Imágenes de páginas


The limits of his authority.

another pontif was to be chofen in his place, are a fufficient proof of what we have now advanced. Upon this occafion, one faction elected DAMASUS to that high dignity, while the oppofite party chofe URSICINUS, a deacon of the vacant church, to fucceed LIBERIUS. This double election gave rife to a dangerous fchifm, and to a fort of civil war within the city of Rome, which was carried on with the utmoft barbarity and fury, and produced the most cruel maffacres and defolations. This inhuman contest ended in the victory of Damasus; but whether his cause was more just than that of URSICINUS, is a question not so easy to determine [/]. Neither of the two, indeed, feem to have been poffeffed of fuch principles as conftitute a good Chriftian, much lefs of that exemplary virtue, that should distinguish a Christian bishop.

VI. Notwithstanding the pomp and fplendor that furrounded the Roman fee, it is, however, certain, that the bifhops of that city had not acquired, in this century, that pre-eminence of power and jurifdiction in the church which they afterwards enjoyed. In the ecclefiaftical commonwealth, they were, indeed, the most eminent order of citizens; but ftill they were citizens as well as their brethren, and fubject, like them, to the edicts and laws of the emperors. All religious caufes of extraordinary importance were examined and determined, either by judges appointed by the emperors, or in councils affembled for that purpufe, while those of inferior moment were decided, in each district, by its refpective bishop. The ecclefiaftical laws were enacted either by the emperor or by councils. None of the bishops acknowledged, that they derived their authority from the permiffion and appointment of the bishop of Rome, or that they were created bishops by the favour of the apoftolic fee. On the contrary, they all maintained, that they were the ambaffadors and minifters of JESUS CHRIST, and that their authority was derived from above [m]. It must, however, be observed, that, even in this century, several of those steps were laid, by which the bishops of Rome mounted afterwards to the fummit of ecclefiaftical power and defpotifm. These steps were partly laid by the imprudence of the emperors, partly by the dexterity of the Roman prelates themselves, and partly by the inconfiderate zeal and precipitate judgment of certain bishops [n]. The fourth canon of the council, held at Sardis in the year 347, is confidered, by the votaries of the Roman pontif, as

[7] Among the other writers of the papal hiftory, fee BowER's Hiftory of the Popes, vol. i. p. 180, 181, 182.

[m] Those who defire an ampler account of this matter, may confult PETR. de MARCA, De concordia Sacerdotii et imperii. Du PIN, De antiqua ecclefia difciplina; and the very learned and judicious work of BLONDEL, De la Primauté dans l'Eglife.

[(") The imprudence of the emperor, and the precipitation of the bifhops, were fingularly difcovered in the following event, which favoured extremely the rife and the ambition of the Roman pontif: About the year 372, VALENTINIAN enacted a law, impowering the bishop of Rome to examine and judge other bishops, that religious difputes might not be decided by profane or fecular judges. The bishops affembled in council, at Rome, in 378, not confidering the fatal confequences that muft arife, from this imprudent law, both to themselves and to the church, declared their approbation of it in the ftrongest terms, and recommended the execution of it in an addrefs to the emperor GRATIAN.-Some think, indeed, that this law impowered the Roman bishop to judge only the bishops within the limits of his jurifdiction, i. e. thofe of the fuburbicarian provinces. Others are of opinion, that this power was given only for a time, and extended to those bishops alone, who were concerned in the prefent fchifm. This laft notion the


the principal step to his fovereignty in the church; but, in my opinion, it ought, by no means, to be looked upon in this point of view. For, not to infift upon the reasons that prove the authority of this council to be extremely dubious, nor upon those which have induced fome to regard its laws as grofly corrupted, and others, to confider them as entirely fictitious and fpurious [o], it will be fufficient to obferve the impoffibility of proving by the canon in question, that the bishops of Sardis were of opinion, that, in all cafes, an appeal might be made to the bishop of Rome, in quality of fupreme judge [p]. But fuppofing, for a moment, that this was their opinion, what would follow? Surely, that pretext for affuming a fupreme authority must be very flender, which arises only from the decree of one obfcure council.

