The Rise of the Mediaeval Church: And Its Influence on the Civilization of Western Europe from the First to the Thirteenth Century

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[i]

THE RISE OF THE
MEDIAEVAL CHURCH
AND ITS INFLUENCE ON THE CIVILISATION OF
WESTERN EUROPE FROM THE FIRST TO THE
THIRTEENTH CENTURY

BY

ALEXANDER CLARENCE FLICK, Ph. D., Litt. D.

Printing Press

BURT FRANKLIN

New York, N. Y.

[ii]


[iii]

TO

HENRY C. LEA

Who through his numerous scholarly monographs has earned the foremost
place among American Church historians, both at home and abroad,

AND TO

PROFESSOR DOCTOR ADOLPH HARNACK

To whom both the Old and the New World are profoundly indebted for his
scholarly labours, and from whose inspiration in public lectures and
private conferences this work derived much that is best in it,

This Book is Gratefully Dedicated.

[iv]


[v]

PREFACE

The educational value of any subject depends primarily upon its own intrinsic value. The teaching of Church history for ten years as a regular course in liberal arts, side by side with the "orthodox" courses in history, has demonstrated beyond question that this subject can be made at once very popular and very valuable. It has proved its right to exist as a cultural subject. Yet the lack of intelligent information, even among educated people, concerning the history of the Christian Church, both in early and modern days, is simply appalling.

The comparatively recent revival of interest in Church history has given birth to many general Church histories from English and American scholars. Numerous translations of discriminating and painstaking German authors are also available. A large number of intensive monographs has likewise appeared. But all these texts are written for classes in theological schools. Not a single Church history suitable either for regular college work, or for popular reading, is available; and yet all the standard courses in history are provided with up-to-date texts and illustrative material.

This work is intended to meet the need I have felt in my own classes, and have heard expressed from fellow teachers and laymen, for a simple account of [vi]the evolution of the old Church minus all theological and dogmatic discussions. The purpose has been to show the origin of the Christian Church, its development in organisation, the forces which produced the Papacy, and the marvellous, formative influence of the Roman Church upon the civilisation of Western Europe. To that end the principal lines of development are emphasised at every point, while the subordinate influences have been minimised. Causes and results, continuity and differentiation, and unity have been constantly kept in mind.

The subject-matter of this volume was worked out during a prolonged residence in Europe. Most of that time was spent in Germany under the inspiration of the foremost authorities in Church history, among whom may be mentioned Professor Nippold of Jena, Professor Loofs of Halle, Professor Hauck of Leipzig, and particularly Professor Harnack of Berlin. The work of the lecture-room and seminar was supplemented by investigation in the Royal Library of Berlin, the Vatican Library at Rome, the National Library at Paris, and the Library of the British Museum. The materials thus gathered were further organised and elaborated in a course of lectures on Church history given in Syracuse University.

The references in the text and the bibliographies at the end of chapters are given, so far as possible, to English sources. It is believed that the exclusion of a pedantic list of foreign works will make the work more useful. It is hoped that the student will be induced to go to the library, the laboratory of the historian, and there by extensive and intensive reading supplement the text.

[vii]Should this volume prove to be of service, it will be followed by two companion volumes—one on the Reformation and another on the modern Church. It is further planned to publish a source-book on Church history to supplement the texts.

My indebtedness to books and men is so great that it would be impossible to enumerate them here. While all sources have been laid under tribute, special obligation is felt to many monographs and intensive studies.

Alexander C. Flick.

Syracuse University.

[viii]


[ix]

CONTENTS

Outline: I.—Present status of history in college work. II.—Ecclesiastical history excluded since the Reformation by political history. III.—New view of the Mediæval Church and its influence. IV.—Renaissance of interest in Church history. V.—Pedagogical value and treatment of Church history. VI.—Sources.

Outline: I.—Primary materials. II.—Secondary materials. III.—Sketch of the writing of Church history. IV.—Most important collections of primary sources. V.—Most important general Church histories. VI.—Dictionaries and encyclopedias. VII.—Atlases and chronologies. VIII.—Text-books. IX.—Sources.

Outline: I.—The ancient world. II.—Condition of the civilised world at the time Jesus came. III.—How the condition of the world prepared the way for Christianity. IV.—Sources.

Outline: I.—Origin of the Christian Church. II.—Spread of the Apostolic Church. III.—Organisation of the Early Church. IV.—Conclusions. V.—Sources.

[x]

Outline: I.—Planting of the Church in Rome and its organisation there. II.—The two opposing views of the Petrine theory. III.—Proofs advanced for the Petrine theory. IV.—Evidence given against the Petrine theory. V.—Historical conclusions. VI.—Sources.

Outline: I.—Religious persecutions before the Christian era. II.—Christians first persecuted by the Jews. III.—Causes and motives of persecution by the Roman government. IV.—Number and general character of the persecutions. V.—Results of persecutions. VI.—Sources.

Outline: I.—Condition of the Empire in 300. II.—How Constantine became Emperor. III.—Constantine's conversion to Christianity. IV.—Constantine's favours to Christianity. V.—Constantine's character. VI.—Constantine's historical significance. VII.—Sources.

Outline: I.—Diversion of Christian thought in the early Church. II.—The Arian controversy. III.—The Council of Nicæa and its actions. IV.—Later history of Arianism. V.—Sources.

Outline: I.—Favourable conditions when the Christian era began. II.—Forces at work up to 313. III.—Description of the Roman Church in 313. IV.—Growth of the Papacy from 313 to 604. V.—Condition of the Papacy at the close of this period, 604. VI.—Sources.

[xi]

Outline: I.—Importance of the institution of monasticism. II.—Antecedents and analogies. III.—Causes of the origin of Christian monasticism. IV.—Evolution of Christian monasticism. V.—Spread of group monasticism from the East to the West. VI.—Development of monasticism in Western Europe. VII.—Opposition to monasticism. VIII.—Results and influences of monasticism. IX.—Sources.

Outline: I.—Extent of Christianity under Gregory the Great. II.—Character of missionary work from the sixth to the tenth century. III.—Conversion of the British Isles. IV.—Conversion of the Franks. V.—Conversion of the Germans. VI.—Conversion of Scandinavia. VII.—Planting of the Church among the Slavs. VIII.—Efforts to convert the Mohammedans. IX.—Sources.

Outline: I.—Relation of the Greek and Roman Churches before 325. II.—Effect of the Arian Controversy on the situation. III.—The history of image worship. IV.—Character and results of the Iconoclastic Controversy. V.—Final separation. VI.—Resemblances and differences between the two churches. VII.—Sources.

Outline: I.—Church and state before Constantine. II.—Church and state from Constantine to 476. III.—Period of the Ostrogothic rule (476-552). IV.—Reunion of Italy with the Eastern Empire. V.—Alliance between the Papacy and the Franks. VI.—Restoration of the Empire in the West in 800. VII.—Effect of the rise of national states on the Church. VIII.—Sources.

[xii]

Outline: I.—What were the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals? II.—Condition of Europe when the Decretals appeared. III.—Purpose of the forgery. IV.—Character and composition. V.—Time, place, and personality of authorship. VI.—Significance and results. VII.—Nicholas I. and papal supremacy. VIII.—Decline of spirituality in the Church. IX.—Sources.

Outline: I.—Organisation of the papal hierarchy. II.—Moral condition of the clergy and laity. III.—Great activity and wide influence of the Church. IV.—The ordeals and the Church. V.—Church discipline: excommunication and interdict, and penance. VI.—Worship; the mass; preaching; hymns. VII.—The sacraments. VIII.—Relics and saints. IX.—Sources.

Outline: I.—Decline of the Empire under the later Carolingians. II.—Preparations to restore the Empire on a German basis. III.—Otto the Great creates the Holy Roman Empire. IV.—Holy Roman Empire attains its height under Henry III. V.—Results of the creation of the Holy Roman Empire. VI.—Sources.

Outline: I.—Decline of the Papacy after Nicholas I. (858-867). II.—Reform efforts before the time of Hildebrand. III.—The youth and education of Hildebrand. IV.—The Hildebrandine Popes. V.—Sources.

[xiii]

Outline: I.—Condition of the Church in 1073. II.—Election of Hildebrand as Pope. III.—Gregory VII.'s matured papal theory and reform ideas. IV.—His efforts to realise his ideals. V.—The investiture strife. VI.—Conclusions. VII.—Sources.

Outline: I.—The rise and spread of Mohammedanism. II.—Positive and negative causes of the Crusades. III.—Character and description of the Crusades. IV.—Results and influences of the Crusades. V.—Sources.

Outline: I.—Monasticism before the Crusades. II.—Effect of the Crusades on monasticism. III.—Origin of the begging orders. IV.—Rise and influence of the Dominicans. V.—Origin and power of the Franciscans. VI.—Wide-spread results of mediæval monasticism. VII.—Sources.

Outline: I.—Antecedent preparation for this period. II.—Career of Innocent III. up to 1198. III.—Innocent III.'s plans and ideals as Pope. IV.—Condition of Europe at the close of the twelfth century. V.—Innocent III. makes himself the political head of Europe. VI.—Innocent III.'s efforts to root out heresy and reform the Church. VII.—Innocent III.'s character and the general results of his pontificate. VIII.—Sources.

Outline: I.—Characteristics of the thirteenth century. II.—Territorial extent and wealth of the Church. III.—Organisation of the papal hierarchy completed. IV.—The legal system of the Church. V.—The official language and ritual of the Church. VI.—The sacramental system. VII.—The employment of art. VIII.—The Church moulded the civilisation of Europe. IX.—Sources.

[xiv]


[1]

THE RISE OF THE
MEDIÆVAL CHURCH


CHAPTER I
THE STUDY OF CHURCH HISTORY[1:1]

Outline: I.—Present status of history in college work. II.—Ecclesiastical history excluded since the Reformation by political history. III.—New view of the mediæval Church and its influence. IV.—Renaissance of interest in Church history. V.—Pedagogical value and treatment of Church history. VI.—Sources.

Half a century ago a prominent educator observed: "There is something remarkable in the actual condition of the study of Church history. While it seems to be receiving more and more cultivation from a few of us, it fails to command the attention of the educated public in the same proportion. We are strongly of the opinion that beyond the requisitions of academical and professional examination there is very little reading of Church history in any way."[1:2] Only twenty-five years ago Professor Emerton, upon taking the chair of ecclesiastical history in Harvard University, could say with truth: "There [Pg 2]are to-day not more than half a dozen colleges in the country where any adequate provision for an independent department of history has been made."[2:1] At the present time, happily, the condition so much deplored in the last quotation has been remedied to a very large degree. Every great university in America has a well-organised faculty of history and allied subjects, while a large majority of the smaller institutions of higher education have regularly organised departments of history with instructors, well-trained at home or abroad, who devote all their time to the subject.

But, notwithstanding these facts, the statement made about Church history still remains essentially true. The political, industrial, educational, and social sides of history have been emphasised by the creation of new departments with new courses of study, and by the writing of many text-books, monographs, and general treatises. Professorships of sociology, political economy, political science, constitutional law, education, and literature have been created in unprecedented numbers. Ecclesiastical history, on the contrary, has been all but ignored. Even in Germany, where the greatest strides have been made in the subject, it is still relegated to the theological faculty, though the number of philosophical students selecting it often exceeds that of the theological—a very significant fact. In America it would be difficult to point out more than a very few universities or colleges where a chair in Church history is put on an equality with chairs of other branches of history or of correlated subjects. Its proper place, in both scholastic and popular estimation, is in the theological seminary, [3]and there it has always remained as a "professional" study. Even in this restricted sense, however, its intrinsic worth has placed it among the most important courses in the curriculum, and has given it a standing beyond "professional" circles. Some of America's greatest scholars have contributed powerfully, through the class-room, lectures, and books, to give Church history its rightful place both as a "professional" and as a "liberal" branch of learning.

Until Luther led the great reformatory schism in the sixteenth century, all historians, crude and unscientific though much of their work was, recognised the necessary union of political and ecclesiastical history. The Venerable Bede began his celebrated history not with the coming of Abbot Augustine and his monks, but with the landing of Cæsar and his Roman cohorts. As modern civilisation crept over western Europe and crossed the mighty deep to Columbia's shores, carrying with it the revolutionising Teutonic conception of the national state with its new duties and relationships, the tendency was to magnify the political and social sides of history at the expense of the religious. The hatreds and misunderstandings of the Reformation, though doing something to rectify the "orthodox" history of the old Church, really put members of the old organisation wholly on the defensive, and checked for centuries anything like a genuinely sympathetic and scientific study of the old Church by Protestant historians. With Neander, that sympathetic Christian of Jewish descent, and the scholarly Gieseler, a new era opened. The growing doctrine of the separation of Church and state accentuated the breach between political and religious history. The early crude conception of specialisation also separated sacred from profane [4]history, and turned the former over wholly to the theologian. Secular historians took the position of Napoleon when invited to enter the Holy City: "Jerusalem does not enter into the line of my operations."

At last the Church historian and the civic historian have joined hands, and look each other in the face. They see that their aim is essentially common: to know the truth about the past. This search for truth for its own sake is purely modern—almost contemporaneous. Formerly, history was written to justify or disprove some theory of political or ecclesiastical polity, or to glorify some dynasty, sect, party, or hero, or to vindicate some hypothesis or set of ideas. The historian was not a searcher for truth, but a lawyer with a cause to plead. It is generally realised now that the historian, whether he deals with the state, the Church, society, education, or industry, is working an important part of the field of general history. A knowledge of each one of these institutions is necessary to supplement and explain any or all of the others.

This institutional interdependence seems to be generally recognised now. "The web of history," said Professor Hatch in beginning his great work at Oxford, "is woven of one piece; it reflects the unity of human life, of which it is the record. We cannot isolate any group of facts and consider that no links of causation connect them with their predecessors or their contemporaries. Just as Professor Freeman insists on the continuity of history, so I wish to insist on its solidarity."[4:1] The mutual labours of scholars in [5]correlating fields have revolutionised our historical knowledge of the early and later Middle Ages. A multitude of controverted points have vanished like ghosts. We see the old Church now as we never saw it before. The Catholic Church and the mediæval papacy were the greatest of the creations of the first fifteen centuries of the Christian era. The mediæval Church was not exclusively a religious organisation. It was more of an ecclesiastical state. It had laws, lawyers, courts, and prisons. If not born into it, all the people of western Europe were at least baptised into it. It levied taxes on its subjects. Standards of patriotism and treason were more sharply defined than in the modern state.[5:1] The evolution of this great organisation is the central fact of the first thirteen centuries after Christ. It aimed to control the whole life of its subjects here and to determine their destiny hereafter. Well may our greatest American Church historian, Henry C. Lea, ask: "What would have been the condition of the world if that organisation had not succeeded in bearing the ark of Christianity through the wilderness of the first fifteen centuries?"[5:2]

The history of Europe, then, after the Roman period must be looked at through the eyes of the Church. The character and works of that great institution must first be studied, not pathologically but sympathetically. The historian, if honest, dare not show a "lack of appreciation of the service rendered to humanity by the organisation which in all ages has assumed for itself the monopoly of the heritage of Christ."[5:3] He must recognise the fact that "ecclesiastical history is simply [6]the spiritual side of universal history."[6:1] "The value of a science depends on its own intrinsic merits," says Alzog.[6:2] When the great Teacher commanded from the Mount of Olives, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel," that mount became the pivot on which the whole world's history has turned.

If the Christian religion be a matter, not of mint, anise, and cummin, but of justice, mercy, and truth; if the Christian religion be not a priestly caste, or a monastic order, or a little sect, or a handful of opinions, but the whole congregation of faithful men dispersed throughout the world; if the very word which of old represented the chosen "people" is now to be found in the "laity"; if the biblical usage of the phrase "ecclesia" literally justifies Tertullian's definition: Ubi tres sunt laici, ibi est ecclesia; then the range of the history of the Church is as wide as the range of the world which it was designed to penetrate.[6:3]

The great difficulty with the study of Church history in the past has been that teachers treated it wholly from a theological standpoint. That may have been proper when the subject was viewed as a narrow "professional" study only. A new and better conception of the subject, however, as a part of the pregnant history of humanity, has brought with it a higher estimation of its value as a cultural study. All that can be claimed for historical studies in general can be claimed for it: mental discipline, broad culture, a view of practical life, enlarged sympathies and lessened prejudices, a truer conception of duty, and a saner estimate of the significance of current events. In addition it may be ventured that no subject can be of greater [7]vital importance to the student for the very reason that it deals with the most important of all subjects. In order to do the most good as a liberal branch of learning, Church history must be taught not as theology or dogma, but as a powerful civilising institution like the state or the school. Then it will be true that "neither can the profane historian, the jurist, the statesman, the man of letters, the artist, nor the philosopher safely neglect the study of Church history."[7:1] For each one of these persons, as well as the minister, needs that "pragmatic view" of all the changes and developments of the Christian Church and the influence it has exerted on all other human relations.[7:2]

Within the last few years, however, there has been a noticeable awakening of interest in Church history both within and without college walls. The indefatigable labours of a few men like Henry C. Lea, who has given us a series of invaluable monographs on the history of the old Church, have had much to do with the new status of Church history. Universities are already recognising courses in Church history offered by divinity schools as "liberal arts" electives for undergraduate and postgraduate study. The writers of recent text-books on general history, as well as in particular fields, recognise the revolution and try to make amends for the sin of omission by giving the Church a prominence never recognised before by secular historians.[7:3] Publishers have felt the popular pulse and, consequently, "Studies" and "Epochs" [8]covering the whole range of Church history have appeared in cheap and popular form from the pen of scholar and compiler. Foreign works have been translated. Journals devoted to the study of Church history have been established. Lectureships have been created and endowed. Societies have been organised to further the work. Convenient editions of the "sources" are appearing. Everywhere there seems to be a reaction in favour of this misunderstood and neglected subject. An army of scholars is at work digging valuable material out of old monasteries, royal archives, private libraries, cemeteries and churches, catacombs, and every conceivable place of concealment. These labours are being rewarded by rich discoveries of valuable materials, which are immediately critically edited by competent hands and printed in translations suitable for all students. Huge collections of these sources are appearing in most of the European countries.[8:1]

The most significant evidence of reaction, however, lies in the fact that the most recent courses offered on the Middle Ages in our leading universities are essentially courses in Church history. The name matters little so long as students approach the instructive history of western Europe from the right standpoint. Thus, at length, has come the fulfilment of the prophecy of Professor Koethe (d. 1850), made many years ago: "It is reserved to future ages, and in a special sense to the institutions of learning, to give to Church history its proper place in the curriculum of studies. When its nature and importance come to be fully known and appreciated it will be no longer limited to one faculty."

[9]The best pedagogical methods must be applied to Church history in order to obtain the best results. To that end these practical suggestions are offered:

1. Emphasis ought to be laid on ideas back of events rather than on the events themselves.

2. The important ought to be distinguished from the unimportant at every step. Athanasius and Augustine are worthier subjects of study than Flavian and Optatus. The invasion and conversion of the Teutons are more important than disputes over Easter or the shape of the tonsure.

3. Original sources ought to be used so far as possible. History should be studied "from the sources of friend and foe, in the spirit of truth and love, sine ira et studio."[9:1]

4. Both Protestant and Catholic secondary authorities ought to be read on every important controverted point.

5. Origins ought to be studied with special care.

6. Transition periods rather than crises ought to be given the most time.

7. Biographies of epoch-making men like Constantine, Gregory the Great, Charlemagne, Hildebrand, St. Francis, Innocent III., etc., ought to be carefully considered.

8. Causes and results ought to be closely worked out and classified.[9:2]

9. The continuity of the Church as a great force in the world ought to be ever kept in mind.[9:3]

10. Differentiation ought to be thoughtfully noted through the ages.

[10]11. The unity of history—the influence of the Church upon every other institution—ought to be followed from one transitional period to another.

12. The sympathetic attitude ought to be taken at all times in judging men and movements. The student ought to stand in the centre of the circle so that he may see all points of the circumference—all persons, all events, all parties, all creeds, all sects, all shades of opinion—and see their true historical relations.

Sources

See the introductions of the Church histories of Schaff, Gieseler, Alzog, Moeller, Kurtz, Hase, Döllinger, and Hergenröther.


FOOTNOTES:

[1:1] Reprinted from The Methodist Review, Jan., 1905.

[1:2] Bib. Rep., vol. xxvi.

[2:1] Unit. Rev., vol. xix.

[4:1] Hatch, An Introductory Lecture on the Study of Ecclesiastical History, London, 1885. Comp. Gwatkin, The Meaning of Ecclesiastical History, Cambridge, 1891.

[5:1] Maitland, Canon Law in the Church of England, London, 1898, 100, 101.

[5:2] Lea, Studies in Church History, p. iii.

[5:3] Ibid.

[6:1] Gwatkin, The Meaning of Ecclesiastical History, 8.

[6:2] Alzog, Universal Church History, i., § 13.

[6:3] Stanley, Eastern Church, Introduction, 25.

[7:1] Alzog, i., 32.

[7:2] Gieseler, Ecclesiastical History, sec. 3 and 7.

[7:3] Examine recently published texts like Emerton, Mediæval Europe, Robinson, History of Western Europe, Munro, A History of the Middle Ages, etc.

[8:1] The Monumenta in Germany, the Rolls Series in England, etc.

[9:1] Schaff, Church History, preface.

[9:2] Mace, Method in History, 27-39.

[9:3] Freeman, Methods of Historical Study, Lond. and N. Y., 1886.


[12]

CHAPTER II
GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY ON CHURCH HISTORY

Outline: I.—Primary materials. II.—Secondary materials. III.—Sketch of the writing of Church history. IV.—Most important collections of primary sources. V.—Most important general Church histories. VI.—Dictionaries and encyclopedias. VII.—Atlases and chronologies. VIII.—Text-books. IX.—Sources.

All our information about the origin, life, and growth of the Christian Church comes from the revelation of evidence which is termed sources. These sources are partly original, or primary, and partly secondary. For the student of history both kinds of sources have a definite character and value, and are, therefore, of peculiar interest. Some knowledge about the scope and nature of the sources is necessary for an intelligent view of any field of history. At the same time it is clear that any person presuming to pose as an authority on a given phase of history must not only be thoroughly acquainted with the varied contributions of all secondary works, but must also be a master of the character and worth of all first-hand materials.

The primary sources are simply the records and remains left by the people who lived at any given time. Such materials, it will be readily seen, give the nearest and truest account of the ideas, feelings, motives, and beliefs, as well as of the deeds and actions, of man. An original source is, therefore, merely a source back [13]of which one cannot go for historical information. It is apparent, consequently, that the primary sources are the more important because they are the very foundations of history. "No documents, no history," tersely declared Langlois. The primary sources put us in vital connection with the thoughts, doings, and institutions of past times. In them one sees reflected the spirit of the age. Every line, every word, is a revelation. The student is led to feel history, to actually know men and women of the past, and thus to comprehend our own civilisation in the earlier periods of its evolution. The primary sources cannot be accepted and assigned their true value, however, until their authenticity and genuineness are determined, and the element of personal equation is taken into account. Even then final judgment can never be absolute.

For the sake of giving a clear conception of the range of the primary sources the following classification may be of assistance:

The secondary sources are those that are compiled from a study of the original sources, or from other secondary works, or from both, as is more likely to be the case. This class of material is very abundant, and varies greatly in character and value because of the striking difference in authorship, style, and purpose. It is always necessary, therefore, carefully to discriminate the wheat from the chaff and to be able easily to recognise the "earmarks" of a reliable authority. Many of the works produced by modern scientific [15]scholarship are excellent in every respect, and, in many fields of historical study, absolutely indispensable. Secondary sources may be divided as follows:

The earliest account of the history of the Christian Church extant is the New Testament. The "Memoirs" of Hegesippus, a converted Jew of the second century, is the first known effort to record the growth of the Church, but all his books are lost.[15:1] Eusebius, the Greek bishop, called the "Father of Church history," wrote a comprehensive Ecclesiastical History to 324. Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, each after his own ideal, continued the narrative of Eusebius. Rufinus translated the work of Eusebius into Latin and continued it to 395, while Epiphanius translated Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret into Latin and brought the record to 518. Theodorus and Evagrius were also continuators of these early works. [16]Sulpicius Severus, a Gallic monk of noble birth, penned a fabulous chronicle of little worth.

The Middle Ages produced little of real value in the field of Church history. The chronicles represent the best output. A few scholars of the Eastern Church, the Byzantine historians, the annalists of the Latin Church, and several specialists like Gregory of Tours and the Venerable Bede, complete the list. The lives of saints, however, abound.

The fierce controversial spirit of the Reformation produced two monumental works. Matthias Flacius, aided by other Protestant scholars, in the Magdeburg Centuries, sought to reveal the whole disreputable career of the old Church. This keen voluminous work of the Reformers called forth from the learned Italian, Baronius, a powerful defence of the Roman Church in his Ecclesiastical Annals. Bossuet, a Frenchman, in his Discourse on Universal History, made a severe attack on Protestantism, while Tillemont, a Gallic nobleman of Jansenist faith, wrote critically and with more moderation. In Germany, Hottinger, Spanheim, and Arnold vindicated the Reformation. Following the earlier age of fierce theological controversy, Semler, Henke, Schmidt, Hume, and Gibbon wrote in a very rationalistic style and spirit.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, German scholars have led the world in their contributions to Church history. The great Mosheim made a pronounced improvement in the writing of Church history and introduced the modern scientific method. He was not alone the most learned theologian of his age in Germany, but was critical in the best sense, honest and impartial. His disciple, Schroeckh, wrote a work of forty-five volumes of considerable value. [17]Gieseler improved on Mosheim's method and wrote an ideal outline of Church history with full citations to all the known sources. Neander, "a giant in learning, and a saint in piety," gave the world an epoch-making General History of the Christian Religion and Church (1825-52). His writings and his ideals have influenced nearly every Church historian since his death, when it was said, "The last of the Church Fathers has gone." Among his immediate pupils are Hagenbach, Kurtz, Guericke, Niedner, and Semisch.

Baur founded the celebrated "Tübingen School" and did some excellent work in the Ante-Nicene period. Strauss, Zeller, Schenkel, Rothe, and Nippold are the most prominent among his followers.

The names of other German historians who have laboured in this domain of knowledge are so numerous that only a few of the most prominent will be mentioned. Chief among the Protestants are Hase, Gfroerer, Ebrard, Herzog, Moeller, Müller, Loofs, Hauck, and Harnack; among the Roman Catholic writers are Stolberg, Katerkamp, Döllinger, Alzog, Pastor, Hefele, Hergenröther and Janssen.

Although British scholarship has not devoted itself so zealously to the writing of Church history, yet some excellent contributions have been made by such men as Pusey, Keble, Newman, Waddington, Milman, Stanley, Stubbs, Robertson, Greenwood, Vaughan, Perry, Lingard, Creighton, Gwatkin, Tozer, Hatch, and Orr.

American interest in the field of Church history is largely the product of the last thirty years. Most conspicuous among the contributors are Smith, Lanson, Shedd, Schaff, Fisher, Sheldon, Dryer, Hurst, Newman, McGiffert, and Henry C. Lea.

At the present time in every Christian country a [18]corps of well-trained scholars are devoting their lives to nearly every phase of Church history, and the outlook is most gratifying.

The literature on Church history, taken as a whole, is perhaps more voluminous than that on any other phase of history. The use of the sources is, in consequence, at the very outset a problem of selection. It is apparent, therefore, that the following brief lists are not meant to be exhaustive. Only the most valuable collections of original documents, and also the most reliable books of a secondary character are included. Special care has been taken to mention all useful collections of sources in the English language. At the conclusion of each chapter will be found references to the sources on special topics.

The Most Important Collections of Primary Sources Are:

Most Important General Church Historians:

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Atlases and Chronologies

Text-books on Church History

It is a matter of deep regret that such excellent books by Catholic writers like Hergenröther, Kraus, Möhler, Funk, etc., have not yet been translated into English.

Sources


FOOTNOTES:

[15:1] Extracts in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History and in Ante-Nic. Ch. Fathers (Chr. Lit. ed.), viii., 762.


[40]

CHAPTER III
PREPARATION OF THE CIVILISED WORLD FOR THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH

Outline: I.—The ancient world. II.—Condition of the civilised world at the time Jesus came. III.—How the condition of the world prepared the way for Christianity. IV.—Sources.

The ancient world included the many independent tribes surrounding the Mediterranean Sea and spreading into the interior. This independence was institutional. Each tribe had its own government, laws, and customs; its own religion and gods; its own ideals of education; its own commercial and industrial methods. But all these diversities of life and thought were broken down by the ascendancy of Rome. The independent laws, gods, and institutions fell before the onward march of those of the Mistress of the World.

When Jesus was born, the Roman Empire extended from the Euphrates to the Atlantic, and from the African desert to the Danube, Rhine, and Weser. It formed a wide fringe around the Mediterranean Sea, included the best parts of three continents, and had a population of 100,000,000.[40:1] The Empire was called "the world." Roman law was predominant throughout the provinces as well as at Rome, but local usages were tolerated. Citizenship had become so widely [41]extended that the different peoples began to feel themselves a single race, bound together by one Emperor, one government, and one code of laws.

The era of the boyhood of Jesus was one of comparative peace, since there was no important war after the naval battle of Actium (31 B.C.).[41:1] Hence the industries of the Empire prospered greatly. Across the Mediterranean as the great highway, up and down the rivers, and along the incomparable Roman roads, an enormous trade was carried on between the colonies and the capital, Rome.[41:2] Factories thrived in every direction and commerce flourished. Showers of wealth fairly fell upon the Eternal City.

The trade of the Empire was carried on in Latin, the official language of the Empire for law and war. Greek was also a universal tongue, but used more especially for art, science, philosophy, education, and religion.[41:3] Cicero complained: "Greek is read in almost all nations. Latin is confined by its own natural boundaries." Hebrew and other tongues were sectional. The literature of the opening century of the Christian era, however, was largely in Latin,[41:4] which had been fertilised by Greek culture.

Education had made far greater progress in this old world than is generally thought. Judea,[41:5] Greece,[41:6] [42]and Rome[42:1] had excellent systems of education, though differing much in purpose and in subjects studied. Pronounced schools of philosophy grew up. Art, comparatively little developed among the Jews, culminated with the Greeks, and from them was transplanted to Rome. Travel, always liberalising and educational, was widespread among scholars, tradesmen, soldiers, and public officials. All these factors had produced a superior intelligence and general culture throughout the Empire.

The religious condition of the Empire was very significant. The Roman religion, a mixture of Grecian and Etrurian religions[42:2]—of licentiousness and puritanism—was alone legal over the whole Empire.[42:3] The Emperor, as Pontifex Maximus, was head of the religion. Worship, however, had become mere form—even priests ridiculed the gods. Cicero declared: "One soothsayer could not look another in the face without laughing," and "even old women would no longer believe either in the fables of Tartarus or the joys of Elysium." This loss of faith engendered skepticism and superstition, and gave magicians and necromancers a wide patronage. The best men in Rome were demanding reformation, and were longing for and predicting a new era. Cicero prophesied: "There shall no longer be one law at Rome, and another at Athens; nor shall it decree one thing to-day, and [43]another to-morrow; but one and the same law, eternal and immutable, shall be prescribed for all nations and all times, and the God who shall prescribe, introduce, and promulgate this law shall be the one common Lord and Supreme Ruler of all."[43:1]

The Grecian religion,[43:2] so closely resembling the Roman, was of course tolerated in the Empire. The gods were ideal Greeks with virtues and vices magnified. They were born, had passions, senses, and bodies like men, but never died. They committed crimes, had troubles, and were given to wrath, hatred, lust, cruelty, perjury, deception, and adultery, yet were omnipotent and omniscient.[43:3] While the conception of Zeus, as the father of the gods, ruled by fate, had a vague idea of monotheism in it, still the Greek religion lacked the Christian conception of sin and righteousness, for with the Greeks sin was only a folly of the understanding—even the gods sinned. Small wonder then that Plato banished the gods from his ideal republic.[43:4] Pindar, Eschylus, and Sophocles also urged loftier views of the gods, and preached a higher morality.[43:5] With the Roman conquest national honour and patriotism died out, and superstition, infidelity, [44]refined materialism, and outright atheism came in. The best hearts were longing for a new and purer religion, and were ready to accept it when it came.

The Jews,[44:1] intensely religious, with several thousand years of spiritual history back of them, divided the known world into the followers of the true God and the heathen idolaters. Even they were separated into factions:

(1) The Pharisees,[44:2] numbering 6000, stoical casuists, rigidly orthodox, prone to analyse the Mosaic law to death, intensely patriotic, and bitter against all non-Jewish tendencies, were very popular, guided public worship, and controlled the Jews in politics.

(2) The Sadducees,[44:3] rationalistic and skeptical, were aristocratic Epicureans who rejected oral traditions, and denied resurrection,[44:4] angels,[44:5] and an all-ruling, foreknowing Providence. They formed a smaller political party in opposition to the Pharisees, held many priestly offices, were in league with the Romans, and therefore had less influence with the people.[44:6]

(3) The Essenes,[44:7] a mystic brotherhood of 4000 whose purpose was to attain holiness, received their [45]ideas from eastern Theosophists; lived communal lives on the shores of the Dead Sea; took the Old Testament allegorically; wore a white dress; were over-scrupulously clean for the purpose of purification; and rejected animal food, bloody sacrifices, oaths, slavery, and marriage. They had little to do with politics; were forerunners of Christian monasticism; and may have influenced the ideas of Jesus.[45:1]

(4) The Samaritans,[45:2] in origin half Jewish and half heathen Babylonian, practised their reformed Judaism about Gerizim under an established Levitical priesthood. They rejected all Scriptures but the Pentateuch, held pure Messianic expectations, looked with favour upon Christianity, and were bitterly hated by the orthodox Jews.[45:3]

(5) The Zealots, led by Judas of Galilee, a sort of a nationalistic party, were imbued by a very materialistic conception of the hope of Israel. They sprang from the Pharisees and followed them in religious things. They confidently expected the realisation of the kingdom of God, the Messiah, and a new Israel. In their patriotic zeal they did not hesitate to use the sword and dagger to drive out their Roman foes in order to realise their dreams for a purely Jewish kingdom. Their followers came mostly from the lowest classes.[45:4]

(6) The common people accepted the Pharisees, in a general way, as leaders. They believed in tradition and in the resurrection, but they were prone to [46]neglect the law and formalism so stoutly insisted upon by the scribes. This class of Jews had a vital, living fellowship with God, and might be called pietists. Such characters as Simeon and Anna, Zachariah and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, and most of those influenced by John's call to repentance were of this class. They stood for the pure religion of the early prophets, and in a way opposed the sacerdotalism of the Jewish Church. They were in a spiritual and ethical mood to accept the great teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, and were consequently his first converts. While they constituted the majority of the Jews, and were scattered all over the Roman Empire yet they were not organised as a political party. To these Christianity meant a great and much needed reformation.[46:1]

The moral condition of the Empire, east and west, makes a dark picture as drawn by such men as Paul,[46:2] Seneca,[46:3] Tacitus,[46:4] Juvenal, Persius, and Sallust. "The world is full of crimes and vices" moaned Seneca. Foreign conquest and plunder brought in their wake luxury, sensuality, cruelty, and licentiousness. Slavery was fostered; infanticide tolerated; marriage lax, and divorce shamefully common. Amusements became bloody and brutal; 20,000 lives were sacrificed in one month to appease the populace, who cared only for "panem et circenses." The stern virtue and morality of old Greece and Rome were dead. The huge [47]Empire was a giant body without a soul going to final destruction.

It is evident, then, that forces both positive and negative were at work to prepare the civilised world for the reception of Christianity:

(1) The universal Empire of Rome was a positive groundwork for the universal empire of the Gospel. The imperial organisation suggested a form of organisation for the Church, so that Latin Christianity was simply Rome baptised. The unity of the Empire afforded concrete illustration of God's spiritual kingdom, and implied fatherhood and brotherhood.[47:1] Imperial toleration of harmless provincial religions protected Christianity, and thus enabled it to get a foothold before persecution came. Universal peace also was a boon to the Christian crusade.

The flourishing commerce, the good roads uniting the Empire, the extensive travel, and the various military expeditions all made the spread of new ideas easier and quicker.

(2) Pagan theology became a stepping-stone to Christian theology.[47:2] The decay of polytheism, because of its unspiritual and unsatisfying character, made spiritual monotheism acceptable. Pagan temples, priests, and rites made the conception of, and the transition to, Christianity easier. Even the low [48]moral condition and widespread skepticism strongly emphasised the need of a better religion.

(3) The schools of the Empire prepared men's minds for an intellectual consideration of the new faith, though not necessarily for its adoption. The Greek and Latin tongues were excellent mediums for propagating the new doctrines. Greek particularly was excellent for the expression of abstract and lofty truth, and the Old Testament had been translated into it more than two centuries before Jesus.[48:1] Grecian eloquence became the model for sacred oratory. The philosophy of Plato and Aristotle formed the scientific basis for Christian theology. The spiritual flights of Plato,[48:2] the religious reflections of Plutarch, and the moral precepts of Seneca were all used as arguments of revealed religion. Even pagan art, with its love for the beautiful, was early employed to give material expression to Christian ideas.

(4) The Jews, scattered over the world,[48:3] befriended by Julius Cæsar, given legal status as a sect by Augustus, expelled in vain by Tiberius and Claudius, spread a knowledge of the living God over the whole Empire before Christ appeared. Synagogues were numerous, and many Gentiles became converts to monotheism.[48:4] These converts were the first to accept the teachings of Jesus, and in this way formed the nuclei of the Christian Church.

Thus Jerusalem the Holy City, Athens the city of culture, and Rome the city of power, combined to prepare the world so that the matchless ethical and religious [49]teaching of Jesus of Nazareth could capture the hearts and heads of men, replace the national religions, and become realised in the outward forms and inward beliefs of the Christian Church, which was soon to exercise a controlling power in the civilised world.

Sources


FOOTNOTES:

[40:1] Mommsen, v., chs. 11-12; Merivale, i., ch. 1; iv., ch. 39; Liddell, ii., ch. 71; Bury's Gibbon, i., chs. 1-3; Finlay, i., ch. 1.

[41:1] 1 Tim. ii., 2. Epictetus wrote: "Cæsar has promised us a profound peace; there are neither wars, nor battles, nor great robberies, nor piracy."—Dis., iii., 13.

[41:2] Lewin, Life and Epistles of St. Paul. Lond., 1878. Bergier, Histoire des Grands Chemins de l'Empire Romain.

[41:3] Merivale, iv., ch. 41.

[41:4] The chief writers were: Ovid, d. 17; Livy, d. 17; Lucan, d. 65; Seneca, d. 65; Pliny, d. 115; Tacitus, d. 119; Juvenal, d. 130.

[41:5] Schürer, ii., § 22; Graetz, i., ch. 20.

[41:6] Plato, Protagoras, tr. by Jowett; Aristotle, Politics, bk. 8, tr. by Jowett; Mahaffy, Old Greek Ed.; St. John, The Hellenes, bk. 2, ch. 4; Davidson, Aristotle, bk. 1, ch. 4; The Nation, March 24, 1892, pp. 230-231; Zeller, Socrates and the Socratic Schools, ch. 3; Capes, University Life in Ancient Athens, ch. 1; Newman, Hist. Sketches, ch. 4; Thirlwell, Hist. of Greece, i., ch. 8.

[42:1] Döllinger, Gentile and Jew, ii., 294-296; Kirkpatrick, Hist. Develop. of Super. Instr.; Am. Jour. of Ed., xxiv., 468-470.

[42:2] Gieseler, i., § 11.

[42:3] Döllinger, Gentile and Jew, i., bk. 7.

[43:1] About the Republic, iii., 6; Virgil, Eclogues, iv., 4-10; 13, 14; Lactantius, Divine Inst., vi., 8; Suetonius, Life of Vesp., ch. 4; Tacitus, Histories, v., 13.

[43:2] Gladstone, Gods and Men of the Heroic Age; Tyler, Theol. of the Greeks; Cocker, Christ and Greek Philos.; Niebuhr, Stories of Gr. Heroes; Berens, Myths and Legends of Anc. Gr.; Taylor, Anc. Ideals; Parnell, Cults of the Gr. States; Ely, Olympus; Francillon, Gods and Heroes; Grote; Curtius; Thirlwell.

[43:3] Read Iliad, Odyssey and Hesiod, Theogeny.

[43:4] Concerning the Republic, ii.

[43:5] Adam, The Religious Teachers of Greece, Edinb., 1908. Baur, The Christian Element in Plato, Edinb., 1861; Hatch, The Greek Influence on Christianity. Hibbert Lectures, 1888.

[44:1] Schürer, Hist. of Jewish People; Milman, Hist. of the Jews; Stanley Lect. on Hist. of Jewish Ch.; Ewald, Hist. of Jewish People; Edersheim, Prophecy and Hist. in Rel. to the Messiah; Kent, Hist. of Heb. People; Graetz, Hist. of Jews; Newman, Christianity in its Cradle. See Josephus for full account.

[44:2] Jewish Encyc. See Josephus, Antiq., XIII., x., 5, 6; v., 9; XVII., ii., 4; XVIII., i., 2.

[44:3] Jewish Encyc. See Josephus, Antiq., XIII., v., 9; x., 6; XVIII., i., 3; Wars, II., viii., 14.

[44:4] Matt. xxii., 23; Mark xii., 18; Luke xx., 27; Josephus, Antiq., XVIII., i., 4.

[44:5] Acts xxiii., 8.

[44:6] It must be remembered that Nicodemus, Gamaliel, and others came from this class.

[44:7] Jewish Encyc.

[45:1] Josephus; Philo; Pliny; Lightfoot, Ep. to Gal.; Schürer, ii., 188; Jewish Encyc.

[45:2] Jewish Encyc.

[45:3] John iv., 4; viii., 48; Luke ix., 52, 53; x., 25-37.

[45:4] Josephus, Antiq., XVIII., i., 1-6; Rhees, Life of Jesus; Jewish Encyc. Hastings, Dict. of the Bible.

[46:1] Schürer, Jewish People, div. II., ii., 154-187; Wendt, Teachings of Jesus, i., 33-89; Graetz, Hist. of the Jews, ii., 122-123, 140-147; Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus, i., 160-179; Rhees, Life of Jesus, sec. 13; Mathews, Hist. of N. T. Times, ch. 13.

[46:2] Rom. i., 18-32.

[46:3] De Ira, I., ii., c. 8.

[46:4] Politica, I., ii., c. 2-18.

[47:1] Tacitus felt a common humanity when he wrote: "Homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto." Cicero and Virgil expressed like ideas. In the Middle Ages it was even said that Virgil in the Fourth Eclogue prophesied the advent of Jesus. See Princeton Rev., Sept. 1879, 403 ff.

[47:2] Ackerman, The Christian Element in Plato; Cocker, Christianity and Greek Philosophy; Hatch, Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church; Addis, Christianity and the Roman Empire, 22-25; Farrar, Seekers after God; Davidson, The Stoic Creed, N. Y. 1907.

[48:1] The Septuagint version, 284-247 B.C.

[48:2] Ackerman, The Christian Element in Plato.

[48:3] Josephus and Strabo. Gieseler, i., § 17.

[48:4] Apion, ii., 10, 39.


[52]

CHAPTER IV
ORIGIN, SPREAD, AND ORGANISATION OF THE CHURCH DURING THE APOSTOLIC AGE

Outline: I.—Origin of the Christian Church. II.—Spread of the Apostolic Church. III.—Organisation of the Early Church. IV.—Conclusions. V.—Sources.

The Christian Church has both an internal and an external side—a soul and a body. Thoughts, feelings, and beliefs constitute the inner Church, the creed. These, in turn, aided by physical conditions, determine the outward organisation of the Church. In a broad sense the Church was a product of certain forces already in the world at the opening of the Christian era, which were utilised by the believers in the teachings of Jesus. From pagan and Jewish sources contributions were made to both the form and content of the Christian Church in the following ways:

1. The Jews[52:1] gave in ideas: (a) a belief in Jehovah as God, (b) the conception of sin, (c) a consciousness of the need of repentance and reconciliation, (d) the doctrine of immortality, (e) the conception of Heaven and Hell, (f) angels and the devil, (g) miracles, (h) the Old Testament as God's word, and (i) the Sabbath. To the form of the Christian Church they suggested: [53](a) the synagogue, (b) officials like the elders, (c) ceremonies, (d) feasts,[53:1] and (e) organisation.[53:2]

2. The pagans contributed in ideas: (a) Greek philosophy and culture,[53:3] (b) concepts of morality,[53:4] (c) the idea of absolute sovereignty, and (d) universality.[53:5] In form they gave: (a) local organisations like the democratic Hellenistic guild or municipality,[53:6] or the numerous Roman social or religious associations known as collegia and sodalitia (especially the collegia funeraticia), and the general organisation of the Empire[53:7]; (b) rites and ceremonies; (c) the evening meal,[53:8] (d) festivals like Easter and Christmas; (e) the use of images, and (f) architecture, painting, and ornamentation.

3. The real founder of the Church, however, was Jesus Christ. He supplied the fundamental ideas of: (a) the universal fatherhood of God, (b) the divine sonship of the Saviour of the world, (c) the brotherhood of man, and (d) the ethical law of self-sacrifice. He created the Church: (a) by choosing twelve Apostles, by teaching them and by commissioning them to continue the work; (b) by winning a number of converts to His doctrines; (c) by leaving certain sacraments for His followers—Catholics say seven; most Protestants, two. But He left no written Church constitution giving [54]the details of organisation. The work of Jesus and His immediate followers in founding the Church is described in the New Testament. Broadly, then, the Church of Jesus Christ is composed of all the believers in the teachings of Jesus, although differing greatly in interpretation and in organisation.[54:1]

From Jerusalem the Apostles and disciples of Jesus spread his teachings to Syria, Asia Minor, Africa, Greece, and Rome. From these fields the propagation was continued until by the time of Constantine every point within and some places without the Empire were reached. "Throughout every city and village," enthusiastically exclaimed Eusebius, "churches were quickly established and filled with members from every people."[54:2] The fruitful labours of Paul and Timothy were explained thus: "And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in numbers daily."[54:3] Other Apostles were, no doubt, equally active in various parts of the Empire. The "Christians"—a term of derision first used by the heathen of Antioch,[54:4]—numbering 500 in 30 A.D.,[54:5] grew to 500,000 by 100 A.D.,[54:6] and increased to 30,000,000 by 311 A.D.[54:7]—a growth almost unparalleled in the world's religious history. They included all the social classes in the Empire from slave to Emperor, though [55]the great middle class was in all probability most numerously represented.[55:1]

The causes for this marvellous growth[55:2] are found in: (a) the revolutionary teachings of Jesus, particularly the idea of immortality, which was very vague in heathen minds, and the law of love and self-sacrifice; (b) the miraculous powers attributed to the first Christians; (c) the purer and austerer morality of the early Christians; (d) the unity and discipline of the Church, making it a powerful organisation within the Empire; (e) the preparation and ripeness of the Empire for Christianity, and (f) the subjective vividness of the constant presence of Jesus with the early Christians, as explained by Paul, and their zealous propagandism.

The results of this new life, brought into the world so dramatically, must be measured in terms of all subsequent history.[55:3] Every institution in the Empire was modified by this new spiritual force[55:4] so that as old pagan imperial Rome gradually fell, new Christian Rome took its place to rule all western Europe for more than a thousand years in every sphere of human activity and endeavour.

The exact form of the organisation of the early Christian Church is extremely difficult to determine, because of the lack of sufficient positive authority in the New Testament and in patristic literature. The Acts of the Apostles and the letters of Paul and others to the first Christian communities tell nearly all [56]any one can know about the origin and organisation of the Apostolic Church. From these sources it is clear that Jesus left certain great teachings, and many devoted believers in those truths. After His departure, the Apostles, not limited to twelve,[56:1] receiving authority directly from the Master,[56:2] like the prophets of old, spread the new pregnant faith over the world, organised their converts according to individual ideas and local needs,[56:3] and practically monopolised all direction of the Church.[56:4] With the increase of these Christian societies in size and numbers, came the necessity of appointing local officers, or of having them elected by the "brethren." In this way, at an early date, began the outward organisation of the Church. The development of the Jewish Kingdom of God into the Ecclesia of the Christians was a comparatively easy transition, especially for the Jewish converts.

