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growing up fast in the East. The Nestorian controversy had brought the Virgin Mary into particular notice : pictures of her, with Christ in her arms, were frequent, and were becoming the objects of adoration. The belief in the sanctifying virtue of relics was become excessive.
Of the remnant of true Christians in the catholic church of the Greeks, and in the two great sects of the Nestorians and Eutychians, we have very little more immediate information. In general, every superstitious and idolatrous corruption of the Christian faith and worship, grew up faster in the East than in the West; for, by the previous spoiling of the philosophy of the Alexandrian school, during many ages, they seemed to have found a more genial soil prepared for their reception. But the chief distinction to be observed in the history of religion, in the East and in the West, is, that no similar preservative against the worst effects of corruption of doctrine, like that produced by the ministry of Augustin in the West, was ever, as far we know, afforded to the Grecian churches. Their Jerome, a contemporary with Augustin, was far his inferior in evangelical knowledge. Mr Milner observes, “ he never opposes fundamental truths deliberately ; but though he owns them every where, does so defectively and often inconsistently." “ His learned ignorance availed, more than any other cause, to give celebrity to superstition in the Christian world, and to darken the light of the gospel.”. The fruits of Augustin's ministry were very different, as we shall see hereafter ; he was a light shining in a dark place for many ages. But we may too truly exclaim of the Greek church, “ If the light which is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness !” The historian above mentioned is led to remark, “ As early as the seventh century, the influences of Divine grace seem to have been withheld in the East entirely. Men had there filled up the measure of their iniquity.” And it was at this era that the first race of Mahometans appeared, and almost entirely destroyed even the profession of Christianity in Africa, and in the greatest part of the East; and millions voluntarily apostatised to the religion of the Arabian impostor?.
Of those who retained the profession of their religion under the dominion of the Saracens, it is said that the Macedonians and Eutychians met with more favour and encouragement from their conquerors, than the Greek Christians. This seems like
'Rev. ix. 20, 21.
a provision of the Divine mercy to preserve a remnant; and we know that these sects, under their own bishops and patriarchs, were very widely extended over the East. The Nestorians, even as early as the seventh century, had penetrated into the north of China. With all their speculative errors, these sects, and especially the Eutychians, are admitted to have been more free from gross and idolatrous superstitions, than the Greeks; and their missionary exertions among the pagans speak very highly in their favour.
But even in the Greek catholic church itself, we find that, as low as in the eleventh century, evangelical religion was not lost. Theophylact, a writer of that age, still recommended to the people the constant perusal of the Scriptures, and could teach with perspicuity some of their leading doctrines. The law,” he says, “ if it detect any man sinning, condemns him to death; but the Holy Spirit, receiving those who have committed many offences in the laver of baptismal regeneration, justifies them, and quickens those who are dead in sin.”
“ The righteousness of God preserves us, not our own righteousness; for what righteousness can we have who are altogether corrupt ? ?” “ But God has justified us not by our works, but by faith.” “ The righteousness of God is by faith.” “ Moses asserts, that a man is justified by works. But none are found to fulfil them. Justification by the law is, therefore, rendered impossible. This is the righteousness of God, when a man is justified by grace, so that no blemish, no spot is found in him.” Faith,” he says, “ is looked on as contemptible, because of the foolishness of preaching. He who believes with great affection, extends his heart to God — he is united to him his heart inflamed, conceives a strong assurance that it shall gain its desire. We all know this by experience, because Christ has said, 'Whatever ye ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.' He who believes gives himself wholly to God; he speaks to him with tears; and in prayer holds the Lord, as it were, by the feet," &c. &c.
We may safely conclude with Mr. Milner, that the real church was still existing in the East. But Theophylact appears as the evening star of the Greek church ; after his time, there is but little that deserves our attention. The state itself, indeed, began to be greatly reduced by the victories of the Turks.
Dr. Mosheim, however, observes, that "there were in Greece, and in all the Eastern provinces, a sort of men distinguished by the general and invidious name of Massalians or Euchites, both terms signifying persons that pray;"-" that there are several circumstances which render it extremely probable that there were many persons of eminent piety and zeal for genuine Christianity,” who were comprehended under the term and ranked in the lists of heretics, “ only for opposing the raging superstition of the times."
CHAPTER THE SECOND.