VII. CONSTANTINE the GREAT, by removing the feat of the empire to Byzantium, and building the city of Conftantinople, raifed up, in the bishop of this new metropolis, a formidable rival to the Roman pontif, and a bulwark which menaced a vigorous oppofition to his growing authority. For, as the emperor, in order to render Conftantinople a fecond Rome, enriched it with all the rights and privileges, honours and ornaments of the ancient capital of the world; fo its bifhop, measuring his own dignity and rank by the magnificence of the new city, and its eminence, as the auguft refidence of the emperor, affumed an equal degree of dignity with the bishop of Rome, and claimed a fuperiority over all the rest of the epifcopal order. Nor did the emperors disapprove of these high pretenfions, fince they confidered their own dignity as connected, in a certain measure, with that of the bishop of their imperial city. Accordingly, in a council held at Conftantinople, in the year 381, by the authority of THEODOSIUS the GREAT, the bishop of that city was, during the absence of the bishop of Alexandria, and against the confent of the Roman prelate, placed, by the third canon of that council, in the first rank after the bishop of Rome, and, confequently, above thofe of Alexandria and Antioch. NECTARIUS was the firft bishop, who enjoyed these new honours accumulated upon the fee of Conftantinople. His fucceffor, the celebrated JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, extended still further the privileges of that fee, and fubmitted to its jurisdiction all Thrace, Afia, and Pontus [q]; nor were the fucceeding bifhops of that imperial city deftitute of a fervent zeal to augment their privileges, and to extend their dominion.

feems probable; but ftill this privilege was an excellent inftrument in the hands of facerdotal ambition.]

[] See MICH. GEDDES Diff. de canonibus Sardicenfibus, which is to be found in his Mifcellaneous tracts, tom. ii. p. 415.

[(p) The fourth canon of the council of Sardis, fuppofing it genuine and authentic, related only to the particular cafe of a bishop's being depofed by the neighbouring prelates, and demanding a permiffion to make his defence. In that cafe, this canon prohibited the election of a fucceffor to the depofed bishop, before that the bishop of Rome had examined the cause, and pronounced fentence thereupon.]

[9] See PETR. de MARCA, Diff. de Conftantinop. Patriarchatus inflitutione, which is fubjoined to his book, De concordia Sacerdotii et Imperii. MICH. LEQUIEN Oriens Chriftianus, tom. i. P. 15. See alfo An account of the government of the Chriftian church for the firft fix hundred years, by Dr. PARKER, bishop of Oxford, p. 245. B b




The authority the hop of increased.

of bishop Conftantinople is


The vices of

the clergy.

The famous Greek writers.

This fudden revolution in the ecclefiaftical government, and this unexpected promotion of the bishop of Byzantium to a higher rank, to the detriment of other prelates of the firft eminence in the church, were productive of the most disagreeable effects. For this promotion not only filled the bishops of Alexandria with the bittereft averfion to thofe of Conftantinople, but also excited those deplorable contentions and difputes between these latter and the Roman pontifs, which were carried on, for many ages, with fuch various fuccefs, and concluded, at length, in the entire feparation of the Latin and Greek churches.

VIII. The additions made by the emperors and others to the wealth, honours, and advantages of the clergy, were followed with a proportionable augmentation of vices and luxury, particularly among thofe of that facred order, who lived in great and opulent cities; and that many fuch additions were made to that order after the time of CONSTANTINE, is a matter that admits of no difpute. The bishops, on the one hand, contended with each other, in the moft fcandalous manner, concerning the extent of their respective jurifdictions, while, on the other, they trampled upon the rights of the people, violated the privileges of the inferior minifters, and imitated, in their conduct and in their manner of living, the arrogance, voluptuoufness, and luxury of magiftrates and princes [r]. This pernicious example was foon followed by the feveral ecclefiaftical orders. The prefbyters, in many places, affumed an equality with the bifhops in point of rank and authority. We find alfo many complaints made, at this time, of the vanity and effeminacy of the deacons. Thofe more particularly of the prefbyters and deacons, who filled the firft ftations of thefe orders, carried their pretenfions to an extravagant length, and were offended at the notion of being placed upon an equal footing with their collegues. For this reason, they not only affumed the titles of Archprefbyters and Archdeacons, but alfo claimed a degree of authority and power much fuperior to that which was vested in the other members of their respective orders.