Next to the Apostles in point of time, but not authority, in the Biblical account, came the deacons. At Jerusalem the Apostles had the "brethren" select "seven men of honest report" to minister to the poor and unfortunate, and to wait on the table in the daily love-feasts.[56:5] They were installed by "laying on of hands." This democratic example apparently was followed elsewhere.[56:6] Both sexes were eligible.[56:7] The high qualifications for the office suggest its importance.[56:8]

[57]St. Paul tells us that the earliest Christian communities found it necessary to have some organisation, hence they chose bishops, or overseers, and presbyters, or elders. But throughout the New Testament the words elder, presbyter, and bishop seem to be used interchangeably.[57:1] The qualifications for the offices were the same. Bishops and elders are never joined together like bishops and deacons as if they were two distinct classes of officers. Timothy, for example, appoints bishops and deacons; Titus, elders and deacons. Paul sends greetings to bishops and deacons at Philippi, but omits all mention of elders and presbyters because, presumably, they were included in the conception of bishops.[57:2] In his pastoral epistles he describes all Church officers, but mentions only two classes, bishops or elders, and deacons.[57:3] Peter, who calls himself "also an elder," urges the elders to "tend the flock of God" and to "fulfil the office of bishop."[57:4] Even Clement of Rome uses bishop and presbyter interchangeably as late as 95 A.D.[57:5] Irenæus (d. 190) and Tertullian (d. 220), however, were conscious of a distinct division and differentiation.

That the official titles, bishop and presbyter or elder, were used from early apostolic days, all must admit, for the New Testament evidence is unmistakable. But perplexity and doubt arise at once when an attempt is made to determine the resemblances and differences [58]in their duties and powers. The term elder, or presbyter, may have been used merely to designate the personal relation of the most highly respected members to the congregation, while the name bishop, or overseer, may have been the official designation of leadership. Indeed some scholars, like Hatch and Harnack, believe that the functions of presbyters and bishops were distinct and different from the beginning. They assert that the college of presbyters assumed the leadership, or government proper, of the Christian community, with jurisdiction and disciplinary power, while the bishops had charge of the administration of the Church, including worship and finance, and were also largely occupied with charitable work, in co-operation with the deacons, such as care for the sick, the poor, and strangers. According to this view each congregation was organised with three sets of officers, namely, deacons, presbyters, and bishops, from the very outset. Gradually, however, an amalgamation took place. The bishops, with their practical information, received seats and votes in the presbytery and finally came to fill the office of presidency.

It seems more probable, on the contrary, that these two titles simply signify the twofold origin of the early Christians, namely, from the Jews and the pagans. The word presbyter is of Hebraic derivation, while bishop is a pure Greek term. Consequently the tendency developed to use presbyter wherever the Hebrew element predominated, and, on the other hand, to employ bishop for Greek communities. It was but natural, too, that these two terms should come to signify the same thing and should come to be used interchangeably.

[59]The derivation of these terms is not clear.[59:1] Both presbyter and bishop appear to have been in use in Syria and Asia Minor to designate officers of municipal and private corporations. In Grecian civic organisations, the word bishop or superintendent was likewise commonly used. Then there were the well-known elders of the Jewish synagogue,[59:2] and the senators of Roman municipalities—in fact a universal respect for seniority existed in the old world. It was very natural, therefore, that the Christians should adopt the known forms, names, and offices of those organisations with which they were familiar.[59:3] This method of procedure is precisely the one followed over the world to-day in propagating any idea through organised effort.

These elders were apparently organised into boards, or councils, for the purpose of better furthering the interests of the Church. They were not teachers at first so much as the administrators, or business managers, of the general concerns of the Church.[59:4] They helped to enact ordinances[59:5]; discussed important questions with the Apostles and assisted them in every possible way; enforced discipline[59:6]; settled disputes between Christians; and prayed for the sick and anointed them.[59:7]

The first Christians, eagerly awaiting the literal second [60]coming of Christ, and imbued with great enthusiasm for the Gospel, did not feel the need of an elaborate constitution. But in time, as numbers increased, as severe persecution fell upon the Christians, and as the original fervour and spirituality decreased with the conversion of so many pagans, it became necessary to develop a regular system of Church government, which would more effectively meet the new conditions. The fact of differentiation in organisation is easily established, because the earliest and later forms may be determined with reasonable accuracy, but the transitional process is much more difficult of comprehension. This evolution, however, appears to have taken this course:

1. The board of presbyters, at least in the larger congregations, naturally and logically developed a head with a priority in rank. The office of president was universal in contemporary Jewish associations, and in Roman and Greek organisations. The creation of a chairman of the administrative body became a political necessity to expedite business, and to enforce discipline in the Christian societies. Moreover there was the example of the Apostles, who actually designated officers to continue their work (a) of teaching the true doctrines,[60:1] (b) of organising new churches, (c) of ordaining deacons and elders, and (d) in acting as head of the whole congregation.[60:2] Hence this change was natural, imperative, and easy; but the transition must have been gradual and must have lacked uniformity.

2. The president of the board of presbyters came, in course of time, to have a recognised supremacy in power as well as in rank, and the title of bishop was [61]gradually restricted to his high office. After the death of the Apostles more duties devolved upon the president of the council, and it was in the course of things that the special word bishop, i. e., overseer or superintendent, should be applied to him. By the second century, at least, if not indeed before, the differentiation had begun and from that time on it can be plainly traced in the Church Fathers. Jerome states that at Alexandria until the middle of the third century the presbyters elected one of their number as president and called him bishop.[61:1] Hilarius says: "Every bishop is a presbyter, but not every presbyter a bishop; for he only is bishop who is the primate among the presbyters."[61:2] Examples, secular and ecclesiastical, were not lacking to warrant the change: (a) the Old Testament priesthood, (b) Christ and his Apostles, (c) the Apostles and their appointees, (d) the Emperor and his officials. The bishop soon professed to occupy the place of an Apostle instead of Christ as earlier, hence arose the idea of an "Apostolic seat" and "Apostolic succession."[61:3] He represented Christian unity of doctrine and discipline, and ruled over a recognised territory—first a single church, then a city, then a province. From the bishop it was only another step to the archbishop, the metropolitan, the patriarch, and the Pope.

3. The position of the presbyter changes, likewise, from that of the highest officer in the Church to one subordinate (a) to the board of elders and then (b) to the bishop. This distinction once made between bishop and presbyter, there was a [62]tendency for the bishops to usurp more and more power, while the presbyters opposed it. The third century is full of these quarrels.[62:1] Here began the conflict between the principles of monarchy and aristocracy in the Church. Soon, from acting as a member of a council, the presbyter came to act alone under the bishop—i. e., the presbyter became a priest, just as the president became a bishop. Presbyters also assumed new functions: (a) "ministry of the word" and (b) "ministry of the sacraments." New detached communities were ruled not infrequently by single presbyters under the city bishop. Indeed it seems that from the outset the smaller and weaker Christian communities were ruled by single elders.

4. The status and functions of the deacon likewise were altered. At first he visited the sick and unfortunate, collected and disbursed alms, and reported on discipline. Stephen taught; Philip baptised. With the growth of Christian civilisation, however, institutions of relief—hospitals, orphanages, infant asylums, almshouses, poorhouses, guest-houses, etc.—took the place of the earlier personal ministrations of the deacons. Each institution had its own head, not necessarily a deacon. From being distributors of alms, therefore, the deacon first became an assistant of the bishop,[62:2] and later the chief helper of the priest in the administration of the sacraments. With the multiplication of the duties of this office came the archdeacons and subdeacons.

5. The many duties incident to a complex organisation gradually produced a new set of subordinate officials—the minor orders: (a) lectors to read the [63]Scriptures in public and to keep the books, (b) acolytes to assist the bishops, (c) exorcists to pray for those possessed of evil spirits, (d) janitors to care for the buildings and preserve order, (e) precentors to conduct public praise service, (f) catechists to instruct the catechumens, (g) interpreters to translate the Scripture lesson.[63:1]

6. The clergy came to be distinct from the laity—a sacerdotal class was developed. In the early Church the priesthood was universal, i. e., laymen as well as Church officers could preach, baptise, administer the sacraments, and exercise discipline. The relation of clergy to laity was merely that of leadership as in non-Christian organisations. "Ordination" simply meant appointment, and was used in civic installations, while "laying on of hands" was only a symbol of prayer and even used by the Jews for secular affairs.

Gradually, however, the tendency to put the Church officials above the laity grew stronger until something akin to the Old Testament idea of the priesthood was revived. By the fourth century the Church officers had lost their primitive character and had become a separate class mediating between God and man. The causes of this separation are not difficult to see, namely: (a) the peculiar duties of the Church officials tended to give them a distinct character; (b) the persecutions to which the Roman government subjected them threw them into conspicuous relief; (c) the legalisation of Christianity bestowed upon them a distinct civil status, made them immune from public burdens like taxes and military service, exempted them from civil courts, and permitted them to acquire property; and (d) the rise [64]of asceticism forced the clergy to observe a code of morals different from that of the laity, demanded celibacy, originated the badge of the tonsure, and created clergy-houses.

The laity were early organised in congregations. Membership in the Church was open to all believers in Jesus. The election of officers was, for the most part, democratic. The life of each congregation was socialistic and communistic. All possessions were sold for the common good and to create a common fund for the needy.[64:1] The members enjoyed a common evening meal and their common love-feast which was to them the highest act of worship.[64:2] Disobedience, or infidelity, might be punished by private admonition, public correction, and in stubborn cases excommunication.[64:3] But after the first century these communistic-democratic societies were gradually replaced by a hierarchical organisation with new or modified institutions. The monarchio-episcopal principle of church government was gradually evolved but, nevertheless, much of the primitive democracy remained. This evolution in the government of the Church may be clearly seen by the end of the second century.

From this discussion these conclusions may be drawn:

1. The New Testament does not furnish a satisfactory model for any one distinct organisation of the Christian Church.

2. In the New Testament, however, are found the germs from which sprang deacons, priests, bishops, metropolitans, patriarchs, and popes.

[65]3. The elements from which the Church was organised already existed in large measure in human society. Hence the Church, in its outward form, had a natural historical growth and was influenced by (a) the Jewish synagogue, (b) Greek municipalities, (c) the Roman government, (d) local needs, and (e) the conditions of the times. The animating principle and causal inspiration was Christianity.

4. Christian society, like human society, was subject to constant change which is easily detected. The form of organisation, originally democratic, was gradually changed by the force of circumstances until it became monarchial and at the same time the officers underwent a similar transformation.

Sources


FOOTNOTES:

[52:1] Jewish Encyc.; Sorley, Jewish Christians and Judaism, London, 1881; Bettany, History of Judaism and Christianity, London, 1892; A History of Jews in Rome, B.C. 160-A.D. 604, London, 1882; Toy, C. H., Judaism and Christianity, Boston, 1891.

[53:1] Moeller, i., 69.

[53:2] Moeller, i., 55, 66.

[53:3] Kurtz, Sec. 7, No. 4.

[53:4] See Cicero, Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. Read Baur, i., 10-17, Kurtz, Sec. 7, No. 2; cf. Foucard, Les associations relig. chez les Grecs, Paris, 1873.

[53:5] Kurtz, Sec. 7, No. 5.

[53:6] Hatch, 26-39; Kurtz, Sec. 17, Nos. 2, 3; Moeller, i., 66.

[53:7] Tertullian, Apol., ch. 38, 39; cf. Mommsen, De collegiis et sodal. Rom., Kil., 1843.

[53:8] Xenophon, Memorabil., iii., 14; Athenæus, Deipnos, vii., 7, 68, p. 365a; Fouard, St. Peter, 363.

[54:1] 1 Cor. i., 2. Illustration of this variation is found in the fact that Calvinists and most Protestants believe the Church to be an invisible organisation, while Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and oriental Christians hold it to be visible.

[54:2] Euseb., bk. ii., ch. 3.

[54:3] Acts xvi., 5; cf. Acts ii., 47.

[54:4] Euseb., bk. ii., ch. 3; cf. Acts xi., 26.

[54:5] Gieseler, i., 72.

[54:6] Schaff, i., 196.

[54:7] Orr, Neglected Factors, 23-91. Schaff, 197, gives only 12,000,000.

[55:1] Orr, Neglected Factors, 95-163.

[55:2] See Gibbon's "famous infamous," ch. 15.

[55:3] Church, R. W., Civilisation before and after Christianity, N. Y., 1872.

[55:4] See the works of Troplong, Schmidt, Uhlhorn, Lecky, Brace, Milman, Pressensé, etc.

[56:1] 1 Cor. ix., 1, 5; xii., 28, 29; xv., 5, 7; Rom. xvi., 7.

[56:2] 1 Cor. xi., 23; xii., 3-8; 2 Cor. x., 8; xiii., 10; Gal. i., 8, 9, 12; Eph. iv., 11.

[56:3] Acts xiv., 23; Tit. i., 5.

[56:4] Acts ii., 42; iv., 35, 37; v., 2.

[56:5] Acts vi., 1-6.

[56:6] Phil. i., 1; 1 Tim. iii., 8; iv. 14.

[56:7] Rom. xvi., 1.

[56:8] Acts vi., 1-6; 1 Tim. iii., 8-13.

[57:1] Acts xv., 23; xvi., 4; xx., 17, 28; Phil. i., 1; 1 Tim. iii.; iv., 14; v., 17-19; Tit. i., 5-7; James v., 14; Clement, To Corinth, xlii., 44. Cf. Rev. iv., 4; v., 5, 6; vii., 11, 13.

[57:2] Phil. i., 1.

[57:3] 1 Tim. iii., 1-13; v., 17-19; Tit. i., 5-7; Heb. xi., 2.

[57:4] 1 Pet. v., 1-2.

[57:5] To Corinth, ch. xliii. The Didache and Shepherd of Hermas offer additional testimony on this point.

[59:1] See various dictionaries of the Bible.

[59:2] Ex. xxiv., 1; Num. xi., 16; Gen. l., 7-8; Lev. iv., 15; Deut. xxi., 19; 1 Sam. xvi., 4; Ezra v., 5; Psalm cvii., 32; Ezek. viii., 1; Acts iv., 8; Matt. xxi., 23; xxvii., 1; Luke xxii., 66.

[59:3] Hatch, 62-66.

[59:4] Hatch, 69-73; Acts xx., 28-31; 1 Pet. v., 1; 1 Tim. v., 17.

[59:5] Acts xvi., 4.

[59:6] Acts xx., 29-31, 35; Tertullian, Apol., 39.

[59:7] James v., 14.

[60:1] 1 Tim. i., 3.

[60:2] Tit. i., 5.

[61:1] Ep. 146, Ad Evangelum; cf. Ep. 82 and 84. Apost. Const., iii., c. 11.

[61:2] 1 Ep. to Timoth., c. 3.

[61:3] Hatch, 106-109.

[62:1] Neander, i., 192, 193.

[62:2] Hatch, 54.

[63:1] Euseb., vi., 43; Neander, i., § 2; Kurtz, i., § 34; Alzog, i., § 83; Moeller, i., 234.

[64:1] Acts ii., 44, 45.

[64:2] Acts ii., 42, 46.

[64:3] Mat. xviii., 15-18; Tit. iii., 10; 1 Cor. v., 5.


[71]

CHAPTER V
THE ROMAN CHURCH AND PETER'S PRIMACY

Outline: I.—Planting of the church in Rome and its organisation there. II.—The two opposing views of the Petrine theory. III.—Proofs advanced for the Petrine theory. IV.—Evidence given against the Petrine theory. V.—Historical conclusions. VI.—Sources.

Reports concerning the teachings and labours of Jesus must have early reached Rome.[71:1] A perpetual stream of strangers and provincials flowed into Rome from every quarter of the Empire, hence every new creed, theory, and organisation was soon known in the capital.[71:2] Roman merchants, sailors, soldiers, or public officials, or the Jews, or the Greeks, might have carried news of the new sect to the heart of imperial power. Tertullian mentions the legend that Emperor Tiberius sought to include Jesus among the Roman gods, but his plan was frustrated by the Roman Senate.[71:3] Eusebius declared that this same ruler, "being obviously pleased with the doctrine," threatened "death to the accusers of the Christians."[71:4] It seems reasonable to conclude, then, that Christianity, soon after its birth, was introduced into the Eternal City.

[72]It appears clear, too, that Christian converts were early won in Rome, or else migrated thither from other parts of the Empire. It is not at all improbable that many of these early Christians in the capital were Jews.[72:1] Paul said that upon his arrival in Italy he "found brethren" at Puteoli and that a week later Christians came out of the city of Rome to greet him.[72:2] It is also quite probable that these various Christian communities in Italy had already created loose local organisations. Paul, during his prolonged stay in Rome, undoubtedly converted many to the new faith and laboured to perfect their Church organisation.[72:3] The magnificent work done by this Apostle in promulgating the new faith throughout western Europe was sealed by a martyr's death at Rome.[72:4]

It appears, also, that the Apostle Peter laboured at Rome, probably after Paul, and completed the organisation of the Church. Tradition likewise gives him a martyr's crown. The Roman Church, therefore, founded by two Apostles and nourished by their heroic blood, was a double apostolic seat. This unusual origin, coupled with the fact of location in the heart of the world, together with a hundred other causes, made the Roman Church very conspicuous from the first and enabled it to become the determining factor in Western civilisation for fifteen hundred years. Under these circumstances it was but natural that the head of the Roman Church should come to have superior respect, [73]primacy in rank, and leadership in power, first in Italy, and then throughout western Europe.

The mother Church in Rome was imbued with great missionary zeal, and spread the new faith with extraordinary rapidity. In 64 A.D. the Christians in Rome, according to the heathen historian Tacitus, constituted a "huge multitude."[73:1] By 250 the Roman bishop ruled over forty-six presbyters, seven deacons, seven sub-deacons, forty-two acolytes, and fifty readers, exorcists, and porters.[73:2] The Christians in Rome, a city of possibly one million, numbered at least fifty thousand as estimated by Gibbon[73:3] and possibly three times that many as reckoned by later investigators.[73:4] Optatus, Bishop of Mileve in Numidia, asserted that in 300 there were forty churches in the Eternal City. While possibly a few churches may have been planted in western Europe independently, just as in Rome, still, in general, Christianity was disseminated throughout western Europe and the western part of northern Africa through the apostolic organisation in the capital city. Paul may have even made a visit to Spain.[73:5] Bede says that King Lucius asked the Roman bishop in 156 to send missionaries to Britain[73:6] and Tertullian confirmed the declaration.[73:7] In France a church was planted at Lyons in 177 and another at Vienne.[73:8] In the third century, asserts Gregory of Tours, seven Roman [74]missionaries went to Gaul and there became seven bishops with subordinate churches. The famous St. Denis of Paris was one of these pioneers.[74:1] Christianity was likewise early carried into Germany (cis-Rhenana)[74:2] and across the Mediterranean to north-western Africa.[74:3] It is a matter of no great surprise, therefore, to see the Roman Church revered as the great mother Church of the West. Paul speaks of the faith of Rome as "proclaimed throughout the whole world."[74:4]

The process of Church organisation at Rome was no doubt quite similar to that described in the preceding chapter, with this difference, however, that the episcopal system was either present from the time Peter and Paul appointed a successor, or at least began very early. Through his presbyters, or priests, the Bishop of Rome at first ruled over a number of separate communities in the city. As the faithful spread the gospel beyond the walls, churches were organised in the villages and jurisdiction over them became vested in priests sent out by the bishops. In time, however, the churches in the chief centres of population demanded bishops of their own; they were appointed, or elected, under influence from Rome, and, consequently, acknowledged allegiance to the Roman See. There is incontrovertible evidence that by the fourth century every city in Italy had a bishop. The village bishops naturally looked to the city bishops for assistance and advice. The city bishops similarly depended upon the bishop in the capital of the province, and the provincial bishop in [75]like manner recognised the superiority of the bishop in the capital of the Empire. Thus the power of the Roman bishop was gradually extended first over Italy and then over western Europe. The consciousness of a unity of belief, unity of interest, and unity of purpose developed comparatively early among the churches. A name for this unity is first found in Ignatius and was the Universal or Catholic Church.[75:1] Before long the Bishop of Rome was to claim, by divine appointment and arrangement, sovereign jurisdiction over the great organisation.

The classes won to the new faith in the city of Rome through the zeal of the Roman Christians included representatives from the slave to the imperial family. The earliest converts may have been the Jews, who were quite numerous in the Eternal City, and who best understood the significance of Christianity. The hope and faith and love of the new teaching appealed powerfully to the lowest social classes—the wretched slave and the impoverished freedman.[75:2] The need and the truth of this lofty, universal creed also won adherents from the great creative middle class—including not only the educated but also the soldiers, tradespeople, farmers, imperial officials, and skilled workmen. In fact the marvellous vitality and the unparalleled growth of Christianity in Rome can be explained satisfactorily only upon the supposition that the representation of this class was very great.[75:3] From the nobility [76]converts were likewise secured and even in the Emperor's household followers were found.[76:1] In short, the whole social and moral structure of Rome was leavened by the new ideas.

Along with this unparalleled growth of the power of the Roman bishop was created the Petrine theory destined to have a powerful effect on the history of the Church. Since an inquiry into this theory has a peculiar significance for the Roman Catholic, the Greek Catholic, and the Protestant, it is necessary to consider the subject rather carefully from the standpoint of both its advocates and opponents.

The Roman Catholic belief is that Jesus came to organise His Church on earth; that He appointed Peter to be his successor and head of the Church; that Peter went to Rome, established the Church there in the great capital city, laboured as its head twenty-five years, and died there as a martyr; that Peter transmitted his leadership and primacy to the Bishop of Rome, whom he appointed as his successor, and who in turn transferred it to succeeding popes; that the Roman Church, therefore, is the only true Church, and that these contentions are conclusively proved from the Bible, the Church Fathers, traditions, and monuments.[76:2]

The Greek Catholic view coincides with Rome in asserting the divine origin of the Church. A [77]certain honourable primacy is conceded to the Apostle Peter; and to his successors at Rome, as patriarchs of the West, is granted a kind of supreme leadership in the Church. But the patriarchs of the East are put on an equality with the Pope of Rome, and thus the extreme claims of the Petrine theory are denied.

Protestant opinion on the other hand takes two forms:

1. The pro-Petrine view, held chiefly by the Episcopalians, maintains that Jesus turned His Church over to all His Apostles; that upon their death they transmitted their leadership to succeeding bishops; that Peter was in Rome and, with Paul, helped to organise the Church there, and appointed a successor through whom apostolic power has been transmitted to all bishops appointed by the Bishop of Rome, or by his appointees, where it now resides; that bishops and their successors appointed by Apostles other than Peter have just as much power as the Bishop of Rome, because the fruits of Peter's work are merely the most marked, but not necessarily the only divine or the most divine; that adequate proofs of this position are found in history, the Church Fathers, and the Scriptures.

2. The anti-Petrine view, taken by most Protestants, asserts that Jesus left no Church organisation; that he did not appoint Peter as his successor; that whatever leadership Peter had, came from his temperament and natural ability; that there is no positive proof of Peter's being in Rome, consequently he could not have founded the Church there and named a successor; that therefore the Roman Catholic Church is not the only true Church, and that abundant proof of this position can be supplied.

[78]It may be well now to examine the proof offered in support of the Petrine theory under the four following heads:

1. Peter's primacy. Jesus said to Peter, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; . . . And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."[78:1] No such words were addressed to any other Apostle, hence Peter is the foundation-stone of the Church. Just as God changed Abram's name to Abraham, when he called him to be the father of a mighty nation, so Jesus gave Peter a new name.[78:2] Peter was chosen to be present with James and John on important occasions, like the healing of the daughter of Jairus[78:3]; the glorification of Jesus[78:4]; the struggle in Gethsemane[78:5]; and on all these occasions Peter is named first in the record. He likewise was the first to whom the risen Christ appeared.[78:6] Before His ascension Jesus gave Peter charge over His whole fold—laity, priests, and bishops,—when He commanded, "Feed my sheep," and twice repeated, "Feed my lambs."[78:7] These facts are sufficient, it is believed, to warrant the belief that Jesus appointed Peter to be the head of His Church.

[79]2. Peter's exercise of his primacy. Next to Jesus, he stands head and shoulders above all the other Apostles in his activity. The first twelve chapters of Acts are devoted to him. His name always comes first in the lists of Apostles, and Judas Iscariot's last.[79:1] He performed the first recorded miracle,[79:2] and was the first to address the Jews in Jerusalem, while the other Apostles stood around to see three thousand converted.[79:3] He was first to win converts from both the Jews[79:4] and from the Gentiles,—Cornelius and his friends.[79:5] He was the first to inflict ecclesiastical punishment on offenders.[79:6] He fought the first heretic in the Christian Church.[79:7] He made the earliest apostolic visitation of the churches.[79:8] When a successor to Judas was chosen, Peter alone spoke, and the other Apostles silently acted on his advice.[79:9] In the council of Jerusalem Peter first spoke, when the disputes ceased and "all the multitude kept silence"; even James obeyed.[79:10] James was beheaded by Herod, but no tumult resulted. Peter was imprisoned about the same time, and the whole Church was aroused about it.[79:11] St. Paul himself plainly admitted Peter's pre-eminence.[79:12] These deeds clearly indicate, it is contended, that Peter consciously exercised the primacy bestowed upon him, and that his fellow Apostles recognised it.

3. Peter's visit to Rome, and martyrdom there. Peter's First Epistle, addressed from "Babylon," [80]naturally interpreted, proves that he wrote it in Rome.[80:1] Clement of Rome (96 A.D.) said, "Let us set before our eyes the good Apostles,—Peter, who endured many labours, and having borne his witness, went to the appointed place of glory," etc.[80:2] Ignatius of Antioch (115), in a letter to the Romans, mentions Peter as having exhorted them. Papias (130) interpreted 1 Peter v., 13 to mean Rome.[80:3] Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth (170), wrote Soter, Bishop of Rome, about the common activity of Peter and Paul in Italy.[80:4] Irenæus (190) wrote, "Matthew . . . published his Gospel while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and founding the Church there."[80:5] Clement of Alexandria (200) said that Peter, "the elect, the chosen one, the first of the disciples," preached at Rome.[80:6] Tertullian (200) positively asserted Peter's presence in Rome, and is the first to describe the manner of his death, in Nero's reign.[80:7] Origen (250) declared that Peter was the great foundation of the Church, and that "at last, having arrived in Rome, he was crucified, head downward, having himself requested that he might so suffer."[80:8] Commodion (250) named Peter and Paul as Neronian martyrs; and Caius, a Roman presbyter (250), makes a like assertion.[80:9] Cyprian (d. 258) was the first to call Rome the locum Petri, while Hippolytus [81]recorded Peter's conflict with Simon Magnus at Rome.[81:1] The Muratorian Canon referred to the "passion of Peter" in close connection with Paul's journey to Rome.[81:2] Peter of Alexandria (306) believed Peter was crucified there, and Lactantius accepted it as undoubted.[81:3] "The Doctrine of Addai" (fourth century) of the Syriac Church mentioned the "Epistles of Paul which Simon Peter sent us from the City of Rome."[81:4] Eusebius, using all previous testimony, made the most complete and convincing statement, which caps the climax of the overwhelming proof.[81:5] The "Deposito Martyrum" gave the report of the removal of the two Apostles' bodies in 258 to the catacombs. Jerome (d. 420) added the information that Peter laboured twenty-five years in Rome before his martyrdom.[81:6]

4. Peter as the first Pope in Rome. With the establishment of Peter's primacy and his presence in Rome, it is certainly warrantable to conclude that he perfected the organisation of the Church there and served as its head until his death, when he appointed a successor. Clement (96) and Ignatius (115), Dionysius (170) and Irenæus (190), Commodion (250) and Lactantius (d. 330), all in speaking of Peter and Paul as founders of the Roman Church, always name Peter first. Ignatius spoke of the "presidency" of the Roman Church under Peter, and Tertullian (b. 160) asserted that Jesus gave the keys to Peter, the "Bishop [82]of Bishops" at Rome, and through him to the Church. Origen (d. 254) called Peter "the Prince of the Apostles" and "the great foundation of the Church." All the earliest lists of Popes began with Peter and indicate the transmission of his power.[82:1] Cyprian (d. 258) gave the complete statement of the primacy of the Roman bishop and the unity of the Church through Peter and Jesus.[82:2]

This sums up, essentially, all the proofs offered in support of the Petrine theory, and constitutes, it must be confessed, a powerful and consistent case.

It is necessary now, in the next place, to look at the evidence offered in opposition to the Petrine theory. For the sake of clearness, this evidence will be given under the four heads just employed:

1. Peter's primacy. The famous passage, "Thou art Peter," etc., correctly interpreted, does not warrant a belief in Peter's primacy. "Peter" may mean "rock" ("cephas"), but it here refers to Christ, not Peter, or to Peter's confession, just made,[82:3] or to Peter's faith, or to Peter merely as a type of all the Apostles.[82:4] Furthermore the commission to "bind" and to "loose" [83]and the promise connected with it were not intended exclusively for Peter but for all the Apostles[83:1]; Peter stood only for a type.[83:2] The change of Peter's name does not carry with it any special significance. Peter himself never mentioned his primacy in his speeches or writings,[83:3] and nowhere else in the New Testament is it distinctly stated or recognised by others. Whatever natural capacity for leadership Peter may have possessed, it cannot be proved that he received an official primacy. Such a position would have conflicted likewise with the supremacy of Jesus.

2. Peter's exercise of his primacy. The numerous instances where Peter took the lead, or acted, or spoke first,[83:4] or where his name heads lists of Apostles,[83:5] merely show that he was a man of impulsive, aggressive character, who would and did naturally take the lead in powers common to all the Apostles. At the council of Jerusalem Peter did not preside, as he would have done if he was the recognised "Prince of the Apostles," but only made the first speech.[83:6] Paul would not have rebuked Peter to his face about some very important points had Peter been the recognised head of the Church.[83:7] Peter was a coward, braggart, and traitor, and was reproved again and again by Jesus Himself,[83:8] who would not have chosen such a person to be the head of the Church. There is not a single [84]reference in the New Testament to show that Peter ever attempted to exercise a primacy over his companions. He called himself a fellow "elder."[84:1]

3. Peter's presence in Rome. There is not a syllable in the New Testament to warrant the conclusion that Peter was in Rome. Inference alone makes "Babylon"[84:2] the Eternal City. On the contrary, there are implications in the Scriptures that he was not in Rome. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans greeted all his friends, but said not a word about Peter. This would clearly indicate that Peter had not been in Rome before this Epistle was written, nor at the time it was written. Again in letters written from Rome, Paul is strangely silent about Peter's presence. The claim rests wholly upon tradition, therefore, and that is far from conclusive. There is a significant silence from the time of 2 Peter until that of Clement (96). Clement, to be sure, mentions Peter's martyrdom; but it is only by inference that the place is Rome. Not until well on in the second century did the legend about Peter's connection with Rome begin to circulate, and not until the third century did Tertullian assert positively that Peter was martyred in Rome under Nero. After that the assertion was generally accepted over the Church as a truth.[84:3]

4. Peter as the first Roman Pope. This, of course, is precluded by the want of adequate evidence of Peter's presence and labours in Rome.

The evidence adduced here ends with the sweeping denial of every claim of the Petrine theory.

[85]Having now stated the two sides of the question here still remains the duty of making the historical summary from the sources available, namely, both the canonical and apocryphal books of the New Testament, and the traditional evidence in the Church Fathers. The New Testament, as the most important source of information, reveals Peter's birthplace,[85:1] occupation,[85:2] marriage,[85:3] call by Jesus,[85:4] and elevation to apostleship.[85:5] It shows the conspicuous leadership of Peter in the apostolic college—indeed, a primacy which Jesus Himself recognised,—yet leaves the character of that primacy and the power to transfer it to a successor open to question. The New Testament evidence does not give any clue to Peter's movements after Paul's notice of him in Galatians ii. except the reference in 1 Peter, which naturally, but not literally, interpreted might indicate that he was in Rome (Babylon). It likewise affords very scanty grounds, therefore, for believing that Peter first established the Church in Rome, or that he was the first Bishop of Rome, or that he conferred his power upon a successor.

Traditional evidence, on the contrary, is more favourable to Peter's presence in Rome. No one can possibly doubt that the Petrine theory was generally believed in western Christendom at least after the third century. Prior to the third century, there are many streams of testimony which converge in positive support of at least a portion of the Petrine theory:

1. The official lists and records of the Roman [86]Church, some of which must rest upon earlier sources, accept the whole question as proved and recognised generally.

2. The transference of Peter's remains to a new resting place in 258 shows that the tradition was definite and unquestioned early in the third century.

3. The writings of Caius, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian indicate that the theory was accepted in Asia, Alexandria, Carthage, and Rome at the same period.

4. A passage from Irenæus, who probably used the official documents in Rome and who may have known St. John and his companions, carries the legend back to the second century.

5. The testimony of Dionysius of Corinth (d. 165), Papias, and Ignatius (d. 114) carries the belief back through the second to the first century.

6. The clear testimony of Clement of Rome makes a connecting link at the close of the first century.

Hence when the various pieces of evidence—the official sources, the monumental testimony, and the writings of the early Fathers,—which are independent and consistent, are combined they form a solid body of proof, which is practically irresistible, that Peter was in Rome. Likewise the absolute absence of any rival tradition from other cities adds greatly to the probability.

Peter's presence and death in Rome may be admitted as an established fact. If in Rome, whether one year or twenty-five years, Peter, with his aggressive nature, with his marked ability for leadership, and with his capacity for organisation, must have had a great deal to do with the establishment of the Roman Church, either jointly with Paul, or independently of him. Nor [87]does it seem to be a misuse of the law of historical probabilities to assert that Peter, either with Paul or without him, appointed a bishop for the Church of Rome and transferred to that bishop his apostolic authority. From these facts, based almost entirely upon traditional evidence, coupled with the peculiar primacy conceded to Peter in the New Testament by his fellow Apostles, gradually developed the Petrine theory with all its sweeping claims.

The admission of the belief that the Petrine theory is founded on certain established facts, and not merely on fancies and myths, does not carry with it the recognition of all the assertions which form a part of that theory. Peter's unique leadership in the apostolic college, his activity in founding the Roman Church, and his naming of a successor, who in time became the Pope, may all be granted without carrying with it the necessity of accepting the assertion that Christ chose Peter to be the head of a definite, divinely-planned Church and that Peter, conscious of that great mission, went to the capital of the Roman Empire, and there organised the only true Church on earth.

Sources


FOOTNOTES:

[71:1] Moeller, i., 67, 75; cf. Acts xviii., 1-3.

[71:2] Gibbon, i., 579.

[71:3] Apol., 5; Suetonius, Life of Claudius, 25.

[71:4] Euseb., ii., c. 2.

[72:1] Shortly before the Christian era the Jews were so numerous that 8000 could sign a petition to the Emperor.—Josephus, Antiq., xvii., c. 11.

[72:2] Acts xxviii., 14-16; Ramsay, St. Paul, ch. 15.

[72:3] Acts xxviii., 24, 30, 31.

[72:4] Euseb., ii., c. 22.

[73:1] Annals, xv., 44.

[73:2] Euseb., vi., c. 43.

[73:3] Gibbon, i., ch. 15.

[73:4] Orr, Neglected Factors, 39.

[73:5] Rom. xv., 24; Muratorian Fragment; Clement of Rome, To Corinth, c. 5; Alzog, i. 125; Kurtz, i., 44.

[73:6] Eccl. Hist., c. 4.

[73:7] Against Jud., c. 7.

[73:8] Euseb., v., c. 1.

[74:1] Annales Francorum.

[74:2] Irenæus, Against Her., i., c. 10.

[74:3] Tertullian, Apol., c. 37; Cyprian, Ep., 71, 73; Augustine, On Bap., ii., c. 13.

[74:4] Rom. i., 8.

[75:1] The pagan writer Celsus was familiar with this idea as early as 161 A.D.

[75:2] But nothing could be farther from the truth than Gibbon's statement that the Christians were won "almost entirely" from the "dregs of the populace." See Orr, Neglected Factors.

[75:3] Ramsay in his Church in the Roman Empire, 57, goes so far as to say that the new faith "spread at first among the educated more rapidly than among the uneducated." This statement, however, is probably an exaggeration. See an excellent discussion in Orr, Neglected Factors, 95-163; Merivale, The Romans under the Empire, ch. 54.

[76:1] Phil. iv., 22; Lightfoot, Philippians, 171 ff.; Howson, St. Paul, ch. 26; Weizäcker, Apost. Age, ii., 132; Harnack, Princeton Rev., 1878, p. 257; Euseb., Eccl. Hist., iii., c. 18.

[76:2] Alzog, i., §§ 48, 52, 53; Berington and Kirk, ii., 1-113; Gibbons, Faith of Our Fathers; Cath. Encyc.

[78:1] Matt. xvi., 18, 19. In Syro-Chaldaic, the tongue probably used by Jesus, "Peter" means "rock" or "cephas." The only parallel in modern languages is in French: "Tu es Pierre, et sur cette pierre," etc. Cf. John i., 42.

[78:2] John i., 42.

[78:3] Mark v., 37; Luke viii., 51.

[78:4] Matt. xvii., 1; Mark ix., 2; Luke ix., 28.

[78:5] Matt. xxvi., 37; Mark xiv., 33.

[78:6] Luke xxiv., 12, 34; cf. John xx., 2-10; Weizäcker, i., § 3.

[78:7] Luke xxii., 31-32; John xxi., 15-18.

[79:1] Matt. x., 2-4; Mark iii., 16-19; Luke vi., 14-16; Acts i., 13.

[79:2] Acts iii., 1-12.

[79:3] Acts ii., 14-41.

[79:4] Acts ii., 41.

[79:5] Acts x.

[79:6] Acts v., 1 ff.

[79:7] Acts viii., 21.

[79:8] Acts ix., 32.

[79:9] Acts i., 13-26.

[79:10] Acts xv., 6-12.

[79:11] Acts xii.

[79:12] Gal. i., 18; ii., 11.

[80:1] 1 Peter v., 13. St. John everywhere in his Apocalypse calls Rome Babylon: xiv., 8; xvii., 18.

[80:2] 1 Ep. to Corinth, Sec. 5.

[80:3] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., ii., c. 15; iii., c. 39.

[80:4] Ib., ii., c. 25.

[80:5] Against Heresy, iii., 3, No. 2.

[80:6] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., vi., c. 14.

[80:7] De Præsc. Hæret. c. 36.

[80:8] Cf. Euseb., Eccl. Hist., iii., c. 1.

[80:9] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., ii., c. 25.

[81:1] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., ii., c. 13, 14.

[81:2] James, Apocr. Anecdota, ii., p. x.

[81:3] Inst. Div., iv., 21.

[81:4] Cureton, Ancient Syriac Docs., 33.

[81:5] Eccl. Hist., ii., c. 14, 15, 17, 25; iii., 21, 31; v., 6.

[81:6] For passages from later writers consult Lipsius, 236, Ramsay, Harnack, Farrar, Lightfoot, McGiffert, Schaff, Renan, Neander, Lea, Kurtz, Hase, Moeller, etc.

[82:1] Hegesippus made a list of bishops in Rome in the time of Anicetus (155-168) but it is now lost (Euseb., Eccl. Hist., iv., c. 22). Eusebius used that list, and also gave two lists of his own in Greek with Peter as the first (Chronicon, ii.; Eccl. Hist., v., c. 6). The first Latin list is the Catalogus Liberianus (352?), based upon earlier lists. St. Augustine (Ep. 53) and Optatus (Donatist Schism, ii., 3) both give Latin lists. These lists show how early the whole Church recognised the importance of the succession of Roman bishops. The list made out by Irenæus in the time of Bishop Eleutherus (174-189) gives Peter and Paul as the joint founders of the Church.

[82:2] Epistles 43, 5; 55; 59, 7 and 14; 71, 3; 73, 7; 75, 17; Ante-Nic. Fathers, v., 263-596; Robinson, Readings, i., ch. 4.

[82:3] Matt. xvi., 16.

[82:4] Lightfoot, Clement, ii., 481-490; Hort, Ecclesia, 16.

[83:1] Matt. xviii., 18.

[83:2] John xxi., 15-18; Luke xxii., 31, 32.

[83:3] Cf. Acts; 1 Pet. 1-3; 2 Pet.

[83:4] Acts i., 13-26; ii., 14-41; iii., 1-12; x.; xv., 7-12, etc.

[83:5] Matt. x., 2; xvii., 1; xxvi., 37; Mark iii., 16; v., 37; ix., 2; xiv., 33; Luke vi., 14; viii., 51; ix., 28; Acts i., 13.

[83:6] Acts xv., 1-11.

[83:7] Gal. ii., 11-14.

[83:8] Luke xxii., 31; John xiii., 36-38; Matt. xvi., 23, etc.

[84:1] 1 Pet. v., 1. See 2 John i., 1; 3 John i., 1.

[84:2] 1 Pet. v., 13.

[84:3] Cf. Lipsius for a full discussion of the so-called "Simonian theory."

[85:1] John i., 44.

[85:2] Matt. iv., 18; Mark i., 16-20.

[85:3] Matt. viii., 14; Mark i., 29-31; Luke iv., 38.

[85:4] Matt. iv., 18; xix., 27; Mark i., 16; John i., 35, 40, 51; Luke v.; xviii., 28.

[85:5] Mark iii., 13-19; Luke vi., 12-16.


[91]

CHAPTER VI
THE ROMAN GOVERNMENT'S TREATMENT OF THE CHRISTIANS

Outline: I.—Religious persecutions before the Christian era. II.—Christians first persecuted by the Jews. III.—Causes and motives of persecution by the Roman government. IV.—Number and general character of the persecutions. V.—Results of persecutions. VI.—Sources.

Religious persecution originated long before the Christian era began—in fact it runs through the whole history of religion. In Rome all citizens were required by law to conform to the Roman religion so that the gods would protect the state. Refusal brought punishment, but always on political grounds.[91:1] Foreign religions which were either harmless or helpful were often adopted, or at least tolerated.[91:2] Those, however, which were dangerous to public morality, social order, or political security, and which were not tolerant of other religions, were severely treated by the Roman government. This was the Roman legal principle of procedure in the case of every such religion,[91:3] hence when Christianity appeared, [92]Rome had already developed a distinct policy which first tolerated and then persecuted it.

Persecution came to the Christians first from the Jews. Had not these deserters of their fathers' faith precipitated Roman hatred upon the Jews which resulted in persecution, expulsion, and loss of freedom and independence?[92:1] Might not the Jewish religion be greatly weakened if this proselyting continued? Hence the Christians were persecuted individually and in masses.[92:2] The Jews sought in every possible way to incite the Roman authorities against the hated Christians.[92:3] This resulted in an irreparable breach between the two sects. The Christians were brought into greater prominence, and the Romans even sought to protect them from the Jewish fanatics.[92:4] At the same time a greater Christian zeal was aroused, and thus the spread of the new faith was promoted.

The Roman government tolerated the Christians at the outset, because they were regarded as a harmless sect of Jews, whose work was quiet and unobtrusive.[92:5] The significance of Christianity was not understood, nor the marvellous spread of the faith noticed. Indeed Roman hostility to the Jews led at first to [93]personal and official protection of the supporters of the new faith, until the Jewish War in 70 A.D.

The Roman policy soon changed, however, from that of indifference, or protection, to persecution. The causes for this change are: (1) The political science of the Roman Empire, and (2) the inherent character of Christianity.

Ethically the Roman state embodied the highest good, hence all human good depended upon the integrity and security of the state. That principle subordinated the religious to the political, and made the Emperor the head of all recognised religions. Roman law upheld this theory, as clearly stated by Cicero: "No man shall have for himself particular gods of his own; no man shall worship by himself new or foreign gods, unless they are recognised by the public laws."[93:1] Julius Paulus, a Roman citizen, stated the idea thus: "Whoever introduces new religions, the tendency and character of which are unknown, whereby the minds of men might be disturbed, should, if belonging to the higher rank, be banished; if to the lower, punished with death." Gaius said of forbidden associations: "Neither a society, nor a college, nor any body of this kind, is conceded to all persons promiscuously; for this thing is regulated by laws, or codes of the Senate, and by imperial constitutions."[93:2] Hence from a legal standpoint Christianity was illegal, because it introduced a new religion not admitted into the class of religiones licitæ. "You are not permitted by the law," was the taunt of pagans.[93:3] [94]To organise churches and to hold unlicensed meetings were violations of Roman law. Might they not easily serve as covers for political plots? Mæcenas advised Augustus: "Worship the gods in all respects in accordance with the laws of your country, and compel all others to do the same. But hate and punish those who would introduce anything whatever alien to our customs in this particular . . . because such persons, by introducing new divinities, mislead many to adopt foreign laws. Hence conspiracies and secret combinations—the last things to be borne in a monarchy."[94:1] Roman citizens, therefore, who turned Christian were criminals, outlaws, bandits, and traitors; consequently the best Emperors, those who felt called upon to enforce the law for the weal of the Empire, those who wished to restore the vigour and power of old Rome, sought to exterminate them, while the worst rulers were mostly indifferent, and in some instances tolerant.

Christianity, inherently, was opposed to the whole governmental, social, and religious systems of Rome in the most offensive and uncompromising manner. It advocated one God for all men, one universal kingdom, one brotherhood of all men, and one plan of salvation. It was world-wide, above the Emperor, and advocated a non-Roman unity. The Christians were subjects of God's kingdom first, and the Emperor's next; and when Rome spurned this secondary allegiance they ceased to feel themselves Romans at all.[94:2] They refused the duties of loyal citizens, held no offices, objected to military service,[94:3] and refused [95]to sacrifice to the honour of the Emperor.[95:1] "Does not the Emperor punish you justly?" asked Celsus. "Should all do like you he would be left alone—there would be none to defend him. The rudest barbarians would make themselves masters of the world." Furthermore the Christians claimed the exclusive possession of divine knowledge and called all forms of pagan worship idolatrous.[95:2] Christianity itself was intolerant of all other religions. Was not Christianity the only true faith? How then could the Christians compromise with false faiths, or concede to them any truth, or any right to exist?[95:3] Hence it was inevitable, and Christians were keenly conscious of the fact, that a conflict should arise between Christianity and the Roman Empire, before the universal dominion of the world could come. The efforts of imperial officers to compromise matters, by insisting on mere outward conformity, met with little success.

The attack made by paganism on Christianity came first from Roman philosophers, scholars, and statesmen for all sorts of motives. Some desired popular favour, others were sincere, still others sought to win imperial approval. Many, no doubt, even though they had no longer any heart for the ancient faith, yet could not bear to see it abolished. They would agree with Cæcilius that "Since all nations agree to recognise the immortal gods, although their nature or their origin may be uncertain, I cannot endure that any one swelling with audacity and such irreligious knowledge should strive to dissolve or weaken a [96]religion so old, so useful, so salutary."[96:1] Tacitus called Christians "haters of mankind," and assailed their religion as a "destructive superstition."[96:2] Suetonius denounced the new faith as a "poisonous or malignant superstition." Others scoffed at these odd devotees as "dangerous infidels," "enemies of Cæsar and of the Roman people," and "a reprobate, unlawful, desperate faction." Priests, driven on by duty and possibly fearing the loss of their offices, added their sacred voices to the popular clamour.[96:3] Merchants and artists, whose livelihood depended upon the sale of their products and wares to pagan temples and worshippers, raised their voices against the new sect "without altars, without temples, without images, and without sacrifices."[96:4] Then the populace, incited by the above-named classes, took up the opposition and soon spread the wildest reports.[96:5]

Christians were also declared to be responsible for every disaster like war, famine, fire, pestilence, flood, earthquakes, death of prominent persons, etc. The gods, angered at the presence of such persons, sent these dire calamities[96:6] on the atheists, who denied the many gods and worshipped but one, and who discarded all images—even that of the Emperor.[96:7] Did they not adore the wood of a cross and worship [97]the head of an ass?[97:1] Did they not refuse to conform to all religious observances and festivals? Who but dangerous conspirators would hold their meetings in secret at night? These anarchists who refused all civic service[97:2]; these social revolutionists who broke up family ties,[97:3] set slave against master, taught robbery under the guise of equality, refused to enjoy the social games and festivals, and interfered with business; these cannibals who ate the flesh and drank the blood of their infants, the offspring of their incestuous and adulterous carousals—what punishment could be too severe for such degenerates? Were they not a Jewish sect which had deserted the faith of their fathers, and which could command respect neither for age nor legality?[97:4]

The occasion for the inevitable war between the Roman sword and the Christian cross was popular hatred and ridicule, and the frequent outbreaks of the mobs. The fundamental cause was political necessity, for the Christians were guilty of crimen læsæ majestatis, high treason. Christianity in the [98]Roman Empire was somewhat like anarchy to-day in the United States in its relation to the state. The technical charges made against the Christians were: (1) introducing a religio illicita, for which the penalty was death or banishment; (2) committing læsa majestas, for which the penalty was loss of social rank, outlawry, or death by sword, fire, or wild beasts; (3) being guilty of sacrilegium, for which the penalty was death by crucifixion, the ax, or wild beasts; (4) practising magic, for which the penalty was crucifixion, or exposure to wild beasts in the circus.

