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them, by saying, “ If thou fall a thousand times and repent thee of thy sins, come boldly into the Church.”
The urbanity and liberal expenditure of Atticus, were much praised, and also his extensive reading; but it is observed of his sermons, that they were so simple, that his hearers thought them not worth committing to writing for the benefit of posterity'. At the death of Atticus, great contention took place about the election of a successor; but the laity were unanimous for Sisinius, a priest of one of the churches in the suburbs, where all the people of Constantinople were wont to celebrate the feast of Ascension. He was esteemed a very religious and most charitable man, even beyond his means. On the death of Sisinius, the emperor, to avoid the tumult of the contending parties, resolved, that no member of the church of Constantinople should be advanced to the bishop's seat, but that a stranger should be sent for, from Antioch. The choice fell upon Nestorius, a German by birth, residing in that city. The qualifications which recommended him, were “ that he had a loud voice, and an eloquent tongue, and therefore, as it was conceived, a fit man to preach to the people?.”
But during the very ceremony of his installation, it was discovered what sort of a man they had chosen ; for, in pronouncing his oration he addressed the emperor, then present : “Restore to me, O emperor, the earth weeded and purged of heretics, and I will give heaven to thee; aid me in foiling the heretics, and I will assist thee in overthrowing the Persians.” His violence was soon manifested in his persecution of all who had dissented from the church. The Arians, to avoid its demolition, set fire to their own place of worship. If it had not been for the interference of the emperor, he would have molested the Novatians also. He procured, even from those of his own faith, the epithet of " fire-brand.” It was viewed as a just retaliation upon this persecuting prelate, that he himself was, at last, cast out of the church for heresy. A favourite priest, who had followed him from Antioch, had offended the orthodox of Constantinople, by denying to the Virgin Mary the title of the Mother of God. “ The clergy and laity," says Socrates, " were disgusted beyond measure; for they had learned of old, that Christ was the true God, and not to be severed, as man alone, from his divinity, because of the mystery of his incarnation.” And, therefore, Mary might justly be said to have borne God, - God incarnate,
• Socrates, lib. Ivii. cap. 29.
who, by reason of his assumption of humanity, did not become two persons, but united in one person, the Godhead and the manhood. He that was God, sustaining the birth of the Virgin Mary, according to the flesh. Nestorius, who, though proud of his eloquence, was very deficient in learning, and in the knowledge of the ancient theology, rashly defended his priest, and maintained, openly, the truth of his doctrine. His station in the church, in those days, could not shelter him from the judgment of the church. A council of the principal bishops was held at Ephesus', and though they quarrelled with each other about the method of proceeding, they agreed in condemning Nestorius. “ He would not,” he declared in the council, “ call him God, who grew to man's estate by two months, and three months, and so forth.” He was accordingly deposed from his bishopric, and banished : but he left, in Constantinople, a party favourable to him, among the laity, for the clergy were unanimous in pronouncing his public anathema ; and also among some bishops of the provinces. Hence the rise of the Nestorians, a sect which has ever since existed in the Eastern Church.
After some contest, Maximianus succeeded Nestorius. He is said to have procured to himself, the character of a very religious man, by the great costs that he had been at in building the tombs of the religious. He was a man destitute of learning, but of a quiet and peaceful disposition. After two years, he was followed by Proclus, who, with more cultivated talents, inherited the same peaceful disposition, and never attempted to molest those who differed from him in the faith. By the honours which he procured to be paid to the remains of John Chrysostom, he reconciled to the general church, those of his followers who remained, and who had till that time kept themselves separate.
In the days of Flavianus, the next bishop who succeeded to Proclus, a new heresy appeared, respecting the person of Christ, the opposite to that of Nestorius, and which, also, has left a lasting impression on the Eastern churches. The author of this new doctrine was Eutyches. As Nestorius divided the Godhead and the manhood in the blessed Saviour into two persons, Eutyches confounded the two natures together. “ I confess,” says he, “ that our Lord consisted of two natures, before the Divinity was coupled with the humanity ; but after the uniting them, I affirm, that he had but one nature ?.” His opinions were condemned by Flavianus, in a council at Constantinople.
1 A.D. 435.
· Evagrius Scholasticus, lib. i. cap. 9.
A shameful scene occurred among some leading bishops, assembled at Ephesus, in opposition to Flavianus, instigated by a courtier, his personal enemy. The protectors of the heresy seemed, for some time, triumphant. Flavianus was deposed and murdered. To relate the particulars of this affair would throw but little light on the history of the church. Orthodoxy, however, was again vindicated in a general council, held at Chalcedon; but the followers of Eutyches still remained as a sect. The decrees of the council of Chalcedon were, for some years, a matter of contest among the Eastern bishops ; and their uninteresting history is filled with mutual anathemas, and depositions against each other. The appointment, or the elections of the bishops to the greater sees, as Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch, were constantly attended with popular tumults and military violence; and the characters of the prelates, who were generally advanced to these important stations, are suitable to any thing rather than to the characters of the more primitive bishops, and of the apostles of Jesus Christ.
