worldly ambition; so great were the alterations that time had introduced since the death of Peter and Paul. “ When I consider," says the pagan philosopher Ammianus, “the magnificence and grandeur of Rome, I do not deny but that those who are ambitious of this dignity, ought to use all their endeavours to arrive at it; since they, by this means, procure a certain settlement, where they are enriched by the offerings of the ladies : they ride in chariots, richly clothed, and feast so splendidly, that their tables surpass even those of kings. They might be truly happy, if, contemning the splendour of Rome, they lived like some bishops of the provinces, who, by the plainness of their diet, their mean apparel, and the modesty of their looks, which are turned towards the ground, make themselves acceptable to the eternal God and his true worshippers.”

It appears also, that the Luciferiars', the Novatians, and the Donatists, had each a bishop at this time at Rome; but these bishops were heads of small and obscure congregations, and did not withdraw much of the respect of mankind from the bishop of the general church

One of these contested elections at Milan, which threatened a dangerous tumult, gave to the church, at this time, in a very extraordinary way, one of her most eminent bishops and fathers.

Ambrose, a man of known religion and probity, was governor of Milan. The apprehension of dangerous consequences from a tumult, had brought him into the church, where he had with difficulty appeased the violence of the contending parties, when, on a sudden, the whole multitude cried out, with one voice, “ Ambrose shall be the man.” The exclamation is said to have originated with a child in the crowd, who cried out, “ Ambrose is bishop'!" The bishops present received this unanimous voice of the people, as the voice of God; and, after some difficulty, with the concurrence of the emperor Valentinian, they at length persuaded Ambrose to accept the office, and he filled it for many years, to the great advantage of the church. By his labours, Arianism was expelled from Italy; but, though superior to most of his day, Ambrose must still be classed with the disciples of Origen and the Alexandrian school •.

Valentinian", the favourer of the orthodox, and Valens, their cruel and determined persecutor, died within three years


"A sect much resembling the Novatians.
• Socrates and Sozomen.

Fleury. * Milner.

SA.D. 375.


of each other. The troubles in which the latter had found himself involved with the barbarians, by whose hands he at last fell, had, in his last days, afforded a respite to the persecuted, Peter had been restored to Alexandria, and the usurping Arian expelled from the city. Gratian, the eldest son of Valentinian, and Valentinian II. an infant, had been appointed to the succession. Gratian had embraced the true faith, and much strengthened the hands of Ambrose, at Milan; and in the East, he recalled from exile the bishops whom Valens had banished. His greatest gift, however, both to the church, which was torn with dissensions, and to the empire, now violently assaulted by the barbarians, was the appointment of Theodosius, a Spanish noble, to be his colleague in the East.

Theodosius took up his residence at Constantinople. The new emperor expelled the Arians from their churches, and, after an interval of forty years, Constantinople was again put into the hands of the clergy of the ancient faith. Without delay he summoned a general council', and a hundred and fifty bishops assembled. With their concurrence, Nectarius, a man of noble birth, who held the office of prætor, was chosen bishop, as Gregory Nazianzen, who had been translated to the see, refused to continue therein. The council decreed, that the bishop of Constantinople should have precedency next after the bishop of Rome. Other bishops of the larger sees were advanced to the dignity of patriarchs of provinces, and the residence of bishops in their own churches was enforced. But that which has rendered this council most celebrated in the history of the church, is their adding to the Nicean confession of faith, that clause respecting the Holy Ghost, which we now find in the creed. We are not by this to understand that the Deity of the Holy Ghost was now for the first time asserted; the doctrine is clearly stated in the more ancient creeds. The design of the council of Nice had not been to draw up a general creed, but only to express more fully the sense of the church on one article of it, the Deity of the Son, then denied by the Arians. The denial of the Godhead of the Spirit, by the Macedonians, now called for a more explicit avowal of the common faith on this article.

Theodosius laboured much, and with the best intentions, to produce unanimity in the profession of the Christian faith. He was not content merely to follow the better example of Jovian

I A.D, 381.

and Valentinian, and to encourage and foster the truth with all his power, but he granted, at the same time, liberty of conscience and toleration to all. He did not, indeed, imitate the cruelties of the Arian Valens; but his laws against the Arians were oppressive, and paganism in a manner expired under his severe edicts, for it was made a capital crime to sacrifice, or to attend the pagan rites. What he aimed at in the church, was not, however, so much to ensure uniformity in discipline, as to maintain the orthodox faith. In the long and scandalous quarrel at Antioch, concerning who should be bishop, he did not interfere; and not only he tolerated the Novatians, because they held the Nicean faith, but he shewed great favour to their bishops; and we must recollect that the conduct of the Arians and of the other sectaries had been very violent. A report of the emperor's death, indeed, after he had settled the church, encouraged them to excite a riot, in which they burned the residence of the bishop of Constantinople.