Both the number and character of the persecutions seem to be misunderstood. The Church Fathers and many later historians magnify the number, fierceness, and duration of the persecutions, and the number killed.[98:1] On the contrary it seems that considerable time elapsed before the Christians were noticed by the government, which then proceeded against them with caution and reluctance and punished them in comparative moderation.[98:2] The Church enjoyed many seasons of rest and peace. The number of Christians killed during the entire period of persecution was comparatively small.[98:3] The persecutions varied with the whims and feelings of each Emperor—the best rulers like Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Decius, and Diocletian, feeling the necessity of upholding the law, were the most energetic persecutors, while the worst Emperors were indifferent, or even favourable. The early persecutions were only spasmodic outbreaks and limited; the later ones were general. There is no [99]reason for giving ten as the number of the persecutions—nor for comparing them with the ten plagues of Egypt.

The first persecution occurred in Rome under Nero in 64 A.D.[99:1] Some historians contend that the Neronian persecution fell upon the Jews, whom Tacitus, writing fifty years after the event, erroneously calls Christians.[99:2] Others maintain that the Jews, through court influence, shifted the punishment from themselves to the Christians.[99:3] Recent scholars, however, are inclined to accept the literal narrative of Tacitus.[99:4] According to his version of the situation, the persecution was accidental—a device of Nero to divert the suspicion directed against himself of having burned Rome—and local, that is, it did not extend to the provinces. A few Christians were tortured and compelled to confess themselves guilty of incendiarism and to give the names of others, and that led to the punishment of an "ingens multitudo" as Nero's scapegoats.[99:5] As a punishment for their alleged crime of incendiarism and "hatred for the human race," they were covered with the skins of wild beasts and torn to pieces by the dogs in the circus, crucified by day, and burned as torches by [100]night.[100:1] Paul, in all likelihood, fell a victim to this persecution and the Roman Church has always believed that Peter also perished at this time.[100:2]

As a result, the attention of the Roman government was directed to these "haters of the human race," and they became branded as outlaws and brigands. Popular fury ran riot. A precedent was established, both in Rome and the provinces, for punishing Christians for the name alone.[100:3] Nevertheless sympathy was won for them, they secretly increased in numbers, and were compelled to adopt a better organisation in order to resist oppression. Above everything else the striking difference between the Kingdom of God and the Empire of Cæsar was strongly marked on the Christian conscience.

After Nero's persecution, under the Flavian Emperors (68-96), there was a standing law against Christianity, like that against brigandage, but it was only occasionally enforced.[100:4] There is no positive proof of persecution under Vespasian (69-79). Titus (79-81), however, continued the policy of Nero.[100:5] Under Domitian (81-96) there was increased severity in both Rome and the provinces. This may have been occasioned in part by the fact that as a result of the Jewish War all toleration for the Jews was withdrawn. Christians were now classed with the hated Jews. Flavius Clemens, the Emperor's cousin, was executed [101]and his beautiful wife Domitilla was banished.[101:1] Many others were killed, compelled to fight wild beasts in the arena, or at least lost their property.[101:2] It was even reported that Domitian planned to have all the relatives of Jesus slain in order to prevent the rise of a possible rival in the east.[101:3]

Of "the Five Good Emperors" (96-180) who succeeded the Flavian rulers, three continued the policy of persecution. The first, Nerva (96-98), was tolerant to the Christians. The next Emperor, Trajan (98-117), one of the best Emperors, was not a wanton persecutor,[101:4] but felt it to be his duty to uphold the laws and religion of the Empire.[101:5] He was really the first Emperor to proceed against Christianity from a purely legal point of view. By this time Christianity was clearly recognised as a distinct sect and its real significance appreciated. His policy may be clearly seen in his correspondence with Pliny, the governor of Bithynia (112).[101:6] No doubt his views were influenced by Tacitus and Pliny, who regarded Christianity as a "bad and immoderate superstition." Still under Trajan persecution was limited to Bithynia, [102]Jerusalem, and Antioch, although Christianity had been formally proscribed everywhere, together with all secret societies. His attitude was the model for persecutions of the second century and later.[102:1]

Hadrian (117-138), who apparently judged Christianity rather trivially, issued the famous rescript which forbade riotous proceedings, on the one hand, and malicious information against the Christians on the other: "If any one, therefore, accuses them and shows that they are doing anything contrary to the laws, do you pass judgment according to the crime. But, by Hercules! if any one bring an accusation through mere calumny, decide in regard to his criminality and see to it that you inflict punishment."[102:2] Hadrian's adopted son and successor, Antoninus Pius (138-161), a wise, upright ruler, interfered to protect Christians at Athens and Thessalonica. His edict, given in Eusebius, is probably spurious, though the spirit may be correct.[102:3] Marcus Aurelius (161-180), an educated Stoic and an excellent Emperor, encouraged persecution against those guilty of "sheer obstinacy." Public calamities had again aroused the mob against the Christians. The imperial decree, "not fit to be executed even against barbarous enemies," authorised the use of torture to discover Christians and to compel them to recant, and also ordered the confiscation of property. This order to seek out [103]Christians, and not await formal complaints, seems to mark a new step in imperial legislation. Still persecution was not general, but confined to Lyons and Vienne in southern Gaul, and to Asia Minor.[103:1]

The period from 180 to 249 saw no essential changes.[103:2] Persecutions were merely local, and depended more upon provincial feeling and the character of the governor, than on the Emperor. Some of the Emperors were friendly to the new religion, others quite hostile. Commodus (180-193), dissolute, timid, and cruel, was friendly to the Christians owing, probably, to the influence of his favourite concubine, Marcia, who may have been a Christian.[103:3] Septimus Severus (193-211), an able soldier, was indifferent to the new faith up to 202, when he issued a rescript forbidding pagans from becoming Christians, and enforced the old Trajan law with considerable severity.[103:4] Caracalla (211-217) and Heliogabalus (218-222), two of the most contemptible Roman rulers, both tolerated Christianity. The former recalled banished Christians; the latter sought to merge Christianity into his own elective system of religion. Alexander Severus (222-235) actually gave Christianity a place in his cosmopolitan faith, had a bust of Jesus set up in his private chapel, allowed churches to be built, and protected the Christians. [104]But Christianity was not legalised. On the contrary, Ulpian, the great jurist, collected for public use in case of need all the imperial laws against the new faith.[104:1] Maximinus the Thracian (235-238), a coarse, brutal, military leader, ordered that all officers of the churches should be "put to death as responsible for the gospel teaching."[104:2] Philip the Arabian (244-248) was reported to be a Christian—at all events Christians were not punished during his rule.[104:3]

The last period of persecution (249-311) was characterised by civil and moral decline in the Empire and by the amazing growth of Christianity, which had become bold and aggressive. It must either be exterminated, or else adopted as the state religion. Hence the Emperors, who sought to restore the old power and splendour of ancient Rome, showed the greatest severity. Decius (249-251) issued the first edict of universal persecution (250) as a political necessity.[104:4] Local officials, under the threat of severe penalties, were required to compel all Christians to conform to the state religion. Christians might flee, but their property was confiscated and their return meant death. The inquisitorial process was employed and penalties were severe, especially for the leaders.[104:5] Decius declared that he would rather hear of the rise of a rival Emperor than of the appointment [105]of a Roman bishop.[105:1] Valerian (253-260) was said at first to be "mild and friendly toward the men of God,"[105:2] but public disasters and the advice of his friends led him to renew the persecutions, so he issued an edict in 257 commanding Christians to conform to the state religion on pain of banishment. The assembly of Christians was forbidden,[105:3] and the bishops were banished. The next year he promulgated a second decree more sanguinary than that of Decius, because it condemned all bishops, priests, and deacons to death.[105:4] Gallienus (260-268) recalled the exiled Christians, restored their church property, and forbade further persecution,[105:5] but Aurelian (270-275) ordered the old laws enforced with renewed vigour.[105:6] His death, however, prevented the execution of the order; and thus the Christians had about forty years of peace.

Under Diocletian (284-305), a warrior statesman, occurred the last, longest, and harshest persecution.[105:7] It was mildest in the West and worst in Syria and Egypt, and endured ten years. This Emperor, apparently, took up the sword very reluctantly. In 287 he issued a decree against the Manichæans in Egypt which was a general condemnation of Christianity. In 295 all soldiers were ordered to sacrifice on pain of expulsion, or, in obstinate cases, execution. In 303 Christians were accused of burning the imperial palace at Nicomedia and suffered accordingly. An [106]imperial edict commanded the churches to "be razed to the ground, the Scriptures destroyed by fire," Christian officials degraded, Christian servants enslaved, bishops imprisoned and forced to sacrifice, and torture employed to compel Christians to conform.[106:1] Everywhere these laws were executed, Eusebius says, with great severity until checked by the edict of limited toleration by Galerius and his co-regents in 311,[106:2] and stopped by the decree of complete toleration granted by Constantine in 313[106:3] after a glorious struggle of 250 years.

The results of the persecutions were very marked and have been both exaggerated and ignored:

1. The growth of Christianity was helped rather than hindered. Persecution advertised the new belief and won sympathy. It created an intense devotion to the cause, proved the truth of the religion, and made a martyr's crown desirable. Tertullian exclaimed: "Go on! rack, torture, grind us to powder; our members increase in proportion as you mow us down. The blood of Christians is their harvest seed. Your very obstinacy is a teacher. For who is not incited by a consideration of it to enquire what there is in the core of the matter? And who, after having joined us, does not long to suffer?" The period of persecution ended with a conquest of the Emperor and a large part of the Empire. The victory was thus a double one.

2. The organisation of the Church was effected. Persecution forced the Church to organise itself more [107]efficiently, produced responsible leaders, who were forced to direct the struggle against Rome and who, as a result, were given pre-eminence by special punishment, and developed the monarchio-episcopal system. The extraordinary development of the power of the Bishop of Rome, in particular, was influenced to a far greater degree than is ordinarily taken into account. Much emphasis has been laid on the fact that that epoch of outlawry ended by the adoption of Christianity by the Empire. A much more important result, however, is found in the fact that Christianity, for weal or woe, adopted the Roman Empire.

3. The Church was kept purer in belief and more united in form. The spiritual was magnified over the temporal. Common oppression joined Christians in common sympathy. The differences between Christianity and paganism were emphasised. With death over their heads the Christians thought little of life here but much of that hereafter and regulated their lives accordingly. Still the growing consciousness that the Church was a world-wide institution must have been powerfully stimulated. With the evolution of the idea of Christian unity appeared the conspicuous leadership of the Roman Church. Irenæus (d. 202) could declare that it was "a matter of necessity that every church should agree with this church, on account of its pre-eminent authority." Tertullian (c. 220) also recognised the distinction of the Roman Church, though later he questioned the validity of the Petrine claim. It was left to Cyprian (d. 258) to give the first complete account of the Universal or Catholic Church in his work on the Unity of the Church.

[108]4. Persecution produced a group of extraordinary literary defenders like the apologists, controversialists, and letter writers, and helped to develop the fundamental, orthodox Christian doctrine. It also produced much legendary poetry; and out of this baptism of blood was created the heroic age of the Church, based partly on fact and partly on fiction.

5. The forms of worship were modified, the worship of saints and relics was originated, and the priesthood was sanctified and set above the laity.

6. An example was furnished for later persecutions of the pagans, Mohammedans, Jews, and heretics.

Sources


FOOTNOTES:

[91:1] Hardy, 1-18.

[91:2] Examples: Cybele, Bellona, Magna Mater.

[91:3] Examples: Cult of Isis excluded from Rome 58 B.C. (Tertullian, Apol.). Temples of Isis and Serapis destroyed 50 B.C. (Dion Cassius, xi., 47). Repeated measures later. Jews expelled from Rome.

[92:1] Neander, i., 89; Fisher, 30. Caligula, it seems, expelled the Jews from Rome; Claudius (41-54) first forbade their assembling (Dion Cassius, 60, 6) and then sought to drive them out of the capital (Orosius, Hist., 7, 6.)

[92:2] For individuals like Stephen, Acts vii., 58; James, Acts xii., 2; Peter, Acts iv.; xii., 3; Paul, Acts ix., 23, 24; xiv., 5, 19; xvii., 13; xxiii., 12; xvi., 23; xxii., 24. For masses see Acts viii., 1-4; Acts xxvi., 10-12; Clement, Recognitions, i., ch. 53, 71; Justin Martyr, 1 Apol., ch. 36; Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 16, 39, 96, 115.

[92:3] Hurst, i., 153.

[92:4] Acts, xviii., 14, 15; xxi., 31, 32; xxiv., 1-27; xxv., 14; xxvi., 32; Uhlhorn, 238.

[92:5] Origen, Against Celsus, iii., 1-3.

[93:1] Concerning Laws, i., pt. 2, ch. 8. This was also the ancient principle of the XII. Tables.

[93:2] Bk. iii., ch. 4, par. 1.

[93:3] See Tertullian and Celsus.

[94:1] Address reported by Dion Cassius.

[94:2] Ramsay, 356.

[94:3] Uhlhorn, Conflict of Christ. with Heathenism, 231.

[95:1] Uhlhorn, Conflict of Christ. with Heathenism, 234.

[95:2] Gibbon, ii., bk. 3, ch. 16.

[95:3] Uhlhorn, 224; Moeller, i., 81.

[96:1] Octav., c. 8.

[96:2] Annales, xv., c. 44.

[96:3] Alzog, i., 257.

[96:4] Acts xix., 24 ff.; Pliny, Ep., x., 97; Neander, i., 92.

[96:5] For a detailed statement of the accusations read the apologies of Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Tertullian, and Origen.

[96:6] Cyprian, To Demetrianus, 1; Origen, Against Celsus, iii., ch. 16; Tertullian, Apol., ch. 40; To Nations, 9; Alzog, i., 261.

[96:7] Justin Martyr, Apol., i., ch. 6, 13, 17; Arnobius, Against Gentes, iii., ch. 28.

[97:1] A crucifix with the head of an ass and body of a man was actually dug up in Rome and is now exhibited in a museum there. In Tertullian's day there was circulated a picture of a man with the ears of an ass, clothed in a toga, holding a book, and with these words beneath: "The God of the Christians" (Apol., 16; Ad. Nat., 11, 14; Tacitus, Hist., v., 3). In the Palace of the Cæsars a rough sketch of a crucified man with an ass's head was found (Hist. Photographs, No. 107, Oxf., 1870; Univ. Quart., July, 1879, p. 338).

[97:2] Origen, Against Celsus, viii., ch. 75; Apol., ch. 29, 35, and 39; Tertullian, Concerning Idol., ch. 17; De Cor. Mil., i., c. 15.

[97:3] Cf. Luke, xxi., 16.

[97:4] Hence all the hatred and prejudice of the Romans for the Jews were turned against the Christians. Gibbon, ii., 6; Gieseler, i., p. 101.

[98:1] Origen declared that the number of Christian martyrs was small and easily counted. Celsum, c. 3.

[98:2] Gibbon, ii., ch. 16; Uhlhorn, 234, 235.

[98:3] Moeller, i., 193.

[99:1] Tacitus, Ann., xv., 44. It seems to be very probable that persecutions by the Roman government occurred earlier than this. 1 Pet.; Rev. ii., 13; xx., 4.

[99:2] Schiller, Lipsius, and Hausrath.

[99:3] Notably Merivale.

[99:4] Hardy, Uhlhorn, Ramsay, Allard, and Harnack.

[99:5] E. Th. Klette, Nero and the Christians, who relies for his conclusions on sources prior to Tacitus, repudiates the scapegoat theory. He contends that Nero, influenced by Jewish intrigue, publicly punished the Christians as Christians and because of the popular suspicions against them, so as to make it appear that the burning of Rome was due to the wrath of the gods.

[100:1] Juvenal, Sat., i., 155 ff.; Seneca, Ep., 14; Clement, To Corinth, 6; Euseb., ii., c. 25; Orosius, vii., c. 7. Cf. Ramsay, Ch. in Rom. Emp. 226 ff.

[100:2] Sulp. Severus, Chron. ii., c. 29; Transl. and Rep., iv., 6.

[100:3] Mommsen, Sandy, Hardy, Ramsay.

[100:4] Mommsen, v., 523 n.

[100:5] Sulp. Severus, Chron., ii., c. 30, 6; Transl. and Rep., iv., 6-8.

[101:1] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., iii., c. 18; Dion Cass., lxvii., c. 14.; Suet., Dom., c. 15; Transl. and Rep., iv., 6.

[101:2] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., iv., 26.

[101:3] Hegesippus, quoted in Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., iii., c. 20; Tertullian; Clement of Rome, 1st Epistle.

[101:4] Melito of Sardica (c. 170), Lactantius, Eusebius, and the mediæval writers generally held that he was rather favourable to Christians.

[101:5] Gieseler, Aubé, Overbeek, Uhlhorn, Keim and Renan held that Trajan began a new era unfavourable to Christians but Lightfoot, Hardy, and Ramsay explain it on the ground of political expediency.

[101:6] Pliny wrote sixty letters to Trajan and Trajan made forty-eight replies. These have all been translated into English. Read letters 96 and 97. See Transl. and Rep., iv., No. 1, p. 8.

[102:1] For an excellent discussion of the significance of the Trajan prosecutions, see Ramsay, Ch. in Rom. Emp., 190-225.

[102:2] Authenticity of this document is doubted by Baur, Klein, Lipsius, Overbeek, Aubé, McGiffert, etc., but defended by Ramsay, Lightfoot, Mommsen, Allard, Funk, Ranke, Uhlhorn, Moeller, etc. See Transl. and Rep., iv., No. 1, p. 10.

[102:3] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., iv., c. 13, 26; Tertullian; Harnack, article on Pius in Herzog-Hauck, Real Encyc.

[103:1] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., v., c. 1; Transl. and Rep., iv., No. 1, p. 11.

[103:2] This period saw seventeen different Emperors.

[103:3] See Eusebius on this reign, Eccl. Hist., v., c. 9-24.

[103:4] Clement of Alexandria wrote: "Many martyrs are daily burned, crucified, and beheaded before our eyes." Origen's father was among them. At Scillite in Numidia 200 suffered. Transl. and Rep., iv., No. 1, p. 20. At Carthage two young women were given to wild beasts. Tertullian refers to other persecutions. Euseb., Eccl. Hist., vi., c. 1, 7.

[104:1] Moeller, i., 191.

[104:2] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., vi., c. 28; Origen, On Martyrdom.

[104:3] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., vi., c. 34.

[104:4] The text of this decree has been lost. Two later decrees were issued—the first exiling Church officers, the second condemning them to death. See Gregg, The Decian Persecution.

[104:5] Read Cyprian, Concerning the Lapsed, iii., c. 8, for the most vivid account; Transl. and Rep., iv., No. 1, p. 21.

[105:1] Cyprian, Ep. to Antonian.

[105:2] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., vii., c. 10; Gregg, The Decian Persecution.

[105:3] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., vii., c. 11.

[105:4] Cyprian, Ep., 81; Transl. and Rep., iv., No. 1, 20, 22, 23.

[105:5] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., vii., c. 13 ff.

[105:6] Transl. and Rep., iv., No. 1, p. 26.

[105:7] Mason, The Persecution of Diocletian.

[106:1] Transl. and Rep., iv., No. 1, p. 26; Euseb., Eccl. Hist., viii.-x.; Uhlhorn, 407.

[106:2] Transl. and Rep., iv., No. 1, p. 28; Euseb., Eccl. Hist., viii., 17.

[106:3] Transl. and Rep., iv., No. 1, p. 29.


[112]

CHAPTER VII
TRANSITION OF THE CHURCH UNDER CONSTANTINE

Outline: I.—Condition of the Empire in 300. II.—How Constantine became Emperor. III.—Constantine's conversion to Christianity. IV.—Constantine's favours to Christianity. V.—Constantine's character. VI.—Constantine's historical significance. VII.—Sources.

To understand the great changes that took place in the Christian Church under Constantine, it is necessary to keep distinctly in mind both the status of Christianity, on the one hand, and the general conditions of the Empire, on the other.

In territorial extent the Empire still formed a huge fringe around the Mediterranean Sea and had lost but little of its vastness under Trajan (98-117). Under Diocletian (284-305) the Empire became an undisguised oriental despotism. The administration was divided between two Augusti, each of whom had an associate, called Cæsar. This division of rule, with its increased expense, aroused much jealousy and discontent, and greatly weakened the Empire. As many as six rival Emperors appeared at once, and out of the rivalry emerged Constantine the Great as the sole ruler of the Empire. Wars with the Persians in the east and with the barbarians on the north accelerated the declining political morality. At the same time social classes became more marked, and moral standards lower. Schools were neglected, literature became [113]superficial, poetry lost its voice, and oratory declined. Paganism, largely a form of patriotism and national festivity, still numbered many adherents, but it was not deeply rooted in their hearts.

Christianity, in the face of outlawry and severe persecution, had spread steadily and marvellously, and particularly among the substantial people of the Empire.[113:1] It is difficult to estimate the number of Christians because few records were left and the number of real believers was much larger than the professed adherents. The earlier estimates are probably too low. After more careful investigation, 30,000,000 may be safely given as indicating the numerical strength of the new creed.[113:2] When Constantine the Great appeared, therefore, old pagan Rome was declining, while a new Christian Rome was rapidly rising. Christianity would undoubtedly have gained the victory sooner or later had Constantine not appeared as its champion.

Constantine was born about 274 at Naïssus, in Upper Moesia. His father was Constantius Chlorus, a nephew of Emperor Claudius, the conqueror of the Goths, who was selected as Cæsar of the West possibly because of his imperial connection. His mother was Helena, the daughter of an innkeeper, and not the fabled English princess. She was only a concubine, who, however, was made a legal wife after the birth of Constantine.[113:3] She was a Christian, it seems, and [114]no doubt taught the new faith to both her husband and son.[114:1]

Constantine's education was gained mostly in court circles and on the battle-field. As a boy he was instructed in the schools of Drepanum in Cilicia, his mother's birthplace, later changed to Helenapolis. Little is known about this phase of his training, and there are reasons for believing that it was not very comprehensive. In 292, when Constantine was eighteen, his father became Cæsar of the West, divorced his mother, and sent him to be educated as a sort of hostage at the court of Diocletian at Nicomedia. There he acquired his preliminary military training and political education. With Diocletian he made an expedition to Egypt via Palestine (296) and the next year joined Galerius in a campaign against the Persians. He soon won a reputation as a bold warrior, and became a popular leader. Indeed his superior ability aroused the jealousy of Galerius, who purposely exposed him to the gravest dangers, thus hoping to get rid of him. After his military success, he was made tribune of the first rank. Skilled in the art of politics at the court of the Eastern rulers, and having won his spurs in battle, he expected to be elevated to the office of Cæsar, when Diocletian resigned in 305, but was defeated by Galerius, who succeeded Diocletian as Augustus, and chose his own nephew as Cæsar. This was a keen disappointment to young Constantine.[114:2]

In 305, Constantius Chlorus succeeded Maximian, who had resigned by agreement with Diocletian, as [115]Augustus of the West, and, since there was no reason why an Augustus should leave his son as hostage at the court of an equal, he demanded the return of Constantine. Galerius reluctantly consented, but before the official permit was executed, Constantine, fearing treachery, fled at night, maimed the post-horses to prevent pursuit, and reached Boulogne just in time to go with his father to Britain.[115:1]

After an easy conquest of Britain, Constantius Chlorus died at York (July, 306), having named his son as his successor, whereupon the soldiers immediately saluted Constantine as Augustus.[115:2] Although this was the ancient practice, and Constantine was eligible for the office both by heredity and by preparation, still, constitutionally, the nomination rested with Galerius, who, enraged at the usurpation, and also at Constantine's shrewd diplomatic letter, allowed him only the title of Cæsar.[115:3] No man in the Empire was better fitted by age, appearance, previous training, and ability, for the higher office. Backed by his army, Constantine continued his father's policy to defend the Gauls against the Franks and Germans, and to develop the prosperity of the country. He married Maximian's daughter (307) as a diplomatic precaution and was recognised by him as Augustus. Meanwhile Maxentius, the son of Maximian, who, discovered in conspiracy, had committed suicide, had assumed the imperial purple at Rome and now took his father's death as a pretext for war against Constantine.[115:4] Encouraged by a Roman [116]embassy, Constantine at once hastily marched toward Rome and at Milvian Bridge defeated his rival, who was drowned in the Tiber (312). Constantine was now sole Emperor of the West. In 324 Licinius was defeated in the East and Constantine had become Emperor of the united Roman Empire.

Constantine's connection with Christianity marks a new epoch in the history of the Church. Under him the new faith was legalised, emancipated, protected, and given lands and buildings. Constantine's mother, who was a Christian, probably gave him his first favourable impressions of the outlawed religion. As a boy he must have heard it discussed as a topic for both light and serious conversation. At the court of Diocletian and Galerius he saw the edict of persecution proclaimed in 303 and must have witnessed the action of Christians under martyrdom, noticed their marvellous growth in the face of outlawry and punishment, and perhaps came to look with some favour upon their teachings. When he succeeded his father as Emperor of the West, he continued his father's policy of toleration and let Diocletian's edict of persecution fall as a dead letter.[116:1]

Tradition tells us that Constantine was converted to Christianity suddenly by a miracle. One day, during the conflict with Maxentius at Milvian Bridge, he and his whole army saw a bright cross in the heavens with this inscription in Greek on it: "In this sign, conquer." In a dream that night Christ appeared to him and commanded him to use the emblem of the cross as his battle ensign, and promised him victory in consequence. Constantine immediately had the [117]costly labarum made to be carried before his army and with it at Milvian Bridge, ten miles from Rome, he vanquished his foe.[117:1]

Three theories have been proposed to explain the spectacle of the cross: 1. That it was a genuine miracle, supported by the following facts: (a) Eusebius, who gives us the first account, had all the evidence directly from Constantine himself under oath; (b) Constantine's whole army "witnessed the miracle and put the emblem on their shields"[117:2]; (c) Socrates says the original standard could still be seen in his day.[117:3] The older historians all upheld the miracle, although few scholars to-day take that view.[117:4] 2. That it was a natural phenomenon coloured by Constantine's imagination, or an optical illusion, or a dream.[117:5] 3. That it was a pious fraud, deliberately invented either by Constantine, or by Eusebius.[117:6] Whatever the theories may be, the fact remains that for some reason Constantine invoked the aid of the Christian's God, and carried the Christian emblem in front of his troops to one victory after another until he became sole ruler of the Empire. If it was merely experimenting with the [118]name and cross of Jesus, the experiment brought convincing belief, for the sacred emblem was employed in all later military campaigns.

The triumph over Maxentius at Milvian Bridge was a great victory for Christianity. Constantine had a statue of himself with a cross in his hands set up in Rome. An inscription on it stated that through Christianity the glory and freedom of Rome had been restored.[118:1] Henceforth Constantine extended imperial aid and protection to the Christians and a new era was opened in the history of the Christian Church. He endowed and enlarged Christian churches in Rome and later elsewhere[118:2]; he wrote letters in behalf of Christians in Africa[118:3]; he made Christian bishops, like Hosius, Lactantius, and Eusebius, his trusted political advisers; and he enacted laws legalising the new faith and protecting its adherents.

The edict of limited toleration passed by Galerius in 311, in conjunction with Constantine and Licinius, was very unsatisfactory. The Christians might rebuild their churches but were required to pray for the Emperor.[118:4] A decided preference was shown to paganism since no person was free to leave his own religion and join another. This was a great hardship, for many Romans were Christians at heart and were only waiting for permission to join the new Church openly.[118:5] To meet the new conditions and to afford the needed relief, Constantine, jointly with Licinius, [119]in 313 issued the Edict of Milan, the Magna Charta of religious liberty. It was promulgated in Greek and Latin over the whole Empire as imperial law. It did not make Christianity the state religion, as is generally asserted, but only legalised it, and popularised it. Now people could and did openly desert the old and join the new faith. Persecutions were forbidden under severe penalties. Exiles were recalled. Confiscated property was restored with compensation to the possessor. All Romans were exhorted to worship the Christian God. This famous edict was significant, because it put Christianity on an equality with paganism; gave it opportunity for public organisation, thus paving the way for the Catholic hierarchy already begun; and marks a new era in the history of the Christian Church, because at last a great Roman Emperor and his conquering army had taken up the sword in defence of persecuted Christianity.[119:1]

The proclamation of emancipation and protection was followed by other acts which clearly show that Constantine meant to favour and control the new religion. The Christian clergy were exempted from military and municipal duties[119:2]—a favour already enjoyed by pagan priests and even Jewish rabbis (March, 313). The Church Council of Arles was convoked (314). The emancipation of Christian slaves was facilitated (315). Various customs and ordinances offensive to Christians were abolished (316). Bequests to churches [120]were legalised (321). The cessation of civic business on Sunday was enjoined, but as a "dies Solis" (321).[120:1] The heathen symbols of Jupiter, Apollo, Mars, and Hercules were removed from imperial coins (323). In defeating Licinius (324), a bitter reactionist, Constantine felt that he was waging war in behalf of Christianity.[120:2] In 324 Constantine issued a general exhortation to all Romans to embrace the new creed for the common weal. The highest dignities were opened to Christians. Gifts and remission of taxes enriched their churches. A craze for buildings led to the erection of churches at various sacred spots in the Holy Land, at Nicomedia, in Constantinople, in Rome, and elsewhere. Fifty costly manuscripts of the Bible were ordered prepared for the leading churches. The Council of Nicæa was held in 325, the Arian schism healed, and the first written creed given the Church. Finally, by divine command, as it was said, Constantine removed his capital from old pagan Rome to Byzantium, the new Christian Rome, which was renamed Constantinople (326). This left Christianity in the West, already strong and active, to organise itself under the guidance of the Bishop of Rome, and powerfully aided the evolution of the papal hierarchy. In the East, under imperial protection, the spread and organisation of the popular belief was phenomenal.

Paganism was still legal, however; its institutions were not attacked and the privileges of its priests were confirmed. Nevertheless the triumphs of Christianity were all won at the expense of paganism. As the new faith arose the old sank, yet not without many a [121]desperate and even noble effort to persist. Individual cults which were either immoral or offensive, like that of Venus in Phœnicia, Æsculapius at Ægæ, and the Nile-priests at Heliopolis, were prohibited.[121:1] Private haruspices were forbidden. There is even some evidence of a general edict against sacrifices.[121:2] All of these things indicate the passing away of the old order and the birth of the new.

Opinion about Constantine's character takes two extreme views. On the one hand it is held that in 312 Constantine, like Paul, was miraculously converted to Christianity and that from that day forth he was a saint incarnate. Eusebius, and later panegyrists like Mosheim, are responsible for this picture. To this day the Greek churches celebrate his memory as St. "Equal of the Apostles." On the other hand it is asserted that he was nothing but a shrewd politician, able to read the signs of the times, who assumed an outward connection with Christianity solely for political expediency. Zosimus, a pagan historian, gives the worst account, ascribing to him the basest motive for every deed. Keim calls him a political trickster, and Burckhardt styles him a "murdering egoist" and "politischer Rechner" without a spark of Christianity.[121:3]

Was Constantine a Christian? The query is a difficult one to answer because ten men would each give a different definition of the essentials of a Christian. The favourable evidence will be considered first. Constantine's activity in behalf of the new religion, already mentioned, shows at least his sympathy for it [122]and no doubt his belief in it. His imperial laws, improving woman's condition, mitigating slavery, abolishing crucifixion as a method of punishment, and caring for the unfortunate, breathe forth the spirit of Christian justice and humanity.[122:1] He tried to convert his subjects to Christianity through Christian governors in the provinces, by letters and sermons, by rewarding towns for converting temples into churches, and by conforming to Christian worship. He diligently attended divine services, had a stated hour and place for prayer, fasted, kept Easter vigils with great devotion, and even invited his subjects to hear him preach on the folly of paganism and about the truth of Christianity. He exerted every effort to make Constantinople a Christian city—churches replaced altars, the imperial palace was adorned with biblical scenes,[122:2] gladiatorial combats were prohibited, and the smoke of public sacrifice never rose from the hills of New Rome.[122:3] The imperial treasury was lavishly used to support Christianity.[122:4] Constantine's sons were given a Christian education. He believed in the efficacy of baptism, even though he did postpone it to the end of his life—a common practice to wash away all sins. Besides he wished to be baptised in the river Jordan where Jesus himself was baptised. In 337 he was received into the Church as a catechumen, promised to live worthily as a follower of Jesus, was baptised, and wore the white baptismal robe till he died.[122:5]

[123]The unfavourable evidence submitted leads to the conclusion, held by some historians, that Constantine's conversion was not genuine, but due to hypocrisy, superstition, or policy. He retained the title Pontifex Maximus, head of the old religion. The Edict of Milan protected paganism and he continued that policy. After defeating Maxentius at Milvian Bridge he had his triumphal arch erected. The original inscription said that he triumphed over his rival by the favour of Jupiter. But these words were later erased and the neutral phrase "instinctu Divinitas" substituted.[123:1] In Rome he restored pagan temples and said: "You who consider it profitable to yourselves, continue to visit the public altars and temples and to observe your sacred rites."[123:2] Even in Constantinople temples were erected to the gods. The laws of 319 show that sacrifice still existed—at least in private houses.[123:3] Pagan emblems were continued on imperial coins till 330. Constantine, as Pontifex Maximus, continued to attend the sacred games connected with the pagan religion,[123:4] and even used pagan rites along with Christian to dedicate his new capital.[123:5] In 321 he ordered that when lightning should strike the imperial palace, or any public building, the soothsayers should be consulted to determine the cause as of old. The same year he employed heathen magic to heal diseases, to protect crops, to prevent rain and hail, etc.[123:6] He retained many pagans at court and in public office, and was very [124]intimate with pagan philosophers like Sopater.[124:1] In no document did he formally renounce paganism and declare himself a Christian. He was guilty of weakness and crimes inconsistent with a Christian life. He was vain, suspicious, despotic, and gained his ambitious ends through bloody wars. He was undoubtedly guilty of murdering Licinius, his brother-in-law, contrary to a sacred pledge; Licinius, the younger, his nephew, a boy of eleven; Crispus, his eldest son, on the ground of treasonable conspiracy; and Fausta, his wife, for adultery.[124:2] To wipe away these sins, and many others, he accepted at the close of his life the Christian rite of baptism. After his death the Senate voted to place him among the gods.[124:3]

After weighing all evidence, these historical conclusions may be drawn:

1. Constantine was primarily a statesman, and wisely used both paganism and Christianity to unite his Empire and to build up his autocratic power. He was Pontifex Maximus, not alone of paganism, but of all religions.[124:4] The grateful Christians heartily granted that leadership. Up to 323 he kept the two religions equally balanced, but to do so he was forced to favour Christianity most. After 323 he depressed paganism and exalted Christianity. Toward the end of his life he showed a tendency to forcibly suppress the old religion.

2. Constantine was a Christian, but not as a result of a miracle at Milvian Bridge. His conversion was a gradual result of many influences. Training at his [125]Christian mother's knee, paternal instruction, his youthful observations at the Eastern imperial court, a growing belief in monotheism, his discontent with the faith of his fathers and a proneness toward sun-worship, and his religious philosophy, which led him to look at Christianity as a system of thought rather than a life creed—a law, not a faith—a world-force of purity and simplicity—all these factors produced within him a growing comprehension of the truth, power, and beauty of Christianity. The cross in the sky and the consequent victories led to a conviction that God had selected him as the champion of the new creed, "the bishop of bishops." Contact with the leading Christians in the Empire, men of heart and brains, greatly increased his admiration for Christianity and interest in it. Just when he became a Christian no one can say, but that he died a sincere believer one can hardly doubt.[125:1]

3. He was a product of his age. He was actuated by both religious and political motives and was not merely an artful politician. It was not an easy thing to be a Roman Emperor and at the same time a Christian. He was guilty of grave crimes, but they were the result of gusts of passion, like those of Peter the Great, and not of constitutional depravity. Nor do these sins appear so enormous when considered in the light of his long, useful career, the dynastic difficulties confronting him, and the morality of many Christian leaders of the day. It must not be forgotten that he was a converted heathen, that the Christian code had not yet become the moral code, and that the integrity of the Empire stood above family ties and even religious demands.

[126]4. He made his age the beginning of a new era. He enabled Christianity to become the moulding spirit of Western civilisation. He was the first representative of that theoretical Christian theocracy which makes the Church and state two sides of God's government on earth. The Church and state were to remain united throughout all the succeeding ages to the present time. Even Protestant nations adopted the principle. Among the most noteworthy exceptions to-day are the United States, Italy, and, but recently, France. He founded the Byzantine Empire and bears the same relation to the East that Charles the Great does to the West. He gave the Church its first unity in organisation, its first universal council, and its first written creed. He stamped his own character on his age and made it greater and happier. He has continued to live through succeeding centuries by reason of what he was and what he did. For all these reasons, judged by achievement, the world unites in calling him "the Great."[126:1]

5. Historically, Constantine's significance lies not in the fact that he was a Christian, personally, but that he for the first time endowed the new religion with that worldly power which made it for over one thousand years the most powerful moral, social, and political agency the world has seen. Constantine the Great was succeeded by Charles the Great, and he in turn by Otto the Great. On the ruins of the Christianised Roman Empire arose the Roman Empire of the Germans, and in this the work of Constantine was really completed. Not until the Reformation and the Modern Age did the cry arise that the work of Constantine must be undone.

[127]Constantine's three sons and successors continued his policy. Laws were passed favourable to Christianity. Paganism was still tolerated, but the tendency to suppress it had developed into a fixed policy. Sacrifices were forbidden on pain of death and confiscation in 352.[127:1] The persecuted, in turn, became the persecutors. "Emperors!" one of the Christian leaders advised, "the temples must be overthrown and utterly destroyed in order that the pernicious error may no longer pollute the Roman world. The Supreme God has committed the Government to you, so that you may cure this cancer." Pagan temples were converted into Christian churches. Unity of worship and unity of imperial rule were declared to be essential. Pagan opposition to religious unity under the Emperor was now interpreted as treason just as Christianity was so regarded before 311. Thus identified with the Empire, Christianity became the popular dominant faith. Rome and Alexandria alone clung to the old gods.[127:2]

Under Julian (361-363), a nephew of Constantine the Great, paganism made one last supreme effort for mastery. The reaction was inspired by Neo-Platonism, by the personal devotion of Julian to the classical faith, and by the hope of securing a stronger imperial unity through the supremacy of paganism. Julian did not openly persecute Christianity, but treated it very much as Constantine did paganism. Had he lived longer, nevertheless, harsher measures might have been employed. He seemed to feel that he was swimming against the tide, however, and fell in battle [128]against the Persians (363) saying, "Thou hast conquered, Galilean."[128:1]

Julian's sudden death with one stroke precipitated the decline and fall of paganism. His successor, Jovian (363-364), a Christian, restored Christianity to imperial and popular favour.[128:2] The legal toleration of all religions continued under Valentinian I. (d. 375) and Valens (d. 378). Emperor Gratian (375-383) began the repression of paganism in the West, and Valentinian II. (383-392) continued it, while Theodosius I. (378-395) pursued the same policy in the East, and forcibly suppressed paganism.[128:3] The edict of 380 constituted Christianity the exclusive religion of the whole Empire. "We command all who read this law to embrace the name of Catholic Christians, deciding that all other idiots and madmen should bear the infamy attaching to their heretical opinions, and as they will first meet with the penalty of divine vengeance, so they will afterwards receive that condemnation at our hands which the Heavenly Judge has empowered us to administer."[128:4] The new faith had won a famous victory. Even the old Roman Senate, the last refuge of paganism, voted that the religion of Jesus was true.

Sources


FOOTNOTES:

[113:1] Orr, Neglected Factors, 95-163; Ramsay, Ch. in Rom. Emp., 57.

[113:2] Orr, Neglected Factors, 23-91.

[113:3] Zosimus, ii., 8; St. Ambrose, Migne, iii., 1209. For the fable about the English princess read Geoffrey of Monmouth and Pierre de Langloft. This tale was used by Baronius. It must be remembered that concubinage was a state recognised by Roman law, and was by no means in itself a sign of depravity.

[114:1] Eusebius, Life of Constantine, iii., ch. 47, leads one to believe that Constantine converted his mother to Christianity. Cf. Hamza Ispaheus, p. 55.

[114:2] Lactantius, Death of Persecutors, ch. 24.

[115:1] Zos., ii., 8; Euseb., Life of Const., i., ch. 121.

[115:2] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., viii., ch. 13; Life of Const., ii., ch. 22.

[115:3] Lactantius, Death of Persecutors, ch. 25. Galerius recognised Severus as Augustus of the West.

[115:4] Galerius meanwhile was induced to recognise Constantine as Augustus in 308.

[116:1] Lactantius, Death of Persecutors, ch. 24; Euseb., Life of Const., i., ch. 14, 16, 17, 27.

[117:1] Euseb., Life of Const., i., ch. 28-31; Sozomen, i., ch. 3; Socrates, i., ch. 2; Lactantius, Death of Persecutors, ch. 44.

[117:2] Euseb., Life of Const., i., ch. 28; Sozomen, i., ch. 3.

[117:3] Socrates, i., ch. 2.

[117:4] Döllinger; J. H. Newman; Guericke, Uhlhorn, etc.

[117:5] Supported by best modern critical writers like Schroeck, Neander, Gieseler, Mansi, Milman, Keim, Heinicken, Schaff, Harnack, etc. For like examples see Whymper, Scrambles among the Alps, ch. 22; Gieseler, i., § 56; Stanley, 288; Peary, Narrative of an Attempt to Reach the North Pole, 99, 100; Seymour, The Cross in Tradition, 103 ff.

[117:6] This theory is defended by Gibbon, Lardner, Waddington, Burckhardt, Hoornbeeck, Thomasius, Arnold, etc. They seem to ignore all proofs.

[118:1] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., ix., ch. 9; Life of Const., i., ch. 40. The triumphal arch was not set up till 315.

[118:2] Euseb., Life of Const., i., ch. 42.

[118:3] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., x., ch. 5, 7.

[118:4] Ibid., Eccl. Hist., viii., 17; edict given in Transl. and Reprints, iv., No. 1, p. 28. Cf. Lactantius, ch. 34, 35.

[118:5] Neander, ii., 12, 13.

[119:1] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., x., 5. The Edict of Milan is given in Transl. and Reprints, iv., No. 1, p. 29. It is thought by some that the Edict of Milan refers to an edict issued by Constantine in 312 but now lost. That possibility seems very doubtful. Cf. Lactantius, ch. 48.

[119:2] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., x., ch. 7; Sozom., i., 9; Cod. Theod., xvi., 2, 1, 2, 3.

[120:1] Cod. Justin., iii., tit. 12, 1, 3.

[120:2] Moeller, i., 298. He at once issued edicts of toleration for Christians in the East. Euseb., Life of Const., ii., ch. 24 ff.

[121:1] Euseb., Life of Const., iii., ch. 55, 56, 58; iv., ch. 25, 37, 38.

[121:2] Ibid., ii., ch. 44, 45; iii., ch. 56, 58; iv., ch. 25.

[121:3] For further opinions of like character read Brieger, Flasch, Baur, etc.

[122:1] Sozom., i., 8; Cod. Theod. and Cod. Justin are full of these instances.

[122:2] Euseb., Life of Const., iii., ch. 3, 49; iv., ch. 15.

[122:3] Ibid., ii., ch. 44, 45; iii., ch. 48; iv., ch. 24.

[122:4] Ibid., ii., ch. 45; iii., 33-39, 41, 42, 43, 48, 58; iv., 28, 58-60.

[122:5] Brooks, Date of the Death of Constantine; Euseb., Life of Const., iv., 62-64.

[123:1] Dyer, City of Rome, 312.

[123:2] Cod. Theod., xii., i., 21; v., 2; Neander, ii., 20.

[123:3] Ibid., 19.

[123:4] Cod. Theod., ix., 16, 1, 2; Zos., ii., ch. 29.

[123:5] Zos., ii., ch. 31; Moeller, i., 299.

[123:6] Neander, ii., 20, 21.

[124:1] Euseb., Life of Const., ii., ch. 44.

[124:2] This last charge is now discredited by some authorities.

[124:3] Eutropius, Breviarium, x., 4.

[124:4] Euseb., Life of Const., iv., ch. 24.

[125:1] Cutts, Const. the Great, 419.

[126:1] See Cutts, Const. the Great, 128.

[127:1] Cod. Theod., xvi., 10, 4.

[127:2] Gieseler, i., § 75.

[128:1] Negri, Julian the Apostate, 2 vols., N. Y., 1905; King, Julian the Emp., Lond., 1888; Gardner, Julian, Philosopher and Emp., N. Y., 1895; Rendall, The Emperor Julian, Lond., 1879; Sozom., vi., 2; Theodoret, iii., 25.

[128:2] Sozom., vi., 3.

[128:3] Cod. Theod., xvi., 10, 12.

[128:4] Cod. Justin, i., 1, 1.


[131]

CHAPTER VIII
THE COUNCIL OF NICÆA AND ITS RESULTS

Outline: I.—Diversion of Christian thought in the early Church. II.—The Arian controversy. III.—The Council of Nicæa and its actions. IV.—Later history of Arianism. V.—Sources.

Early Christianity was characterised by a remarkable intellectual activity, which was chiefly theological and philosophical. Speculative discussions were rife, particularly in the East, where the different philosophical systems were prominent. Jesus left no definite creed, which all could understand alike.[131:1] The Ante-Nicene period was full of sharp and bitter theological and ecclesiastical antagonisms. Such an epoch of dissension and division the world was not to witness again until the dawn of the Protestant Revolt.

Christian converts came from Judaism, and from various types of paganism, hence at the very outset there was a tendency to create two distinct types of Christianity—the Jewish and the non-Jewish. This lack of unity and uniformity was clearly seen and sneered at by the pagan scholars.[131:2] This was Origen's significant explanation:

[132]Seeing that Christianity appeared an object of veneration to men, and not to the labouring and serving classes alone, but also to many among the Greeks who were devoted to literary pursuits, there necessarily originated sects, not at all as a result of faction and strife, but through the earnest desire of many literary men to enter more profoundly into the truths of Christianity. The consequence was, that understanding differently those things which were considered divine by all, there arose sects, which received their names from men who admired Christianity in its fundamental nature, but from a variety of causes reached discordant views.

Among the heretical sects of the Ante-Nicene period were:

1. The Ebionites,[132:1] who were Judaising Christians as shown in the book of Acts and the Pauline Epistles. They desired to be both Jews and Christians, and ended by being neither. They soon divided up into many sects.[132:2] They lived in and about Palestine for the first three centuries of the Christian era. They believed that God made the world and gave the Mosaic law, which was still essential to salvation; that Jesus was the Messiah, though not divine, only a great man like Moses and David; but they denounced Paul and heroised James and Peter. They observed the Jewish Sabbath, retained the rite of circumcision, and observed the law. In the minds of the great body of orthodox Christians they were regarded as heretics.

2. The Gnostics[132:3] embraced various factions, mostly [133]pagan converts to Christianity, which flourished in Syria, Asia Minor, and Egypt chiefly during the second century. Their ideas can be traced back to Philo's Jewish-Alexandrian philosophy, to Buddhism and Zoroastrianism, and to the old Egyptian religion. Knowledge, above all else, was the one thing desired. Believing in the inherent evil of matter, they sought to account for a bad world without compromising God. Jehovah of the Old Testament was rejected as the Supreme Being. They cast aside all the New Testament except the Pauline Epistles and parts of the Gospels. They professed to apprehend the divine mysteries. Some advocated asceticism, and others gave the utmost license to the flesh. All believed in the idea of the evolution of the world, through Christ, to an ideal state. Although denounced as heretics, they left a marked influence on Christianity. Gnosticism was so speculative, however, that it gave rise to many leaders and creeds.

3. The Manichæans[133:1] accepted Gnosticism minus true Christianity and adopted Oriental dualism under Christian names. Manichæism originated with Mani about 238 in Persia and spread westward over the Christian Church. Its leading principle was absolute dualism—a kingdom of light and one of darkness in eternal opposition, yet brought together by a sort of pantheism. Christianity was accepted, but explained in terms of this dualism. The Old Testament was [134]wholly rejected as well as parts of the New. The elevated priesthood celebrated the secret rites of baptism and communion with solemn pomp, lived as ascetics, possessed no property, and abstained from wine and animal food. This system, claiming to be true Christianity, had a marked influence on both the doctrines and organisation of the Church.[134:1]

4. The Monarchians[134:2] denied the doctrine of the Trinity, but were divided into a number of groups. The Alogoi in the second century rejected all of the Apostle John's works and denied the eternity of the Logos as a person of the Godhead. Theodatus, a leather dealer of Byzantium, went to Rome in 190 and taught that Jesus was a "mere man" till baptism gave him divine attributes. Paul of Samosata, Bishop of Antioch, was excommunicated in 269 for advocating the doctrine that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one person, God. He maintained that Jesus was a divinely begotten man exalted to divine dignity by the Holy Spirit or Logos—an attribute of God. Praxeas of Asia Minor visited Rome about 195 and later preached in Carthage. He held that the Father and Christ were one and attributed the "Passion" to God, hence his party were called the Patripassians. Sabellianism was simply another form of this heresy and helped to precipitate the Arian controversy.