IX. Several writers of great reputation lived in this century, and were fhining ornaments to the countries to which they belonged. Among those that flourished in Greece and in the eastern provinces, the following feem to deferve the firft rank:

EUSEBIUS PAMPHILUS, bishop of Cæfarea in Palestine, a man of immenfe reading, juftly famous for his profound knowledge of ecclefiaftical history, and fingularly verfed in other branches of literature, more especially, in all the different parts of facred erudition. These eminent talents and acquifitions were, however, accompanied with errors and defects, and he is faid to have inclined towards the fentiments of those, who look upon the three perfons in the god-head, as different from each other in rank and dignity.

[r] See SULPIT. SEVER. Hift. Sacr. lib. i. cap. xxiii, p. 74. lib. ii. cap. xxxii. p. 248. cap. li. p. 292. Dialog. i. cap. xxi. p. 426. Add to this the account given by CLARKSON, in his Difcourfe upon liturgies, p. 228. of the corrupt and profligate manners of the clergy, and, particularly, of the unbounded ambition of the bishops, to enlarge the fphere of their influence and authority.


Some have reprefented this learned prelate as a thorough Arian, but with- CENT. IV. out foundation; if by an Arian be meant,. one who embraces the doctrines taught by ARIUS, prefbyter of Alexandria [s].

PETER of Alexandria, who is mentioned by EUSEBIUS with the highest encomiums [t].

ATHANASIUS, patriarch of Alexandria, celebrated on account of his learned and pious labours, and particularly famous for his warm and vigorous oppofition to the Arians [u].

BASIL, furnamed the GREAT, bifhop of Cafarea, who, in point of genius, controverfial skill, and a rich and flowing eloquence, was furpaffed by very few in this century [w].

CYRIL, bishop of Jerufalem, who has left fome catechetical difcourfes which he delivered in that city: he has been accused by many of intimate connexions with the Semi-arians [x].

JOHN, furnamed CHRYSOSTOM, on account of his extraordinary eloquence, a man of a noble genius, governed fucceffively the churches of Antioch and Conftantinople [y], and left behind him feveral monuments of his profound and extenfive erudition; as alfo difcourfes which he had preached with vaft applause, and which are yet extant [z].

EPIPHANIUS, bifhop of Salamis, in the isle of Cyprus, who wrote a book against all the herefies that had fprung up in the church until his time; this work has little or no reputation, as it is full of inaccuracies and errors, and discovers almost in every page the levity and ignorance of its author [a].

GREGORY NAZIANZEN and GREGORY of Nyfa, who have obtained a very honourable place among the celebrated theological and polemic writers of this century, and not without foundation, as their works fufficiently

[] No writer has accufed EUSEBIUS of arianifm, with more bitterness and erudition, than LE CLERC, in the fecond of his Epiftolæ Ecclef. et Critica, which are fubjoined to his Ars Critica, and NATALIS ALEXANDER, Hift. Ecclef. Nov. T. Sac. iv. Diff. xvii. p. 205. All, however, that thefe writers prove is, that EUSEBIUS maintained that there was a certain difparity and fubordination between the perfons of the god-head. And fuppofe this to have been his opinion, it will not follow from thence that he was an Arian, unless that word be taken in a very extenfive and improper fenfe. Nothing is more common than the abufive application of this term to perfons, who have held opinions quite oppofite to thofe of ARIUS, though perhaps they may have erred in other refpects.

[t] Hift. Ecclef. lib ix. cap. vi.

[ EUSEBIUS RENAUDOTUS, in his Hiftory of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, p. 83. has collected all the accounts which the Oriental writers give of ATHANASIUS, of whose works the learned and justly celebrated Benedictine, BERNARD MONTFAUCON has given a fplendid edition in three volumes in folio.

[w] The works of BASIL were published, at Paris, in three volumes folio, by JULIEN GARNIER, a learned Benedictine.

