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III.] Claim to supreme temporal Power. 83 till he had received the crown from the hands of the pope; and he was often obliged to purchase it by great sacrifices ?." “The popes soon advanced a still
* higher claim. In virtue of an authority which they pretended to derive from Heaven, some of them asserted that the pope was the supreme temporal lord of the universe, and that all princes and civil governors were, even in temporal concerns, subject to them In conformity to this doctrine, the popes took upon them to try, condemn, and depose sovereign princes; to absolve their subjects from allegiance to them, and to grant their kingdoms to others.
“That a claim so unfounded and impious”-I am quoting still from the eminent Romanist writer before referred to a claim “so detrimental to religion, so hostile to the peace of the world, and apparently so extravagant and visionary, should have been made, is strange:-stranger still,” he goes on to say, “is the success it met with. There scarcely is a kingdom in Christian Europe, the sovereign of which did not, on some occasion or other, acquiesce in it, so far, at least, as to invoke it against his own antagonist; and having once used it against an antagonist, it was not always easy for him to deny the justice of it, when it was urged against himself. The contests respecting it were chiefly carried on with the German emperors. All Italy and Germany were divided between the adherents of the popes
? Butler, p. 71.
be observed that, on this view of earthly sovereignties, a delineation of the kingdoms which arose in Europe on the ruins of the Roman
empire, would hardly, even in a temporal and political point of view, be complete without a place, and that a prominent and pre-eminent place, assigned to the papal monarchy.
84 Decline of Papal Supremacy. [LECT. and the adherents of the emperors
“The beginning of the fourteenth century may be assigned for the æra of its highest elevation; as, about that time, their territorial possessions had their largest extent; they had then made their greatest progress in exempting the clergy from the civil power; and they then experienced least resistance to their general claim of divine right to temporal power. They might at this time be thought to have secured the duration of their temporal empire; from this period, however, it began to decline, and the causes of its decline are obvious.”
The historian goes on to show how, “on some occasions,” the popes “ carried their pretensions to a length which excited the disgust, and even provoked the resistance of the most timid;" how “they were engaged in some enterprises evidently unjust, and the lives of some of them were confessedly dissolute;" and how the temporary removal of the pope from Rome—“the captivity of Babylon,” as it was termed—and then the great papal schism; the discussions which took place at the Councils of Constance, Basil, and Pisa, and among theologians of learning and temper, respecting the papal pretensions to temporal power; and the ruder attack made on them by the Albigenses, Wicklifites, Waldenses, and Lollards, and other similar associated bodies of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries—all tended to the calling in question of the pretensions which had been carried so high '.
The same writer proceeds to trace further the outline of events in the history of the great empire of Europe, down to the period when the revolution, which, 9 Butler, p. 72.
' Ibid. pp. 82—86.
85 at the close of the last century, convulsed all Europe, and shook to their foundations its long-established thrones, brought on “the last days of the empire of the West ?,” when it had now “subsisted during a thousand years," from the time of its revival by
3” Charlemagne under the immediate sanction of the see of Rome. And thus a dominion, whose rise had been in rebellion sanctioned by religion, fell before a power which sprung out of the very nation from a which that empire had itself originated; and which, seeking now again to consecrate its revolutionary empire with the same sacred authority, strangely recalled to men's minds the events of a thousand
But in whatever degree we may trace, in these or other occurrences of recent times, the immediate agency of the Supreme Ruler of the world, and His Almighty Providence; or whether we look rather to scenes yet future for the full accomplishment of the prophet's vision; that vision clearly unfolds the mystery of the judgment which, in its appointed time, is prepared on high for all pride of man, whatever form it assume, or in whatever garb it be arrayed. “I beheld,” saith the prophet, “ till the thrones were cast down," or rather, it should be rendered, “till thrones were set 5, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand
4 Vid. Note, Appendix.
Comparison of Visions [LECT. stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. It is, doubtless, impossible not to trace here a shadowing out of the awful realities of the last great day of judgment; and great stress is laid on this by those who contend against the application of the symbols of the fourth kingdom to the Roman empire, which they maintain and in one sense justly—“bas long ceased to exist ?." Yet even they would, on their own hypothesis, be disposed to regard the period of judgment here described as identical, not with that which St. John gives in the Revelation of the final judgment, when he beheld the “great white throne and him that sat thereon,” and “saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened .... and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works; and death and hell were cast into the lake of fire 8 ;" but rather with that earlier scene which he describes as revealed to him, when he “saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them;" “and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years
But indeed there is, in some respects, a still closer resemblance to the description before us in that which St. Jerome has quoted, in illustration of it, from a scene which is disclosed earlier still in the Book of the Revelation! At the very opening of
6 Vv. 9, 10.
1101. "Aspiciebam donec ? Todd, pp. 71-73. throni positi sunt,' &c. . . . SiRev. xx. 11-14.
mile quid et in Johannis 9 Rev. xx. 4. The refer- Apocalypsi legitur : Post hæc
‘ ences given in the margin are statim fui in spiritu, et ecce to this vision of Daniel (vii, 9, thronus positus,' &c. ... Multi 22, 27). Matt. xix. 28, and igitur throni quos vidit Daniel, Luke xiii. 30.
hi mihi videntur esse, quos 1 Hieron. in loc. t. iii. p. Johannes viginti quattuor thro
87 the Apocalyptic visions, St. John tells us that, being in the spirit, he saw "a throne set in heaven, and one sat on the throne ... and round about the throne were four and twenty seats 2:” and he “heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders : and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands." And from the presence of this throne, set in heaven, yet watching and ruling the powers of earth, judgments go forth. For so, in another stage of the vision, we read, "there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned 4."
These passages, and others like them, show how, in the visions of Prophecy, the throne of judgment of the Everlasting King is, in some sense, ever at hand ready to be revealed, and its unseen processes of judgment ever going on; though at certain times, -and more awfully, we may believe, as “the mystery
nos nuncupat. .. Hos thronos
Thy throne is established esse reor, de quibus Paulus of old : thou art from everlastApostolus loquitur: 'Sivethroni ing. The floods have lifted up, “
, sive dominationes' [Col. i. 16). O Lord, the floods have lifted Et in Evangelio legimus : 'Vos up their voice.”
-Ps. xciii. 2, autem sedebitis
duodecim 3. “ O Lord God, to whom thronos, judicantes duodecim vengeance belongeth; O God, tribus Israel.''
to whom vengeance belongeth, 2 Rev. iv. 2, 4.
shew thyself. Lift up thyself, 3 Rev. v. 11. (Comp. Dan. thou Judge of the world : renvii. 10.)
der a reward to the proud.”Rev. xi. 15–17.
Ps. xciv. 1, 2.