In addition to these four heretical sects there were three distinct reactionary and reforming parties:

[135]1. Montanism[135:1] originated, like so many radical movements, in Asia Minor (150?). Montanus professed to have received a message from the "Paraclete" to reform the growing worldliness and the lax ecclesiastical discipline of the Church. Montanists denounced the innovations introduced into the Church, and sought to return to the simpler and purer doctrines and organisation of the early Church. They preached a universal priesthood of all believers. In exalting virginity, widowhood, and martyrdom, in professing a contempt for the world with all its excesses, and in insisting upon an arbitrary holiness, Montanism was a force paving the way for ascetic Christianity. They accepted all the fundamental principles of the Church, but professed to receive special divine revelations from the "Paraclete," as the Holy Ghost was called. They lived in constant expectation of the coming of the end of the world. Tertullian was their greatest apologist. But both the Christian hierarchy and the imperial power were turned against these reforming puritans. Under Justinian Montanism disappeared (532).

2. The Novatianists[135:2] withdrew from the Church protesting against the readmission of those who through fear deserted the Church in the Decian persecution (249-251). They were strong in North Africa and Asia Minor, and continued until the sixth century, [136]absorbing most of the Montanists. In doctrine and organisation they did not differ from the regular Church, but only on the question of discipline. They also laid unusual stress on the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Their churches were still found in the fifth century in Rome till closed by Innocent I.

3. The Donatists[136:1] grew out of the Montanist opposition to laxity and innovation in the Church and Novatian strictness of discipline. The Donatists denounced the Christians who during the Diocletian persecution delivered up the Scriptures, and tried to drive them out of the Church. The party centred in Carthage and was led by Bishop Donatus. They believed in ecclesiastical purism, held the Church to be an exclusive society of saved sinners, emphasised inner holiness as a qualification of membership, asserted the necessity of baptismal regeneration and infant baptism, said unholy priests could not administer the sacraments, advocated rigid discipline, resisted the union of Church and state, and were organised as a hierarchy. They were very active in the early part of the fourth century, and attempted to secure the support of Constantine. He decided against them and tried to quiet them. Emperor Julian favoured them, but Augustine sought their overthrow. Finally the Vandals swept them away.

The Arian controversy was a natural product of the early differences about the nature of the Godhead and was distinctly connected with the Ebionites, Gnostics, Montanists, and Sabellians. In the Eastern speculation about the mystery of the Holy Trinity, one faction [137]of theorists tended to "refine the Deity into a mental conception"; another to "impersonate Him into a material being." Between these extremes arose the discussion about "the nature and relation between the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."[137:1] Tertullian and Origen both attempted to solve the problem. Dionysius of Alexandria (260), in a contest with the Sabellians, is reported to have declared: "The Son of God is a work and a creature, not appertaining to Him by nature, but as regards His essence, as foreign to the Father as the husbandman to the vine . . . For as a creature, he did not exist before he was produced."[137:2] Dionysius of Rome, backed up by a synod, repudiated that proposition and clearly stated the orthodox Trinitarian view. Origen widened the breach by asserting the eternal divinity of Christ, but at the same time maintaining also His subordination to the Father as a "secondary God." The conflicting schools of theology at Alexandria and Antioch were ready to take sides in the controversy, which reached a crisis at the end of the third century, when all theological thought was focused on this one question.

The controversy broke out in Alexandria in 318.[137:3] Bishop Alexander in a public address insisted on the interpretation of the eternity of the Son. Arius, a presbyter, charged the bishop with Sabellianism, which advocated an undivided Godhead, and held that Christ [138]was a creature of God, hence not coexistent and eternal.[138:1] He and his followers held that God alone was eternal; that He created the Son, or Logos, by His fiat, hence the Son is different in essence and finite; that the Son was created before time was and in turn made the universe and rules it; that the Son is Logos in soul, stands between God and man, and is to be worshipped as the most exalted of creatures, the creator and ruler of the world, and the Redeemer of men. It was contended that all these propositions could be proved beyond dispute from the Bible.[138:2]

Alexander, in a personal interview, sought to stop Arius,[138:3] who was an old priest in control of the most influential church in the city,—a proud, learned, ambitious, and fascinating man,[138:4] who, defeated in his candidacy for the arch-episcopacy of Alexandria,[138:5] began to foment social and religious circles by attacking Alexander. Failing to quiet him, Alexander called a synod to discuss the disputed points, but Arius seemed to carry the day and continued his agitation. Then the bishop commanded Arius and his followers to renounce their "impiety."[138:6] Refusing to obey, Arius was called before a local council in 320 and there excommunicated.[138:7] But Arius now spread his views all the more zealously by conversation, by letters, by sermons, and later, while an exile, in a poetic work called The Banquet. His doctrines pleased the [139]wide-spread rationalism, and hence became very popular. They were put into popular songs and sung everywhere, and became the chief topic of conversation in all social circles. Arius, however, was forced to flee[139:1] to Palestine and thence to Nicomedia, while Alexander drew up his encyclic to all Christian Bishops (323)[139:2] giving the history of the controversy and defending the Trinitarian position.

The eastern part of the Empire broke up into two powerful parties: the Arians and the Trinitarians or Athanasians. "In every city bishops were engaged in obstinate conflict with bishops and people rising against people."[139:3] Theology became mere technology. Staunch partisans came forth as champions on both sides—Eusebius, the Church historian, Eusebius, the Bishop of Nicomedia, Chrysostom, Theodore, and Ephraëm stood for Arianism; while Athanasius, Marcellus, Basil, Cyril, and Blind Didymus became Alexander's supporters. In a short time the whole Eastern Church became a "metaphysical battle-field." Finally both sides appealed to Constantine, who, viewing the contest as a war of words, wrote a common letter and sent it by his court-bishop to both leaders in which he said that the quarrel was childish and unworthy such churchmen; that moreover it was displeasing to him personally, hence they were asked to stop it.[139:4] When this imperial request failed, Constantine summoned the Council of Nicæa to settle the dispute.[139:5]

The Council of Nicæa was summoned by the Emperor [140]for the summer of 325. Constantine's purpose in convening it was to settle by compromise or otherwise religious disputes which might easily become a political danger to the Empire. It was the first universal council of Christendom. Of the two thousand persons in attendance more than three hundred were bishops.[140:1] All of the thirteen provinces in the Empire except Britain were represented.[140:2] All the West, however, sent but six representatives—good proof that the Arian controversy was an Eastern question. The Bishop of Rome was too old to go so he sent two presbyters to represent him.[140:3] Even a few pagan philosophers were attracted to the Council, and actually took part in the discussions.[140:4]

In organising the Council the bishops were seated according to rank.[140:5] Discussions occurred for some time before Constantine arrived. Then the Emperor entered "as a messenger from God, covered with gold and precious stones, a magnificent figure, tall and slender, and full of grace and majesty." He opened the Council with these words: "When I was told of the division amongst you, I was convinced that I ought not to attend to any business before this; and it is from the desire of being useful to you that I have convened you without delay; but I shall not believe my end to be attained until I have united the minds of all, until I see that peace and that union reign amongst you which you are commissioned as the anointed of the [141]Lord to preach to others."[141:1] He took part in the deliberations also and acted as the real head of the Council, though the Spanish Bishop Hosius probably served as the spiritual president.[141:2] Only bishops or their accredited proxies had a vote.

Three distinct parties immediately appeared in the Council: (1) The Arians led by Arius. Twenty bishops with Eusebius of Nicomedia at their head constituted the voting party. (2) The Semi-Arians were led by Eusebius of Cæsarea, the Church historian. They had a majority and were inclined partly to the Arians and partly to the orthodox side. (3) The Trinitarians, or orthodox party, led by Alexander, Hosius, Macarius, Marcellus, and Athanasius. At the outset they were in the minority, but soon came to control the Council.

Unfortunately the authentic minutes of the transactions are not now extant,[141:3] if indeed they ever existed. The Arians, it appears, came to the Council confident of victory because the Emperor's sister Constantia was an avowed Arian, and he himself was supposed to be a sympathiser, since so many scholars about him upheld the doctrine. But when Arius presented his creed signed by eighteen eminent names, it created an uproar, the creed was seized and torn to pieces, and its doctrines repudiated. All the signers but Arius and two bishops then abandoned the project. Eusebius of Cæsarea came forward at this juncture with an old [142]Palestine creed as a compromise.[142:1] It acknowledged the divine nature of Jesus. The Emperor favoured it, and the Arians were willing to accept it, but Athanasius was suspicious and demanded so many changes that when, after two months of solemn discussion, the amended creed was passed,[142:2] Eusebius, the originator, hesitated to sign it. This was a grand triumph for the orthodox party. The Emperor required all bishops to subscribe to it.[142:3] The Semi-Arians did so under protest. Arius and two Egyptian bishops[142:4] refused and were banished to Illyria.[142:5] Arius was publicly excommunicated and his writings ordered burned. The business of the Council concluded, Constantine dismissed it with a splendid feast which Eusebius likened to the kingdom of Heaven.[142:6]

The results of Nicæa were very significant:

1. The Church was given its first written creed, the Nicene Creed—the basis of all later creeds, Greek, Latin, and Evangelical.[142:7] This was the first official definition of the Trinity and has continued to be the orthodox interpretation. The Nicene Creed contains all the cardinal Christian doctrines. It was universally proclaimed as imperial law.

2. Church canons were enacted—the West accepts twenty, the East more—which constitute the basis for [143]the canon law of the Middle Ages.[143:1] These canons indicate the burning questions in the Church at that time.

3. The method of calculating the date for Easter, which differed in Eastern churches and Western churches, was determined.[143:2]

4. This Council, guided, as was believed, by the Holy Ghost, acted as the infallible, sovereign power of the Church and set precedents which later conflicted with the supreme power claimed by the Pope.

5. The development of the papal hierarchy was stimulated. The Bishop of Rome was recognised as the only Patriarch in the West.[143:3] He was soon forced to be the recognised champion of orthodoxy.

6. The Council of Nicæa marks the beginning of the breach between the East and the West which resulted in the first great schism in Christendom.

7. The law of celibacy was almost imposed on the Church.[143:4]

8. Interference in the most vital concerns of the Church was recognised as an imperial prerogative. The Emperor called the Council, presided over its proceedings, acted as mediator between contending factions, forced the Nicene Creed on the Church, fixed the day for celebrating Easter, and approved the first ecclesiastical canons.

9. The various heresies and schisms of the time were condemned. This action threw into prominent relief throughout the Empire the powerful party of [144]orthodox Catholics, who henceforth were to control the destinies of the Church in both its internal and external organisation and evolution.

The condemnation of Arianism was only a temporary victory. Soon Constantine himself was won over by the Arians, invited Arius to his court, and ordered Athanasius, who meanwhile had become Bishop of Alexandria (328), to reinstate Arius in his parish. Athanasius refused to do so, and was condemned and deposed by the councils of Tyre (334) and of Constantinople (335), and exiled by the Emperor to Treves in Gaul. Arius died before he could be recalled (336). Constantine II. restored Athanasius to his see (338), but his brother Constantius and his Arian friends deposed him again (339). Athanasius then fled to Pope Julius at Rome (339), who laid his case before a Western council (341) which vindicated both his creed and his rights. This supreme appellate power assumed by the Bishop of Rome is significantly prophetic.

To heal the Arian conflict, which was again active—this time between the East and the West,—the Council of Sardica was called in 343. The Roman party controlled it, reconfirmed the Nicene Creed, and adopted twelve new canons. The Arians refused to take part and held a rump council. The result was a wider separation of the East and the West.[144:1] Under Constantius, however, the Arian party grew stronger, held the three Arian councils of Sirmium (351), Arles (353), and Milan (355), forced their decrees upon the whole Church, exiled Hosius, Hilary, and Lucifer, drove Athanasius, who had meanwhile once more [145]returned to his office (346), out of his see, and even deposed Pope Liberius[145:1] and elected an Arian Pope, Felix II., in his place. Thus the Arian party seemed triumphant East and West.

But the Arians soon split into bitter factions and began to destroy themselves. Under Emperor Julian they lost imperial favour and saw the Nicene party tolerated. The orthodox faction was thus able to gradually re-win power in the West and South. Theodosius the Great (379-395) externally completed the Nicene conquest of the whole Empire through an imperial edict (380) and by calling the second general Council of Constantinople (381), which ratified the Nicene Creed in a revised form and passed seven additional canons.[145:2] But Arianism lingered long within the Empire, especially among the Teutons, who were slow to accept the Roman faith—the Vandals in 530, the Burgundians in 534, the Suevi in 560, the Goths in 587, and the Longobards in 600.[145:3] It also reappeared again and again in the later heresies on down to the present day.

Sources


FOOTNOTES:

[131:1] Epiphanius, ch. 29, 30, 53.

[131:2] Notably Celsus, who declared that the Christians "were divided and split up into factions, each individual desiring to have his own party."

[132:1] Irenæus, i., ch. 26; Hippolytus, ix., ch. 13-17; Epiphanius, ch. 29, 30, 53; Euseb., Eccl. Hist., iii., ch. 27; Schaff, ii., 420; Neander, i., 341; Moeller, i., 97; various histories of dogma and encyclopedias.

[132:2] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., iii., ch. 27.

[132:3] Irenæus, Against Heresies; Hippolytus, Refutation of all Heresies; Tertullian; Origen; Epiphanius; Gieseler, i., 129; ii., 442; Moeller, i., 129; King, The Gnostics and their Remains; Neander, i., 566; Mansel, The Gnostic Heresies; Baur, i., 185; Bright, Gnosticism and Irenæus.

[133:1] Archelaus in Ante-Nic. Lib.; Epiphanius, 66; Augustine in Nic. and Post-Nic. Fathers, 1st ser., iv.; Pressensé, Her. and Chr. Doctrine; Gieseler, i., 203; Schaff, ii., 498; Moeller, i., 289; Neander, i., 478; Mozley, Manichæans; histories of dogma and encyclopedias.

[134:1] Augustine, the greatest Latin Father, was a Manichæan for many years, as some maintain.

[134:2] See History of Doctrine by Fisher, Shedd, Sheldon, Hagenbach, Baur, Loofs, and Harnack; Dorner, The Person of Christ; Conybeare, The Key of Truth; encyclopedias.

[135:1] Tertullian; Euseb., Eccl. Hist., v., ch. 14-18; Epiphanius, Heresy, 48, 49; Sozomen, ii., 32; Pressensé, Heresy and Chr. Doctr., 101; Mossman, Hist. of Early Chr. Ch., 401; Neander, i., 508; Schaff, ii., 405; Moeller, i., 156; De Sayres, Montanism; Uhlhorn, Conflict of Christ'y with Heathenism; Baur, i., 245; ii., 45; Ramsay, 434; encyclopedias.

[135:2] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., vi., ch. 43, 45; vii., ch. 8; Cyprian, Ep., 41-52; Socrates, iv., 28; Neander, i., 237; Gieseler, i., 254; Moeller, i., 263; encyclopedias.

[136:1] Augustine in Nic. and Post-Nic. Fathers, iv.; Hefele, i.-ii.; Neander, ii., 214; Schaff, iii., 360; various works on history of doctrine; encyclopedias.

[137:1] Milman, Hist. of Christ., i., 65.

[137:2] The Bishop of Rome held a synod in which these ideas were denounced and the orthodox view upheld.

[137:3] For the controversy see the histories of Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Philostorgius; Epiphanius, Heresy, 69; Athanasius; Hilary; Basil; Ambrose; Augustine; the two Gregories and Rufinus; Newman, Arians in the Fourth Cent.; Gwatkin, Studies of Arianism.

[138:1] Socrates, i., ch. 5.

[138:2] Harnack, Hist. of Dogma, pt. ii., ch. 7.

[138:3] Socrates, i., 6. See Neander, ii. 403; Schaff, ii., 616; Gibbon, ch. 21; Stanley, Lect., 2-3; Moeller, i., 382; Kurtz, i., 317.

[138:4] Socrates, i., 5; ii., 35.

[138:5] Theodoret, i., 4; cf. Philostorgius, i., 3.

[138:6] See two letters in Socrates, i., 6.

[138:7] Ibid.

[139:1] Theodoret, i., 5.

[139:2] Ibid.

[139:3] Euseb., Life of Const., iii., ch. 4.

[139:4] Euseb., Life of Const., ii., ch. 64-72; Socrates, i., 7.

[139:5] Euseb., Life of Const., iii., 6.

[140:1] Historians disagree about the number; Eusebius gives 250; Theodoret, 300; Milman, 323; Döllinger, 318; Gwatkin, 223; etc.

[140:2] Gwatkin, 21.

[140:3] Euseb., Life of Const., iii., 7; Socrates, i., 14; Sozomen, i., 17; Milman, i., 99.

[140:4] Socrates, i., 8; Sozomen, i., 17, 18.

[140:5] Euseb., Life of Const., iii., ch. 10.

[141:1] Euseb., Life of Const., iii., 12; Theodoret, i., 7; Hefele, Hist. of the Ch. Councils, 280, 281.

[141:2] Hefele, i., 281; Moeller, i., 336, suggests Eustathius of Antioch and Alexander of Alexandria.

[141:3] No minutes in the modern sense were kept. After measures were agreed upon they were signed and thus promulgated. See Hefele, i., 262.

[142:1] Theodoret, i., 12; Nic. and Post-Nic. Fathers, 2d ser., xiv., 1.

[142:2] The Nicene Creed of the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican churches is not this one but "the baptismal creed of the Church of Jerusalem" enlarged in 362-373.

[142:3] The Latin list of names numbers 228, though the original Greek lists certainly had more. Hefele, i., 296.

[142:4] Sozomen, i., 9, 21; Theodoret, i., 7, 8.

[142:5] Sozomen, i., 21; Socrates, i., 9.

[142:6] Euseb., Life of Const., iii., 15.

[142:7] Univ. of Pa., Transl. and Rep., iv., No. 2; Schaff, iii., 631; Fulton, Index Canonum.

[143:1] Univ. of Pa., Transl. and Rep., iv., No. 2. Cf. Hefele, i., 355 ff.

[143:2] Excellent discussion of the whole question in Hefele, i., sec. 37.

[143:3] About 350 the canons were interpolated so as to give the Bishop of Rome a primacy.

[143:4] Socrates, i., ch. 11; Sozomen, i., 23; Schaff, ii., 411; Hefele, i., 435.

[144:1] Hefele, ii.

[145:1] Pope Liberius was reinstated, after the death of Felix II., on subscribing to the Arian articles.

[145:2] Univ. of Pa., Transl. and Rep., iv., No. 2, p. 11; Nic. and Post-Nic. Fathers, 2d ser., xiv., 163.

[145:3] See Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders.


[148]

CHAPTER IX
RISE OF THE PAPACY

Outline: I.—Favourable conditions when the Christian era began. II.—Forces at work up to 313. III.—Description of the Roman Church in 313. IV.—Growth of the Papacy from 313 to 604. V.—Condition of the Papacy at the close of this period, 604. VI.—Sources.

To see how a handful of outlawed, persecuted Christians in Rome became the omnipotent hierarchy of the Middle Ages is to comprehend the most marvellous fact in European history. But when the conditions and forces, which produced this wonderful organisation, are clearly understood, the miracle becomes a natural and an inevitable product.

In the first century of the Christian era Rome was the heart and mistress of the world.[148:1] The Apostle Paul gloried in having introduced Christianity into the great metropolis.[148:2] The Roman Empire had developed an imperial and provincial system of government which was to serve as the model for the organisation of the Christian Church. This decaying Empire, after a futile contest with Christianity, was to become its servant. The mighty Catholic Church was little more than the Roman Empire baptised. Rome was transformed as well as converted. The very capital of the old Empire became the capital of the Christian [149]Empire. The office of Pontifex Maximus was continued in that of Pope. The deeply religious character of the Romans on the one hand, and the inadequate and degenerate religion which they held on the other, were positive and negative forces enabling the Christian Church to make rapid conquests in territory and numbers. Even the Roman language has remained the official language of the Roman Catholic Church down through the ages. Christianity could not grow up through Roman civilisation and paganism, however, without in turn being coloured and influenced by the rites, festivities, and ceremonies of old polytheism. Christianity not only conquered Rome, but Rome conquered Christianity. It is not a matter of great surprise, therefore, to find that from the first to the fourth century the Church had undergone many changes. During the first half of the third century the hierarchical scheme of Church government appeared to reach a very advanced stage of organisation. Cyprian gives us the boldest and broadest claim of the Bishop of Rome to the heirship of Peter. By the fourth century the hierarchical and monarchial principles were fully developed, and the Papacy had begun its wonderful career.

The leading forces operating to develop the Roman hierarchy up to 313 will now be indicated.

1. The fundamental factor which first attracts attention in the consideration of this problem is the obvious advantage in location. In the origin of the civilisation of Western Europe three cities have been conspicuous for their contributions—Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome. Jerusalem, the sacred city, gave Christianity to the West and through the West to the world. Athens, the city of culture, bequeathed philosophy, [150]art, ideals, and science to the Romans, and through them to the Celts, Teutons, and all peoples. Rome, the city of power, overthrew Jerusalem, took Athens captive, received the contributions of both as her right, and on the ruins of both built up her universal sovereignty. The rise of Rome to world dominion is one of the deepest mysteries in history. Rome possessed the matchless capacity of appropriating everything on earth that would contribute to her greatness. When Jesus appeared to give the world Christianity, Rome was the centre of all power and influence.

Rome was in the highest degree adapted to spread civilisation abroad. From Rome influences could be sent out into the world which could not possibly have emanated from Jerusalem or Athens. In fact anything connected with Rome assumed, in consequence, an importance by virtue of Rome's greatness that no other part of the world could give. Christianity in its cosmopolitan character resembled Rome and was drawn thither irresistibly as the best centre for propagandism. Hence, from the outset, the Roman Christian Church was a church of world-wide importance and power, and her bishop the most influential. Out of the ruins of political Rome, arose the great moral Empire in the "giant form" of the Roman Church. In the marvellous rise of the Roman Church is seen in strong relief the majestic office of the Bishop of Rome.[150:1]

2. In addition to the favourable location and extraordinary opportunity that site gave, the fact that the Church, planted in Rome and there organised by [151]Peter and Paul, was thus established on a double apostolic foundation gave to the Bishop of Rome a respected and commanding position from the very outset.[151:1] No other church west of the Adriatic could claim such a distinguished origin. It was both easy and logical, therefore, to make the Bishop of Rome not only a commanding leader in the universal Church, but more particularly the conspicuous head of the Church of the West.[151:2]

3. The theory about Peter's primacy,[151:3] asserted certainly as early as the second century and generally accepted in the third century, gave an indelible character to both the person and office of the Bishop of Rome, and elevated him high above all other officers in the Church. The actual belief in this theory, a fact which cannot be questioned, made possible the realisation of the papal hierarchy. It seems to be an actual fact, likewise, that before the end of the second century the pontiffs of Rome had assumed a title implying a jurisdiction over the whole Christian world as successors and representatives of Peter, the Prince of Apostles. Irenæus said: "Because, therefore, of her apostolic foundation, and the regular succession of bishops, through whom she hath handed down that which she received from them [the Apostles], all churches, that is, all the faithful around her and on all sides, must on account of her more powerful pre-eminence resort to this church, in which the tradition, which is from the Apostles, is preserved."[151:4] Tertullian, after he [152]had joined the heretical Montanists, accused the Bishop of Rome of assuming the titles of "Pontifex Maximus" and "Bishop of Bishops."[152:1] He complains also that the "Supreme Pontiff" was in the habit of quoting the decisions of his predecessors as conclusive on all disputed questions, and that he furthermore claimed that he himself sat in the chair of St. Peter. These charges show how early the Petrine claims were made and recognised.[152:2]

4. The missionary zeal of the Roman Church soon led to the formation of a number of suburban branches and within a comparatively short period to the spread of Christianity throughout Italy and to other sections of Western Europe.[152:3] These local churches naturally looked to the head of the Church in the great capital for assistance and instruction, and were willing to acknowledge his jurisdiction and pretensions. The episcopal organisation of the Church in the West, which was probably present from the beginning,[152:4] made the transition to the hierarchy comparatively simple. At Rome the process may be more plainly traced than in connection with any other church.

5. The persecutions of the Christians[152:5] centred in Rome and, consequently, made the Bishop of Rome a conspicuous leader, with social and political, as well as religious duties, whose office was frequently sanctified by martyrdom. The persecutions helped to emphasise the necessity of a better organisation on a monarchio-episcopal basis. That organisation [153]became very exclusive,[153:1] and made a responsible head imperative. Who else but the Bishop of Rome could meet the demands? To him was given, by general consent in the West, the headship of the Church and he began to act as the conscious Pope of Christendom.

6. The Bishop of Rome was the only official organ of communication between the East and West. He was the sole Patriarch of all the united West, while the East had four Patriarchs,[153:2] and the sixth canon of the Council of Nicæa confirmed his jurisdiction as an "ancient custom." From Clement (95), whose writings are the earliest of any Bishop of Rome preserved, onward, he speaks in an authoritative tone, not only to the churches of Carthage, Italy, and Gaul, but also to Greece, Asia Minor, Palestine, and Alexandria. Notwithstanding the fact that Alexandria and Antioch also claimed Peter for their founder, yet not one of the four patriarchates attempted to contest Rome's claim to priority of rank.[153:3]

7. The head of the Roman Church was the champion of orthodoxy and kept the Western Church free from schism. The Church of Rome stood consistently for purity in doctrine and steadfastly opposed that Oriental mysticism which polluted the Eastern churches with a host of heretic and theosophic jugglers. Epiphanius gives a list of forty-three distinct heresies in his day. It [154]was no easy matter for the Church of Rome to faithfully combat all these theological vagaries and point out the straight but narrow way. As a reward of her fight for the simple gospel-truth the provincial churches bestowed upon her their affection, confidence, and obedience. They frequently referred for their own guidance to her spiritual experience, in deference and respect they sought her counsels, they watched her course with anxiety and faithfully imitated it, and all these things gave her a singular spiritual influence and authority in this early period, which was not unlike the political power exercised by the city of Rome. Again and again the Bishop of Rome was requested to pass judgment on the various heresies.

8. After the apostolic days, the multitudes who embraced Christianity seemed in many instances to lack the original fervour and spirituality. Hence to control the erring, to correct the heretical, to expel those who brought disgrace to the society, and to protect the faithful, it became necessary to develop some more efficient form of government.[154:1] The Roman model of imperial and local government naturally suggested itself and was either consciously or unconsciously imitated. The gradual transformation of the Bishop of Rome into the Pope of Rome was the product.

9. In the apostolic days the practice generally prevailed of referring all civil, as well as ecclesiastical, disputes between Christians to the arbitrament of their superior ecclesiastical officials. St. Paul even went so far as to forbid his converts to resort to the pagan tribunals.[154:2] This work devolved upon the bishop, as a matter of course, who acted, however, rather with [155]paternal authority and through moral influence, than in accordance with fixed Church law. Thus special duties were laid upon the Bishop of Rome because of his superior rank and extended jurisdiction.

So rapidly did his prerogatives develop that he was early recognised both East and West as, practically, a court of appeal. About 95 A.D., Clement of Rome wrote letters of remonstrance and admonition to settle a wrangle in the church at Corinth, and so respected were these epistles that for a century they were publicly read in the churches. About the year 150 one Marcian was excommunicated by his bishop and appealed to Rome for admission to communion. The petition was refused but it shows the influence of the Bishop of Rome. Polycarp of Smyrna showed at least a dutiful deference in going to Rome to lay before Bishop Anicetus (152) the disputed paschal question. When the East and the West were divided, about 190 A.D., upon the proper day for celebrating Easter, Bishop Victor of Rome assumed the authority to decide on the correct day and insisted that all Christendom conform to his decision. The Eastern churches refused to obey him, it is true, but the Council of Nicæa enforced universal conformity to the day chosen by Victor.[155:1] When Fortunatus and Cyprian of Carthage quarrelled over the former's claim to the title of bishop, Fortunatus appealed to the Bishop of Rome, Cornelius, for official recognition. Cornelius assumed the right to remonstrate with Cyprian and to demand an explanation of his conduct. Cyprian repudiated foreign jurisdiction in the domestic affairs of the African Church, but at the same time recognised Rome as "the [156]chair of Peter—that principal Church whence the sacerdotal unity takes its rise."[156:1] In 252, two Spanish bishops, Basileides and Martialis, were deposed for misconduct by a synod of their province. They appealed to Stephen, Bishop of Rome, who peremptorily ordered that both be reinstated.[156:2] The bishops of Gaul applied to Stephen for advice as to what to do with Marcian, the Bishop of Arles, who had embraced Novatianism.[156:3] In the West, it seems, therefore, that practically all disputes and misunderstandings were referred to the recognised head of the Church for advice and settlement. Again and again the Eastern Patriarchs appealed to the Patriarch of the West for support and his support was usually decisive. Likewise the various factions in the many Eastern schisms strove for favourable decisions from the Roman Bishop. In 260 Bishop Dionysius of Rome called the Patriarch of Alexandria to account for false doctrines. Even a Roman Emperor, Aurelian (270), declared that no one, not appointed by the "bishops of Italy and Rome," should remain in the See of Antioch.[156:4] As a result of these appeals, the power and authority of the Roman Bishop were magnified so that, gradually, he came to claim this exercise as his right, and, in addition, precedents were set which were to become ecclesiastical laws in the next period.[156:5]

10. The idea of one Catholic Church seems to have [157]resulted from the intense struggle against the various forms of heresy, which had divided the early Christians into sects somewhat like the various Protestant denominations of to-day. This conception of ecclesiastical unity and universality had two sides: doctrine and ceremony. To teach the true doctrine and to perpetuate sacramental unity the priesthood was created. The persecutions emphasised the fundamental doctrines which united all Christians and made them conscious of this unity of belief. In order to enforce this uniformity the Bishop of Rome exercised the power of excommunication. Victor took it upon himself to excommunicate the Bishop of Ephesus and his fellow-officials for refusing to conform to the mode of celebrating Easter in the West (190). Irenæus emphasised the necessity and value of a spiritual unity in the Church,[157:1] and to "the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church" of Rome he conceded the most accurate apostolic tradition.[157:2] He declared that it was "a matter of necessity that every church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre-eminent authority."[157:3] Tertullian spoke of the Catholic Church as if its eternal unity were a common concept.[157:4] It was left to Cyprian, however, to boldly hold up the occupant of the See of Rome as the representative of both the organised and the sacramental unity of the Church beyond which there could be no salvation. In his book on the Unity of the Church, Cyprian asked:

He that abideth not in the unity of the church, doth he [158]believe that he holdeth to the faith? He that struggleth against and resisteth this church, he that deserteth the Chair of St. Peter, upon which the church is founded, can he have any assurance that he is in the church? . . . Likewise . . . Paul teacheth the sacrament of unity saying: "There is one body and one spirit and one hope of our calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God." . . . The episcopate is indeed one . . . the church also is one . . . there is also but one head and one source. . . . Whoever is excluded from the church . . . is severed from the promises of the church. . . . He is a stranger, an outcast, and enemy. He cannot have God for his father, who hath not the church for his mother. . . . He that doth not hold this unity doth not hold the law of God . . . he partaketh not of life or of salvation.[158:1]

The power of excommunication to preserve the doctrinal unity and purity of the Church implied some share in appointment and administration. From the very beginning, no doubt, the Bishop of Rome had ordained all provincial bishops, and few matters of great importance had been transacted without his consent or approval.[158:2]

The same tendencies and influences that led to the evolution of the bishop in the early local churches for the sake of order and efficiency, produced a centralisation of power in the universal Church. With the growth of the idea that the Church had an outward organisation developed the conscious need of a supreme bishop who could rule the Church somewhat as the Emperor ruled the state. That such a unifying authority was generally understood to exist by the time of Cyprian seems very clear from contemporary [159]testimony. But it took two hundred and fifty years to develop that leadership. There were not wanting, either, on all sides evidences of earlier local independence. The rise of the Papacy was the logical culmination of the episcopal system. It must be remembered that by the time of Bishop Cyprian the Church had undergone a series of wonderful changes. The Church had spread outwardly until the whole Empire was covered and included all ranks. The Church had come to be naturalised in the Empire and was gradually compromising with conditions. Some conception of the part Christianity was to play in the world began to dawn on men's minds. The ascendency of the See of St. Peter was regarded, therefore, quite generally as a necessity.

11. The centralisation of wealth in Rome rendered the Church there the wealthiest in Christendom. These riches were lavishly used, during the first three hundred years, to aid the poorer communities.[159:1] Such favours could not be solicited, or received, without an appreciable sacrifice of independence on the part of the recipients. Ignatius, considering the munificence of the Roman Church, and wishing to confer some special distinction, calls her "the fostering mistress of charity."[159:2]

12. From the time of Peter to Constantine the Great, thirty-two bishops occupied the chair of the Prince of Apostles. The number and character of the members of the Roman Church led to the selection of the ablest of the Western Christians to occupy that important office. These successive bishops, from the weight of their personal influence, transmitted a gradually increasing power. The labours of a few of these remarkable [160]men who filled the Roman See, like Clement, Victor, Callistus, and Stephen, helped powerfully to lay the foundations for the Papacy. Clement's attitude was "almost imperious." Victor in his presumption on the Easter question, Zephyrinus on the assumption of his proud title of Pontifex Maximus and Bishop of Bishops, Callistus concerning lapsed heretics, and Stephen on the baptism of heretics, were all guilty of "hierarchical arrogance."[160:1] Cyprian (d. 258) looked upon Rome as the Cathedra Petri and the Roman Church as the head of the universal Church.[160:2] Thus it may be accepted as an established fact that the Bishop of Rome was generally accepted as Peter's successor, at least in the West, when Emperor Constantine legalised the Christian religion and made it free to complete its organisation and to carry on its propagandism openly. He also increased the wealth and power of the Roman See and made its bishop the undisputed head of the Western Church. At the same time, in removing his capital to Constantinople, Constantine permitted the Roman Bishop to assume imperial prerogatives and encouraged the completion of the Church organisation after the imperial model.

A comparison of the Church in 313 with the Apostolic Church reveals the fact that many pronounced changes and developments had occurred. In extent the Roman Church had spread from the Eternal City over the entire Italian peninsula and then to Spain, France, England, Germany, and Africa, and numbered perhaps 10,000,000 members. In organisation the Church had changed from a democracy to an absolute monarchy, from many local centres of authority to one great [161]world power based on an imperial hierarchy, from communism to paternalism, from decentralisation to centralisation, from apostolic simplicity to worldly grandeur, and from a spiritual organisation to one largely political. The spiritual shepherd of the flock at Rome had come to claim and to exercise superior prerogatives over Western Europe and to serve the Roman Emperor as virtually his spiritual adviser. In wealth and culture, too, the Church had become a powerful social, industrial, and educational factor.

In institutions, rites, and ceremonies, as well as in organisation, the Church of the third and fourth centuries was very different from that of the first. A pompous ritualism with suggestions of image worship had been introduced.[161:1] Great emphasis had come to be laid upon the sanctity and power of holy water,[161:2] sacred relics and places, pilgrimages, and the use of the cross.[161:3] The development of new ideas in reference to the merit of external works resulted in asceticism and a celibate priesthood, fanatical martyrdom, indiscriminate almsgiving, and various patent methods for spiritual benefits. At the same time the number of Church festivals had greatly increased and now included Easter, Pentecost, Epiphany, and various saints' days.[161:4]

These new ideas and practices naturally gave the priest the lofty position of mediator between God and man. A differentiation in the ministry gradually crept in as an outcome of the hierarchical spirit. The Bishop of Rome was elevated above all bishops as [162]God's chosen representative on earth. The bishops were exalted above all the presbyters or priests. The priests in turn held a position far superior to the subordinate officials, who had now come to include sub-deacons, readers, acolytes, precentors or cantors, janitors, exorcists,[162:1] and other officials of minor importance.[162:2] These under officers likewise were cut off from the laity by a pronounced gulf.[162:3]

To conduct the general affairs of the Church, synods and councils of the clergy came into existence as early as the second century.[162:4] Roman or Greek assemblies may have suggested the form of the synod, though it is more probable that they sprang spontaneously out of the needs of the Church. These meetings at first were irregular and very informal and resulted either in resolutions with no binding force on the dissentient minority, or in a letter. There were four classes of councils: (1.) The synod of a single diocese which probably existed from the beginning. (2.) The provincial council of the bishops of several dioceses. This type began early in the second century. (3.) General councils consisting of the bishops of several provinces. (4.) Universal councils representing the whole Church. When Constantine gave Christianity legal recognition, councils became more common for the purpose of formulating common rules and dogmas, as for instance Arles (314). After the Council of Nicæa in 325 the validity of earlier decisions was recognised and given the force of imperial law. Thus had the councils [163]changed in a few years from local to general, from recommending to sovereign bodies.[163:1]

Paralleling this remarkable evolution in the organisation of the Church was a marked departure from the simplicity and purity of the early Christian life on the part of both clergy and laity. The "Apostolical Constitutions," the "Canons of the Holy Apostles," and the decrees of the councils of Elvira (306), Arles (314), Neo-Cæsarea (314), and Nicæa (325) all reveal the worldliness of the clergy in the laws passed against their engaging in worldly pursuits, frequenting taverns and gambling houses, accepting usury, habits of vagrancy, taking bribes, and immorality. Because the multitude of pagan converts were carrying their ideas and practices into the Church, many corrective measures were enacted against this degeneration. The licentiousness of the clergy became a still more crying sin among the laity, for it was unreasonable to expect the rank and file to be better than their leaders.


FOOTNOTES:

[148:1] Acts xix., 21; xxiii., 11; xxv., 11; xxviii., 14 ff.

[148:2] Rom. i., 8.

[150:1] Gregorovius, i., 5.

[151:1] Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, i., 104, 107.

[151:2] The East had four Patriarchs: Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople.

[151:3] See Chap. VI.

[151:4] Against Heresies, iii., c. 3.

[152:1] On Modesty, § 1.

[152:2] Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, i., 107-108.

[152:3] Gibbon, i., 579 ff. See Chap. V.

[152:4] Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, i., 175.

[152:5] See Chap. VII.

[153:1] Origen said: "Extra hanc domum, i.e., extra ecclesiam nemo salvator." Hom. 3.

St. Cyprian of Carthage asked: "Do they that are met outside of the Church of Christ think that Christ is with them when they meet? . . . It is not possible for one to be a martyr who is not in the church." _Unity of the Church_, ch. 13, 14.

[153:2] Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Alexandria, and, later, Constantinople. The four early patriarchates were of apostolic foundation.

[153:3] Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, i., 193.

[154:1] Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, i., 164, 165.

[154:2] 1 Cor. vi., 1, 13.

[155:1] See Smith and Cheetham, Dict. of Christ. Antiq., for a full discussion of the paschal controversy.

[156:1] Cyprian, Ep. 49, 55. Greenwood, i., 168, thinks this quotation a later interpolation.

[156:2] Cyprian, Ep. 68.

[156:3] Ibid., Ep. 67.

[156:4] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., vii., 30.

[156:5] It must be remembered that Rome had no monopoly of these appeals and that her decisions were not always accepted in these early days. Cf. Greenwood, i., 171 ff.

[157:1] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., v., 23-25.

[157:2] Irenæus, Against Heresy, iii., 3.

[157:3] Library of Ante-Nic. Fathers, v.

[157:4] Ibid., xv.

[158:1] Library of Ante-Nic. Fathers, viii.

[158:2] Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, i., 192.

[159:1] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., iv., 23; vii., 6.

[159:2] To Corinth, Ep. i., c. 44.

[160:1] Schaff, iii., 351.

[160:2] Ep., 43: 5; 55: 8; 59: 14; Lib. of Ante-Nic. Fathers, viii.

[161:1] Apost. Const., viii., 6-15; Alzog, i., §§ 92, 93.

[161:2] Apost. Const., viii., 28.

[161:3] Alzog, § 95.

[161:4] Ibid., § 93.

[162:1] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., vi., 43.

[162:2] Alzog, i., 393.

[162:3] Hatch, Org. of the Early Christ. Churches, 143 ff.

[162:4] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., v., 16; Tertullian, De Jejunus, 13; Cyprian, Ep. 75; Hatch, Org. of the Early Christ. Churches, 169, 170.

[163:1] See Hefele, Hist. of Ch. Councils, i., § 1-17.


[164]

CHAPTER X
RISE OF THE PAPACY—Continued

The growth of the Papacy from 313 to 604 was very marked and may be traced with little difficulty. In fact from the fourth century onward the proofs that papal supremacy was both asserted and recognised are so numerous that it is only necessary to select typical cases and illustrations. Certain formative influences and forces noticeable in the period prior to 313 were continued into the later epoch and will be considered in order here.

1. The missionary zeal of the Roman Church accomplished wonders. By the fourth century Spain and Gaul had sufficient Christians to warrant the division of the territory into bishoprics. Some of the Gallic bishops were imbued with a remarkably active spirit of propagandism, notably, St. Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers (350-66), who fought the Arians incessantly; Honoratus, Bishop of Arles, who inspired others to labour; St. Martin, Bishop of Tours, called the "Apostle to the Gauls," and St. Denis, Bishop of Paris, who suffered martyrdom for the cause. Similar workers were found in Spain. About the same time Celtic missionaries from the north were working southward to join the work spreading northward from Rome. Columba laboured among the Scots and Picts; Aidan, in Northumbria; Columbanus, with the Burgundians; [165]Gallus, in Switzerland; and Amania and Kilian in Thuringia. From Rome went forth the famous missionary expedition to England under Augustine (596), which succeeded in winning the Anglo-Saxons to a belief in the Roman faith and to a recognition of Roman authority.

In return a counter-wave of missionary activity spread from England back to the continent, led by Wilfrid in Friesland; Willibrord around Utrecht; the Ewald brothers among the Saxons; Swidbert on the Ems and Yssel; Adelpert in Holland; and Boniface, the "Apostle to the Germans," among various Teutonic tribes. This widespread missionary work resulted in eventually bringing all Western Europe under the subjection of the Roman Church. Thus new blood, a more primitive enthusiasm, and an intense devotion were called to her service, and all powerfully aided the rise of the Papacy.

2. The continued orthodoxy of the Western Church made it a pillar of strength, and gave its head a commanding position in dealing with heresy and schism. To him, more than ever, did people East and West look for final decisions in disputed matters of doctrine,[165:1] and contested cases of jurisdiction, rank, territory, and authority. St. Jerome in eloquent words besought the "Sun of righteousness—in the West" to teach him the true doctrine because "here in the East all is weed and wild-oats."[165:2]

3. The claim of the Bishop of Rome to appellate jurisdiction, which had been exercised more or less from an early date, received a sweeping confirmation and a new impetus in 347 through the Council of Sardica.

[166]In 340, Athanasius, the Patriarch of Alexandria, the champion of orthodoxy, appealed to Julian I. from an unjust decision against him in the episcopal courts of the East. Julian I. called a council, to which he invited the Eastern bishops, who refused to attend, reversed the decision,[166:1] and completely acquitted Athanasius. He wrote a strong letter of reproof to the Arians in which he asserts Rome's canonical supremacy in initiating conciliar proceedings against ecclesiastical offenders.[166:2] The Council of Sardica confirmed the resolutions of the Roman Synod.[166:3]

It was decreed that any bishop, who might feel himself aggrieved by an unfair trial, could have the judges write to the Bishop of Rome asking for a new trial at which, if it seemed wise, priests representing the Bishop of Rome could be present.[166:4] Meanwhile, pending the trial, no successor to the office of the accused could be named. This action made the Bishop of Rome referee to decide, however, not the case itself, but whether there ought to be a new trial. The right was conferred "in honour of the memory" of St. Peter and hence it was soon claimed as an inherent prerogative of the apostolical See of the West. Later on it was positively asserted that these canons gave an appeal to the Church of Rome in all episcopal cases. Whatever the original intent may have been, the fact remains that this new power was an important factor in the evolution of papal supremacy. The Pope was given a power previously possessed exclusively by the [167]Emperor.[167:1] In 378, Emperor Gratian added civic sanction to the judicial authority of the Bishop of Rome by compelling accused bishops to go to Rome for trial.[167:2] Ultimate appellate jurisdiction was definitely assigned to the Pope by Emperor Valentinian III. in 445, when, of his own motion, causes could be called to Rome for papal decision.[167:3] Emperor Gelasius (496) approved in very positive terms the judicial supremacy of the Bishop of Rome.[167:4] And Gregory the Great (604) assumed it as an indisputable fact that every bishop is subject to the See of Peter.[167:5]

After this period cases were continually referred to Rome for adjustment. St. Basil, Archbishop of Cæsarea, appealed to Damasus I., the latter part of the fourth century, for protection. In 398 the Emperor ordered Flavian of Antioch to proceed to Rome for trial. He refused to go, but compromised with the Pope. St. John Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople, and head of the whole Eastern Church, early in the fifth century, appealed to Innocent I. against the persecutions of Empress Eudoxia and for restoration to his see.[167:6] Apiarius, a priest of Africa, appealed to Pope Zosimus against the censure of his bishop in 416. The Pope vindicated the priest against his bishop, and ordered the latter either to revoke the [168]censure or to appear at Rome for trial.[168:1] St. Augustine's letter to Pope Celestine in 424 shows that it was a common thing to refer disputes to Rome for settlement.[168:2] Both St. Cyril and the Nestorians appealed to Pope Celestus, who decided in favour of St. Cyril. Theodoret, the Church historian, when condemned by the Council of Ephesus in 449, appealed to Leo I., who asserted that he could hear appeals from any source as a court of first and last resort.[168:3] These appeals, and many other similar cases, which could be cited both East and West,[168:4] show the growing power of the Roman Pope, and enabled him to make real the theory of his supremacy. To enable the successor of St. Peter to adjudicate cases more easily, vicars were appointed in various parts of the papal empire to decide finally on all cases, not reserved by the Pope. This arrangement greatly enlarged papal jurisdiction by encouraging and facilitating appeals.

4. The removal of the capital of the Empire from Rome to Constantinople in 330, left the Western Church, practically free from imperial power, to develop its own form of organisation. The Bishop of Rome, in the seat of the Cæsars, was now the greatest man in the West, and was soon forced to become the political as well as the spiritual head. To the Western world Rome was still the political capital—hence the whole habit of mind, all ambition, pride, and sense of glory, and every social prejudice favoured the evolution of the great city into the ecclesiastical capital. Civil as well as religious disputes were referred to the [169]successor of Peter for settlement. Again and again, when barbarians attacked Rome, he was compelled to actually assume military leadership. Eastern Emperors frequently recognised the high claims of the Popes in order to gain their assistance. It is not difficult to understand how, under these responsibilities, the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, established in the pre-Constantine period, was emphasised and magnified after 313. The importance of this fact must not be overlooked. The organisation of the Church was thus put on the same divine basis as the revelation of Christianity. This idea once accepted led inevitably to the mediæval Papacy. The priesthood came, in consequence, to assume all the powers of the great Founder. The Mosaic forms, as well as the Roman Empire, suggested convenient models and authoritative examples for the new structure. It is not difficult to detect in the oligarchical Church polity of the fourth and fifth centuries a yearning for unity. It was but natural, therefore, that Rome should boldly take the remedy into her own hands and pose as the authorised representative of the visible unity demanded by the Christian world. The position Rome had already attained and the worthy part played in the organisation and spread of the gospel gave her a superior advantage, and enabled, nay compelled, her bishop to become the one high-priest, the "universal bishop."