[x] The later editions of the works of this prelate, are, thofe published by Mr. MILLES and by AUGUSTUS TOUTTEE, a Benedictine monk.

[y] It must not be understood by this, that CHRYSOSTOM was bishop of both these churches: he was preacher at Antioch (a function, indeed, which before him was always attached to the epifcopal dignity) and afterwards patriarch of Conftantinople.

[x] The best edition of the works of CHRYSOSTOM, is that published by MONTFAUCON, in eleven volumes, folio.

[a] The works of EPIPHANIUS have been tranflated into Latin, and published, with notes, by the learned PETAU. His life written by GERVAS, appeared at Paris in 1738, in 4to.

Bb 2



The principal Latin writers.

teftify [b]. Their reputation, indeed, would have been yet more confirmed, had they been lefs attached to the writings of ORIGEN [c], and lefs infected with the falfe and vitious eloquence of the fophifts.

EPHRAIM, the Syrian, who has acquired an immortal name by the fanctity of his converfation and manners, and, by the multitude of thofe excellent writings, in which he has combated the fectaries, explained the facred writings, and unfolded the moral duties and obligations of Chriftians [d].

Befides the learned men now mentioned, there are several others, of whofe writings but a fmall number have furvived the ruins of time; fuch as PAMPHILUS, a martyr, and an intimate friend of EUSEBIUS; DIODORUS, bishop of Tarfus; Hosius of Cordova; DIDYMUS of Alexandria; EUSTATHIUS, bishop of Antioch; AMPHILOCHIUS, bishop of Iconium; PALLADIUS, the writer of the Laufiac Hiftory [e]; MACARIUS the elder and the younger; APOLLINARIUS the elder; and fome others, who are frequently mentioned on account of their erudition, and the remarkable events in which they were concerned. X. The Latins alfo were not without writers of confiderable note, the principal of whom we shall point out here.

HILARY, bishop of Poitiers, acquired a name by XII books concerning the Trinity, which he wrote against the Arians, and several other productions. He was a man of penetration and genius; notwithstanding which, he has, for the most part, rather copied in his writings TERTULLIAN and ORIGEN, than given us the fruits of his own ftudy and invention [ƒ].

LACTANTIUS [g], the most eloquent of the Latin writers in this century, exposed the abfurdity of the Pagan fuperftitions in his Divine Institutions, which are written with uncommon purity and elegance. He wrote also upon other fubjects; but was much more fuccefsful in refuting the errors of others, than careful in obferving and correcting his own [b].

[6] There are fome good editions of these two writers, which we owe to the care and induftry of two learned French editors of the laft century. [Viz. the Abbot BILLY, who publifhed the works of GREGORY NAZIANZEN at Paris, in two volumes, folio, in the year 1609, with a Latin tranflation and learned notes; and Father FRONTON DU Duc, who published those of GREGORY of Nyffa, in 1605]

[(c) The charge of Origenifm feems to have been brought by the ancient writers only against GREGORY of Nya.]


[d] There is a large and accurate account of this excellent writer, in the Biblioth. Oriental, Vaticana of JOSEPH SIMON ASSEMAN, tom. i. p. 24. Several works of EPHRAIM have been published, in Greek, at Oxford, of which GERARD Vossius has given a Latin edition. An edition, in Syriac, of the fame works was published at Rome, not long ago, by STEгH. EUOD. ASSEMAN.

[(e) This is the hiftory of the folitaries, or hermits, which derived the name of Laufiac history from LAUSUS, governor of Cappadocia, at whose request it was compofed, and to whom it was dedicated by PALLADIUS.]

[ƒ] There is a very accurate and ample account of HILARY, in the Hiftoire Litteraire de la France, tom. i. Siecle iv. p. 139-193. The beft edition we have of his works is that pub lished by the French Benedictines.

[g] See a complete account of LACTANTIUS, Hiftoire Litteraire de la France, tom. i. Siecle iv. p. 65.

[(6) LACTANTIUS confiders CHRIST's miffion as having no other end, than that of leading mankind to virtue by the most fublime precepts and the most perfect example. The charge of Manicheism brought against this eminent writer, is refuted in the most evident and fatisfactory AMBROSE,

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