In the mean time, Ambrose had suffered much from the Arian court of Valentinian II., which resided at Milan. His stand against the invasion of the rights of his church was noble, and the spirit of true devotion and piety breathes in his language; but how marred with the growing superstition of the times! He could not consecrate a church, unless they found him some relics of martyrs. The journey of Theodosius into the West, at length reconciled Valentinian to his bishop, and he died in his communion..

The spirit with which Ambrose supported the ancient discipline of the church, appears in his conduct towards Theodosius himself. The bishop charged upon the conscience of the emperor, a cruel massacre of the people of Thessalonica, in a popular tumult, which had been executed by his orders, and he refused him admittance into the church of Milan. When a courtier. endeavoured to intimidate him, the answer was: “I will hinder him from entering the vestibule, yet if he will play the king, I will offer him my throat.” The emperor submitted to the public penance enjoined by the bishop; and, as hasty passion had been the cause of the massacre, he engaged for the future to suspend the execution of warrants, in capital offences, for thirty days.

The West also was disturbed by the Priscilians, an impious sect; but their persecution by some of the clergy, through the instrumentality of the civil power, much disgraced their cause. However, a faithful witness against these proceedings was found

in Martin, bishop of Tours. He blamed their being brought as criminals before the secular power, and called it

a new and unheard of evil :” he insisted that their expulsion from the church was all-sufficient for their punishment'.

Theodosius, after a reign of sixteen years, died at Milan, having left the empire to his sons, Honorius and Arcadius. The former reigned in the West, the latter in the East. This proved to be a permanent division of the Roman dominions; and at this epocha we may close the history of the fourth century.




The last century contained one of those eras which have sometimes occurred in the history of mankind, when religion is drawn from her retirement, and becomes, from circumstances, one of the chief concerns of society. We could not, therefore, well separate the affairs of the church from the revolutions of the state. But we may now return to the method we had previously adopted, of taking first a summary view of secular history, and then pursuing the particular theme of our inquiry.

Had we, indeed, only to trace the history of the church at Constantinople and in the East, we should still be compelled to attend to the political changes in the imperial court, in order to discover the origin of those events which most distressed the church, or which most conduced to her external prosperity; but as the Imperial power becomes in this century so much contracted in its sway, and the church universal is the subject of our history, we must take a more comprehensive view, in order to illustrate the circumstances of her warfare. The churches of the West, also, are increasing in importance in the view of the ecclesiastical historian ; and these soon become entirely separated from the protection or influence of the throne of the Cesars. I Milner.

? A.D. 395.

This century discloses, with respect to the Western empire, one of the greatest changes that ever took place in the state of the civilised world : no less, indeed, than an entire change of the inhabitants in many places; and every where the reduction of those who had ruled, and possessed the world before, to a state of slavery and ignominious poverty, under a set of new masters. This revolution was brought about by the mighty inundation of the barbarian nations of the North

our rude forefathers, as most of my readers probably may say -- who finally divided the Roman empire amongst them, and erected the present nations of Europe, on its dismembered provinces. Why the churches of the West were not swept away in this great flood; and how it was that the rulers of the congregations still kept their stations, when almost all the civil authorities and temporal proprietors fell in the undistinguished mass, involve the consideration of a most wonderful dispensation of Providence. This, however, was the case; the church suffered much, during the rush, and in the convulsion of the agitated waters; but when they became more settled, she was found unimpaired, and from various causes, as the Divine counsels required, arose to greater temporal importance in this new world! And what did indeed make glad the city of God, although the new race of Gentiles have trampled her beneath their feet for many years, this inundation of nations brought with it, from their wild and savage abodes, a remnant to be saved according to the election of grace, and the promise is yet to them and their children : a subject of praise, I trust, to me and to my readers at this day.


But before we proceed to trace the progress of this great revolution in the Western empire, we shall take a short survey of the Eastern church, still connected with the throne of Constantinople. It has been remarked of the general character of the professing church, at this period, that useful learning, as well as genuine piety, was at a low ebb. A torrent of irrational superstitions was carrying every thing before it, and the ascetic enthusiasm of the monks, was fast drawing from society those who should have been the salt of the earth, and have meliorated the condition of mankind; but there seemed no

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