5. In the fourth and fifth centuries the Petrine theory was generally accepted by the Church Fathers East and West.[169:1] The theory had become a dogmatic principle of law founded upon historical facts. Optatus, the African Bishop of Mileve (c. 384), strongly asserted the visible unity of the Church and the [170]immovable Cathedra Petri, with the Roman Bishop as Peter's successor.[170:1] Ambrose of Milan (d. 397) gave the Bishop of Rome the same position in the Church that the Emperor had in the Empire,[170:2] and recognised him as the great champion of orthodoxy, but at the same time called Peter's primacy one of confession and faith, not of rank. He put Paul on an equality with Peter. Jerome (d. 419) recognised the Pope as the successor of Peter and said, "Following none but Christ, I am associated in communion with . . . the chair of Peter. On that rock I know the Church to be built."[170:3] Innocent I. (414) made a magnificent defence of the theory. Augustine (d. 430), the greatest of the Latin Fathers, admitted the primacy of Peter and recognised the Roman Bishop as his successor.[170:4] In his remarkable book, the City of God, he did more than all the Fathers to idealise Rome as the Christian Zion. Maximus of Turin (d. 450) and Orosius (d. 5th century) bore similar testimony. The Greek Fathers uniformly spoke of Peter in lofty terms as the "Prince of Apostles," the "Tongue of the Apostles," the "bearer of the keys," the "keeper of the kingdom of Heaven," the "Pillar," the "Rock," et cetera, but they held generally that Peter's primacy was honorary, and that he transferred his power to both the Bishop of Antioch and the Bishop of Rome.[170:5] But these modifications of the Petrine theory did not arrest the evolution of the papal power. The important historical [171]fact to be taken into account is, that the belief in the supremacy of St. Peter's successor was quite generally recognised and accepted.

6. The growth of conciliar prerogatives tended to advance the development of papal authority. The Council of Nicæa (325) gave the Western Church the Nicene Creed, practically made the Bishop of Rome its defender, and recognised him as the sole Patriarch of the West with ten provinces as his diocese.[171:1] The Council of Sardica (343), in reality only a local Western body, decreed that deposed bishops might appeal to the Bishop of Rome for a new trial, that vacant bishoprics could not be filled till his decision was received, and that he could delegate his power to a local synod. This gave him a kind of appellate and revisory jurisdiction in the case of deposed bishops even in the East.[171:2] It is claimed that this was a new grant for a specific case and in deference to Pope Julian alone. This power was confirmed by Emperors Valentinian I. (364-375) and Gratian (375-383).[171:3] In this manner the Roman Popes were furnished the opportunity to claim universal jurisdiction. The Council of Aquileia (381) begged Emperor Gratian to protect "the Roman Church, the head of the whole Roman world and that sacred faith of the Apostles."[171:4] The African councils of Carthage and Mileve (416) sent their actions against Pelagius to Innocent I., for his approval. The councils of Ephesus [172](431) and Chalcedon (451) gave the Bishop of Rome a primacy in rank and honour, which he soon made a primacy in power.[172:1] The latter body recognised the necessity of obtaining the Pope's confirmation to insure legality. Here again the Bishop of Rome had usurped a prerogative claimed by Constantine and his successors. Later the Popes called most of the councils, presided over them in person or through legates, and confirmed their proceedings in order to give them legality.

7. The power of excommunication, an authority inherent in all societies, was early developed and exercised by the Roman Bishop. This right was clearly recognised in the New Testament.[172:2] The power of excommunication was originally put into the hand of the local bishops. They expanded the biblical precepts into a penal code, and assumed the right to act as judges and to pronounce censure or final excommunication. The apostolic constitutions and canons reveal a direct substitution of the authority of the bishops for that of Christ in these particulars. Excommunication, for the first three centuries of the Christian era, was looked upon as a remedial and corrective measure to prevent a breach of discipline, disobedience, and heresy. It is a significant fact, therefore, that the Roman bishops, by the third century, claimed the power to put out of communion, not only individuals, but whole communities, who did not conform to Roman usages and beliefs, even though the sentence could not always be enforced. Innocent I., imbued by the lofty idea of the prerogatives of his office, did not hesitate to pronounce sentence of excommunication [173]against the heretics, Pelagius and his pupil Cœlestius.[173:1] Thus the right of universal censure grew and Rome came to have her own officers to execute the law.

8. From the fifth century onward the title of "papa" or "pope" was unvaryingly used by the bishops of Rome. This title is an abbreviation of the words "pater patrum"—father of fathers—and was at first given as a title of respect to ecclesiastics generally. In the Eastern churches it has continued to the present day, and in the Roman Church the general use of "father" may be regarded as the continuation of a variation of the original word. The next step in the early Church was the restriction of the term "papa" as a special title for bishops. By the fourth century it had been gradually reserved for the metropolitans and patriarchs. After the fifth century it was claimed and borne as the badge of the supreme rank of the successor of St. Peter among the churches of Christendom. Not until 1073, however, did Gregory VII. formally prohibit the assumption of the title by other ecclesiastics. This unique transfer of a distinction first from all to a few, and then from a few to one, indicates a concentration of rank, dignity, and power in the one thus distinguished. A term, originally one of filial respect and reverence, becomes one of authority. The name and the office react on each other.

9. The letters of the Roman bishops gradually came to be regarded in the Western Church as apostolic ordinances, and laid the foundation for the vast ecclesiastical legal system.[173:2] Siricius (384-398) wrote the first decretal which had the force of law.[173:3] A typical [174]illustration of the character and power of papal letters is seen in the commanding communication of Pope Celestine sent in 428 to the bishops of Vienne and Narbonne concerning ceremonial abuses in their provinces. "Inasmuch," he wrote, "as I am appointed by God to watch over the whole Church, it is my duty everywhere to root out evil practices and to substitute good ones; for my pastoral superintendence is restrained by no bounds, but extends to all places where the name of Christ is known and adored."[174:1] The Gallic churches received this pronouncement without a whisper of disapproval. The Council of Chalcedon (451) accepted a letter from Leo I., settling a disputed point in theology.[174:2] Gelasius I. (494) instructed Emperor Anastasius on the superiority of the spiritual over the temporal power.[174:3] The decretals of Gregory the Great spoke with a bold, undisputed authority.[174:4]

10. The Edict of Milan in 313 did not make Christianity the state religion, but merely put it on a legal equality with paganism. It was not long, however, until this new status enabled Christianity to outstrip its old rival and actually become the constitutional faith. State patronage prepared the way for a conscious and natural adaptation and assimilation of forms of imperial polity. Accordingly the admonition of the early period assumed the tone of mandates; interferences, whether for advice or arbitration, took the character of appeals, rescripts, and ordinances; and the model of discipline and ritual for all churches emanated from Rome.

[175]11. Constantine, fully aware of the pre-eminence and power of the Roman Church, took special pains to bestow upon it his imperial munificence. The Bishop of Rome was transferred from a humble dwelling to a spacious palace, possibly to the Lateran, owned to this day by the Pope. Confiscated property was restored and money donated. Splendid churches were erected.[175:1] With grateful hearts the Christians gladly accepted the sovereignty of the Emperor. As Roman citizens there was no conception in their minds of the spiritual government of the Church independent of the imperial power. When Constantine called councils like Arles and Nicæa, heard appeals, made appointments, and legislated for the Church it was all accepted as a matter of course. The Church of Rome gained obviously more than any other spiritual body-corporate of the Christian world. This advantage, coupled with the wide-reaching claims set forth for at least two centuries, carried her by a mighty leap far above all other churches and made her head, in theory and fact, if not in name, the Pope. Thus all the contentions of the Petrine claim of ecclesiastical government fell into a natural harmony with the plans of the Empire. The rise of provincial churches corresponded to the provincial system of the Empire. The elevation of the Bishop of Rome to a primacy over all churches created a counterpart to the Emperor. The union of the Empire and Papacy was not only easy and natural—it was inevitable.

12. No sooner did the Church rise from persecution to a great world power than the necessity was felt everywhere of some central authority to preserve its unity. The divisions in the Arian controversy clearly revealed [176]that need. The Emperor, in a way, sought to meet the requirement, but, when he failed, he called the Council of Nicæa to serve that end. A universal council might be of great service in a crisis but it could not easily be in perpetual session. The Roman Church saw its chance at this juncture and embraced every opportunity to pose as the supreme unifying power in Christendom. It was a long and not always an easy struggle, but the effort was at length successful. It was not long after the day of Constantine that it may be said that the Church had gained control of the Empire. That conquest gave the Church an unprecedented pre-eminence. In this movement the Church of Rome played the leading role. The next great problem was to enable the Pope to get control of the Church and in this way wield absolute sway over the Christianised Empire, or, to state it the other way, over the imperialised Church.

Nothing seems clearer, after taking into account all the factors, than that the rise of papal power was a natural, logical, historical process which began with the planting of the Church in Rome. Numerous incidents mark the different stages of development to show that every new assumption of papal prerogative was disputed and contested. Indeed nothing more distinctly marks the growth of papal authority than the fact that these protests were so numerous and so widely scattered.

In the beginnings of ecclesiastical organisation bishops enjoyed and exercised an equality of power and rank. The persistence of this idea may be seen long after the period of Constantine. But hierarchical tendencies began very early and are very conspicuous in connection with Rome. In the opening decades of the [177]history of the Church it was customary for Christians eminent in station or piety to address letters, advisory or hortatory, to other churches on general points of creed or discipline, or on special local questions. Thus wrote Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, and others. Not infrequently churches appealed to prominent bishops for assistance and advice. Often one bishop would censure another for the manifestation of unwarranted assumptions. Thus Irenæus reprehended Victor for excommunicating the heretical bishops of Asia and did it as an equal.[177:1] Tertullian, after he joined the heretical Montanists, scornfully denies the powers claimed by the Bishop of Rome by asking, "How comes it that you take to yourself the attribute of the Catholic Church?" He answers by denying the whole Petrine theory.[177:2] Hippolytus, Bishop of Pontus, in a controversy with Calixtus I., shows how the claim of the Bishop of Rome was denied in the beginning of the third century.[177:3] Origen also repudiated the Petrine claims.[177:4] While the great Cyprian did so much to create the concept of the one Catholic Church under the leadership of Rome, yet, at the same time, he strongly asserted episcopal equality and independence.[177:5]

This important historical fact must never be forgotten in considering the rise of the Papacy, namely, that the change was not directly from democracy to monarchy, but from democracy indirectly through oligarchy to monarchy. In addition to the instances of episcopal equality and independence already given, [178]the Apostolic Canons in canon 35 ordered each province to determine for itself which one of its churches should hold the primacy. This idea persisted long after the time of Constantine and, indeed, the Council of Antioch in 341 repeats the rule as if recognising a long established regulation. The Council of Nicæa in 325, while assigning the highest rank to the Apostolic Sees of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, at the same time reserved to every province the rights of its own church. In the second universal council held in 381 at Constantinople, when the great provinces of the Church were defined and the honourable primacy of Rome clearly asserted, no interference was allowed with the autonomy of the provincial churches.

In the West, however, local autonomy and provincial primacy were not so much emphasised as in the East. Rome and St. Peter's successor residing there early established a predominance over Spain, Gaul, and Britain. In Africa, Carthage for the most part obeyed Rome, and in Italy, Ravenna and Milan occasionally showed stubborn resistance.

13. The civil government naturally approved a system of Church polity which was in harmony with that of the state. It is no surprise, therefore, that imperial edicts supported the lofty position of the Bishop of Rome.[178:1] Did he not represent the Church of the great Empire and the faith of the Emperor himself? Besides it was always easiest to deal with him as a representative of the entire Church. In fact there was a sentiment in the Church that it was much better to carry on all business with imperial authorities through him. To this end the Council of Sardica in 347 decreed that all prelates visiting Rome for the purpose of obtaining [179]civic favours should present their petitions through the Bishop of Rome.[179:1] Theodosius (380) commanded that all subjects "should hold that faith which the divine Peter, the Apostle, delivered to the Roman Bishop."[179:2] Valentinian III. (445) commanded all bishops to recognise the Bishop of Rome as their leader in both judicial and administrative matters.[179:3] Later Emperors lavished on the Roman Church wealth, immunities, and exemptions which greatly enhanced its power and magnified the importance of its head.[179:4]

Justinian, in a decree of 532, declared that he had been very diligent in subjecting all the clergy of the East to the Roman See. He also expressed a firm resolution never to allow any business affecting the general welfare of the Church to be transacted, without notifying the head of all the churches.[179:5] Such a positive and sweeping assertion by such a powerful ruler shows the height to which papal power had climbed by the sixth century. Pope John II. was highly pleased with the useful acknowledgment of Justinian, complimented him on his "perfect acquaintance with ecclesiastical law and discipline," and added: "preserving the reverence due the Roman See, you have subjected all things unto her, and reduced all churches to that unity which dwelleth in her alone, to whom the Lord, through the Prince of the Apostles, did delegate all power; . . . and that the Apostolic See is in verity the head of all churches, both the rules of the fathers and the statutes of the princes do manifestly [180]declare, and the same is now witnessed by your imperial piety."[180:1]

The emancipation of the Church and the great inflow of wealth and pagan converts wrought a woeful change in its character and habits. A heathen historian declared that candidates would stoop to any means to secure the pontifical office because "the successful candidate gains the opportunity of fattening upon the oblations of matrons; of being conveyed about in stall-carriages; of appearing in public in costly dresses; of giving banquets so profuse as to surpass even royal entertainments."[180:2] The Fathers of the Church like Hilary, Jerome, and Basil deplored the vices, thus rebuked, in terms of even greater severity.

14. The barbarian invasions on the whole strengthened both the spiritual and temporal supremacy of the Holy See. They gave the death blow to paganism in Rome.[180:3] Once converted to Roman Christianity, the Germans became the staunch supporters of the papal hierarchy and enabled the Pope to enforce his prerogatives in the West.[180:4] Backed by these sturdy Teutons, the Pope became the most powerful individual in Christendom and soon declared his independence of the Byzantine court.

15. Another factor of no small moment was the extraordinary ability of some of the successors of St. Peter. Among them were men of commanding leadership, men of brains and faith, fearless administrators, aggressive judges, and men conscious of the tremendous part the Papacy was destined to play in the world's history. Conscious of their own power, and standing [181]on their lofty assumptions, they took advantage of every condition and circumstance to increase their authority and prerogatives. Thus the office of the Bishop of Rome continually grew in power and jurisdiction. Julian I. (337-352), the supporter of Athanasius, held lofty ideas of his power as Pope[181:1] and gave his famous decision on the eucharist in the Council of Sardica (343).[181:2] Damascus (366-384), staunch defender of orthodoxy and champion of celibacy, insisted on the recognition of his jurisdiction over East Illyricum, and, as a warm friend of Jerome, established the authority of the Vulgate.[181:3] Siricius (385-398) upheld the jurisdiction of the Holy See and issued the first decretal now extant.[181:4] In legislating about discipline and abuses in the Spanish Church his words were intended to convey universal authority on baptism, marriage, and celibacy. Speaking in conscious virtue of the authority of the Apostolic See he said: "We bear the burdens of all that are heavy laden; nay, rather the blessed Apostle Peter bears them in us, who, as we trust, in all things protects and guards us, the heirs of his administration."

Innocent I. (402-417) accepted, as a matter of unquestioned right, all that had been claimed by his predecessors, and surpassed all of them by the wide range of his pretensions. He sought to obliterate all distinction between advice and command. He spoke in a dogmatic and imperative tone on all questions pertaining to doctrine, discipline, and government in the Church of the West. "It is notorious to all the world," he said, "that no one save St. Peter and his [182]successors have instituted bishops and founded churches in all the Gauls, in Spain, Africa, Sicily, and the adjacent islands."[182:1] Nor did the West deny the maternity of Rome. Consequently he asserted complete jurisdiction over Illyria, assumed that the African churches were dependent upon the See of Rome, formulated fourteen rules for the Gallic bishops, settled controversies in Spain, and manifested a lofty attitude toward the churches of the East. He played a prominent part in repelling the attacks of the barbarians on Rome.[182:2] He was the first to claim a general prerogative, as "the one single fountain-head which fertilises the whole world by its manifold streamlets," to revise the judgment of provincial synods[182:3] and thus to legislate by his own fiat for the whole Church. As the great guardian of orthodoxy, he condemned Pelagius and excommunicated him. "Unstained in life, able and resolute, with a full appreciation of the dignity and prerogatives of his see, he lost no opportunity of asserting its claims; and under him the idea of universal papal supremacy, though as yet somewhat shadowy, appears already to be taking form."

"The first Pope in the proper sense of the word" was Leo I., called the Great (440-461). "In him the idea of the Papacy . . . became flesh and blood. He conceived it in great energy and clearness, and carried it out with the Roman spirit of dominion so far as the circumstance of the time at all allowed."[182:4] [183]Before his elevation to the Papacy in 440 very little is known about Leo. His place of birth, nationality, and early education are all shrouded in obscurity. For ten years prior to his election, Leo was perhaps the most prominent man in Rome and noted for his learning and piety. While absent on a civil mission in Gaul, he was chosen Pope. At that time the Empire was in a very weak condition. Women, surrounded by their court of eunuchs and parasites, ruled at Constantinople and Ravenna. Barbarians were pressing in from all sides. Heresies rent the East and ignorance was fast covering the West. Western Christendom must be consolidated and disciplined so that it could meet the crudeness and heresy of the powerful invaders and overcome both. The See of St. Peter must replace the tottering imperial power. The law of Rome must once more be obeyed over the Empire, but this time as the ecclesiastical law. Leo was the only great man in Church or state, so the burden was thrust upon his shoulders.

Leo possessed those qualifications which made him the master spirit of his age and the "Founder of the mediæval Papacy." Lofty in his aims, severe and pure in life, of indomitable courage and perseverance, inspired by a fanatical belief in the Petrine theory, uncompromisingly orthodox, the great first theologian in the Roman Chair, he made the first clear-cut exposition of the extreme limits and prerogatives of the mediæval Papacy.[183:1] He asserted and exercised the superabounding power of the Pope to regulate every [184]department of Church government without any human limitations. Driven on by a dream of the universal dominion of Rome and Christianity, a great orator who swayed the Romans at will, he acted as a resolute Christian monarch conscious of his divine mission. Possessed of a capacity for complex rule, an extraordinary organiser and administrator, he used all his ability to make Christianity and the Papacy the one great world power. Twice he saved Rome from the barbarians, once in 452 when Attila, King of the Huns, was persuaded to withdraw without attacking the city, and again in 455 when the Vandal leader, Genseric, was induced to spare the capital from fire and murder. He drove heresy out of Italy and suppressed it in Spain. He forced the African Christians to submit to his authority (443), regained the papal power lost in East Illyria, compelled the Gallic bishops to obey his mandates,[184:1] and even asserted his supremacy over the Eastern Church. Through a legate he presided over the fourth ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, guided its theological discussions, and was "the finisher of the true doctrine of the presence of Christ."

Pope Leo laid the greatest possible emphasis upon the fact that there is one God, one Church, one universal bishop, one faith, and one interpreter of that faith, and that the recognition of this basic fact alone could bring unity and efficiency to Christendom. He very wisely cultivated a close alliance with the state and secured from Valentinian III. the promulgation of an imperial edict in 445, which raised him to the exalted position of "spiritual director and governor" of the [185]Universal Church. Thus the Pope would issue his laws for the Church, just as the Emperor did for the Empire.

After Leo the Great, who died in 461, no important Pope filled the Chair of St. Peter until the time of Gregory I., called the Great (590-604). If Leo drew the outline of the mediæval Papacy, Gregory made it a living power. He issued the first declaration of independence and assumed actual jurisdiction over the whole Western Church. His high ideal was completely realised so that even Gibbon calls his pontificate the most edifying period of Church history.[185:1]

Gregory I. was born at Rome in 540 of a rich, pious, senatorial family. His great-grandfather was Pope Felix II. (483-492). His father was a wealthy lawyer and senator. His mother and two aunts were canonised. He was very well educated for that period as a "saint among the saints" as John the Deacon, his biographer, declared. In grammar, rhetoric, and logic he was second to none in Rome.[185:2] He studied law preparatory to public life and was well versed in the inspiring history of Rome and in current events. At thirty he was a distinguished senator and three years later Emperor Justin II. made him Prætor of Rome.

From his mother Gregory inherited a profound religious temperament, hence he naturally became imbued with the ascetic religious ideas of the age. The monastic crusade of the West, now at its height, found [186]him a willing convert. Upon his father's death, Gregory used his vast wealth for charity and for founding seven monasteries. Persuaded by his pious mother, he himself became a monk in 575. Selling all his costly furniture, fine clothes, and jewels for the poor, he turned his own house into a monastery and almost killed himself by his vigorous fasts and ascetic vigils. Soon he gained great fame as a monk, was chosen abbot, founded six monasteries in Sicily and enforced a tyrannical discipline.[186:1]

Gregory was a man of too great ability, however, to be penned up in a monastery; consequently Pope Benedict called him to his court as one of the seven deacons of Rome. In 579 he was sent, as a papal nuncio, to Constantinople to reconcile the Emperor and the Pope and to unite the Eastern and Western churches, while at the same time he was instructed to solicit military aid against the troublesome Lombards. For six years he remained at Constantinople on this mission and gained much fame as a theologian and diplomat. Although he failed to reunite the two branches of the Christian Church, he did bring about an amicable understanding between the Pope and the Emperor and got some help against the Lombards. In a discussion with the Patriarch of Constantinople over the nature of the body after resurrection, Gregory won a signal victory. During his stay in the East he wrote his renowned work Magna Moralia. In 585 he returned to Rome, resumed his duties as abbot, [187]became a popular preacher, and was recognised generally as the most able man in the Church.

When Pope Pelagius II. died in 590, the western part of Europe was in a very critical condition. The Teutonic barbarians had overrun the Empire from England around to Constantinople, destroying or burying nearly all that was best in the civilisation of old Rome. Justinian, to be sure, had recaptured Rome in 556, and it was to remain nominally under imperial rule until the time of Charles the Great (800), but the Emperor's hold on the West was limited and precarious. His representative, the exarch, lived mostly at Ravenna. The Pope, however, acknowledged the sovereignty of the Emperor both in theory and practice. As a result of the weakness and inactivity of the exarch, nearly all Italy lay prostrate before the fierce Lombards, and no efficient help came from the East.

The city of Rome was in a miserable condition. The Tiber had overflowed its banks and had swept away the granaries of corn, thus entailing famine and starvation. A dreadful pestilence had swept away thousands, among them the Pope himself. In a letter, Gregory compared the Roman See to an old shattered ship, letting in the waves on all sides, tossed by daily storms, its planks rotten and gnawed by rats—almost a wreck![187:1] An imperial organisation was needed to give Latin-Teutonic Europe the highest type of an organised, Christian civilisation under one law and one faith, and thus to preserve for future generations the best that was in old Greece and Rome, as well as the best that was in the Germans. "It is impossible to conceive [188]what had been the confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages, without the mediæval Papacy."[188:1] A man of heart, power, and lofty purpose—a ruler who saw the opportunity and need of the Christian Church in Western Europe, who felt her new impulses, and who could guide her through a crucial period to a great and useful career—such a man the Roman senate, clergy, and people believed that they had found in the monk Gregory. He alone could save them from Teutonic anarchy, on the one hand, and from Roman decay on the other.

Although elected Pope unanimously by the senate, clergy, and people of Rome, Gregory did not want the office. He felt unworthy of it and feared its duties might lure him to worldliness—hence he fled the city and wrote the Emperor beseeching him not to confirm the election. But the Roman prefect intercepted the letter and sent instead a petition urging the confirmation. Gregory was captured at last and forcibly consecrated Supreme Pontiff. He was the best qualified man in all Christendom for the place. He represented the best in Rome and the best in Christianity. His comprehensive policy, his grasp of fundamental issues, his political training, his capacity for details, made him the man for the hour. He merged the office of Roman Emperor and Christian bishop into essentially one and thus became the real founder of the mediæval Papacy. His pontificate, therefore, was an era in the history of the Church.

Gregory's policy was to uphold and extend the Petrine theory to the utmost, although personally refusing the title of "Universal Bishop." He censured [189]the ambitious Patriarch of Constantinople for assuming that title and wrote to John of Syracuse: "With regard to the church of Constantinople, who doubts that it is subject to the Apostolic See? . . . The Apostolic See is the head of all churches."[189:1] To the Patriarch of Alexandria he wrote: "In the preface of the epistle . . . you have thought fit to make use of a proud title, calling me Universal Pope. But I beg your most sweet Holiness to do this no more."[189:2] Again he exclaimed: "Whoever calls himself Universal Bishop is Antichrist."[189:3] Gregory meant to exercise as much autonomy as possible in ruling the West but, at the same time, to submit to imperial authority in all instances of conflicting claims.[189:4] He planned to unify and purify the Church and to extend Christianity over the known world.

Under Gregory's able management papal power was consolidated and made supreme in Western Europe. He systematised papal theology, and perfected and beautified the Church liturgy until it took three hours to celebrate the mass.[189:5] He regulated the calendar of festivals. He checked heresies by driving Manichæism and Arianism out of Italy, Spain, and Gaul, and even advised the persecution of African Donatists (591). The Jews, however, were tolerated and efforts made to convert them. To get rid of simony he personally [190]refused all presents and abolished all fees in his court. From priest to bishop he corrected the clergy and urged upon them celibacy.[190:1] He restored discipline throughout the Church and patronised all sorts of charity. He fought paganism fiercely by denouncing the Roman classics and even boasting of his own ignorance of them,[190:2] while at the same time he sent missionaries over most all of Western Europe. Monasticism, which he himself had adopted with all his heart, he encouraged and improved by restoring the early rigid discipline; by separating monks and clergy; by restricting admission to religious houses to persons above the age of eighteen years; by insisting on a probation of two years; by condemning deserters to life imprisonment; and by favouring the Benedictine Rule as the model. The papal court was reorganised, and clergy were substituted for boys and secular adults to attend the Pope. Even some efforts were made to check the European slave-trade.

In administrative power Gregory was perhaps inferior to Leo I. The Church was very wealthy, owning lands by this time all over Western Europe and in Africa. The Pope had to rule these vast estates as a mighty landlord. Subdeacons were his agents. Tenants were controlled politically as well as religiously. The surplus income was given to the clergy, papal domestics, monasteries, churches, cemeteries, almshouses, and hospitals. On the first of every month he distributed to the poor corn, wine, cheese, vegetables, oil, fish, meat, clothes, and money. The country was full of tramps and poor clergy; these he provided for and also supported impoverished nobles.[190:3] His letters [191]are full of items about law-suits, disputes over weights and measures, collection of rents, emancipation of slaves, marriage of tenants, produce accounts, and a multitude of other affairs.

In addition to these multitudinous duties, he was virtual King of Italy. He denounced the corrupt exarch and drilled the Romans for military defence, though he always laboured for peace. He held the haughty Lombards in check and converted them to Christianity. He extended his authority over Africa, Spain, Gaul, England, and Ireland and even claimed jurisdiction over the East. He was the first Pope to become in act and in influence, if not in name, the temporal sovereign of the West. He paved the way for Hildebrand and Innocent III.

In culture Gregory was a true son of an age of credulity and superstition. He believed all the current tales about ghosts, miracles, and supernatural manifestations. The linen of St. Paul and his bondage-chains, he declared genuine and possessed of miracle-working power.[191:1] To the converted Visigothic King in Spain he sent a key made from Peter's chain, a piece of the true cross, and some hairs from the head of John the Baptist. Indeed this was a practice which he followed in the case of many of his friends whom he desired to especially favour.[191:2] The "monuments of classic genius" he despised, asserting that it was his wish to be unknown in this world and glorified in the next. He very severely censured the profane learning of a bishop who taught grammar, studied the Latin poets, and pronounced Jupiter and Christ in the same breath. It was his [192]constant habit, on the other hand, to enforce upon all Christians—clergy and laity alike—the great duty of reading the Bible. Still his own literary work was rather voluminous. He wrote 850 letters—more than all his 69 predecessors together—on all topics and to all Christendom. In addition he produced his Magna Moralia,[192:1] some homilies, a book on pastoral rule, and liturgical treatises. His productions are below mediocrity and he cannot compare with Leo I. as a critic, expositor, or original thinker. He had but a slight knowledge of Greek and knew no Hebrew, nor did he possess a deep acquaintance with the Church Fathers. Yet for that age he was a cultured man and enjoyed a high reputation for piety and learning, and spoke to unborn generations.

"By his writings and the fame of his personal sanctity, by the conversion of England and the introduction of an impressive ritual, Gregory the Great did more than any other Pontiff to advance Rome's ecclesiastical authority."[192:2] His virtues and faults, his simplicity and cunning, his pride and humility, his ignorance and his learning—all were suited to the times and made him "the greatest of all the early Popes."[192:3] He closes the period of the Church Fathers and opens the Middle Ages. For 150 years there were no material acquisitions of ecclesiastical power, hence the history of the Papacy becomes very uninteresting and comparatively unimportant.[192:4]

When Gregory the Great closed his remarkable career (604) the Papacy of the Middle Ages had been [193]born and in form resembled the Empire.[193:1] The head of the Church was known as "Pope." Because of his peculiar personal holiness he could be judged by none,[193:2] though himself judge of all. The hierarchy of officers had been practically completed.[193:3] The laity was distinctly cut off from the clergy, and deprived of powers exercised in the first and second centuries. The election of the clergy had changed from a democratic to an aristocratic process. There was a marked evolution in rites and ceremonies. Art and music were now employed. The mass gradually became the powerful, mysterious centre of all worship, while public worship became imposing, dramatic, theatrical. Festivals were multiplied almost without number. The worship of martyrs and saints[193:4] became so widespread and popular that a "calendar of saints" was formed. Pilgrimages grew to be very numerous and the use of relics[193:5] developed such a craze that the fathers, councils, Popes, and at last the Emperor himself sought to check it. Religious pageants were multiplied and the use of images and pictures of saints were encouraged in the churches. The Virgin Mary was exalted to the eminence of divinity. In imitation of the court-calendar, loftier titles of spiritual dignity were adopted or invented for the higher ecclesiastics. The dogma of the "unity of outward representation" [194]had acquired not merely a material and visible, but also a sacramental, character. Thus the Church was the only channel of spiritual graces, hence union with the Church was absolutely indispensable to salvation. The Church had become immensely wealthy in lands, buildings, and furniture. This corrupting familiarity with secular affairs was early seen and denounced. St. Chrysostom sharply rebuked the bishops who "had fallen to the condition of land-stewards, hucksters, brokers, publicans, and pay-clerks." The Council of Chalcedon ordered the bishops to appoint land-stewards to look after their estates.[194:1]

Sources


FOOTNOTES:

[165:1] Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 118.

[165:2] Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, i., 232.

[166:1] It must be said, however, that the Eastern Patriarchs refused to recognise the decision. Gieseler, i., 382; Milman, i., 130. Cf. Socrates, ii., 15 ff.

[166:2] Hard., Concil., i., p. 610 ff.

[166:3] Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, i., 205.

[166:4] Can. 4, 5, 7.

[167:1] The Council of Sardica was not recognised, however, either by the churches of the East or of Africa.

[167:2] Mansi, iii., 624.

[167:3] Cod. Theod. Novell., tit. xxix., Suppl., p. 12; Robinson, Readings, i., 72. The same power was conferred by the Council of Chalcedon (451) on the Bishop of Constantinople. Canon 9.

[167:4] Ep. 13; Robinson, Readings, i., 72.

[167:5] Ep. 9.

[167:6] Greenwood, i., 270-279.

[168:1] Hard., Concil., i., 947.

[168:2] Ep. 209.

[168:3] Ep. 4, c. 5.

[168:4] Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 139.

[169:1] Berington and Kirk, Faith of Catholics, ii., 1-112.

[170:1] Migne, xi.; Optatus, lib. ii., c. 2, 3; lib. vii., c. 3. Mileve is in Numidia.

[170:2] De Excidio Satyri, i., 47; Mansi, Concil., iii., cal. 622.

[170:3] Jerome, Ep. 15, 146; Greenwood, i., 232.

[170:4] Ps. contra Don.; Ep. 178; Greenwood, i., 296.

[170:5] Ignatius, Martyrs, n. 4; Hom. ii. in Principium Actorum, n. 6, iii., p. 70; Theodoret, Ep. 83, 113, 116; Cyril, Ep. ad Coelest.

[171:1] Canon 6; Gieseler, i., 378. Later an interpolation made canon 6 read: "Rome has always held the primacy." First used at Chalcedon in 451.

[171:2] Canons 3, 4, and 5; Mansi, iii., 23; Sardica was not a universal council.

[171:3] Milman, i., 101. Cf. Hefele, i., 539; Greenwood, i., 239, 240.

[171:4] Mansi, Concil., iii., cal. 622.

[172:1] Gieseler, i., 385, 395, 396; Schaff, iii., 313.

[172:2] Matt. xvi., 19; xviii., 18; 1 Cor. v., 3-5; 2 Cor. vi., 14, 17; Rom. xvi., 17; Gal. i., 8, 9; Tit. iii., 10; 1 Thess. iii., 6, 14, 15.

[173:1] Hard., Concil., i., 1025.

[173:2] Gieseler, i., 382; Milman, i., 129.

[173:3] Robinson, Readings, i., 68.

[174:1] Bower, i., 383.

[174:2] Nic. and Post-Nic. Fathers, 2d ser., xii., 70, Letter 43.

[174:3] Robinson, Readings, i., 72.

[174:4] Ibid., 73.

[175:1] Lateran, Vatican, St. Paul, St. Agnes, St. Lawrence, and St. Marcellinus.

[177:1] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., v., 24.

[177:2] On Modesty, in Lib. of Ante-Nic. Fathers, xviii.

[177:3] Hippolytus, Refutation of Heresies, ix., 7.

[177:4] Greenwood, i., 109.

[177:5] Ibid., 121 ff.

[178:1] Boyd, W. K., Eccles. Edicts of the Theodos. Code, N. Y., 1906.

[179:1] Can. 9. Later the same procedure was adopted at Constantinople.

[179:2] Cod. Theod., c. 16.

[179:3] Robinson, Readings, i., 72.

[179:4] Greenwood, i., 324.

[179:5] Cod. Justin., i., tit. 2.

[180:1] Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, ii., 137.

[180:2] Ammianus Marcellinus, lib. xxvii., c. 3.

[180:3] Gieseler, i., 219; Schaff, iii., 68, 69.

[180:4] Hutton, W. H., The Church and the Barbarians, N. Y., 1906.

[181:1] Apolog. contra Arian, 21-26; Euseb., Soc., and Soz.

[181:2] Smith and Wace, iii., 532.

[181:3] Ibid., i., 783.

[181:4] Robinson, Readings, i., 68.

[182:1] Hard., Concil., i., 995.

[182:2] Milman, i., 143, 4.

[182:3] 1st Epist., ii., ch. 3; Lea, Studies in Ch. Hist., 133; Hard., Concil., i., 1025.

[182:4] Smith and Wace, iii., 652; Post-Nicene Fathers, xii.; Greenwood, i., bk. 2, ch. 4-6; Milman, i., bk. 2, ch. 4; Schaff, iii., 314.

[183:1] Thatcher and McNeal, Source-Book of Med. Hist., No. 35. Nic. and Post-Nic. Fathers, 2d ser., xii., contains his life and letters. See sermon by Leo I. on Peter's leadership in Robinson, Readings, i., 69; Orr, Source Book, § 10.

[184:1] Hilary, Archbishop of Arles, was excommunicated and Emperor Valentinian III. was induced to uphold the action. Greenwood, i., 351 ff.

[185:1] Gibbon, Decline and Fall, iv., 421; Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2d ser., xii., contains Gregory's letters and sermons; Gregory of Tours; Bede; Snow, St. Gregory the Great; Barmby, Gregory the Great; Hutton, Church of the Sixth Century; Neander, iii., 112; Hallam, 328.

[185:2] Gregory of Tours, x., 1.

[186:1] Soon many poetical tales were imputed to him. It was said a new stomach was given him so he could fast. An angel visited him disguised as a sailor. Milman, ii., 45. Read Bede for the story which led to the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. For his treatment of the monk Justus see Milman, i., 432. Cf. Montalembert, ii., 84-87; Dict. Christ. Biog., ii., 779.

[187:1] Epistle v. in Nic. and Post-Nic. Fathers, xii., 74.

[188:1] Milman, ii., 44.

[189:1] Ep., ix., 12; xiii., 45.

[189:2] Ep., viii., 30; ix., 12.

[189:3] Milman, ii., 72; Ep., vii., 31.

[189:4] Milman, ii., 81.

[189:5] He created the Gregorian chant, instituted singing schools, minutely described the ceremonies, prescribed the variety and change of garments, and laid down the order of processions. The duties of priests and deacons were outlined and their parishes defined.

[190:1] Ep., iii., 34, 50.

[190:2] Ep., xi., 54.

[190:3] It was also reported that he fed 3000 virgins.

[191:1] Epistle xxx. in Nic. and Post-Nic. Fathers, xii., 154.

[191:2] Ibid., 82, 130, 243.

[192:1] This was an exposition of the Book of Job, Ep. 49.

[192:2] Bryce, 150.

[192:3] Adams, Civ. of M. A., 230.

[192:4] Hallam, 329.

[193:1] Gieseler, i., 382; Milman, i., 128.

[193:2] Hefele, iii., 20. In the early Church "pope," or "papa" or "abba," was applied to all clergy. Schaff, iii., 300. "Pope" is still used for all priests in the Greek Church and "father" in the Latin Church. See Cyprian, Ep., viii., 1.

[193:3] Stewards, secretaries, nurses, and undertakers were regarded as being in a sense members of the lower clergy. Schaff, iii., 262.

[193:4] For biblical authority see Luke xv., 10; Rev. viii., 3, 4.

[193:5] Began in the second century.

[194:1] Hard., Concil., ii., 612.


[198]

CHAPTER XI
MONASTICISM

Outline: I.—Importance of the institution of monasticism. II.—Antecedents and analogies. III.—Causes of the origin of Christian monasticism. IV.—Evolution of Christian monasticism. V.—Spread of group monasticism from the East to the West. VI.—Development of monasticism in Western Europe. VII.—Opposition to monasticism. VIII.—Result and influences of monasticism. IX.—Sources.

Monasticism, the story of which is one of the strangest problems in Church history and is enshrouded in legend, originated outside the Church, but soon became the dominant factor in the Church. It was not the product of Christianity so much as an inheritance—an adopted child. It supported the orthodox faith,[198:1] upheld the papal theory, monopolised ecclesiastical offices, helped to mould the Church constitution, and supplied the great standing army of the Popes. It was a determining factor in European civilisation. The monk was the ideal man of the Middle Ages. He stood for the highest morality and best culture of that period. As a missionary he planted the Church over Western Europe. He stood between the laity and the hierarchy, as the friend of the former and the champion of the latter. He created the system of public charity and had a marked influence on industry and agriculture. Before [199]long a monk sat in the chair of St. Peter and sought to rule the Church. The first series of great ecclesiastical reforms was produced by the hermits in the fourth century, the Benedictines in the sixth, the Clugniacs in the eleventh, and the Begging Orders in the thirteenth. Monasticism, therefore, was a very important institution in the rise of the Church.

Monasticism originated in antiquity and was based on a general principle broader than any creed. It grew out of that mystical longing for an uninterrupted inner enjoyment of the soul—out of a passion for self-brooding, and out of an abnormal view of the seclusion necessary for the cultivation of the true religious life, which would save the soul from sin. It was simply an effort to explain the riddle of existence and to comprehend the true relations of God, man, and the world. Every great religion has expressed itself in some form of monasticism. Centuries before Jesus there were monks and crowded convents among the Hindoos. The sacred writings of the ancient Hindoos (2400 B.C.) reveal many legends about holy hermits, and give ascetic rules.[199:1] Buddha, who founded his faith possibly six centuries B.C., enjoined celibacy on his priests.[199:2] Alexander the Great found monasticism flourishing in the East. In Greece the "Pagan Jesuits," the Pythagoreans, were a kind of ascetic order.[199:3] Plato, with his powerful appeal for the ideal life, had a marked influence upon the ascetic views of the early Christians, and Neo-Platonism became a positive force [200]in Christendom during the third and fourth centuries. The priestesses of Delphic Apollo, Achaian Juno, and Scythian Diana were virgins.[200:1] In Judea the ancient Nazarites[200:2] afford an example. The Essenes seem to be the direct forerunners of Christian monasticism.[200:3] In addition there were conspicuous individual examples in Jewish history like that of Elisha, Elijah, Samuel, and John the Baptist.[200:4] In Rome the name of vestal virgin was a proverb. In Egypt, the priests of Serapis were ascetics,[200:5] the priestesses of Ceres were separated from their husbands,[200:6] and the Therapeutæ were rigid monks who lived about the time of Jesus.[200:7]

These influences and examples, coupled with Platonic philosophy, and the interpretation put upon the teachings and lives of Jesus and His Apostles, produced Christian monasticism. Jesus Himself was unmarried, poor, and had not "where to lay his head." He commanded the rich young man to sell his property for the poor,[200:8] and said: "Take no thought for the morrow what ye shall eat and what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed." St. John and probably other Apostles were celibates.[200:9] The [201]Apostles likewise taught that following Jesus meant "forsaking father, mother, brethren, wife, children, houses and lands."[201:1] They urged Christians to crucify the flesh, and disparaged marriage,[201:2] and they too were poor and homeless like their Master.[201:3]

The supreme question asked by earnest Christians in all ages has been this: "What is the true, the ideal Christian life?"[201:4] At every step of her progress the Church has given a different answer to the important query. Yet in all this divergent opinion there is plainly seen one common conviction. To live in the service of God, in the religious denunciation of the world, and in the abnegation of the joys of life—that is the universal reply. In the early Church this position was very strongly emphasised and led, in consequence, to the rise of monasticism. Hence it may be said that the monastic ideals simply expressed the highest ideals of the Church, and the history of monasticism becomes a vital part of the history of the mediæval Church.

It must be remembered, too, that the old belief that the Church was poor, pure, and wholly spiritual until the time of Constantine is a false tradition. The secularisation and materialisation of the Church was so noticeable as to cause complaint as early as the third century. The Church Fathers unanimously deplore the precocious decay of the Christian world.[201:5] To the minds of many, therefore, the only way to escape [202]the damning effects of contamination with the Roman world, the only way to elude the evils in the Church itself, and the only sure way of leading the ideal Christian life was to flee from villages and cities to the mountains and deserts. "They fled not only from the world, but from the world within the Church." When Christianity was drawn from the catacombs to the court of the Cæsars, it lost its power to regenerate souls. That memorable alliance hindered neither the ruin of the Empire, nor "the servitude and mutilation of the Church."[202:1] Associated with the power that so long sought to destroy her, the Church was brought face to face with the tremendous task of transforming and replacing the Empire. At the same time the Church made a desperate attempt, though in vain, to keep alive the spiritual torches of apostolic Christianity. The solution of that great problem, however, was left to the monks.

The philosophy which prevailed among many of the early Christians held that the material world is all evil, and that the spiritual world is the only good. Gnosticism, which permeated Christendom in the second century, declared that the body is the seat of evil and hence that it must be abused in order to purify the soul within.[202:2] Montanism advocated an excessive puritanism, and prescribed numerous fasts and severities, which paved the way for asceticism. Other groups of Christian philosophers exercised similar influences.[202:3] The Church itself commended fasting and other practices for the cultivation of [203]spiritual benefit. Celibacy of the clergy gradually became the rule. As a result the belief soon developed that the surest way to gain eternal joys in heaven was to turn away from the transitory pleasures of earth. Christianity in the first and second centuries was the gospel of renunciation and resurrection. The next logical step was to make the body as miserable as possible here—sort of a pious sacrifice—in order to make the soul happier hereafter. To die that one might really live, to find one's life in losing it—that became the supreme purpose of earthly existence. The most eminent of the early Fathers commended asceticism, particularly fasting and celibacy, and many likewise practised it. It is easy to feel that the air was charged with ascetic ideals. The literature, the philosophy, and the religion of the day all pointed out narrow paths that led to holiness. As a result there were many ascetics of both sexes, although they were bound by no irrevocable vow.[203:1]

The persecutions of Christians by the Roman government forced many to flee for safety to the deserts and mountains.[203:2] Thus Paul of Thebes and St. Anthony fled in the Decian persecutions about the year 250. When persecution ceased, martyrdom had become such a holy act, and such a short, easy road to a sainted, eternal life, that the most devout resolved that since they could not die as martyrs, they would at least live as martyrs. The mildness of the climate in Egypt and Palestine, where the small amount of food and clothing needed for subsistence was easily procured, made those regions the birthplace of monasticism. The growth of worldliness in the Church, [204]with the increase of numbers and wealth, gave rise to many cries for reform. The legalisation and, along with it, the paganisation of the Church gave birth to much that was bitterly denounced. The union of the Church and state was the climax—the Church was no longer the "bride of Christ," it was held, but the mistress of a worldly ruler. Hence monasticism turned its back not only on the world but also on the Church. To understand it, therefore, it must be viewed as the first great reformation in the Church—a desire to return to simple, pure, spiritual, apostolic Christianity.[204:1]

Christian monasticism did not begin at any fixed time or place. It was slowly evolved as a curious mixture of heathen, Jewish, and Christian influences. The whole Church had an ascetic aspect during the apostolic age, hence endurance, hardihood, and constant self-denial were required of its members. But for one hundred and fifty years no proofs of a distinct class of ascetics can be found within the Church, except, perhaps, the order of widows, devoted to charity, supported by gifts from the faithful, and sanctioned by the Apostles.[204:2] In the second century, however, a class of orthodox Christians, who desired to attain Christian perfection, were called "abstinents" or "ascetics." They withdrew from society but not from the Church, renounced marriage and property, fasted and prayed, and eagerly sought a martyr's death.[204:3] The belief that the end of the world was near no doubt [205]did much to emphasise the necessity of preparing for the day of judgment. By the third century the Christian literature, philosophy, and theology were tinged with asceticism. Cyprian, Origen, Hieracus, Methodius, Tertullian, and others taught the efficacy of asceticism in one form or another and, to some extent, practised it themselves,[205:1] but always within the Church. The heretical sects became still more prominent in their reverence for austerities and even outdid the orthodox in practice.[205:2] This first stage of asceticism was neither organised, nor absolutely cut off from the Church.

The product of this wide-spread ascetic agitation was the creation of a new type, namely, anchoretism, or hermit life, about the middle of the third century. This was the second phase of monastic evolution. It appeared first in Egypt about the fourth century, where the physical conditions were most suitable, in the home of the Therapeutæ and Serapis monks, the stronghold of heresy and paganism, the birthplace of Neo-Platonism amid a people famous for fanaticism. The Decian persecution in 250 was, apparently, the immediate occasion for its birth. Anthony of Alexandria, and Ammon were the earliest representatives of this new form of asceticism. Paul of Thebes, however, is now generally believed to be a pious romance from the pen of Jerome, but he may still be viewed as typical.

Anthony (251-356), the "patriarch of the monks," was the real founder of anchoretism. He early sold his estate for the poor, gave his sister to a body of [206]virgins, and cut himself off from the world by retiring to a desert in order to devote his life to spiritual things. He lived as a strict hermit till a great age, gained a world-wide fame, had many visitors seeking spiritual guidance, and won many converts to monasticism. Soon the wildest tales were told about his divine powers. Before he died Egypt was full of hermits, and some were found in Palestine. Athanasius wrote his biography, which was read over all Christendom and scattered seeds of anchoretism everywhere—a book which influenced the thought of the age. Ammon had a settlement of possibly 5000 hermits at Mount Nitria in Lower Egypt and was almost as renowned as Anthony, his great contemporary.[206:1]

The example of these illustrious characters drew thousands of both the curious and the sincere to Egypt.[206:2] Whole congregations, led by their bishops, withdrew to the desert for salvation.[206:3] Priests fled from the obligations of their office.[206:4] By the fourth century that land was full of hermits. Their life was of a negative character, founded on abstinence and bodily abuse—a holy rivalry of self-torture and suicidal austerities. These practices may be divided into four classes: dietetic, sexual, social, and spiritual.

(1) From a dietetic standpoint the hermits either fasted, or ate the simplest foods, or consumed the smallest quantities. Thus the renowned Isidore of Alexandria never ate meat, and often at the table would burst into tears for shame at the thought that he who [207]was destined to eat angel's food in Paradise should have to eat the material food of animals. Macarius ate but once a week. His son lived three years on five ounces of bread a day and seven years on raw vegetables. Alos boasted that up to his eighteenth year he never ate bread. Symeon ate but once daily and in fast time not at all. Heliodorus often fasted seven days at a time. In Mesopotamia a group of hermits lived on grass.[207:1]

(2) Sexually the hermits believed either in absolute virginity or in abstinence.