A SHORT VIEW OF THE HISTORY OF THE CIVIL AND ECCLE
SIASTICAL STATES IN THE WEST, DURING THE MIDDLE
In turning to the history of the West, the consolidation of the principal nations of the barbarians, under the predecessors of Charlemagne, with the restoration of the empire in the person of that prince, is the first event that claims our attention, and may serve to mark an era in the history of the church. Clotaire II. had again united the territories of the French monarchy. Concerning the descendants of Clovis — the Most Christian Kings and Eldest Sons of the Roman church--this observation of Mr. Hallam may suffice : “ It is a weary and unprofitable task to follow these changes in detail, through scenes of tumult and bloodshed, in which the eye meets with no sunshine, nor can rest upon any interesting spot. It would be difficult, as Mr. Gibbon has justly observed, to find any where more vice or less virtue.” After Dagobert”, son of Clotaire II., the kings of France dwindled into personal insignificance3: their power was in fact exercised by an officer of the household, called the mayor of the palace. Among these ministers of the Merovingian kings, Pepin rose* to the highest importance. His son, Charles Martel, is renowned in history, for having stopped the progress of the Saracens in Europe; they had overrun Spain, and penetrated into the heart of France, when he gained a complete victory over them between Tours and Poitiers. another Pepin, was not content with the substantials of royalty, but after a solemn reference to Pope Zachary, whose sanction
: A.D. 628.
3 A.D. 635.
* A.D. 680.
he obtained, deposed his master, Childeric III., and dismissed him to a convent.
This revolution' was of great importance to the rise of the ecclesiastical state, of which the see of Rome was the head, though it is not yet to be ranked as a temporal power. At the close of the sixth century, under the pontificate of Gregory the Great, Rome, we have seen, was under the dominion of the Greek emperors, whose representative, the exarch, resided at Ravenna; but the third race of barbarians, the Lombards, who, after the Heruli and Ostrogoths, had established themselves in Italy, were in possession of its fairest regions, and pressed hard upon the ancient capital. Rome had reached, about the end of the sixth century, the lowest period of her oppression ; " and like Thebes, Babylon, or Carthage,” Mr. Gibbon observes, “ the name of Rome might have been erased from the earth, if the city had not been animated by a vital principle, which again restored her to honour and dominion.”
This vital principle, which once more saved the eternal city, we cannot say was the religion of Christ, however that religion might dwell in the hearts of a remnant in Rome; but, to use Mr. Milner's expressions, it was “ the seeds of Antichrist vigorously shooting; the poisonous plant,”
" which the reputation of Gregory contributed much to mature ; and if it be true, as this respectable historian is of opinion, that the three discriminating marks of the papacy-idolatry, spiritual tyranny, and the doctrine of the merit of works, had not yet procured an establishment at Rome, the apostate was certainly erecting her house,” “ and had begun to send forth her maidens.' Rome was, in fact, become the object of a veneration to the nations of the earth, but little less than idolatrous, on account of the reputed relics of St. Peter and St. Paul, whose tombs their keepers believed, or feigned to believe, were guarded by miracles and invisible terrors ; and on account of a notion, which had some time been growing up in the Christian world, that the bishop of Rome was the living representative of the prince of the apostles, and the vicar of Christ upon earth.”
The chair of St. Peter, indeed, during the sixth century, becomes of a very equivocal character. The bishops of Rome were, at the commencement of it, the subjects of the Gothic kings; and the annals of the rising popedom were dishonoured by a long and violent contest between Symmachus and Lau
rentius, who were elected to fill the see, by two opposite factions, on the same day. The contest was carried on with assassinations and massacres. The candidates accused each other of the most detestable crimes. Three different councils assembled at Rome, to endeavour to put an end to this disgraceful affair; but it could be decided only by the authority of Theodoric, who had summoned the competitors before him, at Ravenna. Symmachus, without being cleared in his character, was established in the see; and never was the adulation of the infatuated multitude, towards the Roman pontiff, carried to a greater height, than at this period. “ It was decreed in a numerous synod, ' that the pope was pure from all sin, and exempt from all judgment?.?” The same person, Ennodius?, bishop of Pavia, who had promoted this impious flattery, is celebrated for having written against the doctrines of grace. On the other hand, when Maxentius, a Scythian monk, in company with a number of monks his brethren, ably defended these doctrines, they were ill treated by Hormisdas, bishop of Rome, accused of turbulence and self-conceit, and, after a long attendance at Rome, expelled thence by his orders. We can but wish, with Mr. Milner, that we had a larger account of a man that was counted worthy to suffer shame for the faith of Christ.
Theodoric, at the end of his life, in a moment of jealousy and resentment, prevented the choice of the Romans, by nominating a bishop in the palace of Ravenna. The danger and ferocious scenes of a schism were mildly restrained, and the last decree of the senate was enacted to extinguish, if it were possible, the scandalous venality of the papal elections. Nor had the ecclesiastical transactions at Rome, on the ascendant of the imperial arms, been at all more creditable to the bishops of the princely city. Theodora, the empress, gave an order to Vigilius deacon of the Roman church, to require Belisarius to secure his election to the bishopric, and the expulsion of Silverius, at that time bishop. Vigilius was in that case to present Belisarius with two hundred pounds of gold. The venal general executed the order, and Silverius was delivered
Ennodius, p. 1621, 1622, 1636, 1638 : his libel was approved and entered synodoliter by a Roman council: Baronius, A.D. 503." Gibson. This Ennodius, among other assertions, maintained that the Roman pontiff was constituted judge in the place of God, which he filled as the vicegeret of the most High." Mosheim,