Such is the history of the leading personages of the Eastern church at this period; but, as the accounts of kings and warriors, though they fill the pages of general history, leave undescribed the more multiplied, and, therefore, more important scenes of private life, we must recollect, that the history of the bishops of the great sees, does not expose to our view the private and domestic retreats of religion, or even the state of more obscure churches. We see, however, to what an extent pride and worldly ambition had already desolated the high places, at least of the church in the East; and as no religious revival appears in this part of the professing world, we shall not be surprised to find that, as a people, they are, in the judgment of God, given up almost to entire destruction.
I shall now give a short account of the inroad of the northern nations in the West, so important to the church and to that portion of the globe, tracing the progress of the three greatest leaders of the barbarians, ALARIC, GENSERIC, ATTILA; “ names,” says Mr. Gibbon, " deserving an equal rank in the destruction of the Roman empire ;” and shall take notice of the final extinction of the old Imperial government at Rome, and the settlement of the new nations in the different provinces.
I. The barbarian nations had for some time previous to the eommencement of this century become formidable to the empire; but the prudence and success of Theodosius had suspended the storm. In the year A.D. 379, Valens “ informed that the north was agitated with a furious tempest.” This was a conflict of the barbarian nations among themselves, which drove the Goths, who were situated nearest its boundary, into the provinces of the empire. Mr. Gibbon computes this first emigration, – reserved to subvert the foundations of Rome,” at “ near a million of souls.” They were at first imprudently permitted to settle upon the uncultivated lands of Thrace. Fresh inundations of their countrymen soon followed, “
exasperated with hunger and the oppression of the Roman governors." “ War is resolved on;" “ the banners of the nation are displayed, and the air resounds with the harsh and mournful sounds of the Gothic trumpet.” Hence followed " the ruin of the peaceful husbandmen of Thrace, the conflagration of their villages, and the massacre or captivity of their innocent families.” “ The fruitful country, that extends above three hundred miles from the banks of the Danube to the Straits, of the Hellespont,” is laid waste. It was in opposing these that the emperor Valens fell, with two-thirds of his army, “ and the tide of the Gothic inundation rolled from the walls of Hadrianople to the suburbs of Constantinople.” The reign of Theodosius, from A.D. 379 to A.D. 395, suspended the evil, and vindicated the honour of the empire.
But, “ if the subjects of Rome could be ignorant of their obligations to the great Theodosius, they were too soon convinced how painfully the spirit and abilities of the deceased emperor had supported the frail and mouldering edifice of the republic." In the same winter that he died, the Gothic nation was in arms; troops of barbarians were irregularly spread from the woody shores of Dalmatia to the walls of Constantinople.” “ The following year Alaric, the most valiant of their kings, marched them into Greece.” The fertile fields of Phocis and Bæotia were instantly covered with a deluge of barbarians; who massacred the males of an age to bear arms, and drove away the beautiful females, with the spoil and cattle of the flaming villages.” Athens submitted to Alaric; —" the whole territory of Attica, from the promontory of Sunium to the town of Megara, was blasted with his baneful presence - Corinth,
Foretold in the symbols of the first trumpet, Rev. viii. 7.
Argos, and Sparta, yielded without resistance.” He was attacked by Stilicho, the Roman general; and “ the woody and mountainous country of Arcadia, the fabulous residence of Pan and the Dryads, became the scene of a long and doubtful conflict.” The European provinces of the Eastern empire being exhausted, Alaric is tempted by the fame, the beauty, and the wealth of Italy. He accordingly invades Italy'. Honorius, who succeeded his father in the West, flees from Milan, is pursued, and besieged by the Goths. The battle of Pollentia, won by the Romans, checks the invaders, but only prolongs the miseries of the conflict. “ Desolation is spread over the fruitful face of Tuscany.” The capital is saved for the present, but the storm thickens in another quarter, and lends its fatal aid to the destructions of Alaric. “ The correspondence of nations was, in that age, so precarious and imperfect, that the revolutions of the North might escape the knowledge of the court of Ravenna, till the dark cloud which was collected along the coast of the Baltic, burst in thunder upon the banks of the Upper Danube.” The barbarians here referred to, were the Vandals, the Suevi, the Burgundians, and the Alani. These nations never afterwards retreated, but seized upon the provinces beyond the Alps. “ While the peace of Germany was secured, the banks of the Rhine were crowned, like those of the Tiber, with elegant houses and well cultivated farms." This scene of
and plenty was suddenly changed into a desert, and the prospect of the smoking ruins could alone distinguish the solitude of nature from the desolations of man.” “ The consuming flames · of war spread from the banks of the Rhine over the greatest part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul : that rich and extensive country, as far as the ocean, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, was delivered to the barbarians.”
About the same time the Roman armies were withdrawn from Britain, and the inhabitants left to protect themselves. To complete the history of this dreadful calamity, Alaric three times besieged Rome, and the third time it was sacked by his
“ At the hour of midnight, the Salarian gate was silently opened by the slaves, and the inhabitants were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet. Eleven hundred and sixty-three years after the foundation of Rome, the imperial city, which had subdued and civilised so considerable a portion of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of the