(3) The social and domestic vagaries of anchoretism assumed many forms. The hermits fled from the society of the world; deserted friends and family; courted the company of wild beasts[207:2]; lived in caves, dried-up wells, swamps, rude huts, tombs, and on the summits of solitary columns, or wandered about without fixed homes.[207:3] A monk named Akepsismas lived sixty years in the same cell without seeing or speaking to any person and was finally shot for a wolf. Some hermits wore no clothing,[207:4] and thus exposed the body to the broiling sun and to biting insects. Macarius, to atone for killing a gnat, lay naked six months in a swamp and was so badly stung that he was mistaken for a leper.[207:5] Others wore hair shirts, carried heavy weights suspended from the body, slept in thorn bushes, against a pillar, in cramped quarters, or deprived themselves altogether of sleep. Many never washed their faces nor cared for their hair, beards, teeth, and nails. With them filthiness seemed to be next to godliness. [208]Anthony and Hilarion scorned either to cut or to comb their hair except at Easter, or to wash their hands and faces. St. Abraham never washed his face for fifty years—yet his biographer proudly says, "His face reflected the purity of his soul." Theodosius like a second Moses, had a stream of water burst from a rock that his thirsty monks might drink. One wicked fellow, overcome by a pitiable weakness for cleanliness, took a bath, when, lo! the stream dried up. Thereupon the frightened and repentant monks promised never to insult heaven by using water for that purpose again, and after a year of waiting a second miracle gave them a fresh supply.

(4) A sincere desire for spiritual improvement expressed itself in various practices. Prayer was perhaps the most common means to that end, and it was believed that number and duration counted the most. Paul the Simple repeated three hundred prayers a day and counted them with pebbles. A certain famous virgin added four hundred to that number daily. Some spent all day and others all night in prayer. Meditation and contemplation were generally employed. Preaching and singing were common forms of religious activity. Studying and writing engaged those of a more scholarly bent of mind.

Out of this unorganised anchoretism there grew, by the latter part of the third century, a crude form of group monasticism. This was the third stage in the progress of monastic life. Such renowned hermits as St. Anthony in Upper Egypt, Ammon at Mount Nitria, Joannes in Thebaid, Macarius in the Scetische Desert, and Hilarion in the Gaza Desert each had a coterie of imitators imbued with a common purpose and with a profound respect for their leader; but no [209]uniform rules governed them at first. As time passed, however, the necessity of regulating the various relations of so many became apparent.[209:1] The organisations of the Essenes and Therapeutæ may have served as models. At Mount Nitria the monks by common arrangement lived in separate cells, but had a dining room and a chapel for all.[209:2] Pachomius (282-346), a converted heathen soldier, of little education, a pupil of Palæmon for twelve years, created the first monastic rule and organised at Tabenna on the Nile the first monastic congregation (322), while his sister formed the first convent at Tabenisi. This first walled monastery had many cells built to accommodate three monks in each. Membership was guarded by three years' probation on severe discipline. The monks met in silence for one daily meal and wore white hoods so as not to see each other. They prayed thirty-six times daily, worked with their hands indoors and out, and wore over their linen underclothes white goat skins day and night. They were ruled by "priors" chosen on merit from the twenty-four classes of monks.[209:3] At the head of the whole system stood an abbot.[209:4] When Pachomius died (346) he had established nine cloisters with 3000 monks. He called them all together twice a year, and paid them annual visits. By 400 the monks numbered 50,000.[209:5] The great Athanasius visited Tabenna to inspect the system and to study the operation of this epoch-making rule.

[210]From Tabenna organised monasticism spread over Egypt and then to nearly every province in the Roman Empire by the end of the fourth century.[210:1] In the Holy Land laboured Hilarion,[210:2] Epiphanius,[210:3] Hesycas,[210:4] the Bethlehem brothers,[210:5] Ammonius,[210:6] Silvanus, and Zacharias. Jerome, the celebrated Church Father, with Paula, a rich Roman widow, left Rome for the East. After studying monasticism in Egypt they located at Bethlehem (386). There Jerome studied the Scriptures and ruled a large crowd of monks, while Paula became the head of a convent for girls. Melania built a convent on the Mount of Olives and ruled fifty virgins (375). Goddana and Elias laboured on the lower Jordan.

In Asia Minor laboured, conspicuous among many, Eustathius who first prescribed a monastic dress, Basil the Great (c. 379) who originated the monastic vow,[210:7] the famous Nilus (c. 430), and the hated hermit Marcus (c. 431). Syria was renowned for at least a dozen hermits, the most celebrated being Simeon Stylites (c. 459),[210:8] the pillar saint. From Egypt and Asia the institution spread to Greece and became quite general by the fourth century. The most famous cloister was that of Studium (460) at Constantinople. The islands of the Adriatic and Tuscan Sea were soon covered with monasteries swarming with monks.[210:9]

[211]The fourth and most important step is found in the development of the institution in western Europe.

Athanasius, a hero and oracle to the Western Church, on a tour to Rome in 340, carried with him from Egypt two specimens of hermits.[211:1] His Life of Anthony was soon translated into Latin. The West had already heard about the institution, and many individuals had visited the most celebrated hermits in Egypt. After 340 many men and women began to give enthusiastic support to the new institution. Eusebius (c. 370) lived by rule with his clergy under one roof at Vercelli in northern Italy.[211:2] Ambrose fostered it in and around Milan.[211:3] Paul of Nola (c. 431) lived in Campagna. Conspicuous examples were found among the Roman virgins and widows.[211:4] Marcella in Rome turned her palace into a convent.[211:5] Paula and her whole family lived as ascetics. The widow Lea was an active worker.[211:6] Melania devoted her fortune to the cause. Many of the nobles of Rome likewise became converts to the new idea.[211:7] Jerome and Rufinus were conspicuous examples of those devotees who by precept and practice soon popularised monasticism throughout Italy. Convents for both sexes were soon founded.[211:8] From Rome Augustine carried the institution back to north-western Africa. When Cassian (c. 448) left Egypt and planted two monasteries at Marseilles, he [212]found monks already in France. Martin, the Bishop of Tours, turned his episcopal palace into a monastery, and at his death (400) 2000 monks followed him to the grave.[212:1] Poitiers, Lyons, and Treves, together with the bordering mountains, were soon scenes of monastic activity. Donatus, an African monk, early carried the new faith to Spain where it soon became so popular that by 380 a synod forbade priests dressing as monks. Athanasius, who lived at Treves as an exile, probably introduced it into Germany. The British Isles had a flourishing system long before the mission of Augustine. By the fifth century, therefore, monasticism had been firmly planted over all western Europe.[212:2]

Although western monasticism was an offspring of the eastern type, yet the child differed much from the parent. Anchoretism gained but little foothold in the West because of climatic and ethnic differences. The group type was dominant in the West, and extremes and excesses were absent. No pillar saints and other conspicuous fanatics were found there.[212:3] Western monasticism was a more practical system, an economic factor, a powerful missionary machine, an educational agency, and the pioneer of civilisation. It was not a negative force, but very aggressive and made history. It led all the great reform movements. It was uniform in spirit, though widely divergent in form. In some cases monks were under abbots each with his own rule; others had no fixed abode—and many of them were tramps of the worst description, living on their [213]holy calling.[213:1] Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, and many other Fathers have left sufficient complaints about the growing monastic disorders. The need of a common rule, therefore, was generally felt in order to unify the highly varied, and in part highly doubtful forms of monasticism.

Early efforts were made to meet that need. Jerome translated the rule of Pachomius into Latin and it was used in parts of Italy. Rufinus brought the rule of Basil the Great to Rome and it was adopted in southern Italy and in Gaul. The rule of Macarius was at least known in the West. Cassian (c. 448) was the first, however, to write out for the cruder western institution a detailed constitution (c. 429). He had studied monasticism in Egypt and drew up a very complete rule which covered all the essential phases of cloister life. It was used in many cloisters till the ninth century. During this early unorganised period Popes, councils, and even secular powers often tried to control and regulate monasticism.

The great organiser and unifier of western monasticism, however, was St. Benedict (d. 543), "the patriarch of the monks of the west."[213:2] Born of rich parents at Nursia in 480, he was sent to Rome to complete his education. There he became disgusted with the vice about him, fled from college, family, and fortune, and at the age of sixteen, retired to a cave at Subiaco thirty miles from Rome. He became a severe ascetic, wore a hair shirt and a monk's dress of skins, rolled in beds of thistles to subdue the flesh, and chose to be ignorant and holy rather than educated and wicked. His fame soon attracted disciples and he established [214]twelve monasteries, with a dozen monks and a superior in each, but all under his own supervision. Later he left Subiaco and went to Monte Cassino where he spent the closing years of his remarkable career. Monte Cassino became the capital of western monasticism.

To control his monks Benedict drew up in 529 the "Holy Rule,"[214:1] which became the basis for all western monastic orders and was a rival of St. Basil's rule in the East. The "Holy Rule" was the product of Benedict's own sad experience as hermit, cenobite, and superior, and also of his observations concerning the monastic laxness which he saw on all hands. It consists of a prologue and chapters on seventy-three governmental, social, moral, liturgical, and penal subjects. The whole spirit and aim of the Rule were constructive and reformatory. It provided for an organisation monarchial at the top and democratic at the bottom. Each monastery had an abbot elected for life by all the monks to rule the monastery in the place of Christ. The abbot chose the prior and deans, on the basis of merit, with the approval of the monks, but minor officials were named directly by the abbot. The important business affairs of the monastery were conducted by the abbot in consultation with all the monks, but minor matters required only the advice of the superior officers. Admission was open to all ranks and classes of men above eighteen on an equal footing after one year's probation. The two fundamental principles in this constitution were labour and obedience. Indolence was branded as the enemy of the soul. [215]Each candidate had to take the vow of obedience and constancy to the order; chastity and poverty of course being implied. A monk's day was minutely regulated, according to the seasons, and consisted of an alternation of manual work, study, and worship, with short intervals for food and rest. Labour was thus regulated in the monastery somewhat as in an industrial penitentiary. The frugal meal was eaten in silence while some edifying selection was read. The monks had to renounce the world and give all the fruits of their labours to the monastery.

Obedience was regarded as the most meritorious and essential condition of all. Monasticism meant a generous sacrifice of self and implied a surrender of the will to a superior. The monk must obey not only the abbot but also the requests of his brethren. Monks were treated as children grown up. They could not own property—not even the smallest trifles; they were not allowed to walk abroad at will; if sent away, they could not eat without the abbot's permission; they could not receive letters from home; and they were sent to bed early. Once in the order the vow of stability prevented withdrawal. A violation of any of the regulations entailed punishment: private admonition, exclusion from common prayer, whipping, and expulsion.

This Rule, all things considered, was mild, flexible, and general; with order, proportion, and regularity, yet brief, concise, and well tempered to the needs of western Europe[215:1]; hence like Aaron's rod it soon swallowed up the other rules in use. Before 600 it was supreme in Italy. In 788 the Council of Aachen ordered it and no other to be used throughout the kingdom of Charles [216]the Great. In the ninth century it superseded the Isidore rule in Spain. It embraced likewise the Columban rule in western Europe and by the tenth century prevailed everywhere. Under it the Benedictines had a remarkable history. At one time they had 37,000 monasteries and altogether produced 24 Popes, 200 cardinals, 4000 bishops, and 55,505 saints.[216:1] The Benedictine monasteries differed from later monastic bodies in the fact that they were quite independent of each other and had no common head. After the thirteenth century they were surpassed by the Begging Orders and devoted themselves mostly to literary pursuits, soon becoming "more noted for learning than piety." Their edition of the Church Fathers is a monument of scholarly industry.[216:2] The order still exists, chiefly in Austria and Italy, and is noted mostly for its classical learning. They boast of 16,000 distinguished writers.

These early monasteries were like swarming bees in planting monastic societies in every part of western Europe. The passion grew until it became a veritable madness which seized the pious and lawless alike. Popes like Gregory I. praised the institution and promoted its interest in every possible way. Even kings like Carloman of the Franks, Rochis of the Lombards, great statesmen like Cassiodorus, and others voluntarily became monks. Louis the Pious, the Roman Emperor, was prevented from that course only by his nobles.[216:3] The monk was the leader and pattern of the Middle [217]Ages. Every father was ambitious to have his son enter that holy calling. To the quiet and peaceful abode of the monastery, therefore, went not only the pious, but the student, those who disliked the soldier's life, the disconsolate, the disgraced, the disappointed, the indolent, and the weary. And this powerful organisation was utterly under the control of the great Roman Bishop and his subordinates.

The remarkable growth of monasticism brought great wealth and political power, which were used in large measure to strengthen the Church. Kings and nobles made large grants of lands—especially Charles the Great and Louis the Pious. Besides many monks brought their possessions as gifts to the monastery and not infrequently powerful abbots took lands by force. Monasticism thus gradually became secularised and also feudalised. Monasteries were often used as prisons for deposed kings, criminals, and clergy convicted of crime. The abbots were virtually secular lords who ruled as local sovereigns, claimed immunity from tolls and taxes, went hunting and hawking, and even fought at the head of their troops. As a result the office of abbot became a coveted prize, for the younger and the illegitimate sons of nobles.[217:1] What effect this secularisation had upon the high ideals may be easily seen. Soon only certain ceremonies distinguished the monks from the secular clergy.

The monks as such belong to the laity. Monasticism was viewed as a lay institution as late as the Council of Chalcedon (451)[217:2] when the legal authority of the bishop over the monks of his diocese was recognised. The monks were called religiosi in contrast to the [218]seculares, the priests. The monks were the "regulars" who formed the spiritual nobility and not the ruling class in the hierarchy. They formed another grade in the hierarchy between the clergy and the laity. But after the fifth century the difference became less marked. Since monasticism was considered the perfection of Christian life, it was natural to choose the clergy from the monks. Gregory the Great was the first monk to be elected Pope. Monasteries were the theological seminaries to supply priests for the Church, hence the ignorant clergy looked up to the educated monks. Still monks at first, because not ordained, could not say mass nor hear confession. Each monastery kept a priest or an ordained monk to fulfil these duties. Abbots were usually in priestly orders.[218:1] In time, however, monks assumed the dress of priests and became ambitious for priestly powers,[218:2] especially after the Council of Chalcedon, backed by the state, gave bishops jurisdiction over cloisters. Often monasteries applied to the Pope for independence from episcopal jurisdiction and were taken under the immediate protection of the Bishop of Rome. By the sixth century monks were classed in the popular mind with the clergy. In 827 a council at Rome ordered that abbots should be in priests' orders. Monks now began to sit in and to control Church synods, and to exercise all the rights of the secular clergy, even to having parishes,[218:3] and thus became powerful rivals of the established priesthood.

The crystallisation of ascetic ideals into monastic [219]institutions was attacked by heathenism and did not meet the unanimous approval of Christendom. Before Constantine the pagans denounced the hermits because they were guilty of the treasonable act, from a Roman view, of fleeing from social and civic duties. After Constantine, when monasticism became the "fad," it was assailed by the aristocratic pagan families, who lost sons, and especially wives and daughters, in the maelstrom of enthusiasm, because it broke family ties and caused the neglect of obvious responsibilities. Julian, the imperial pagan reactionist, called it fanaticism and idolatry. Pagan poets like Libanus and Rutilius denounced it as an institution "hostile to light."

Within Christendom hostility came from Christian rulers like Valens, because monasticism withdrew civil and military strength from the state, when all was needed against the barbarians, and because it encouraged idleness and unproductiveness instead of useful activity and heroic virtue[219:1]; from Christians of wealth and indulgence who felt rebuked by the earnestness, poverty, and holy zeal of an ascetic life; from the clergy who did not comprehend the significance of monasticism[219:2]; and from the liberal party in the Church who took a saner view of salvation and ethics. Jovinian (d. 406), like Luther, first a monk and then a reformer, held these five points according to Jerome: (1) that virgins, widows, and wives are all on an equality if good Christians; (2) that thankfully partaking of food is as efficacious as fasting; (3) that spiritual baptism is as effectual in overcoming the devil as baptism; [220](4) that all sins are equal; (5) that all rewards and punishments will be equal. Jerome answered him and Pope Siricius excommunicated him and his followers as heretics (390).[220:1] Helvidius of Rome denounced the reverence for celibacy and declared that the marriage state was as holy as that of virginity. Again Jerome wielded his intellectual cudgel.[220:2] Bonasus, Bishop of Sardica, was excommunicated for holding the same view (389). Vigilantius, an educated Gallic slave, a disciple of Jovinian, attacked the necessity of celibacy, denied the efficacy of virginity, opposed fasting and torture, ridiculed relics, objected to candles, incense, and prayers for the dead, and doubted miracles. He was a Protestant living in the fifth century.[220:3] He too was assailed by Jerome and put under the papal ban.[220:4] Ærius of Sebasta, a presbyter, called into question the need or value of fasts, prayers for the dead, the inequality of rank among the clergy, and the celebration of Easter and of course was outlawed by the Church.[220:5] Lactantius declared that the hermit life was that of a beast rather than a man and treasonable to society. But all these loud outcries against the monks were branded as heresy and drowned in counter-shouts of praise.

When the results and influences of monasticism are carefully weighed, it is seen that the good and evil "are blended together almost inextricably." These diametrically opposite effects are perplexing and [221]astonishing. Conspicuous among the positive results are the following:

1. Religious. The effort to save pure Christianity from the secularised state-Church by carrying it to the desert or shutting it up in a monastery, produced the first great reform movement within the Christian Church. "It was always the monks who saved the Church when sinking, emancipated her when becoming enslaved to the world, defended her when assailed."[221:1] Monasticism was, therefore, a realisation of the ideal in Christianity. In no small sense it likewise paved the way for the Reformation of the sixteenth century. The monastic conquest of Christianity left in its train higher ideals of a holy Christian life and a keener religious enthusiasm, and emphasised the necessity of humility and purity. Likewise monasticism, through its aggressive missionary efforts, completed the overthrow of heathenism in the Empire and in its stead planted the true faith over western Europe. The monks were the fiercest champions of orthodoxy, and the intellectual giants of that age, like Jerome and St. Augustine, were in their ranks. The monk rather than the priest was the apostle of the Middle Ages who taught men and nations the simple Christian life of the Gospel. In monasticism were developed the germs of many humanitarian institutions through which Christianity expressed itself in a most practical manner. The monastery offered a home to the poor and unfortunate, and gave hope and refuge to both the religious invalid, who was sick of the world, and to the religious fanatic. The Papacy, too, was supported and strengthened in a thousand different ways by monasticism, [222]and the whole religious history of the Middle Ages was coloured by it.

2. Social. Monasticism tended to purify and regenerate society with lofty ideas. It became an unexcelled machine for the administration of charity. It fed the hungry, cared for the sick and dying, entertained the traveller, and was an asylum for all the unfortunates. It helped to mitigate the terrors of slavery. It inculcated ideas of obedience and usefulness. It advocated and practised equality and communism, and it tutored the half-civilised nations of western Europe in the arts of peace.

3. Political. In its organisation and practical life it kept alive ideas of democracy. From the ranks of the monks came many of the best statesmen in the various European governments. Monastic zeal had much to do in saving the Roman Empire from utter destruction at the hands of the barbarians and in helping to preserve imperial ideas until the rough Teutons were Latinised in their legal and political institutions. In addition the monks helped to form the various law codes of the German tribes, put them into written form, and took an active part in many forms of local government. In many an instance they saved the unprotected vassal from the tyrannical noble.

4. Educational. In the monasteries the torches of civilisation and learning were kept burning during the so-called Dark Ages. The first musicians, painters, sculptors, architects, and educators of Christian Europe were monks. They not only established the schools, and were the schoolmasters in them, but also laid the foundations for the universities. They were the thinkers and philosophers of the day and shaped the political and religious thought. To them, both [223]collectively and individually, was due the continuity of thought and civilisation of the ancient world with the later Middle Ages and with the modern period.

5. Industrial. Not only did the monks develop the various arts such as copying and illuminating books, building religious edifices, painting, and carving, but they also became the model farmers and horticulturists of Europe. Every Benedictine monastery was an agricultural college for the whole region in which it was located. By making manual labour an essential part of monastic life, labour was greatly ennobled above the disreputable position it held among the Romans.

The negative effects of monasticism were by no means lacking and may be stated here under the same institutional headings:

1. Religious. In making "war on nature" the ascetics made war also on God. They aimed not too high religiously but in the wrong direction. They exaggerated sin and advocated the wrong means to get rid of it. They took religion away from the crowded centres of population, where it was most needed, to the desert or monastery. Thus an abnormal, unwholesome type of piety was created. In replacing faith by works the monks thus gave birth to a long list of abuses in the Church, and in nourishing an insane religious fanaticism they entailed many grave evils. From one point of view monasticism became a "morbid excrescence" of Christianity and tended to degrade man into a mere religious machine. At the same time the doctrine of future rewards and punishments reached an abhorrent evolution. The awful pangs of hell, the terrific judgments of God, and the ubiquitous and wily devil of the monks' vivid imagination sound strange to a modern mind. But the gravest error in the [224]monastic system was the false and harmful distinction so clearly drawn both in theory and practice between the secular and the religious. The modern world easily harmonises the two.

2. Social. Monasticism disrupted family ties and caused the desertion of social duties on the ground of a more sacred duty. It lowered respect for the marriage state by magnifying the virtue of celibacy. In making the monk the ideal man of the Middle Ages, it advocated social suicide. All natural pleasures and enjoyments of life were labelled sinful. Practices, which were little more than superstitions, were advocated. Society in general was demoralised because monasticism failed to practise its own teachings.

3. Political. By inducing thousands, and many of them men of character, ability, and experience, to desert their posts of civic duty, the state was weakened and patriotism forgotten. The monk "died to the world" and abjured his country. Monasticism aided powerfully in developing the secular side of the papal hierarchy and soon came to exercise a large amount of political power itself. The monks frequently became embroiled in social disputes and military quarrels, and thus incited rather than allayed the fiercer brute passions of men.

4. Cultural. By holding the education of the people in their hands the monks had a powerful weapon for evil as well as good. In making the monk the ideally cultured man a false standard was set up and certain fundamentals in education ignored. Secular learning was not generally encouraged. The supreme end of all their education was not to produce a man, but a priest.

5. Industrial. Thousands withdrew from the various [225]lines of industrial activity, some to obtain the higher good, but many to enter as they supposed a life of ease and idleness. Much of the good that was done in the earlier days was negatived by the begging friars later.

Of these two sets of influences which predominated? That both were powerful no one can doubt. All things considered, however, it must be said that monasticism, as it developed in the West, fulfilled a genuine need and performed an important service for Christian civilisation. St. Benedict not only presented a satisfactory solution of the grave dangers threatening this institution as a force in the evolution of the mediæval Church, but with his organised army of devoted, obedient followers, he met the barbarian hosts invading the Roman Empire and gradually won them to adopt and in due course of time to practise the Christian code. Indeed it is difficult to imagine how the Church could have forged its course so triumphantly through all the breakers, trials, and vicissitudes of this crucial epoch—how its jurisdiction could have been extended so rapidly and so effectively to all parts of western Europe and to some points in the East and in northern Africa—how its great humanising, spiritualising, and edifying influences could have been so persistent and at the same time so efficient—how the simple, fundamental truths of the Gospel as set forth in the Apostolic Church could have been handed on to the later ages—had not the growth of monasticism been regulated and utilised. Therefore, next to the evolution of that magnificent organisation of the Papacy, as a creative factor in the rise of the mediæval Church, must be placed organised, western monasticism.

[226]

Sources


FOOTNOTES:

[198:1] Jerome, Ep., 15.

[199:1] The Hindoo monks exhausted their minds in devising means of self-torture.

[199:2] Lea, Sac. Celib., 24; Laws of Manu, bk. 6., st. 1-22. See Hardy, Eastern Monasticism, Lond., 1850.

[199:3] The disciples of Pythagoras were called cenobites. Montalembert, i., 215.

[200:1] Lea, Sac. Celib., 24.

[200:2] Numb. vi., 1-21.

[200:3] Pliny, Nat. Hist., v., 15; Porphyry, De Abstinentia, iv., 11; Edersheim, ch. 3; Döllinger, Gentile and Jew, ii., 330. See p. 44, 45.

[200:4] Isa. xxii., 2; Dan. ix., 3; Zech. xiii., 4; 2 Kings i., 8; iv., 10, 39, 42. Cf. Heb. xi., 37, 38; Expositor, 1893, i., 339.

[200:5] Schaff, ii., 390.

[200:6] Lea, Sac. Celib., 24.

[200:7] Eusebius, ii., 17; Philo, Contemp. Life, bk. 1; Jewish Quart. Rev., viii., 155; Baptist Rev., Jan., 1882, p. 36 ff.; see Jewish Encyc.; Döllinger, ii., 335.

[200:8] Matt. xix., 21; Luke xviii., 22; Mark x., 21.

[200:9] Tertullian held that all the Apostles except Peter were unmarried.

[201:1] Mark x., 29, 30.

[201:2] Paul, especially 1 Cor. vii.; Lea, Sac. Celib., 25.

[201:3] Texts quoted as favourable to monasticism: Acts ii., 44; iv., 32; xv., 28, 29; 1 Cor. vii., 8; iv., 3; Matt. xix., 12, 21; xxii., 30; Rev. xiv., 4; Luke xx., 35; Mark x., 29, 30.

[201:4] Harnack, Monasticism, 10.

[201:5] Montalembert, i., bk. 1.

[202:1] Montalembert, i., 188.

[202:2] Lightfoot, The Colossian Heresy.

[202:3] Marcionites, Valentinians, Abstinents, Apotoctici, Encratites, etc.

[203:1] Cyprian, Ep., 62.

[203:2] Euseb. Eccl. Hist., vi., 42.

[204:1] Harnack, Monasticism, 65.

[204:2] 1 Tim. v., 3-14. Cf. Acts ix., 39, 41.

[204:3] Justin Martyr observed that Christians were commencing to abstain from flesh, wine, and sexual intercourse. He, with Ignatius and others, lauds celibacy as the holiest state.

[205:1] Celibacy was habitually practised by some; others devoted their lives to the poor. Many converts like Cyprian sold their possessions for the needy. Still others like Origen mutilated themselves.

[205:2] Irenæus, Against Heresy, i., 24; Epiphanius, Heresy, 23.

[206:1] Rufinus, Concerning Ascetic Life, 30; Socrates, iv., 23; Sozomen, i., 14. See Montalembert, i., 227.

[206:2] Augustine, Confessions, viii., 15.

[206:3] Harnack, Monasticism, 27.

[206:4] Ibid., 47.

[207:1] Sozomen, vi., 33; Tillemont, Mem., viii., 292.

[207:2] Severus, Dialogues, i., 8.

[207:3] Evagrius, Ch. Hist., i., 13, 21; ii., 9; vi., 22; Theodosius, Philoth., 12, 26; Nilus, Letters, ii., 114, 115; Gregory of Tours, viii., 16.

[207:4] Augustine, City of God, i., xiv., ch. 51.

[207:5] Tillemont, Mem., viii., 633.

[209:1] The rule of St. Oriesis is little more than a mystical praise of asceticism.

[209:2] Socrates, iv., 23; Sozomen, i., 14.

[209:3] Gwatkin, Arianism.

[209:4] Sozomen, iii., 14.

[209:5] Hergenröther, 452.

[210:1] Theod., Hist. Rel., 30; Augustine, De Mor. Eccl., i., 31.

[210:2] Sozomen, iii., 14; vi., 32.

[210:3] A follower of Hilarion. Made bishop of Cyprus in 367.

[210:4] Sozomen, vi., 32.

[210:5] Ibid., vi., 32.

[210:6] Eusebius, viii., 13; Socrates, iv., 36; Sozomen, vi., 38.

[210:7] Sozomen, vi., 32.

[210:8] Theodoret, Hist. Eccl., ch. 26.

[210:9] Smith, Rise of Christ. Monast., 48.

[211:1] Augustine, De Mor. Eccl., p. 33. He had been in Gaul in 337 and 338.

[211:2] Ambrose, Letters, 63, 66.

[211:3] Augustine, Confessions, viii., 15.

[211:4] Montalembert, i., 291-300.

[211:5] Jerome, Letter 127.

[211:6] Jerome, Letter 23.

[211:7] Montalembert, i., 291; Jerome, Letter 26.

[211:8] Jerome, Letter 96.

[212:1] Sulpic, Severus, Life of St. Martin.

[212:2] See Ozanam, Hist. of Civ. in the 5th Cent.

[212:3] Mosheim, bk. ii., cent. 5, part 2, ch. 3, § 12, tells of a German fanatic who built a pillar near Treves and attempted to imitate the career of Simeon Stylites, but the neighbouring bishops pulled it down.

[213:1] Cassian, Inst., ii., 2; St. Benedict, Rule, ch. 1; Jerome, Ep., 95.

[213:2] Gregory I., Dialogues, bk. ii. See Montalembert, i., bk. 4.

[214:1] Henderson, 274, Rule of our most Holy Father Benedict, Lond., 1886; Ogg, Source Book, § 11.

[215:1] Doyle, The Teaching of St. Benedict, Lond., 1887.

[216:1] Lea, Sac. Cel., 116. See Cath. Encyc.

[216:2] Stephen, Essays in Eccl. Biog., 240.

[216:3] It was boasted that no less than twenty Emperors and forty-seven kings cast aside their crowns to become Benedictine monks, while ten Emperors and fifty queens entered convents, but it is impossible to discover them.

[217:1] Milman, iii., 88.

[217:2] Schaff, iii., 173.

[218:1] The vast amount of legislation on this point is very indicative.

[218:2] Gregory, Letter v., 1; i, 42.

[218:3] This right was prohibited in the 11th and 12th centuries, but Innocent III. granted the permission in certain cases.

[219:1] Cod. Theodos., xii., 1, 63.

[219:2] See the works of Sulpicius Severus for attacks on the monks in Gaul and Spain.

[220:1] Against Jovinian (392).

[220:2] The attack is found in two works, Against Helvidius (383) and his Apology.

[220:3] Gilly, Vigilantius and His Times, Lond., 1844. See Jerome's writings.

[220:4] Against Vigilantius (406).

[220:5] Epiphanius, Heresies, 75.

[221:1] Harnack, Monasticism, 65.


[229]

CHAPTER XII
SPREAD OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH OVER EUROPE

Outline: I.—Extent of Christianity under Gregory the Great. II.—Character of missionary work from the sixth to the tenth century. III.—Conversion of the British Isles. IV.—Conversion of the Franks. V.—Conversion of the Germans. VI.—Conversion of Scandinavia. VII.—Planting of the Church among the Slavs. VIII.—Efforts to convert the Mohammedans. IX.—Sources.

From the outset the Christian Church was imbued with a most intense and burning general missionary zeal. The command came in very distinct terms from the Master himself.[229:1] But there was no recognised principle of propagandism and no special organisations to carry on the work. Each Christian felt the individual obligation to win his fellows to the new faith. Separate churches no doubt naturally felt the necessity of some corporate action to convert the heathen in the neighbourhood. Prayers, indeed, for the conversion of the heathen were early made an integral part of the liturgies of the Church, East and West.[229:2] The actual diffusion of Christianity, however, proceeded in a special sense from the evangelical labours of the individual bishops[229:3] [230]and the clergy. In fact missionary work was regarded as one of their specific duties handed down from the Apostles. With the development of the organisation of the Church and the appearance of patriarchs arose the thought that it was the duty of these powerful centres to carry on missionary activity in foreign fields. Monasticism was early utilised for this important work. It must never be forgotten that the aggressive evangelising efforts of the early Church were mainly those of the West, and here is seen another powerful factor in the rise of the mediæval Church.

The conception early developed in the Church that the spread of God's Kingdom on earth was a warfare. That idea was founded on the words of Jesus,[230:1] on the assertions of the Apostles, and on the sacrifices of the early martyrs. Monasticism made this conviction peculiarly personal. The organised Church asserted it on every occasion. The conversion of the barbarians was viewed, in a broad sense, as an invasion and a conquest. It was a campaign with all western Europe as its field. In time it covered six centuries or more. The generals, the able strategists, were the competent and zealous Roman pontiffs, and the subordinate officers were emperors, kings, princes, bishops, and abbots. The army was that great host of devoted monks, of consecrated priests, and earnest Christian laymen. The weapons in the hands of these conquerors were Christian love and sympathy. They were driven on by an irresistible zeal for saving souls. They were clothed in the power of poverty, austerity, suffering, obedience, and self-denial. The conflict was one which, in its outcome, was to shape the destiny of the world.

The man above all others who was carried away [231]by this dream of duty for the Church militant in winning those outside the true Church to membership, was the monk-Pope, Gregory the Great. Pagan Rome had failed to make a complete and permanent conquest of the barbarians. Christian Rome, inspired by this master spirit, was to succeed in conquering both the bodies and the souls of the barbarians, and to use them for her own glory.

When Gregory the Great died in 604, Christendom practically covered the Roman Empire and at certain points extended beyond it. Those who bore the name Christian included Jews, Romans, Greeks, Celts, and Germans. The Christian world was already divided into two great branches—the Eastern, or Greek Church, and the Western, or Roman Church,—which were becoming more and more pronounced in their differences.

The Christian missionary work, from the sixth to the twelfth century, must be viewed broadly as a process of civilisation, since the missionaries carried with them intellectual light, as well as spiritual truth, and paved the way for law and justice. They opened up channels through which the higher ideals and better institutions of the south might work northward to revolutionise agriculture, trade, social life, and general economic conditions. "The experience of all ages," said Neander, "teaches us that Christianity has only made a firm and living progress, where from the first it has brought with it the seeds of all human culture, although they have only been developed by degrees."[231:1]

Mediæval conversion to Christianity was, as a rule, tribal, or national, rather than individual, or personal, and consequently it took some time before satisfactory [232]fruitage was noticeable in the lives of the people. But it was a great victory to substitute the Christian for the pagan ideal. The agencies employed to carry out this process of conversion were: (1) missionaries, mostly Latin, Celtic, English, German, Greek, and Slavic monks; (2) the sword in the hands of a stern ruler; (3) the marriage of Christian women to pagan kings and princes; and (4) the recognised superiority of Christianity, Christian institutions, and Christian nations. It must be borne in mind, likewise, that some of the German tribes settled in the very heart of Christendom where Christian influences could operate directly and immediately.

The earliest successful conversion of the Teutons was to Arianism. That work was begun at least as early as the time of Constantine, because a Gothic bishop sat in the Council of Nicæa (325). Bishop Ulfilas (d. 381), the "Apostle to the Goths," called by Constantine the Great "the Moses of the Goths,"[232:1] translated the Bible into Gothic[232:2] and won his countrymen to Arianism. St. Chrysostom in 404 established in Constantinople a school for the training of Gothic missionaries.[232:3] The Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Burgundians, and Vandals all embraced that faith. But the fervent and more aggressive missionary zeal of Rome gradually replaced Arianism in western Europe with orthodox Christianity—the Burgundians in 517, the Suevi in 550, the [233]Visigoths in 587, the Lombards, the last stronghold of Arianism in the West, in the eighth century.

The unparalleled missionary activity of the Roman Church was due of course primarily to religious enthusiasm, but other causes must also be taken into account. As a matter of self-preservation to protect herself from the inveterate paganism of the ancient world, on the one hand, and from the torrent of barbaric invaders, on the other, the conflict was thrust upon Rome and she must conquer or perish. Again the development of the hierarchy along the lines of the Petrine theory made it imperative that Rome should win and rule the West. The wise policy of winning kings first and nations afterwards was simply adopted from Roman imperial practice but it was eminently successful. It likewise enabled the Pope of Rome to control all missionary enterprise from his ecclesiastical capital, and to employ it for the further extension of the papal prerogative.

The results of the spread of Christianity over the Græco-Roman world have already been considered. That conquest decidedly modified the Apostolic Church in organisation, in ceremony, and in doctrine, and laid the foundations for the Roman and Greek Churches. The Romanised, monasticised Christian Church over which Gregory the Great ruled reveals the product of all these early influences. The conversion of the Teutons to Roman Christianity marks another new epoch not only in the history of the Church, but also in the history of the world. Just as from the Apostolic Church emerged the Roman Church with its pronounced differences, so from the Roman Church evolved the Teutonic-Roman Church, which in turn was strikingly unlike its prototype in several particulars. The [234]Germanised Roman Church declared its absolute independence of the Eastern Emperor and launched out on a new world career. The product of all these elements was the mediæval Church which stood for primitive Christianity modified first by a growth covering five centuries through a stratum of Roman civilisation, and secondly for seven centuries through a superimposed stratum of Germanic civilisation.

When the pagan Franks began their conquest of Gaul (486), they encountered a civilisation that was nominally Christian. Their king, Clovis, married Clotilda, a Christian princess, the daughter of the Burgundian king[234:1] (493). She no doubt laboured with her lord and master to induce him to embrace her faith. He permitted his child to be baptised in accordance with the Christian rite and tolerated Christian priests and monks as a matter of policy, but that was all. At length in a battle with the stubborn Alemanni, Clovis, hard-pressed, prayed to the Christian God and promised to turn Christian himself in exchange for victory. His foes fled and left him conqueror. True to his vow, Clovis, after receiving instruction from Bishop Remigius of Rheims, was baptised on Christmas day 496 and with him 3000 warriors. This important event, "the first step toward the world-historical union of Teutonic civilisation with the Roman Church,"[234:2] paved the way for Charles the Great, and made possible a Christian France. This event was a significant victory for the Nicene Creed and for the Pope of Rome. Orthodoxy and Roman dominion now advanced side by side with Frankish conquests until both became [235]absolutely independent of the imperial power in the East.[235:1]

The Romans abandoned the island of Britain in 409 for ever. About 450 the pagan kinsmen of the Franks, namely the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Frisians, crossed to Britain and there found the Christian Church already planted.[235:2] They drove it back to Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, or crushed it out altogether. The Christian Celts, who were thus treated, made no effort at first to convert their heathen conquerors.[235:3] That was left to missionaries from Rome under the leadership of the monk Augustine. Bede, the venerable Church historian, tells the pious tale of how Gregory the Great, before being made Pope, saw in the slave market of Rome some boys "of a white body and fair countenance" and forthwith became so deeply interested in them and their land that he begged the Pope to send him as missionary to Britain.[235:4] The Romans, it is said, refused to allow him to go, and soon honoured him with the tiara of St. Peter. As Pope, however, he carried out his intention by sending Augustine, a Benedictine abbot, with forty monks and Gallic interpreters and with letters and a library of sacred literature, to England in 596 to begin the work.[235:5]

[236]Now it happened that Ethelbert, the King of Kent, had married Bertha, a Christian princess from Paris, who had been permitted to take a Gallic bishop with her to England. Thus the way had been already opened for the favourable reception of the monks under the guidance of Augustine, which led in 597 to the conversion of Ethelbert at Canterbury, and with him nominally the whole kingdom of Kent. At the first Christmas festival Ethelbert and 10,000 of his subjects were baptised. Thus Roman Christianity became at once the established state Church and "everywhere the bishop's throne was set up side by side with the king's."[236:1] Augustine, as a reward for his successful services, was soon made the first archbishop of England[236:2] and proceeded to organise the Church by sending to Rome for more helpers, by appointing bishops and priests to particular fields of labour, by purifying pagan temples and dedicating them to Christian services, and by repairing and building Christian churches and monasteries. As a result of the sincere, practical measures adopted by Augustine, thousands were soon won to the new faith and Christianity was permanently replanted in the British Islands. The work, so well begun, was continued until Sussex, the last kingdom of the heptarchy, in 604, embraced the popular religion. Pope Gregory the Great took a keen interest in this grand triumph and made it contribute to the glory of the Roman Church.[236:3]

The monks sent to England by Pope Gregory the [237]Great soon came to see that the Celtic Church differed from theirs in many respects. Augustine himself, having concluded an alliance between Ethelbert and the Roman See, held several conferences with the Christian Celts in order to accomplish the most difficult task of their subjugation to Roman authority. These differences were largely ritualistic and disciplinary. The Celtic Christians celebrated Easter according to the calculation of Sulpicius Severus, while the Romans had another mode of computing the proper day.[237:1] The Celts appealed to St. John, the Romans to St. Peter.[237:2] The Celtic Church might be called a monastic Church, since the abbot ruled over the bishop.[237:3] The Celts shaved the front of the head from ear to ear as a tonsure, while the Romans shaved the top of the head leaving a "crown of thorns."[237:4] The Celts permitted their priests to marry, the Romans forbade it. The Celts used a different mode of baptism from that of the Romans, namely, single instead of trine immersion. The calendar for all movable festivals was not the same. The Celts held their own councils and enacted their own laws, independent of Rome. The Celts used a Latin Bible unlike the Vulgate, and kept Saturday as a day of rest, with special religious services on Sunday.[237:5] Notwithstanding these variances, which [238]do not seem to be at all on the fundamentals, there were many doctrinal and constitutional resemblances. Both churches were orthodox; both used a Latin ritual[238:1]; both had developed an episcopal organisation; both believed in monasticism; and both were actively engaged in missionary work. Nevertheless the British Christians looked with much disfavour upon the Augustine mission to convert their pagan conquerors and oppressors.

King Ethelbert in 602 arranged a conference of British and Roman bishops on the Severn in Essex.[238:2] At that gathering Augustine with unreasonable rigour and haughtiness demanded conformity; the Britains refused to surrender their independence. To settle the matter Augustine proposed that an appeal be made to a miracle. Accordingly a blind Anglo-Saxon was brought in. The Celtic clergy prayed over him in vain. Whereupon Augustine knelt and prayed, and immediately the blind man was restored to sight,[238:3] but the Celts refused to accept that act as final without the consent of a larger representation in the synod. The next year, therefore, a second council was held at which the persistent Augustine once more demanded conformity to Roman practices and the recognition of papal supremacy, and also requested missionary co-operation, but the Britains, displeased with Augustine's narrow dogmatism and apprehensive of the loss of their freedom, refused to submit. "As you will not have peace with brethren," said the stern Roman monk, "you shall have war from foes; and as you will [239]not preach unto the English the way of life, you shall suffer at their hands the vengeance of death."[239:1] When, ten years later, a wholesale Saxon massacre of British Christians occurred, in which possibly a thousand priests and monks were slaughtered and many churches and monasteries destroyed, further conferences were at an end for fifty years.

It was not until 664 that the famous Council of Whitby was called by King Oswy of Northumbria in which Bishop Colman and Bishop Cedd, renowned Celtic divines, defended the British Church; while Bishop Agilbert, and Wilfred, the greatest English ecclesiastic of his time, championed Rome. In the discussion about the correct day for Easter, it was asserted by Wilfred that St. Peter held "the keys to the kingdom of Heaven." The king then asked Colman and the monks with him whether that was true, and they were forced to confess that it was. Consequently, feeling that it was safer to be on the side of Peter, the "doorkeeper," the king decided in favour of the Church of Rome.[239:2] This was a very significant victory for the See of St. Peter, because papal supremacy was now recognised in the British Isles, and likewise for the future of England, because it opened up a channel through which Roman Christian civilisation flowed into the British Isles to influence to a greater or less degree every institution in that country and, later, through the great empire which England was to build up to carry those cultural influences around the world. The work of cementing the Latin and Celtic churches in England into one was completed by Theodorus, the Archbishop of Canterbury [240](d. 690), and the Venerable Bede (d. 735). Ecclesiastical unity hastened political unity in England[240:1] and developed a common civic life among the divided peoples of the British Isles.[240:2]

Christianity had early spread from Britain to Ireland. The labours of St. Patrick[240:3] (d. 493) and the work of St. Bridget, the "Mary of Ireland" (d. 525), have become classics. The Anglo-Saxon invasion drove many Christians to Ireland in the fifth and sixth centuries, so that by the seventh century Ireland had become the "Island of Saints" and the whole island was Christianised. Many famous monasteries were planted, and an intense missionary zeal had sent to Scotland, North Britain,[240:4] France, Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy many representatives of the Celtic Church.

In 629, Pope Honorius exhorted the Irish Church to conform to the Roman Easter day. A Celtic deputation was then sent to Rome and, upon returning home, reported in favour of the Latin system, which was adopted first in southern Ireland in 632, then in northern Ireland in 640, and by 704 was generally [241]observed. The Norman Conquest, in 1066, made the union of Ireland with Rome as well as with England more complete; but it was left to Henry II., who conquered Ireland in 1171, to give finality to the dependence of Ireland on Rome religiously and on England politically.

Christianity was planted in Scotland during the Roman period.[241:1] An Irish colony, converted by St. Patrick, settled there in the fifth century. The labours of St. Ninian (sixth cent.), the work of St. Kentigern (d. 603), and the activity of St. Columba (d. 597) completed the conversion of the country. St. Columba was a famous Irish missionary, who went to Scotland in 563, there converted the king of the Picts and founded many churches. He made his headquarters on the small island of Iona on which was planted a monastery famous as a school for missionaries, as the centre of educational activity, and as the Rome of the Celtic Church.[241:2] For centuries the Celtic Church maintained its independence in Scotland, but gradually gave way to the better organised and more aggressive Roman Church, though the Culdees were not absorbed until 1332.[241:3]

The enthusiasm of the Celtic and English Christians soon attained such proportions that it overflowed [242]and swept back upon the continent like a mighty tidal wave. The great pioneer in that movement was Columbanus. He was born in Leinster about 543 and received his monastic education at Bangor. At the age of forty he conceived the idea of preaching the Gospel to the pagan German tribes. With twelve young companions he crossed over to France where they remained several years, teaching the faith. Then they went to Burgundy where King Gontran persuaded them to build a monastery. For twenty years Columbanus laboured in the wild Vosges Mountains, planted the three famous monasteries of Anegray, Luxeuil, and Fontaines. Luxeuil virtually became the "monastic capital of France."[242:1] He gave his monks a stringent rule, borrowed from the rigid discipline of the Celtic monasteries, and he clung to the peculiar rites and usages of his mother Church. His influence was strongly felt and an army of disciples gathered around him. From his mountain home he sent forth reformatory waves that covered all Europe, and posed as sort of a spiritual dictator of the whole Church.

Another result of his influence was to incite the enmity of the Gallican clergy and the Burgundian court. In 602, he was arraigned before a Frankish synod, but he ably defended his life and his beliefs. This affront led him to appeal to Pope Gregory the Great in several interesting letters. At last, in 610, he was banished from the Burgundian kingdom never to return. He went to Tours, Nantes, Metz, up the Rhine valley, and into Switzerland where he remained three years engaged in active missionary work until forced to leave by Burgundian influence. Crossing the Alps into Lombardy he received an honourable welcome [243]from King Agilulf and was given a site for the celebrated monastery of Bobbio where, in 615, he passed away in peace. To him must be given the credit of opening up Europe to England and Ireland as an excellent field for foreign missions.[243:1]

Gallus,[243:2] an Irish companion of Columbanus, called the "Apostle of Switzerland," laboured among the Alemanni and Swabians. His monastery of St. Gall became one of the great centres of learning in the Middle Ages. He died in 645. Three other Irish monks of note worked in Germany. Fridolin founded a monastery on the Rhine near Basle. Trudbert went into the Black Forest and became a martyr to the cause. Kylian, the "Apostle of Franconia," went to Würzburg where he met with considerable success but lost his life.

The English were early drawn into this ardent missionary impulse. More missionaries were sent to Europe in the seventh and eighth centuries from England than go to-day to foreign fields.[243:3] Willibrord,[243:4] a native of Northumberland, educated in Ireland, embarked in 690 with seven assistants for Frisia at the mouth of the Rhine. The native prince was Radbod, an uncompromising pagan. Acting on the advice of Pepin of France he went to Rome and was invested with the bishopric of Utrecht. He then evangelised parts of Frankish Frisia, after which he visited Denmark. After a zealous career of half a century he died in 740. Other Englishmen followed in his wake. Adelbert laboured in the north of Holland, [244]Werenfrid near Elste, and Wiro among the natives of Guldres. The Ewald brothers were slain by the savage Saxons.[244:1] Wulfram, the Bishop of Sens, made excellent headway among Radbod's Frisians.[244:2] Indeed the zeal of these northern missionaries might have planted the Celtic Church firmly on the continent, had they not been so sadly deficient in capacity for organisation and had the Pope of Rome not been so zealously watchful.

Roman colonies on the Rhine in the third and fourth centuries first carried Christianity into Germany. In the Council of Arles (314) there were present a bishop and a deacon from Cologne, and a bishop from Treves. By the fifth century Christianity had been spread by Severinus,[244:3] an Italian monk, into Bavaria along the Danube.

It was really left to St. Boniface,[244:4] the "Apostle of Germany," to organise and unify the work already done, and to subject the Christian Church in Germany planted by his predecessors, to Rome. He was a most remarkable character and played an important part in the Christianisation of the Teutonic peoples. Born in 680 in Devonshire, England, of noble Saxon family, he early entered the monastery at Exeter, where he received an excellent education for that day. He soon evinced a longing for the life of a monk. His father gave his consent reluctantly, and he assumed monastic vows in a monastery near Winchester. [245]He became a famous preacher and expounder of Scripture, and at the age of thirty was ordained priest. He now felt called upon to carry the Gospel to the land of his ancestors. Consequently in 716, with two or three fellow-monks as companions, he crossed from London to Frisia to begin his missionary labours as the successor of Willibrord, whose successes had been largely reversed. Radbod, the baptised Frisian king, had backslid when he learned that his pagan forefathers were among the damned. He declared that he preferred "to be there with his ancestors rather than in heaven with a handful of beggars."[245:1] Hence he had devastated the Christian churches and monasteries, and was now at war with Charles Martel. King Radbod met Boniface, but refused to permit him to preach, so Boniface returned to England without having accomplished anything.

