corrupt remains of paganism, which still subsist in a certain church.


It will not be improper to observe here, that the famous pagan doctrine, concerning the purification of departed souls, by means of a certain kind of fire, was now more amply explained and established than it had formerly been. Every one knows, that this doctrine proved an inexhaustible source of riches to the clergy through the succeeding ages, and that it still enriches the Romish church with its nutritious streams.


III. The interpretation of the Scriptures employed fewer pens in this century than in the preceding age, in which the Christian doctors were less involved in the labyrinths of controversy. Yet, notwithstanding the multiplication of religious disputes, a considerable number of learned men undertook this useful and important task. We shall not mention those who confined their illustrations to some one, or a few books of the divine word, such as Victor of Anti371. Dial. ii. cap. xiii. p. 474. Dial. iii. p. 512.-Eneas Gazæus, in Theophrasto.-Macarius, in Jac. Tollii Insignibus Itineris Italici, and other writers of this age.

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Clementina, Homil. x. p. 697, tom. i. PP. Apostolic.-Arnobius adv. Gentes, lib. vi. p. 254.-Casp. Barthius, ad Rutilium Numantian. p. 250. a Prudentius, Hymn xi. de Coronis, p. 150.-Sulp. Severus, Ep. i. p. 364.-Eneas Gazæus, in Theophrasto.

• See, particularly concerning this matter, Augustin's book de viii.

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