Notwithstanding the failure of this first enterprise, Boniface left England again in 718 and for ever; and now went through France to Rome to obtain papal sanction for his future missionary work. Pope Gregory II. formally commissioned him as missionary to the German tribes (719). Armed with that letter and many precious relics, he started north the following spring to his field of labour. First, he went to Thuringia and Bavaria, regions already partly Christianised, but at this time considerably disorganised, and demanded their submission to Rome; then, learning of King Radbod's death (719), he hastened to Frisia, where he laboured for three years with Willibrord, who had meantime returned to continue his [246]labours. In 722 he passed through Thuringia and entered Hesse where, within a short time, he converted two local chiefs together with many thousands of their followers. A foothold was thus secured by Rome in the pagan world of Germany and never again lost.

These successes led the Pope to recall Boniface to Rome to receive directions concerning conditions in Germany. After exacting from him a confession of faith in the Trinity, and binding him by an oath ever to respect papal authority,[246:1] the Supreme Pontiff created him missionary bishop in 723. Boniface then returned to Germany with a code of laws for the Church, and with letters of introduction to Charles Martel and to other influential persons who might aid him. He was aware that little could be done without the assistance of that powerful ruler and wrote: "Without the protection of the Prince of the Franks, I could neither rule the people of the Church, nor defend the priests or clerks, the monks or handmaidens of God; nor have I the power to restrain pagan rites and idolatry in Germany without his mandate and the awe of his name."[246:2] Hence he attached himself for awhile to the court of the Frankish ruler before he began the work so near his heart. Hesse and Thuringia, Christianised nominally by Celtic missionaries and consequently under no episcopal authority, refused to recognise papal jurisdiction. To awe them into submission, Boniface cut down their gigantic sacred oak at Geismar and from it, subsequently, built a chapel to St. Peter. The people were convinced and received the new faith. [247]With the aid of Charles Martel, the assistance of the pope, and the help of English missionaries who joined him, Boniface completed his conquest of that region, filled it with churches and monasteries, and extended papal rule over it. Schools were established, learning and a higher civilisation began to flow in from England and Rome, and the dark days of paganism were gone.

As a reward for his labours, Pope Gregory III., who received the papal crown in 731, raised Boniface in 732 to the dignity of missionary archbishop. This new authority enabled him to coerce refractory bishops who thwarted his efforts. Five years later, Boniface made his third and last visit to Rome, not now as an obscure missionary but with a great retinue of monks and converts. Once more returning to Germany with authority, he organised the Church in Bavaria (739) and thus curtailed ecclesiastical lawlessness by creating four bishoprics: Salzburg, Friesingen, Passau, and Regensburg. In the year 742, continuing the work of organisation begun so well in Bavaria, he succeeded in creating in central Germany the bishoprics of Würzburg, Buraburg, Erfurt, and Eichstädt. To organise the Church and regulate ecclesiastical affairs, he held numerous synods. At the same time, he laboured hard to enforce celibacy, to restore Church property alienated by rulers, and to suppress heresy. In 743, he was made archbishop of Mainz, with jurisdiction over a region from Cologne to Strassburg and from Coire to Worms, and now sought to complete the work of consolidating the German Church. By this time, he had become not only the head of the Church in Germany, but was recognised as a powerful factor in political matters. It is even reported that he crowned [248]Pepin at Soissons (752).[248:1] The great monastery of Fulda was founded (744) and it was destined to become the head of the Benedictine institutions in Germany. Having appointed Lull as his successor at Mainz, he resigned in 754, returned a third time to Frisia as a missionary, and there was slain in 755 as a martyr to the Christian cause. Boniface did more than any other one individual to carry Christianity to the German peoples and to tie the Church of Germany firmly to the papal throne. He was a civiliser and law-giver as well as a Roman missionary.[248:2] After the Apostle Paul he was probably the most eminent in missionary endeavour.

His work was continued by his disciple Willibald (b. 700), a relative, a pilgrim to Rome and the Holy Land, and a Benedictine monk, who was made bishop of Eichstädt (741). He called his brother, sister, and others from England as missionaries into Germany. He founded Benedictine monasteries, and it is thought by some that he wrote a biography of his great leader (d. 781). Gregory, an abbot of Utrecht, a Merovingian prince converted by Boniface, worked with his master and took charge of the Frisian mission after his death (755). Sturm, the first abbot of Fulda (710-779),[248:3] a Bavarian nobleman educated by Boniface, had his teacher's bones buried at Fulda and served for years as a missionary among the Saxons (d. 779). Charles the Great gave him support and encouragement.

[249]Another means used to convert the Germans was the sword. This was especially true of the Saxons, a sturdy, defiant, warlike people, who lived in Hanover, Oldenburg, and Westphalia.[249:1] They were the last to accept Christianity, because they hated the Franks and far-off Rome. Fruitless efforts to convert them had been made by the Ewald brothers, Suidbert, and others. The work was left, however, for Charles the Great, who consumed thirty-three years in subjecting them to Christian rule (772-805).[249:2] This was done only after five thousand inhabitants had been massacred at Verdun, ten thousand families had been exiled in 804, and bloody laws were enacted against relapse into paganism. This new type of missionary work, which was a radical departure from the apostolic method, can be excused, perhaps, only when we take into consideration the moral standards of the age and the motives of Charles the Great. The best men of the time, however, like Alcuin vehemently opposed this method. After Charles had subjected the Saxons, he established among them eight bishoprics, Osnabrück, Münster, Minden, Paderborn, Verdun, Bremen, Hildesheim, and Halberstädt.

The Prussians, located to the north-eastward of the Saxons along the Baltic, stubbornly resisted efforts to Christianise them. Adelbert, Bishop of Prague (997), and his successor, Bruno, were both massacred by them. At length, a Cistercian monk, who was appointed the first bishop of Prussia in the twelfth century, made some headway among them, but was soon compelled to withdraw. Then followed the crusade of the [250]Teutonic Order (1230-1280) in which the methods of Charles the Great were employed and with the same results.

Christianity was first introduced into Denmark in the sixth and seventh centuries through raids on Ireland, commerce with Holland, and the story of the "white Christ." Willibrord was the first missionary.[250:1] When he was expelled from Friesland in 700 he went to Denmark, where he was received with favour by King Yngrin, organised a church, and bought thirty boys to be educated as missionaries. St. Sebaldus,[250:2] the son of a Danish king, was a product of this early missionary effort. Charles the Great ruled part of Denmark, carried on extensive trade with the people, located churches in Holstein and at Hamburg, and planned to convert all the Danes.[250:3] Louis the Pious, appealed to by King Harold Klak[250:4] to settle a family feud, sent Archbishop Ebo of Rheims and Bishop Halitgar of Cambray to Denmark in 822. Ebo made several journeys, later preached extensively, won many converts, baptised them, and built a church at Welnau. When, in 826, King Harold Klak fled to the Emperor for aid, he, together with his whole family and train, was converted and baptised at Ingelheim. Upon returning, the King took with him Ansgar, a Frank born at Amiens (800), who had been early trained as a missionary teacher and preacher, and who was to win the title of "Apostle of the North." He laboured in Denmark with some success, but in 829 was expelled, when Harold Klak was once more driven out, and went to Sweden [251]until he was elected bishop of Hamburg in 831 with all Scandinavia as his see. In 846, Bremen was united to Hamburg and Ansgar was made archbishop. He soon succeeded in planting Christianity and with it monasticism in Denmark. His successor, Archbishop Rimbert (865-888), continued the spread of Christianity undisturbed; and his successors Adalgar (888-909), Unni (909-936), and Adaldag (936-988), had a comparatively clear field. The last of these saw the consecration of four native bishops, an increase in the possessions of the Church, and an organised struggle against heathenism. When the Danes made a conquest of England, the results were seen in the conversion of King Swen, a zealous worker for the Church, and his son Canute (1019-1035), who completed his father's work with the aid of English missionaries. So strong was the Church in Denmark by the twelfth century that a separate archbishop was appointed. The supremacy of the Roman Church was recognised.

The conversion of the Northmen has an interesting history.[251:1] The political situation in the tenth century opened the way for the introduction of Christianity. Hakon the Good, educated in England as a Christian, conquered and united all Norway, converted his followers, called over priests from England, and sought to force Christianity upon all his people, but in this failed. The sons of Eric, also Christianised in England, wrested the throne from Hakon the Good in 961, and likewise tried to uproot paganism, but they, too, were unsuccessful. Olaf, of romantic career, was called in 995 to rule. He, likewise, waged a crusade in behalf of Christianity and with such success that when he [252]died in 1000, it had been permanently established. Olaf the Saint (1014-1030), however, completed the Christianisation of Norway and put it under the protection of the Archbishop of Bremen-Hamburg.[252:1]

As early as the eighth century, Culdee anchorites were accustomed to retire to Iceland from Scotland. In the ninth century Norwegians began to flee thither from the tyranny of their kings. Most of these emigrants were pagans, but one Norwegian convert in Saxony persuaded Bishop Frederick to go with him to Iceland where the bishop remained four years, but made little impression. Thougbrand journeyed thither in the tenth century, but likewise largely failed in his efforts. After the conversion of Norway, however, the intimate relations with Iceland soon produced different results. Christianity spread so rapidly that in 1000 the Christian religion was made the state religion. The first church built on the island was from timber sent by Olaf the Saint.[252:2]

Greenland was discovered and colonised by the bold Icelander, Eric the Red, in 986, and Eric's son was sent over by Olaf to plant the Christian Church there in 1000. The Church flourished there for four hundred years until disrupted by the Esquimos. About the year 1000 Vinland was discovered and thus the Gospel [253]was known on the coast of New England five centuries before Columbus appeared.[253:1]

Like the Danes, the Swedes learned of Christianity through wars and conquests, and commercial relations. Björn, the Swedish King, asked Louis the Pious to send him Christian missionaries. Accordingly in 829 Ansgar, expelled from Denmark, went to Sweden where he laboured two years with some success. Five years later he sent Gautbert and Nithard to Sweden with a number of priests, but the pagan uprising killed all the priests and soon swept away all traces of Christianity. In 848 Ansgar made a pompous visit to Sweden again with costly presents and letters, and reopened the field for missionary work. By the eleventh century, the King of Sweden and his sons were baptised, and the work was pushed with renewed vigour, although it was not until the middle of the twelfth century that the conversion of Sweden was completed.

In the time of Charles the Great, the Slavs were located along the eastern side of his Empire; the Wends along the Baltic Sea between the Elba and the Vistula; the Poles along the Vistula; the Russians behind the Poles; the Czechs in Bohemia; and the Bulgarians back of the Danube and Balkan Mountains. Charles the Great had attempted to force the Wends to accept Christianity, but with no success. Otto the Great conquered them and likewise sought to convert them. He located bishoprics at Havelburg, Oldenburg, Meissen, Merseburg, and Zeitz, and an archbishopric at Magdeburg in 968 with Adalbert as the first archbishop. Reaction began in the time of Otto II., under the leadership of Mistiwoi, an apostate Christian, in which churches and monasteries were burned, and priests and monks [254]killed (983).[254:1] Later, Gottschalk, his grandson, an educated Christian monk, angered at the murder of his father (1032), led an anti-Christian crusade, but was defeated and then repented and ever after laboured hard to establish Christianity. The old bishoprics were restored and new ones created at Razzeburg and Mecklenburg; five monasteries were built; missionary work was encouraged; the liturgy was translated into Slavic; and the Church in that region became wealthy and powerful. But the heathen party, in a general uprising, killed Gottschalk and his old teacher (1066), destroyed the churches and monasteries, and once more slew the priests and monks. The final Christianisation of the Wends, therefore, did not take place until the middle of the twelfth century.

Charles the Great subjugated the Moravians, directed the Bishop of Passau to establish a mission among them, secured the conversion of their chief, Moymir, and founded the bishoprics of Olmütz and Nitra. Louis the German deposed Moymir on suspicion of treason and elevated Radislaw to power, but he soon turned against his benefactor and defeated him, formed an independent Slavic kingdom on the eastern boundary of Germany, and sent for Greek missionaries, two of whom, Cyrillus and Methodius, brothers and educated monks, were sent by the Greek Emperor Michael III. in 863.[254:2] Cyrillus understood the Slavic tongue and invented an alphabet and translated the liturgy into Slavic. He preached and celebrated service in the language of the people, and had a most able assistant in Methodius. [255]They were very successful in their labours and built up a national Slavic Church. The German priests who had been labouring there for some time were driven out, and with them disappeared the Latin liturgy. Seeing their great success, Pope Nicholas I., in 868, invited them to Rome and won them to a friendly arrangement. There Cyrillus died in 869 but Methodius was returned as the Roman Archbishop of Pannonia. The Pope agreed both to the use of Slavic in the mass and to the independence of the Slavic Church under papal control. Ten years later Methodius made a second visit to Rome and a second agreement was entered into, satisfactory to both Rome and Moravia. He died before the ninth century ended, and before the close of the tenth century the Latin Church had replaced the Slavic. The expelled Slavic priests fled to Bulgaria to build up a new Church.

Neither Charles the Great, nor his son Louis, was able to conquer the Bohemians. When Bohemia became a dependency of Moravia, however, the way was opened for the introduction of Christianity. The Bohemian Duke Borziway and his family were converted, but reaction followed under Boleslav the Cruel. Otto I. in 950 completely defeated Boleslav, recalled the priests, and rebuilt the churches. The bishopric of Prague was established in 973, and under Archbishop Severus (1083) general laws were enforced concerning Christian marriage, observance of the Sabbath, and morality. The Latin language and the Roman ritual prevailed in the Bohemian Church.[255:1]

The first missionaries to Poland were Slavic, perhaps [256]Cyrillus and Methodius. With the break-up of the Moravian kingdom, many nobles and priests fled to Poland and were kindly received. In 965 a Bohemian princess married Duke Mieczyslav and took priests with her. The Duke was converted and baptised and paganism was destroyed by force. The Church was then organised on the Latin-German model, and German priests were introduced. The first Polish bishopric was established at Posen subject to the Archbishop of Magdeburg. But it was to take many additional years before Roman Christianity was firmly established.

The Bulgarians, Slavic in institutions, but not in origin, captured Adrianople in 813 and carried away many Christian prisoners, among whom was the bishop himself, who began the conversion of their captors. In 861 a Bulgarian princess, returning from captivity in Constantinople as a Christian missionary to her own people, converted her brother, the Duke Bogoris. This work was supplemented by Methodius, who was sent there in 862 to help on the good work, and by other Greek missionaries who followed him. In 865 the baptised Duke of Bulgaria wrote to Pope Nicholas I. for Roman missionaries and asked one hundred and six questions about Christian doctrines, morals, and ritual. The Pope sent two bishops and elaborate answers to the questions,[256:1] but the Greek faith finally predominated.

The Magyars, who entered Europe in the ninth century and in 884 settled near the mouth of the Danube, finally located in present Hungary. They first learned of Christianity at the Byzantine court. In Hungary, however, they came in touch with [257]the Roman missionaries. Otto the Great compelled them to receive missionaries from the Bishop of Passau. When Prince Geyza married a Christian princess, their conversion was rapid and complete. Adalbert of Prague visited the country and made a great impression. King Stephanus (997) made Christianity the legal religion, enforced the German ecclesiastical system, formed ten bishoprics, located an archbishopric at Grau on the Danube, built churches, schools, and monasteries, and received a golden crown from Pope Sylvester II. in 1000 as "His Apostolic Majesty."[257:1]

The Russians claimed St. Andrew for their apostle but probably actually learned of Christianity from Constantinople in the ninth century. Photius, in 867, told the Pope that the Russians were already Christians. A church was built at Kieff on the Dnieper, the Russian capital, and in 955 the grand-duchess, Olga, journeyed to Constantinople and was baptised. Grand-Duke Vladimir, the grandson of Olga, established Christianity at one sweep when he married Anne, the daughter of Emperor Basil and was baptised at his wedding in 988. Churches, schools, and monasteries spread rapidly all over the country, but the Greek Church instead of the Roman was firmly planted there, and in 1325, Moscow became the Russian Rome.[257:2]

While the Roman Church was winning new subjects all over northern and central Europe; she was losing nearly as much in territory and numbers in Africa and [258]Spain. This loss was due to the rise of a rival religion in Arabia which bid fair to outstrip Christianity in the race for world conquest.

Mohammedanism, shortly after its birth (622), began to threaten Christianity. After having driven the Christian Church from northern Africa, the followers of Islam overthrew the Visigothic power in Spain (711) and then swarmed across the Pyrenees to overrun most of France. The very existence of Christendom was at stake, and the future of Europe hung in the scales and might have been very different, had not Charles Martel with his stalwart Christian knights in the bloody battle of Tours (732) checked the advance of the crescent and forced its adherents to hastily retrace their steps. The califate founded at Cordova (756) continued as a standing menace for more than six centuries. Meanwhile Moslem corsairs scoured the Mediterranean, seized Sicily, and from that vantage point sought to make a conquest of Italy venturing at times to the very gates of Rome.

The contest between the faithful of these two religions, continued for centuries and attained its climax in the crusades. The followers of each faith sought to either conquer or exterminate the other. This form of missionary work was like that employed by Charles the Great against the Saxons and Otto the Great against the Slavs. The repeated assaults of Frankish rulers, Spanish princes, and Norman warriors in Italy were finally successful and Islam was thrust back into Africa, but only to enter Europe by way of Constantinople.

In sharp contrast to these harsh methods, there are not a few instances of devout Christians labouring in love among the followers of the Prophet to save [259]their souls. Conversions to Christianity were not infrequent in Spain, Italy, Egypt, and the East.[259:1] The Franciscans and Dominicans both laboured heroically among the followers of the Prophet to teach them the higher and better faith.[259:2]

Notwithstanding the fact that Christianity spread so rapidly throughout the Roman Empire, yet it must be remembered that more than twelve centuries were to circle away before the cross was carried to all European peoples and planted among them. The problem was as difficult as that encountered to-day in Africa, Asia, and the islands of the seas. By the twelfth century all Europe, except Lapland and Lithuania had been won to Christianity. If the number of Christians approximated 30,000,000 at the death of Constantine, the number at the time of Pope Innocent III. in 1200 may have been 200,000,000 who came within the direct or indirect jurisdiction of the Christian Church. The sweeping control of the Roman Church gathered under her broad ægis possibly 100,200,000. Through these missionary activities, therefore, the successor of St. Peter had extended his actual sway until it included all of western and central Europe with a population as large as that of the Empire of Cæsar at the birth of Christ.

This unprecedented increase in dominion and subjects carried with it a corresponding change in the power, duties, wealth, and opportunity of the Papacy. The Pope of Rome became the greatest force in the West and one of the greatest in the world. The [260]hierarchy was necessarily extended and elaborated. The number of officers, both locally and in the ecclesiastical court at Rome, was greatly increased. The rapid addition of so many sturdy recruits to the Roman Church, carried on for centuries, gave the Western Church a pronounced ascendency over the Eastern Church. Papal prerogatives, which were little more than assertions in the early period, became realities. As a result of these heroic and persistent missionary efforts, the mediæval Church, at the end of the missionary period, had attained its highest power.

A stream is coloured and influenced in its purity by the soil and rock through which it flows. An institution is modified by the peoples through whom it passes. It is not a matter of surprise to the historical student, in consequence, to see the Christian Church reflecting the civilisation through which it grew. Christianity may easily be reduced to the fundamental Gospel principles taught by Jesus, but in that pure, simple form it was not spread over the world and perpetuated. Originating on Jewish soil, it never outgrew the Jewish tinge. During the post-apostolic period it was powerfully modified by the classical philosophy of Rome, Greece, and Alexandria. In post-Constantinian times the multitudes of heathen converted to Christianity introduced heathen modifications and compromises. The spread of the Church to Teutonic soil, there to encounter a sturdy barbarism in most intimate relations, produced modifying influences which can easily be seen in the history of the Church. The Germanic contribution was to prove to be one of the most important and influential forces in the whole history of the Church, because it created, in [261]a large sense, modern civilisation and the modern Church.

This period of zealous missionary endeavour among the Celtic and Teutonic tribes was a great pioneer movement. Far too little attention has been paid to it by historians and, consequently, comparatively small credit has been granted to it as a force in the evolution of our institutions to-day. It is impossible to conceive what would have been the history of Europe and the civilisation she has planted around the earth had not Christianity entered at this epoch to lay the foundations. Every institution would have developed differently and the world would certainly not be what it is to-day.

Sources


FOOTNOTES:

[229:1] Matt. xxviii., 19, 20.

[229:2] Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians, ch. 10. See Smith and Cheetham, art. on "The Heathen."

[229:3] An illustration of what must have been a common practice is found in the case of Eusebius, the Bishop of Vercelli, who made his cathedral church the centre of a wide missionary field.

[230:1] Matt. x., 34.

[231:1] Neander, Light in Dark Places, 417.

[232:1] Philostorgius, Eccl. Hist., ii., 5.

[232:2] To do that Ulfilas had to invent an alphabet. Whether he translated the whole Bible or only a part of it is unknown, since only fragments of his work have come down to us. See Schaff, Companion to the Greek Testament, N. Y., 1883, 160; Sozomen, Eccl. Hist., ii., 6; Philostorgius, Eccl. Hist., ii., 5; Scott, Ulfilas, Apostle to the Goths, Lond., 1885.

[232:3] Theodoret, Eccl. Hist., v., 30.

[234:1] On the conversion of the Burgundians, see Socrates, Eccl. Hist., ii., 30.

[234:2] Richter, 36, n. 6; Bouquet, iv., 49. See Ogg, Source Book, § 6.

[235:1] Perry, Franks, 488.

[235:2] Bede, i., 47; Lingard, i., 46; Haddan and Stubbs, i., 22-26; Pryce, Anc. Brit. Ch., 31; Tertullian, Against Judæos, 7; Gildas; Ogg, Source Book, § 8. The early history of the British Church is obscure. By the second century the Gospel had spread through the southern parts of the island. Three British bishops attended the Council of Arles, 314, and others were present at the Council of Sardica in 347 and the Council of Rimini in 359.

[235:3] Bede, i., 22.

[235:4] Ibid., ii., ch. 1.

[235:5] Bede, i., 25. See Nic. and Post-Nic. Fathers, 2d ser., xii., Epistles; Haddan and Stubbs, iii., 5; Cheney, Readings in Eng. Hist., N. Y., 1908, 46-52; Ogg, Source Book, § 9; Thorne, Chronicles of St. Augustine's Abbey; Stanley, Memorials of Canterbury. See Allies, Hist. of Ch. in Eng.

[236:1] Bede, i., 26. See Green, Short Hist. of Eng. People, ch. 1, § 1.

[236:2] He went over to Arles, France, to be consecrated. Bede, i., 27.

[236:3] Bede, i., 32.

[237:1] Until about seventy-five years previous Rome herself had used the same method of calculation. Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian monk, who instituted the practice of dating events from the birth of Christ, invented the new method the latter part of the fifth century. See Cutts, Aug., 132.

[237:2] Skene, ii., 9; Killen, Eccl. Hist. of Ire., i., 57.

[237:3] Bede, iii., 5.

[237:4] Bede, v., 21. The Greeks shaved the head completely. See Cutts, Aug., 136.

[237:5] Bellesheim, Hist. of Cath. Ch. in Scot., Edinb., 1887-89, 4 vols., i., 86.

[238:1] Warren, Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Ch., Lond., 1881.

[238:2] Haddan and Stubbs, iii., 40.

[238:3] This incident is regarded as an interpolation in Bede's History. Hook, Archbishops of Canterbury, i., 68, 69.

[239:1] Bede, ii., 2.

[239:2] Ibid., iii., 25, 26.

[240:1] Greene, Short Hist. of Eng. People, ch. 1, § 1. Cf. Love, Early Eng. Ch. Hist., Lond., 1893, p. 94.

[240:2] Hunt, Eng. Ch. in M. A., Lond., 1889; Ingram, Eng. and Rome, Lond. and N. Y., 1892; Newell, Hist. of Anc. Brit. Ch., Lond., 1887; Alexander, The Anc. Brit. Ch., Lond., 1889; Cathcart, The Anc. Brit. and Irish Churches, Phil., 1893; Soames, The Lat. Ch. during Anglo-Sax. Times, Lond., 1848.

[240:3] Todd, St. Patrick the Apostle of Ireland, Dub., 1864; Sherman, Loca Patriciana; Wright, The Writings of St. Patrick, Lond., 1889, 2d ed., 1894; Stokes, Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, Lond., 1887; Cusack, Life of St. Patrick; De Vinne, Hist. of Irish Prim. Ch., N. Y., 1870; Killen, Eccl. Hist. of Ire., Lond., 1875; Stokes, Ireland and the Celtic Ch., Lond., 1886; Olden, The Ch. of Ireland, Lond., 1892; Sanderson, St. Patrick and the Irish Ch., N. Y., 1895.

[240:4] Bede, iii., 13, 19, 21.

[241:1] Haddan and Stubbs, ii., 103; Forbes, The Kalendars of Scottish Saints; Robertson, Statuta Ecclesia Scoticanæ; Cunningham, Ch. Hist. of Scot.; McLaughlin, The Early Scot. Ch.; Reeves, Life of St. Columba; Skene, Keltic Scot.

[241:2] Adamnan, Life of St. Columba (ed. by Reeves and Skene); Smith, Columba; Duke of Argyle, Iona; Montalemb., iii., 99; Transl. and Reprints, ii., No. 7; Skene, ii., 52.

[241:3] Calderwood, Hist. of Kirk of Scot., Edinb., 1842-49, 8 vols.; Gordon, Eccl. Chron. for Scot., Glasg., 1867, 4 vols.; Lightfoot, Leaders in the Northern Ch., Lond., 1890; Dowden, The Celtic Ch. in Scot., Lond., 1894.

[242:1] Montalembert, ii., 463.

[243:1] Univ. of Pa., Transl. and Rep., ii., No. 7; see Maclear, Apostles of Med. Europe, 57-72. His life and works are in Migne, vol. 80.

[243:2] Migne, vol. 113. See Dict. of Christ. Biog.

[243:3] Smith, Mediæval Missions, 112.

[243:4] Migne, vol. 101. See Dict. of Christ. Biog.

[244:1] Bede, v., 10.

[244:2] Mabillon, iii., 341-348; Maclear, Apostles of Med. Europe, 104-109.

[244:3] See Dict. of Christ. Biog.

[244:4] His original name was Winfried. At the wish of Pope Gregory II. he changed it to Boniface in 723. See Cox, Life of Boniface, Lond., 1853; Hope, Boniface, Lond., 1872.

[245:1] Discredited by Rettberg, Kircheng. Deutschl., ii., 514. Mabillon, iii., 341, gives an interpolated life. See Maclear, Apostles of Med. Europe, 104.

[246:1] This oath was similar to that taken by Italian bishops. Neander, v., 64-67.

[246:2] Jaffé, Mon. Magunt., 157.

[248:1] Rettberg and modern scholars deny the tradition.

[248:2] J. A. Giles edited the works of Boniface in 2 vols., in 1844. His disciple Willibald of Mainz wrote his life. Pertz, Mon., ii., 33. Maclear, Apostles of Med. Europe, ch. 8. One of his sermons, on "Faith and the works of love," is given in translation in Neale, Mediæval Preachers.

[248:3] A famous monastery founded by Boniface.

[249:1] Bede, v., 10.

[249:2] In 785, two of the most powerful Saxon chiefs, Wittekind and Abbio, submitted to baptism with Charles the Great as sponsor.

[250:1] Bede, v.

[250:2] The patron saint of Nuremberg.

[250:3] Jaffé, Mon. Alc., Ep. 13.

[250:4] Denmark at this time was divided into many petty kingdoms.

[251:1] Maclear, The Conversion of the Northmen. Merivale, Conversion of the Northern Nations.

[252:1] Heimskringla: Chronicle of the Norse Kings. Tr. by Laing, Lond., 1844, rev. ed. by Anderson, Lond., 1889, 4 vols. Also tr. by Morris and Magnusson, Lond., 1891, 2 vols. New ed. by York Powell. See Carlyle, The Early Kings of Norway, Lond., 1875, and Boyesen, The Story of Norway, N. Y. and Lond., new ed., 1890.

[252:2] The complete record of these early days is given in the Biskupa Sogar, ed. by Prof. Vigfusson, and pub. by the Icelandic Lit. Soc., 2 vols., 1858-61. See Elton, Life of Laurence, Bishop of Halar, Lond., 1890; Maccall, The Story of Iceland, Lond., 1887.

[253:1] See Winsor, Nar. and Crit. Hist. of Am., i.

[254:1] Seized with remorse Mistiwoi tried to make amends, but his subjects abandoned him. He passed the remaining days of his life in a Christian monastery.

[254:2] Tozer, The Ch. and the East. Emp., ch. 7.

[255:1] There are practically no original sources in English concerning the Slavic missions. Pelzel and Dabrowsky, Rerum Bohemic. Scriptores, contains most of the documents.

[256:1] Mansi, Coll. Concil., xv., 401-434; Harduin, Coll. Concil., v., 353-386.

[257:1] Thwrocz, Chronica Hungarorum in Scriptores Rerum Hungaricarum, Vienna, 1746-8, i.

[257:2] The best collection of sources is Stritter, Memoriæ populorum olim ad Danubium, etc., Petropoli, 1771, 4 vols.; Karmasin, Hist. of Rus.; Mouravieff, Hist. of the Ch. of Rus., Oxf., 1862; Stanley, Lects. on the E. Ch., ix.-xii., Lond., 1862.

[259:1] Muir, Annals of Early Califate; Oakley, Hist. of Saracens; Condé, Dominion of Arabs in Spain; Freeman, Hist. and Conquest of Spain.

[259:2] See Chap. xxi.


[265]

CHAPTER XIII
SEPARATION OF THE ROMAN AND GREEK CHURCHES

Outline: I.—Relation of the Greek and Roman Churches before 325. II.—Effect of the Arian Controversy on the situation. III.—The history of image worship. IV.—Character and results of the Iconoclastic Controversy. V.—Final separation. VI.—Resemblances and differences between the two churches VII.—Sources.

Rome conquered Greece by military force (146 B.C.); meanwhile Greece made a more thorough conquest of Rome by ideas. While there were many significant differences in language, customs, education, and institutions, yet religiously they were united in a twofold way: (1) by a common paganism, and (2) by Christianity. The East was philosophical, contemplating, metaphysical, and keen in discrimination; the West was practical, legal, and aggressively conservative. This difference in temperament was destined to have marked historical results.[265:1] While the West produced the mediæval Church, the East remained comparatively stationary. When the seat of Roman empire was removed from the Eternal City to Constantinople in 330, it appeared as if the eastern world had again become triumphant.

A divergence between the churches of the East and the churches of the West, can be detected in the Christian philosophy and Christian theology from the beginning. The differences became more pronounced as the [266]years passed by. The Arian Controversy (see Ch. IX.) produced the first crisis in the breach between Roman and Greek Christianity. The victory won by the West over the East was only temporary, however, because in the end the powerful state was arrayed on the side of the Eastern Church. The adoption of the "filioque" clause to the Nicene Creed by the Western Church, gave mortal offence to the Greeks. The doctrine of purgatory was another irreconcilable difference. Theoretically the Church was still united: (1) in the Emperor who ruled both wings of the old Empire; (2) in the Pope who pretended to rule over the East and the West; and (3) in the fundamental Christian principles. While there were still many resemblances, the differences were also becoming well marked in Church polity and organisation, in dogma, in rites and ceremonies, in monasticism, and in missionary activity.

Among the matters in dispute was the growing differentiation of opinion on the question of the marriage of the clergy. The Roman Church was much more strict in the enforcement of celibacy. The two churches refused to agree on the same universal councils, and, of course, as a result, accepted an unequal number of canons as valid. Neither could they agree on the proper day for celebrating Easter. There were also many minor differences in reference to such trivial things as the tonsure, the beard, priestly garments, and Lent. Another stumbling-block was set up when the dispute arose over the sacramental bread in the eucharist. In the ninth century the Western Church departed from the earlier practice of using fermented bread and insisted on the unleavened bread as in the Jewish passover.

[267]The second crisis in the separation arose in connection with the Iconoclastic dispute. In the ancient religions, image worship appeared, but usually in the second stage of development. Max Müller contends that in India "the worship of idols is a secondary formation, a later degradation of the more primitive worship." The ancient Persians had no images.[267:1] The same was true of the ancient Greeks.[267:2] The earliest statue in Rome, that of Diana, was between 577 and 534 B.C.[267:3] The old Germans had neither temples nor images of their invisible gods.[267:4] Among the Jews, too, reference to images seemed to point to a later period of their history.[267:5] From the time of the Maccabees, however, a strong antipathy to images of all kinds developed.[267:6] Hence Origen asserted of the Jews that "there was no maker of images among their citizens; neither painter, nor sculptor was in their state."[267:7] The Jewish Christians, therefore, were imbued with a strong dislike to all images. Many heathen converts, likewise, fully appreciating the great difference between the Gospel and the idolatrous religion which they had forsaken, had the same feeling. Consequently, it may be said that the early Christians universally condemned all heathen image worship and all customs connected with it. [268]The adoration of the reigning Emperors was especially denounced.[268:1] Christians were at first too poor and obscure to adorn their meeting places with art. In fact, the pagans accused them of having "no altars, no temples, no known images."

There is evidence, however, that the use of images by the Christians began comparatively early and that it was more marked in the art-loving East than in the West. Irenæus (2d cent.) says that a secret sect, the Gnostics, "possess images, some of them painted, and others formed of different kinds of material. . . . They crown their images and set them up along with the images of the philosophers."[268:2] But these Gnostics were heretics. Emperor Alexander Severus (222-235) had images of several characters of Scripture including Jesus, in his Lararium. But he was a pagan. The catacombs of the second, third, and fourth centuries are covered with paintings of sacred emblems, such as the lamb, olive branch, Christ carrying the cross, anchor, ship, fish, sower, cross, Christ with the lost sheep on his shoulder, bottle of wine, and other representations.[268:3] These emblems were used in the first instance in private houses. The first undisputed proof of the use of art in public worship among the orthodox is found in a decree of the Synod of Elvira, Spain, in 306, that "pictures ought not to be placed on a church lest that which is worshipped and adored be painted on walls."[268:4] Tertullian (b. 150) says that the communion cup usually bore a representation of the Good [269]Shepherd.[269:1] He likewise says that the formation of the cross with the hand was very common. "At every journey and movement, at every coming in and going out, at the putting on of our clothes and our shoes, at baths, at meals, at lighting of candles, at going to bed, at sitting down, whatever occupation employs us, we mark our forehead with the sign."[269:2] Clement of Alexandria early in the third century mentions the dove, fish, ship, lyre and anchor as suitable emblems for Christian signet rings.[269:3] Constantine had the cross set up beside his own statue, in 312, after the defeat of Maxentius.[269:4] He also had a costly cross in his palace[269:5] and had the emblem engraved on the arms of his soldiers.[269:6] Before the middle of the fourth century, Bible manuscripts were beautifully illuminated and illustrated. This evidence shows that the use of images in worship began in the second century and increased with the growth of the Church until by the fourth century it was a marked institution in Christendom. There were three distinct phases of its development: (1) the use of the cross; (2) the employment of emblems and symbols; (3) the appearance of portraiture and pictorial images.

The growth of image worship from the fourth to the eighth centuries was due to certain explainable causes. The victory of Christianity under Constantine brought a wholesale conversion of pagans to the new faith, wealth, power, and extraordinary activity in building churches. What was more natural than that the [270]architectural and artistic ideas of the day should be employed in beautifying them? The Christian Emperor himself set the example of using sacred pictures by embellishing his new capital with religious representations, such as Daniel in the Lion's Den and Christ as the Good Shepherd. Constantine's successors in showering their favours upon the Christians, cultivated this practice. It must be remembered, too, that Christianity had become more material and worldly than it was in the Apostolic Age. The conversion of the masses to Christianity was merely nominal and external. What was more natural than that they should bring with them their pagan ideas and love for show and ostentation, and that they should clamour for a material representation of their new faith?

Following popular opinion and obeying private demands, the clergy themselves became champions of the use of images. In the West, Pope Gregory the Great gave his official sanction to the institution. Along with the use of images grew up, out of the spiritual worship of saints and martyrs, the worship of their relics and their images, and pilgrimages to the scenes of their labours. The ignorance and superstition of the period supplied an excellent atmosphere for this marvellous evolution. It appears, then, that the Christian Church, planted in the home of paganism, supported largely by converts from paganism, in a barbarous, credulous age such as that, naturally developed and abused the use of art in worship.

Poetry, music, painting, sculpture, and architecture all are unquestionably legitimate handmaids of religion and may be made most serviceable. But the use of images for ornament, instruction, and enjoyment is one thing; the worship of images is quite another thing. [271]In the Middle Ages only a few lofty souls here and there took the true view. Pictures were put into churches not as objects of art, but as aids and objects of worship. The pictures were reverently kissed, bows and prostrations were made before them, candles and lamps were used to illuminate them, and incense was burned to honour them.

During this period, we have a number of excellent illustrations of image worship. Constantine used art to beautify his new capital in the East, and particularly to adorn his palace. Constantia, his sister, asked Eusebius for an image of Jesus.[271:1] The veneration of the cross became especially pronounced after its adoption by Constantine, and it was used in all religious ceremonies as an emblem of the victory of Jesus over sin and the devil. According to Jerome the sign of the cross was made, as it is to-day, in witness to written documents.[271:2] Emperor Julian (361) taunted the Christians thus: "Ye worship the wood of the cross, making shadowy figures of it on the forehead, and painting it at the entrance to your houses." St. Chrysostom (b. 347) wrote:

The sign of universal execration, the sign of extremest punishment, has now become the object of universal longing and love. We see it everywhere triumphant. We find it in the houses, on the roofs and the walls; in cities and villages; on the markets, the great roads and in the deserts; on mountains and in valleys; on the sea, on ships; on books and on weapons; on wearing apparel; in the marriage chamber; at banquets; on vessels of gold and silver; in pearls; in pictures on the walls and on beds; on the bodies of brute animals that are diseased; on the bodies of those pestered by evil spirits; in the dances of [272]those going to pleasure; in the associations of those that mortify their bodies.[272:1]

Nilus, a disciple of Chrysostom, permitted the use of the cross and pictoral Bible stories in the churches, but opposed images of Jesus and the martyrs.

Churches began to be decorated in the fourth century, and in the fifth paintings and mosaics were introduced. Constantine had "symbols of the Good Shepherd" placed in the forums of Constantinople.[272:2] The Holy Ghost was commonly represented as a dove over the altar or the font.[272:3] The Nestorian Controversy and the Eutychian discussion helped to introduce pictures of the blessed Virgin and the Holy Child, Jesus. St. Cyril advocated the use of images in the fifth century so clearly that he has been called the "Father of image worship." By the fifth century, churches[272:4] and Church books, palaces and huts, and cemeteries were covered with images of Christ and the saints painted by the monks, while representations of the martyrs, monks, and bishops were found everywhere. Even pictures of the Trinity were in common use. In the East, women decorated their dresses with personal images and pictures, such as the marriage feast of Cana, the sick man who walked, the blind man who saw, Magdalene at the feet of Jesus, and the resurrection of Lazarus. Portraits of Peter and Paul covered the walls at Rome. Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Epiphanius, Gregory the Great, and many others of the Fathers, testified to the widespread employment of [273]images both for public and for private worship. The ceremony of kissing the image, of burning incense to it, of bowing before it, and of praying to it, was gradually developed and became very marked in the sixth century. The climax, however, was reached in the eighth century when the paint was literally scraped off the images and put into wine to make it holier, and when the consecrated bread was laid upon the image for a special blessing.[273:1]

When the portrait phase of image worship developed, pictures of miraculous origin were produced and superstitious practices began to abound. Not a few pictures of sacred characters were attributed to Luke. Others were described as "the God-made images, which the hand of man wrought not." It was but a short step to attribute miracles and cures to these images of divine origin.[273:2] To the wonder-working pictures was ascribed motion, speech, and action. Out of such conditions direct idolatry could easily develop.

The theory of the educated concerning images differed very much from that of the ignorant. The images were worshipped by the masses because it was believed that such worship drew down the saint into the image, an idea which came from the pagan belief concerning the statues of Jupiter and Mercury. Leontius, Bishop of Neapolis, near the end of the sixth century, said: "The images are not our gods; but they are the representations of Christ and his saints, which exist and are venerated in remembrance and in honour of these, and not as ornaments of the church."[273:3] To a hermit [274]who asked for some pious symbols, Pope Gregory the Great sent a picture of Jesus and images of the Virgin Mary, St. Peter, and St. Paul, with this admonition:

I am well aware that thou desirest not the image of our Saviour that thou mayest worship it as God, but to enkindle in thee the love of Him whose image thou wouldst see. Neither do we prostrate ourselves before an image as before a deity, but we adore Him whom the image represents to our memory as born or seated on the throne; and according to the representation, the correspondent feelings of joyful elevation, or of painful sympathy, are excited in our breasts.[274:1]

Images were put into churches "only to instruct the minds of the ignorant." Again, he explained the use of images thus: "It is one thing to worship a picture and another to learn from the language of a picture what that is which ought to be worshipped. What those who read learn by means of writing, that do the uneducated learn by looking at a picture."[274:2]

The most eloquent of all the apologists of images, John of Damascus, gave this explanation:

I am too poor to buy books and I have no leisure for reading. I enter the church choked with the cares of the world. The glowing colours attract my attention and delight my eyes like a flowering meadow; and the glory of God steals imperceptibly into my soul. I gaze on the fortitude of the martyr and the crown with which he is rewarded, and the holy fire of emulation kindles within me and I receive salvation.[274:3]

It must be remembered that, however clearly the [275]teachers of the Church might see the difference between the right use of images to instruct the unlettered and to excite a spiritual feeling, on the one hand, and a superstitious worship of images, on the other, the ignorant masses did not make the distinction in either thought or practice, and therein lay the great abuse.

From the death of Gregory the Great in 604 until the outbreak of the Iconoclastic Controversy in 716, twenty-five Popes ruled in Rome. With several exceptions they were ecclesiastics of no historical importance. To say that they lost nothing of the ground gained by Gregory the Great is to say much for them. But in addition they made some progress in the evolution of the mediæval Church. On this question of the use of images in worship they uniformly continued the policy of Gregory the Great.

Opposition began as early as the use of images. Irenæus in the second century (167) denounced the practice.[275:1] Tertullian (192), quoting the second of the Ten Commandments, severely denounced all use of images as sinful.[275:2] Clement of Alexandria (192) took the same view.[275:3] Origen also based his opposition to the practice upon the Jewish interpretation.[275:4] Minucius Felix (220) argued that man was the image of God, hence there was no need of any artificial representations.[275:5] Lactantius (303) held that since the spirit of God could be seen everywhere, His image "must always be superfluous."[275:6] Arnobius (303) took the same view.[275:7] [276]Christians were told to carry God and His Son in their hearts and not to attempt to procure their images. The Spanish Synod of Elvira (306) excluded images from the churches.[276:1] The early Fathers, taken altogether, looked with but little favour upon the misuse of images in worship. Eusebius, in replying to the request from Constantia for an image of Christ, wrote a famous letter in opposition to the practice which virtually became the platform of the Iconoclastic party.[276:2] St. Augustine (393) declared that "It is unlawful to set up such an image to God in a Christian temple."[276:3] Epiphanius (d. 402) with his own hands tore down a curtain which had an image on it in a little village church in Palestine. This seems to be the first act of Iconoclasm.[276:4] Asterius (d. 410), Bishop in Pontus, opposed wearing Bible pictures on clothing and told his people to wear the image of Christ in their hearts.[276:5] Xenius (end of sixth century), the Monophistic Bishop of Hierapolis, destroyed the images of the angels in his church and hid those of Jesus.[276:6] In 518, the clergy of Antioch complained to the Patriarch of Constantinople that their Patriarch had melted down the images of gold and silver hung over the font and the altar.[276:7] Serenus, Bishop of Marseilles, early in the seventh century, threw the images out of his churches. Pope Gregory the Great praised him for his zeal, but still justified the use of images.[276:8] The Jews and the [277]Mohammedans in the seventh century fiercely assailed the Christian veneration of images as idolatry. This crystallised the Iconoclastic elements of opposition into a party. Finally, in the eighth century, the secular head, Leo III., the Isaurian (716-741), championed the Iconoclastic cause. His son, Constantine V. (741-775), carried it forward. The Synod of Constantinople in 754 officially condemned the use of images,[277:1] and this marks the climax of the movement.

It was not long now before there appeared in Christendom two distinct parties: (1) The Iconolatræ, or image worshippers, who were composed of the leading churchmen like Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, and John of Damascus in the East; the monks, the common clergy, and the masses of the common people in the East, and Pope Gregory II. and the powerful Church of the West. (2) The Iconoclasti, or image breakers, who included the Emperor and his civil officers; his army, made up mostly of barbarians and Asiatic heretics[277:2]; a few churchmen like Anastasius, who succeeded the deposed Germanus, actuated by political motives; and the Carolingian rulers in the West.

The conflict was begun by Leo III., the Isaurian, a soldier of fortune, who through ability as a warrior had won the imperial crown,—a powerful ruler in falling Greece,—active, sincere, illiterate, honest, despotic, and unwise. Ambition to convert the Jews, Mohammedans, and Montanists made him feel keenly the sting of their sarcastic attacks on images.[277:3] One [278]of his advisers, Beser, was a converted Mohammedan, who had held numerous interviews with Islam leaders. As a zealous supporter of the Catholic Church, Leo no doubt sincerely desired to restore the primitive simplicity of Christian worship. As monarch and priest, he believed himself called upon by God to root out idolatry. He was undoubtedly a noble puritan in his purposes and motives and called himself a second Josiah.

In 726, he issued the first edict against images, authorising their destruction[278:1] and the next year the exarch promulgated it in Ravenna and the West. This was opposed by the patriarch, Germanus, and most of the clergy; hence, it was enforced only in a few places where the bishops supported the Emperor. The following incident will illustrate the popular indignation. Imperial officers were sent to destroy a fine image of Jesus above the bronze gate of Constantinople, which the people regarded with unusual reverence. A ladder was put up and a soldier mounted it to take the figure down. A crowd of women watching the act begged that the image might be given to them. Instead, the soldier struck the figure in the face with a hatchet. The women were enraged, pulled down the ladder, and killed the soldier. The Emperor sent troops to quell the tumult and to carry off the image, and in its place he had a cross set up with these words on it: "The Emperor could not suffer a dumb and lifeless figure of earthly materials, smeared over with paint, to stand as a representative of Christ. He has, therefore, erected here the sign of the cross."[278:2]

Pope Gregory II., upon receipt of the edict, called [279]a synod at Rome to consider it (726). The synod condemned the Iconoclastic heresy and confirmed the use of images.[279:1] In 727, the Pope wrote his first letter to the Emperor.[279:2] It was arrogant and dogmatic, without tact or persuasiveness. It was full of the most ludicrous historical blunders, and gave some fantastic interpretations of the Bible. In it, the Pope justified the use of images, threatened the Emperor with the power of the West, and told him that his portrait, once honoured throughout Italy, had been destroyed everywhere. In the second letter, the Pope plainly told the Emperor: "Doctrines are not the business of the Emperor, but of the bishops." He declared furthermore that the whole world was cursing the Emperor. "The very children mock thee! Go into a school and say 'I am an enemy of images'; the scholars will hurl their tablets at your head."[279:3] John of Damascus aimed two brilliant and powerful orations at the Emperor in which is found perhaps the best defence of image worship. He declared that the pictures were the "books of the unlearned."[279:4] The professors of the University at Constantinople declared their opposition to the edict.[279:5] The inhabitants of Greece used the edict as an occasion for rebellion to secure fiscal and administrative reforms, and even went so far as to proclaim a rival Emperor.

Leo met all this opposition firmly. The Patriarch Germanus was deposed (730) while Anastasius was put [280]in his place, and the various outbreaks were at once subdued with a strong hand. An effort was made to either capture or kill the Pope. The University of Constantinople was closed and the professors arrested; the Greek rebels were defeated and their leaders beheaded; and an effort was made to stop the popular John of Damascus. Leo then promulgated his second edict in 730 for the complete abolition of image worship. Anastasius, the puppet patriarch, at once countersigned the edict, and thus gave it ecclesiastical sanction. In the East it was generally enforced. All images were removed from the churches and burned; the painted walls were whitewashed over; only the cross and the crucifix were left; but still the Iconolatræ were far from being subdued. Meanwhile opposition in the West grew stronger. Gregory III., the last Pontiff to be confirmed in his election by the Eastern Emperor, called a council and excommunicated all Iconoclasts.[280:1] In revenge, Leo sent a fleet against the Pope, which was wrecked, and also extended the rule of the Patriarch of Constantinople over papal territory in Greece and southern Italy. This action led the Pope to begin negotiations with Charles Martel,[280:2] and that opened a new chapter in the rise of the mediæval Church and in the world's history.

In 741, Leo was succeeded by his son, Constantine V., only twenty-two years of age, a ruler and general of ability, but of low tastes and vile habits. He became a zealous persecutor of image worship, an idol of the Iconoclasts, and won the victory for their party. His policy was to continue his father's work. Consequently in 754, he called a universal council in [281]Constantinople. Although it was the largest assembly ever held up to that time, 338 bishops being present, yet neither the Pope, nor the patriarchs of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem sent representatives. Hence, it was not recognised as œcumenical. The use of images and pictures was condemned as idolatry, and even the crucifix was put under the ban. "The godless art of painting" was proscribed, and the leaders of the image worshippers, Germanus, John of Damascus, and George of Cyprus, were anathematised.[281:1] Backed up by these measures, the Emperor resolved to root out the evil for ever. All images were ordered destroyed; all pictures were taken out of the Church books; all paintings on the church walls were removed; churches were decorated with trees, fruits, and the chase; transgressors were cruelly punished; and the citizens of Constantinople had to take an oath never again to worship an image.[281:2]

The contest was renewed under Empress Irene (780-802), a young, beautiful, ambitious, wicked Grecian, who favoured image worship. First, she proclaimed toleration to both parties; then denied it to the Iconoclasts. The highest civil dignities were given to the clergy and monks; and the Patriarch of Constantinople became her prime minister. At their suggestion, no doubt, she called the Council of Nicæa in 787 to undo the work of the Council of Constantinople (754). There were present 375 bishops, and Pope Hadrian sent two representatives, but the three eastern patriarchs were unable to send proxies, so two eastern monks were appointed to sit and vote for all the [282]patriarchs.[282:1] The decrees of the Council of Constantinople were nullified because heretical, and the Iconoclasts anathematised. Then image worship was defined and authorised.[282:2] Many Iconoclastic bishops were induced to renounce their heresy, and were freed from the ban. Finally, an image was brought into the council and fervently and reverently kissed by all present, after which the council adjourned.

Leo the Armenian, who seized the throne in 813, was unfriendly to images. He called a synod of Constantinople in 815 in which the acts of the second Council of Nicæa (787) were nullified. He forbade the lighting of lamps and burning of incense before the images and had them elevated in the churches out of the reach of the people in order to prevent their worship. But Leo's widow, Theodora, restored the usages. Thus, after a long, bitter struggle, images were finally restored in the churches with great pomp and ceremony in 842. The "Festival of Orthodoxy" is still celebrated on February 19th in the Greek Church.

After the great victory had been won for images, both the Latin and the Greek Churches continued their use. The puritanical Iconoclastic Controversy was in a certain sense the forerunner of the ruthless destruction of paintings and statues in England, Holland, and Germany during the Reformation. The Council of Trent passed finally on the doctrine and use of images in the Catholic Church.[282:3]

As a result of this controversy, the Eastern Church was greatly weakened through dissensions, checked in the growth of its organisation, robbed of its [283]independence, made a mere tool of the state, reformed and purified even though image worship finally prevailed because it was better understood, and compelled to recognise the power of the Pope.

The Western Church, on the other hand, was forced to define the right and wrong use of images and was weakened somewhat by a schism like that in the Eastern Church, because the Frankish Church opposed the worship of images East and West. Pepin had the subject discussed in a synod near Paris (767), in which sat legates from Rome and Constantinople. It was decided that "images of saints made up or painted for the ornament and beauty of churches might be endured, so long as they were not worshipped in an idolatrous manner." Charles the Great, aided by Alcuin, published the Caroline books denouncing all abuses in the worship of images, though tolerating them for ornamentation and devotion.[283:1] The cross and relics, however, were commended (790).[283:2] The synod of Frankfort, held in 794, rejected the recommendations of the seventh œcumenical Council of Nicæa and condemned image worship.[283:3] A synod of Paris in 827 renewed the action of 794.[283:4] These doctrines were continued by Agobard of Lyons, Claudius, Bishop of Turin, the Waldenses in Piedmont, and the Lollards in England.[283:5]

Furthermore, the controversy enabled the Pope of Rome to declare his universal supremacy in more [284]sweeping terms than ever and to make it good in the West. The rise of the Papacy, as the dominating force in the Church of the West, made the rupture inevitable and permanent. The series of protests in the East against the assumptions of the See of Rome prevented any complete and absolute recognition of the supremacy of the chair of St. Peter. As the years passed, the Eastern Church saw that independence could be secured against the sweeping imperial claims of Rome only by a declaration of total separation. The relations between the East and West were likewise affected in another sense, because they were separated politically when Charles the Great became Emperor of the West (800), and were separated religiously when the allegiance of the Pope was transferred from the eastern authority to the newly created western Emperor.

The growing estrangement between the Greek and Roman Churches, which had its origin in a fundamental difference in character, temperament, and ideas, became conspicuous in the fourth century, reached an incurable stage in the ninth century, and culminated in the eleventh century. Pope Nicholas I. in 863 deposed Photius from the office of Patriarch of Constantinople. Photius, in the counter synod held in 867, returned the compliment by deposing the Pope for heresy and schism.[284:1]

The gulf between the East and West became practically irreparable when Nicholas I., standing firmly on the Petrine theory and backed up by the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, wrote to Emperor Michael:

You affirm that you and your predecessors have been [285]accustomed to command us and ours; we utterly deny it. . . . The Roman Church encompasses and comprehends within herself, she being in herself the universal church, the mirror and model of that which she embraces within her bosom. Moreover, this vessel was shown to Peter alone, and he alone was commanded to kill and eat; as in like manner, after the resurrection, he alone of all the apostles received the divine command to draw to the shore the net full of fishes. And if unto us he committed that identical commission—which is verily and indeed so committed—to embrace in our paternal arms the whole flock of Christ, is it to be believed that we surrender to you any one of those sheep whom he hath given into our keeping?[285:1]

In 1054, the Pope excommunicated the patriarch and his whole Church for censuring the faith of Rome. The courtesy was solemnly returned by Constantinople against the Roman Church. Other eastern patriarchs adhered to the See of Constantinople and the rupture was complete. The sack of Constantinople by Latin Christians in the fourth crusade (thirteenth century) widened the breach. At the Council of Lyons, 1274, delegates of the Eastern Empire abjured the schism, by receiving the Nicene Creed with "filioque" in it and by swearing to conform to the Roman faith and to accept the supremacy of the Pope, but the eastern patriarchs refused to do so. When, in 1439 at the Council of Florence, the Eastern Emperor and churchmen signed a compact of reunion, they were induced to acknowledge the Pope as the "successor of Peter the chief of the apostles, and the vicar of Christ, the head of the whole Church, and father and teacher of all Christians, [286]to whom plenary power was given by our Lord Jesus Christ to feed, rule, and govern the universal Church." Other differences were patched up. The Pope, for his part, agreed to induce the rulers of the West to go to the defence of the East against the Turks, but failed to make his promise good. The people of the East were sorely disappointed and forced the repudiation of the agreement. In 1453, however, Constantinople fell a prey to the Mohammedan Turks, and the strength of the Eastern Church was broken. In modern times, papal absolutism and eastern stagnation have prevented the reunion.[286:1]

In conclusion, the differences and resemblances between the Greek and Roman Churches to-day might be stated. The Greek Church rejects the filioque in the Latin creed; repudiates the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary (1854), and denies the infallibility of the Roman Pope (1870). All the clergy are "popes" in the Greek Church and the lower clergy are permitted to marry. The Greek Church gives and the Roman Church withholds the communion wine from the laity. The Greek Church uses leavened, and the Roman Church unleavened bread in the Eucharist. The Greek Church holds to the trine immersion in baptism, repetition of Holy Unction in illness, and infant communion. There is a difference in rites of worship, in language, in art, in architecture, and in the vestments employed. But both hold the fundamentals in the Nicene Creed; both accept all the doctrinal decrees of the seven œcumenical councils from 325 to 787; both practise image worship[286:2]; both accept [287]the mediæval doctrine against which the Reformation protested; both believe in tradition and the Bible; both believe in the seven sacraments; both teach transubstantiation; both offer masses for the dead and the living; both sanction priestly absolution; both have three orders of ministry; both are episcopally organised on a hierarchical basis; both have rites and ceremonies that are identical, or at least similar. All things considered, therefore, it seems that the resemblances are far more striking than the differences.

From now on, interest in Church history centres in the Roman Church of western Europe. The undignified quarrel over images gave the Pope an occasion to declare his absolute independence of eastern imperial rule. That fact gave a new bent to the Roman Church, forced upon it a more genuine unity, compelled it to devote all its energies to the great problems in the West, and enabled it to attain its acme under Innocent III. in the thirteenth century. Had the unsatisfactory relationship with the Eastern Church not been severed the history of the mediæval Church in western Europe would have been very different. The separation must be regarded, therefore, as a factor of no small moment in that process. While the effective missionary efforts, having their source and purpose in Rome, were winning all western Europe to a recognition of the Pope's sovereignty, it was very essential that he should completely accomplish his independence of Constantinople so that he would have a free hand to work out the problems of the Western Church.

Sources


FOOTNOTES:

[265:1] Tozer, The Ch. and the East. Emp., 172.

[267:1] Herodotus, bk. 1, 132; Strabo, 732.

[267:2] Schoemann, Griech. Alterthümer, ii., 197; see Alex., Strom., i., ch. 5, § 28; ch. ii., § 77.

[267:3] Preller, Roman Mythology, i.; Plutarch, Numa, c. 8; Aug., City of God, iv., ch. 31.

[267:4] Grimm, Teutonic Myth., i., 104.

[267:5] Ex. 20:4, 5; 25:18-20; 26:1; 32:4; 36:35; Deut. 4:15-18; 5:8, 9; 32:17; Gen. 31:19; Judg., 17:5; 18:30; Hos. 3:4; Zach. 10:2; 2 Kings 13:24; 1 Sam. 19:13, 16; Lev. 17:7; Ps. 106:37; 1 Kings 6:23, 32, 35; Isa. 40:44; 30:22; Joseph., Antiq. xv., 8, 12; xviii., 3, 1.

[267:6] Joseph., Antiq., xv., ch. 8, § 1-2; Jewish Wars, i., ch. 33, § 2-3.

[267:7] Against Celsus, iv., 31.

[268:1] Rev. 15:2.

[268:2] Her. i., ch. 25, 6; Aug., Her. ch. 7.

[268:3] Northcote and Brownlow, Roma Sotteranæ; Northcote, Epitaphs of the Catacombs.

[268:4] Hefele, i., 151.

[269:1] De Pud., 7, 10.

[269:2] De Cor. Mil., c. iii.; Ad. Uxor., ii., 5.

[269:3] Paed., iii., 11, § 59.

[269:4] Euseb., Eccl. Hist., ix., 9.

[269:5] Euseb., Life of Const., iii., 49.

[269:6] Sozomen, Eccl. Hist., i., 8.

[271:1] See Book iv., Letter 30.

[271:2] Comm. on Ezek., ix., 4.

[272:1] Contra Judae. et Gentil., § 9; see Neander, ii., 286.

[272:2] Euseb., Life of Const., iii., 49.

[272:3] Kugler, Handbook of Painting.

[272:4] Smith and Cheetham, art. on "Images," p. 816 ff.

[273:1] Imper. Decr. de Cultu Imag., 618, ed., Goldast, Frankf., 1608.

[273:2] Greg. of Tours, Mirac., i., 22, 23; Apol. in Act 4, Conc. Nic., ii.; Labb. vii., 240.

[273:3] Apol. in Act 4, Conc. Nic., ii.; Labb., vii., 237.

[274:1] Book ix., Letter 52.

[274:2] Epist. ad eund., ix., 9. See Ep., vii., 111.

[274:3] On Holy Images, ii., 747.

[275:1] Adv. Her., i., c. 25, § 6.

[275:2] De Spect., c. 23; Adv. Herm., c. 1; De Idolatr., c. 4.

[275:3] Pratrept., c. 4, § 62; Strom., vii., c. 5, § 28.

[275:4] Adv. Celsus, iv., § 31; viii., § 17.

[275:5] Octav., c. 9.

[275:6] Instit., ii., c. 2; Epit., c. 25.

[275:7] Adv. Gent., iii.

[276:1] Can. 36; Mansi, ii., 264. See Hefele, i., 151.

[276:2] Dict. of Christian Biog., 198; Mansi, xiii., 313.

[276:3] De Fide et Symbolo, c. 7.

[276:4] Migne, ii., 517-527.

[276:5] Kurtz, i., 364.

[276:6] Fleury, l., xxx., 18.

[276:7] Ib., l., xxx., 39. See Smith and Cheetham, art "Images."

[276:8] Bk. xi., Ep. 13. Read Neander, iii., 199 ff.

[277:1] These images were mosaics, frescoes, and movable flat icons like those found in the East to-day. It is very unlikely that statues were used in this early period.

[277:2] Finlay, i., 387; ii., 27-29.

[277:3] In 722 he ordered the Jews and Montanists to be baptised by force.

[278:1] Hefele, iii., 376.

[278:2] Neander, iii., 213.

[279:1] Mansi, xii., 267.

[279:2] Thatcher and McNeal, A Source Book for Mediæval History, No. 41; Dict. of Christ. Biog., art. on Leo III.; Mansi, xii., 960.

[279:3] Mansi, xii., 959; Hefele, iii., 389-404. Milman quotes this letter as the first, ii., bk. 4, ch. 7.

[279:4] Orat., ii., § 10.

[279:5] Finlay, ii., 36.

[280:1] Thatcher and McNeal, No. 42.

[280:2] Ibid., No. 43.

[281:1] The Greek Church regards this as the seventh œcumenical council. Finlay, ii., 57.

[281:2] Hefele, iii., 421.

[282:1] Neander, iii., 228; Hefele, iii., 460, 549; Schlosser, 279.

[282:2] Mansi, xiii., 378; Hefele, iii., 486.

[282:3] Session xxv., Dec., 1563; Schaff, Creeds, ii. See Cath. Encyc.

[283:1] See Smith and Cheetham, art. on "Images," for brief extracts in English; Mombert, ch. 12.

[283:2] Schaff, iv., § 104; Neander, iii., 233; Gieseler, ii., 66; Hefele, iii., 694.

[283:3] Gieseler, ii., 67; Hardwick, 78.

[283:4] Mansi, xiv., 415; Hefele, iv., 41.

[283:5] Schaff, iv., § 105.

[284:1] See Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, iii., 348-423; Milman, bk. v., ch. 4; Neander, iii., 553-586; Gieseler, ii., 216. The Sources are given in Mansi, xvi., and Hardouin, v.-vi.

[285:1] This remarkable letter is given in full in Baronius, ed. by Pagi, ann. 867, note to § 4. Parts are translated in Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, iii., 364-371.

[286:1] Howard, Schism between the Orthodox and West. Churches, Lond., 1802.

[286:2] The Eastern Church uses only the "icon," a flat representation.


[289]

CHAPTER XIV
RELATION OF THE CHURCH AND STATE UP TO THE DISSOLUTION OF THE CAROLINGIAN EMPIRE

Outline: I.—Church and state before Constantine. II.—Church and state from Constantine to 476. III.—Period of the Ostrogothic rule (476-532). IV.—Reunion of Italy with the Eastern Empire. V.—Alliance between the Papacy and the Franks. VI.—Restoration of the Empire in the West in 800. VII.—Effect of the rise of national states on the Church. VIII.—Sources.

By the theory of the Roman constitution, the Emperor was not only an autocrat in all political matters, but was also the Pontifex Maximus of religions[289:1]; consequently, all foreign religions must conform to the constitution or else perish as illegal. The political philosophy of early Christianity in reference to the Roman Empire was not very clearly defined. Jesus taught charity and love, gave the Golden Rule as the law of life, but apparently was indifferent as to civil government. He took no part in political discussions; said "My kingdom is not of this world"; disparaged worldly power and wealth, and advised the rich young man: "Sell all thou hast and give it to the poor." He did recognise the duty of tribute to the state, however, saying "Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's," but did little more. The Apostles continued the teachings of Jesus, [290]emphasised equality and brotherhood; organised the Church on a communistic, democratic basis; and were likewise indifferent to wealth and property. They too, recognised the state and its essential institutions. Slaves were told to obey their masters.[290:1] Paul was very particular to explain the obligation of Christians to the state and said: "Let every soul be subjected unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God."[290:2] He advised the payment of taxes as a just requisition.[290:3] And he himself, when arrested for disturbing the peace, appealed to Rome.[290:4] Peter likewise advised Christians to obey "every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; whether it be to the king as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him."[290:5]

The early Church Fathers made no additions to the political science of Jesus and his Apostles. Apparently no questions of seriously conflicting allegiance arose during the whole of the first century. As individuals these early Christians no doubt performed all the duties and paid all the contributions demanded by the Empire. From a strictly legal standpoint, however, the Church was not incorporated among the recognised cults, that is, it was not, like Judaism, a "religio licita." Nevertheless, it was not disturbed for some years.[290:6] Things must have gone along, for the most part, in a customary manner. Pliny's letter to Trajan (about 111) describes the Christians in Bythinia as law-abiding. With the rapid territorial [291]and numerical increase of Christianity, the state was forced to take cognisance of it and the inevitable conflict occurred. The Christians refused to conform to Roman worship and persecution resulted. Persecution in time produced, on the part of many Christians, a refusal to perform the duties of civil and military service, but it cannot be proved that such hostility was universal. Indeed there is much evidence to show a general disposition to compromise with imperial demands.[291:1]

With respect to the general duty of obeying the law of the Empire the Fathers of the ante-Constantine period were quite unanimous in their approval. In fact they boasted of their political loyalty and denied all accusations to the contrary. Justin Martyr said that "wherever we are we pay the taxes and the tribute imposed . . . as we were instructed to do by Him," and "while we worship God alone in all other matters, we cheerfully submit ourselves to you, confessing you to be the kings and rulers of men." Irenæus asserted: "we ought to obey powers and earthly authorities, inasmuch as they are constituted not by the devil, but God." These passages, and many others, which are undoubtedly typical, show that it was the persuasion of the Church that conformity was a general obligation. That this fealty was appreciated is seen in the fact that the Church, at least in the time of Emperor Alexander Severus (222), was permitted to own lands, to erect churches, to elect officers openly, and to send officials to court.[291:2] It was not, however, until 312 that these rights were legalised. One [292]must never lose sight of the fact that it was both very easy and very natural for the clergy and the people to accommodate themselves to the new order of things, and to recognise in these new relationships a reproduction of the theocratic constitution of God's subjects under the old covenant. Indeed it was practically impossible for the masses who came to march under the cross in those days to conceive of a Church without some relation to the state. To-day to a modern man's eyes appears only the antagonism between the Church and state.

There was a most striking contrast, from the standpoint of political science, between the Roman and Christian religions. The Roman Emperor identified religion with the state; Christianity separated God from Cæsar. The Roman religion was restricted to earth; Christianity made the world to come the most important part of life. The Roman religion was only for Romans; Christianity was as wide as the world. Roman paganism fell and the Roman Empire perished, but Roman Christianity, clothed in their form, arose on their ruins to rule the world for more than a thousand years.[292:1]

Constantine legalised Christianity, but thereby subjected it to the state. He had no idea whatever of surrendering to it any of his autocratic prerogatives. He became virtually the Pontifex Maximus[292:2] of his new religion by controlling those who performed the sacred rites, and by defining its faith, discipline, organisation, policy, and privileges. He enacted legislation for Christianity just as his predecessors had for paganism. The Church recognised its subjection to the Emperor [293]without a complaint and permitted him to appoint and depose its officers, to call and dismiss synods and councils, like Arles (314) and Nicæa (325), and almost to replace the Holy Ghost itself in determining the proceedings.[293:1] This marked a revolution in the relation of the Church to the Empire, for each made a conquest of the other.

It has been customary for Church historians quite generally to characterise the union of the Church and state under Constantine as an unmitigated curse that gave birth to a multitude of evils in the Church which led directly to the Reformation. That contention is one-sided and unfair. Whether the Church and state be regarded as both divine, or both human, or one human and the other divine, the historical fact remains that their union was absolutely necessary and inevitable. When all the forces and factors of the time are carefully and duly considered, it is impossible to conceive of any other solution of the problem in the fourth century.[293:2] That the union did paganise and materialise the Church no one can deny,[293:3] but in compensation the Empire was Christianised and spiritualised. The resultant was mediæval Christianity and the ecclesiastical Empire. The Church, without the strength it received from the state, could not have met the barbarians of the North, the Mohammedans of the South, and the heretics within, and successfully conquered the first, held the second in check, and subdued the third. Much of what we enjoy to-day along the lines of culture, law, and religion is due in great measure to that alliance. After the time of Constantine the [294]Church becomes such a vital and integral part of the life of Europe that history for a thousand years must be viewed through the eyes of the Church and estimated by her standards.

In the two centuries which intervened between the time of Constantine and that of Justinian, imperial legislation directly affecting the Church in all its institutions made rapid progress. The successors of Constantine continued his policy. Imperial sanction was necessary for the validity of every important act in connection with the Church. Councils were called and dismissed in the name of the sovereign, and their proceedings were not valid without his approval. At the Council of Tyre (335), a portion of the bishops appealed to the Emperor's commissioner to settle the dispute about the Arian question, but he declared that the question must be submitted to his imperial master for final decision since it was his province to legislate on all matters concerning the Church.[294:1] Constantius vetoed a portion of the canons of Remini (360).[294:2] The Emperors Theodosius II. and Valentinian III. likewise rebuked the Council of Ephesus (431), and dictated its procedure.[294:3] The Council of Chalcedon (451) was also told to hurry up its work because the imperial commissioners present were needed in state affairs.[294:4] During this period, however, it is possible to detect pretensions on the part of the Bishop of Rome to the right to call and preside over councils.[294:5] Here began the conflict over ecclesiastical [295]sovereignty which was to end in a complete victory for the Roman Church.

The later Emperors similarly exercised the right to decide all disputed points of doctrine, discipline, and elections. They nominated, or at least confirmed, the most influential metropolitans and patriarchs. Thus in 377, the Emperor's representative decided between two rival claimants to the apostolic see of Antioch.[295:1] Again, the Roman prefect decided between two rival claimants to the chair of St. Peter, Ursinus and Damasus, in favour of the latter, and punished adherents of the former.[295:2] When rival Popes appealed to Honorius, he appointed a temporary Pope until he could examine into the case. Then he decided in favour of Boniface I. and issued an edict to prevent the recurrence of such a state of affairs.[295:3] The Emperor was the court of last appeal in all ecclesiastical cases. This was recognised by a council of Rome held by Ambrose in 378, which requested of Emperor Gratian that when a Roman bishop was accused, he might always be tried by the imperial council.[295:4] The best evidence, however, of the subordination of the spiritual to the temporal authority in this period is found in the legislation. The whole field of Church government and ecclesiastical life and all the relations, duties, morals, and acts of the clergy are covered in the civil laws of the time. Even heresy was put to flight by imperial edict.[295:5]

[296]During the period of Ostrogothic rule in Italy from 476 to 552, the Roman Church made a few weak efforts to assert her independence. We find, for instance, a Roman synod, held in 502, resolving that no layman has a right to interfere in Church matters. But the Arian Ostrogothic rulers declared that they had succeeded to the Roman Empire's power over the Church. Indeed the Theodosian Code was practically incorporated in the Visigothic Code in 506 by Alaric II. Consequently, Odoacer issued a decree forbidding the alienation of Church property. Theodoric in 498 decided between two rival claimants to the Papacy, Symmachus and Lawrence, giving the former the papal chair and the latter a bishopric.[296:1] When a synod was called later to try Symmachus (501), it was convened in Theodoric's name. Theodoric even appointed a "visitor" to reform the abuses in the Church. He sent Pope John I. to the eastern Emperor on an embassy, and on his return, dissatisfied with his work, threw him into prison, where he died. Athalaric instructed Pope John II. how to prevent simony in episcopal and papal elections.[296:2]

Under Justinian the Great (527-565), who by conquest reunited Italy with the eastern Empire in 552, the Popes and the Western Church were again subjected to the eastern rule. Like the Patriarch of Constantinople the Pope was now the nominee of the Emperor and could be removed at the pleasure of the prince. Sylverius, made Pope by the Arian Goth [297]Theodatus, was therefore deposed and exiled by the Emperor's successful general, Belisarius, and a new Pope was chosen. Vigillus, a favourite of the Empress, installed as Pope by Belisarius (537), was peremptorily summoned to Constantinople to answer for his conduct. There a synod was called, and he was excommunicated. His successor, Pelagius I., was apparently appointed directly by the Emperor. Justinian, like Constantine, exercised the right to legislate for every phase of Church life.[297:1] His theory was that "human and divine authority," that is civic and ecclesiastical law, "combining in one and the same act," formed "one true and perfect law for all."[297:2] He meant to exercise a spiritual power very much like the temporal power he wielded. Hence he insisted that the election of a Pope in Rome by the clergy, senate, and people should not be valid until confirmed by him. This practically reduced the Pope of Rome to the position of eastern bishops. The organisation of the Church was guarded and regulated.[297:3] The property of the Church was protected. The jurisdiction of the clergy was clearly defined and minutely regulated as an extension of civil power. In all cases the Emperor was the court of final decision.

This arbitrary interference with the affairs of the Western Church by the imperial authority at Constantinople brought the papal hierarchy to the brink of ruin. The clergy were alarmed at this invasion of the sacred canons of the Council of Chalcedon, and the [298]unity of the Western Church, which had been so strong for several centuries, was seriously threatened. The clergy of Gaul "silently withdrew from, or boldly renounced their communion with Rome; the Illyrian episcopacy prepared to follow their example"; and Africa became defiant.[298:1] Even the Italian provinces like Venetia and Liguria became disaffected. Pope Pelagius I., indebted to the Emperor for his office, was forced to beg the intervention of the secular arm to compel the ecclesiastical rebels to continue true to their allegiance to the See of Peter. Sorrowful indeed was this spectacle to those who could recall the palmy days of Leo the Great, Felix, Gelasius, and Hormisdas, who had imposed their will on all ecclesiastics, had planted the banner of Roman supremacy in every corner of Christendom, and had even imposed their laws on princes. But it must be remembered that the theory on which Roman leadership rested had not been assailed, and was soon to reassert itself.

In the election of a Pope in 577, the Roman clergy resumed their independence and ventured to consecrate and to inaugurate a successor without even waiting for imperial license. Hence Pelagius II. was the first independently elected Pontiff since the Byzantine conquest of Italy. He reasserted the universal primacy of the Bishop of Rome in a bold tone, and declared that anything done without papal authority was null and void.[298:2] Meanwhile the disaffection in the West had given way to pronounced loyalty to Rome.

Even Pope Gregory the Great did not question the supremacy of the temporal power. He acknowledged the Emperor as his "earthly master" and said that [299]God had given the ruler dominion even over the priesthood.[299:1] When Emperor Maurice renewed an old edict prohibiting monasteries from receiving soldiers as monks (593), Gregory timidly objected, but quieted his conscience by saying: "What am I but a worm and dust thus to speak to my masters? . . . I have done what was my duty in every particular; I have obeyed the Emperor and have not hushed in silence what I felt to be due to God."[299:2] He attempted, however to carry out the spirit of the law.[299:3] But Gregory the Great was willing to compromise the substantial prerogatives of his office. As the subject of the Emperor, he could yield a point. As Pope he stood as firm as a rock, yet was too wise to provoke a disruption which could bring nothing but injury to the unity and power of the Church.

Popes, like patriarchs, were required to keep an "agent" at the eastern court. The Emperors continued to insist on the right to confirm all papal elections, and, of course, this practically put the election into their hands, as is shown by the elevation of so many "agents" to the papal throne, viz., Vigillus, Pelagius I., Gregory the Great, Sabinian, etc. The Popes, on their installation, were expected to pay tribute to the eastern Emperor.[299:4] Even in questions of doctrine, the Emperor might enforce his will by exiling an obstinate Pope, as in the case of Martin I. (655).

During the period from 552 to 800, the papal power was growing stronger all the time, and only awaited a [300]favourable opportunity to issue a declaration of independence. The Italians hated both the Greeks and Lombards as foreign masters. Between the two stood the Pope as the only representative of Italian nationality and the sole champion of Italian independence. The Papacy was in theory democratic, and celibacy made a dynasty impossible. The occasion for a declaration of independence was the Iconoclastic Controversy; the leaders were Gregory II. and Gregory III., who formally excommunicated Emperor Leo and his hierarchy; and the new ally to make the independence good was the family of Pepin in Gaul and Germany. After 772, the papal documents do not bear the name of the eastern Emperor.[300:1]

The seventh and eighth centuries in European history reveal the elements of religious and political life in a state of incessant and violent fermentation. Sudden changes took place in the relative position of nations. The old Empire was disintegrating and new kingdoms were appearing. During this period of political transformation, the Church was the only system that persisted in the old channel that it had created for itself. The Papacy, though not yet an acknowledged kingdom in the world, still stood among the political powers as a self-existent organisation, exercising an influence over princes and subjects. The governments were isolated, divided, anarchical. In the Church alone was there unity, order, method, organisation, and supreme purpose. There alone was found facility of communication and cordial interchange of views. The Popes of Rome kept up a constant intercourse with all nations from Asia to the Atlantic and constituted the one recognised unifying force in [301]Europe standing for the highest ideals of the age along all lines.

Up to this period the See of Rome had gone far toward establishing an ecclesiastical monarchy. Every principle of an unlimited religious autocracy had been asserted and to a considerable extent established. The outward machinery for this spiritual absolutism had been created and partially put in motion. But many obstacles to the smooth working of the system were still encountered. Chief among these impediments was the strong arm of the eastern Empire. Until the fetters of political dependence were broken, the Papacy could never accomplish its great mission.

Hitherto the Church of Rome had assumed a political headship on many occasions, but it was the result of some accidental emergency and soon disappeared. Nevertheless the experience gained in this exercise of secular authority created an ambition on the part of the Roman Pontiffs for political independence, furnished precedents for future claims, and led the Italians to believe that the head of the Church could give them efficient government in temporal affairs as well as spiritual. The great problem before the successors of St. Peter at this time was how to manage the ecclesiastical ascendency already gained over the Western Church, so as to render it serviceable in securing that political self-existence so essential not only to maintain the ground already won but also to realise their high hopes in other directions. At this juncture a combination of external causes, unparalleled in the world's history, came in to favour the emancipation of the Papacy from the last feeble bonds of a nominal dependency and to permit of the assumption of temporal sovereignty [302]virtually if not in recognised title. This meant the realisation of the mediæval Church.

Emperor Leo's attempt to abolish the worship of images in Christendom provoked a rebellion in Italy headed by the Pope. Luitprand, seeing his opportunity as King of the Lombards, fell on the exarchate as the champion of images and on Rome as the supposed ally of the Emperor. The Pope, perilously placed between a heretic and an invader, appealed for help to a Catholic chief across the Alps who had just saved Christendom by defeating the Mohammedans on the field of Poitiers. Gregory III. excommunicated the eastern Emperor and begged Charles Martel to hasten to the succour of the Holy Church. Here the Roman Pontiff leads a political revolt against his legitimate sovereign and appeals to a foreign power to make the revolt successful. The Bishop of Rome has stepped into the position of a temporal prince with the political future of Italy in his hands.

The alliance of the Papacy with the Franks marks a new epoch not only in Church history, but in the history of western Europe. These Franks settled in northern France about 250, and began to Germanise the Celtic and Romanic races and institutions found there. But the current of Roman civilisation was so strong that the Franks were swept into it before they realised it. Under Clovis, they were converted directly to Roman Christianity.[302:1] With the aid of the Roman Christians, he was able to conquer the Arian princes of the western Goths, Burgundians, and Bavarians. He and his successors gave the Church much property, acquiesced in the papal claims, and helped [303]to extend the papal power throughout the West, though they ruled the bishops and clergy as their vassals.[303:1] Clovis, himself, convoked synods and enacted Church laws. Later rulers followed these precedents.[303:2] Thus the way was prepared for a successful alliance between the Frankish ruler and the Papacy.[303:3]

The house of Pepin was to play an important part in this new arrangement. In 622, Pepin of Laudon, a zealous champion of Christianity, was made mayor of the palace in Austrasia. Pepin of Herstal, grandson of the first Pepin, became in 688 a mayor of the palace for all France (d. 714). He succeeded in making the office hereditary in his family. A series of infant kings[303:4] made the mayor virtually king. Pepin viewed the Church as a powerful ally, and fostered missionaries. Under him, twenty bishoprics were founded, and the Church secured large territorial possessions.[303:5]

Charles Martel, after a contest of four years, succeeded to his father's office in 718. He ruled France with the hand of a master, Christianised the Frisians on the north by force, aided Boniface, the apostle of the Germans, defeated the Saracens at the battle of Tours (732), and drove them back into Spain.[303:6] On the death of Theodoric IV. (737), Charles ruled the Franks directly without setting up another puppet king. Pope Gregory III. in 739 sent him the keys of St. Peter's grave, with the offer of the sovereignty of Rome and Italy in return for aid against the Lombards.[303:7] [304]This proffered alliance was refused, but Charles offered to mediate between the Pope and the Lombards.[304:1] He dealt with Church endowments as with any other part of the royal domain. He gave to his liege Milo the archbishoprics of Rheims and Treves, and to his nephew Hugh the archbishoprics of Rouen, Paris, and Bayeau with several abbeys. When he died in 741, "he divided his kingdom between his sons"—a proof that not only the office of mayor of the palace, but also that of king, had become practically hereditary in his family; yet Charles Martel had never assumed the title of king.

The actual alliance of the Pope with the Franks was consummated with Pepin the Short. The occasion for the compact was the Iconoclastic Controversy in the East, and the change of dynasty in the West. Pepin the Short accepted what Charles Martel had refused. He ruled Neustria, while Carloman, his brother, ruled Austrasia (741-747). When Carloman became a monk (747), Pepin was left as the sole ruler of all France, but still under a phantom Merovingian king. In 751, with the consent of the Franks in their annual assembly, two churchmen were sent to Rome to ask Pope Zacharias, acting in the capacity of an international arbiter, whether the real king ought not to take the name of king. The Pope answered in the affirmative, and thus authorised the usurpation.[304:2] Thus a new prerogative of the Holy See came into active existence. The next year the assembly of Soissons elected Pepin and his wife King and Queen of France. Childeric III., the Merovingian weakling, was shorn of both his royal hair and his royal crown, and shut up in a monastery. [305]Boniface in all probability then anointed the head appointed by the Pope to wear the French crown.[305:1]

Through this alliance, the Pope expected to make the declaration of independence from the eastern Empire good, to increase and extend papal power in the West, to establish a precedent for deposing and enthroning kings—a significant thing for the future,—and to gain material help against the Arian Lombards who were threatening Rome.[305:2] In 753, Pope Stephen II., who succeeded Zacharias (752), fled to France from the Lombards to implore aid from Pepin against them. In sack-cloth and ashes, he threw himself at the King's feet and would not rise until his petition was granted.[305:3] The Pope himself now solemnly anointed Pepin and his family with royal power, at St. Denis, and made him and his two sons patricians of Rome.[305:4] After that Pepin called himself "by the grace of God, King of the Franks."

Pepin repaid the Pope by making two excursions into Italy against the Lombards. He took an army to Italy in 754, defeated the Pope's enemies, and compelled them to sign a treaty respecting the rights [306]and territory of the Roman See, but the Franks had scarcely recrossed the Alps before the promises were broken. Pepin, therefore, entered Italy a second time (755), called thither by the famous letter purporting to be from St. Peter himself.[306:1] The Lombard power was effectually broken. The towns and lands of the exarchate and Romagna, claimed by both the Lombards and the eastern Emperor, were given to the Pope.[306:2] This is the famous "Donation of Pepin" by which his envoy laid the conquest of twenty-two cities at the shrine of St. Peter, and thus began the temporal power of the Pope.[306:3] The act of donation is lost.[306:4] The Pope had owned tracts of land all over the Empire before, but now he becomes through this gift a temporal sovereign over a large part of Italy known as the "Patrimony of St. Peter," or the "States of the Church," which continued until 1870, when it was absorbed into the new kingdom of Italy. This act changed the whole later history of the Papacy[306:5] and provoked a long controversy with the secular powers of Europe. Pepin continued to labour to build up the Church in France by restoring confiscated Church property,[306:6] by undertaking needed reforms in discipline and organisation,[306:7] and by giving material assistance and valuable relics to many religious foundations.

This alliance between the most powerful representative [307]of the Germanic world and the leader of Roman Christendom in the West was one of the most eventful coalitions in the history of Europe.[307:1] It was the event upon which all mediæval history turned. It created a new political organisation in western Europe with the Pope and German Emperor at the head. For centuries, it affected every institution in western Europe. After Pepin, each new Pope sent a delegation with the key and flag of Rome and the key of St. Peter's tomb to the Frankish rulers for confirmation of the election and to give the king the oath of allegiance. Thus, the strongest western king assumed the same prerogative over the Church which the eastern Emperor had exercised. Pepin's policy was followed by Charles the Great, the German Emperors, the Austrian Emperors, Napoleon the Great, and Napoleon III.

The next important step in the relations between Church and state was the restoration of the Roman Empire in the West in 800 by Charles the Great,[307:2] the son of Pepin. Charles was born in 742, and received the education of a warrior. At the age of twelve, he was anointed king, with his father and brother, by Pope Stephen II. (754). As a boy, he participated in military expeditions and gained considerable renown for his ability, his independence, and his prowess. When his father died in 768, he ruled jointly with his brother Carloman, whom he apparently hated very bitterly, and with whom he quarrelled continually, until 771, when Carloman died and Charles assumed his rule as King of all the Franks.

The first problem which engaged his attention was to strengthen and extend his kingdom. This he [308]accomplished by almost incessant military expeditions, of which he made fifty-three. His domain was extended north, east, and south. The Bretons were subdued on the north; the Saxons on the east were conquered after cruelly murdering 4000 prisoners, laying waste their land with fire and sword, and transplanting 10,000 families elsewhere in Germany and in Gaul.[308:1] The Slavs beyond the Saxons,[308:2] the Bavarians in the south-east, the Saracens and Basques in the south,[308:3] the Avars in Pannonia,[308:4] and the Lombards in Italy, were all subjugated. The result of this military activity was that Charles ruled over France, nearly all of Italy, a large part of Germany, Holland and Belgium, and a corner of Spain. Then by shrewd marriage alliances, he cemented these conquests. He married his dukes and counts to the princesses of powerful lords and kings, and he personally took as his wife, in turn, a Lombard, a Swabian, an east Frankish, an Alemannian princess, and even proposed marriage to the eastern Empress. He assumed the crown of Lombardy in 773. All parts of this vast realm were held together by a complete system of royal laws regulating the whole life of his people even in the minutest details.[308:5]

Charles, as "Patrician of Rome," was no less active in religious lines. He inherited the alliance with the Papacy and continued it. He protected the Church against the Saracens in Spain, the pagans to the north and east, the Arian Lombards in Italy, and the eastern Emperors. After freeing the Papacy from [309]the Lombards in 774, 781, and 799, he renewed the "Donation of Pepin" and made some valuable additions.[309:1] He viewed the Pope, however, as merely the chief bishop in his realm. In 796 Pope Leo III. sent him the key and flag of Rome and the key of St. Peter's tomb as tokens of submission; and three years later the same Pope fled to Charles for safety and succour. He reformed and reorganised the Church in his kingdom and made himself its real head. He carried on the missionary labours of Boniface by converting the Saxons at the sword's point, and by forcing Christianity upon the Avars. He preached to the whole hierarchy, held Church councils, and even admonished the Pope. He refused to champion the Pope's cause in the Iconoclastic Controversy, but took a sane middle ground with a leaning toward iconoclasm. In a council at Frankfort, he presided, and had the council legislate on discipline and even on dogma (794).[309:2]

The career of Charles as Emperor of the Roman Empire in the West (800-814) must now be considered.[309:3]

Many causes seemed to be operating to open up this new field for his masterly ability. A woman, having put out the eyes of her son, was ruling in the East, contrary to the Roman constitution. Charles had carved out an Empire with his sword and was undisputed master of the West. He was the recognised Emperor in power, if not in name. He had become the defender of the Church and the protector of the Pope. To assume the imperial crown was not [310]nearly so radical or unnatural an act, then, as it might seem. In 799, when Pope Leo III. fled from the Roman mob to Charles at Paderborn, Charles gave him royal entertainment, promised aid, notified his Frankish diet of his intentions (Aug., 800), crossed the Alps with an army, and entered Rome in joyous triumph (Nov., 800).[310:1] There he held a solemn synod in St. Peter's to investigate the causes of the riot which had driven the Pope out, and also the charges made against him. The Pontiff was freed of all guilt.[310:2]

The reward for Charles's friendly protection soon came. On Christmas eve, 800, while he was kneeling in prayer before the altar of St. Peter, the Church being crowded with the clergy, soldiers, and common people, the Pope suddenly put a golden crown upon the king's head, while the Romans shouted: "To Charles Augustus, crowned by God, great and pacific Emperor of the Romans, life and victory." The Pope then adored him as Emperor Augustus by bowing the knee as his first subject. The drama was concluded by anointing Charles and his son Pepin with the sacred oil.[310:3]

Whether or not this was a surprise to Charles is a disputed question. He pretended to be greatly surprised, even angered, at the Pope's trick, and declared that he would not have gone to Church had he known of it.[310:4] There seems to be little doubt about its being premeditated by the Pope. The probability is that no surprise was ever more carefully prearranged on both sides. It is easy to imagine the possibility [311]of its being planned out at Paderborn over the wine cups and venison stews. It was very clearly a fine piece of acting on the part of both the Pope and the king. Certainly every act of the two men for some time previous pointed directly and unmistakably to that result.[311:1] If we can believe Charles's own repeated assertions, the exact time and manner may have been unknown to him, but for years, perhaps as early as 785, Charles had spoken of the possibility. Alcuin, the great confidant of Charles in educational and religious matters, knew of the plan before 800. It had naturally often been suggested to the king by his own officers and nobles and most likely urged by the Popes themselves.[311:2] In fact the history of both the Frankish dynasty and the Papacy for some years had been steadily tending to this result as a climax.

The coronation itself was significant for many reasons. Constitutionally it made the Pope and Charles traitors to the eastern Emperor. Charles apparently realised this, and, again being a widower, proposed marrying Irene, the eastern Empress, in order to unite the two parts of the Empire and thus avoid trouble.[311:3] But so frequently had the Pope and the Romans broken their allegiance to the East, that this act was not generally viewed as a rebellion. Furthermore, they assumed that they stood upon the lofty ground of right in making the transfer. Henceforth, in the western lists of Emperors, Charles was made to follow Constantine VI. as the sixty-eighth successor of the first Roman Cæsar.[311:4] [312]In 812, the eastern Emperor was induced to recognise his western brother's imperial title. The old Roman Empire was now restored in the West on a Germanic rather than a Roman basis, a fact which revealed the new and decisive Germanic element in the West. Both the Emperor and the Pope were benefited beyond measurement by the change, and it is difficult to say which the more. A Frankish ruler and his family had become the successors of the Cæsars. The Pope assumed that he had created the Emperor and henceforth insisted upon the necessity of papal consecration to the validity of imperial power.[312:1] The Pope had received a powerful defender and a master who laboured unceasingly to build up the Church. The foundation was laid for the two rival theories of the relation of Church and state, viz., the papal theory and the imperial theory. Henceforth, both Pope and Emperor have a new meaning and a different career. A new chapter in mediæval history and in European civilisation was introduced. Christmas 800 "was the most important day for the next thousand years of the world's history."[312:2]

The results of the rule of Charles as Emperor (800-814) will now be considered:

1. Religious. As Emperor, Charles regarded himself, like the early Cæsars, as the head of the Church. Hence he spent the winter of 800-801 in settling religious affairs in Italy. He insisted on rigid obedience in the hierarchy and the subjection of all ecclesiastical authority to the imperial will. "The Church had to obey him, not he the Church." The Pope was his chief [313]bishop in his capital city, but always treated with filial respect and consideration. The bishops were his sworn vassals, like counts. The appellate power of Rome was never once used during his rule. He held the appointment of the higher clergy in his own hands, though after 803, he permitted the appearance of a popular election.[313:1] He issued edicts on Church matters with as much authority as in purely secular affairs. In fact, in his laws the political and religious are so blended that they can hardly be separated.[313:2] His conception of the relation of the Church and state has played a vital part in the history of Europe down to the present time. That relationship was stated by Charles in these words: "It is my bounden duty, by the help of the divine compassion, everywhere to defend outwardly by arms the Holy Church of Christ against every attack of the heathen and every devastation caused by unbelievers, and inwardly to defend it by the recognition of the general faith. But it is your duty, Holy Father, to raise your hands to God, as Moses did, and to support my military services by your prayers."[313:3] It is very evident that in his mind the old Roman idea of the relation of Church and Empire was dominant. The connection of Church and state, which Constantine founded, he established on a firmer basis. The initiative and decision of all ecclesiastical cases were in his hands.[313:4] He called Church councils and presided over them just as he summoned his privy council. The council of Arles (813) sent him its canons to be changed [314]and ratified at will.[314:1] Discipline, faith, and doctrine all came within his jurisdiction. He even put filioque into the Nicene Creed against the Pope's remonstrances (809).[314:2] In short, he organised, systematised, and controlled the Church in all its branches as a necessary part of his theocracy.[314:3] He ruled as a David, or a Josiah rather than an Augustus or a Constantine. Churchmen of ability held seats in the civil assemblies and were given important political positions. The Church was forced to contribute soldiers and money to maintain the Empire,[314:4] although the clergy themselves in 801 were forbidden to participate in military life. At the same time, he gave the Church for the first time the legal right to collect tithes, bestowed rich gifts, and endowed monasteries, splendid churches and cathedrals. No wonder a satirical priest complained that the power of Peter was confined to heaven, while the Church militant was the property of the king of the Franks.

The Pope and clergy gladly acquiesced in the usurpation of Charles as they did in that of Constantine and even gave him the papal title of "Bishop of Bishops" and "David." The grateful Pope Adrian in a council of fifty-three bishops gave him the right to name successors for the Holy See.[314:5] This was little more, however, than the transference to Charles of a right exercised by all the eastern Emperors. Stephen IV. decreed that no Pope could be elected save in the presence of imperial delegates (815).[314:6] [315]Pope Paschal III. had the great patron of the Church canonised. Even the Patriarch of Jerusalem recognised him as the head of Christendom and sent him the keys of the Holy Sepulchre on Mount Calvary and the flag of the city.[315:1]

2. Political. Charles clearly differentiated between his office as king and as Emperor. In recognition of his new dignity, he laid aside his German royal costume, and donned the Roman imperial tunic, chlamys, and sandals.[315:2] He ordered that "every man in his whole realm be he clergyman or be he layman, shall renew to him as Emperor the vow of fidelity previously taken to him as king," and that "those who have not yet taken the former vow, shall now do likewise, even down to boys twelve years of age" (802).[315:3] Rome was the capital of his Empire; Aachen, of his German kingdom. He divided his Empire among his three sons as kings, but the death of two of them left Louis both king and Emperor.[315:4] The Empire which he carved out with the sword was now unified and ruled by imperial law instead of tradition and custom. His Empire embraced all western continental Europe except central and southern Spain and southern Italy. It included Germans as well as Romans, Slavs, Celts, and Greeks, and was held together by an imperial army.[315:5] It united the Teutonic civilisation with the Romanic on a Christian basis. It was divided into twenty-two archbishoprics.

Charles, as the new Constantine of the West, was the [316]absolute sovereign of this realm. His laws covered every detail in the whole life of his people.[316:1] Bishops were forbidden to keep falcons; nuns must not write love letters; the kind of altar pieces used in Churches was specified; priests were not to wear shoes in divine services. A pure life was ordered for monks. Instructions were given to farmers for feeding hens and roosters; the kind of apples to be grown was prescribed; wine-presses and not feet-presses were to be used. Even the prices of food and of clothes were regulated by law—a fur coat, it was decreed, should sell for thirty shillings, a cloth coat for ten shillings.[316:2] The Empire was divided into districts and marks, ruled over by imperial "missi" and counts, who executed their master's will.[316:3] Yet notwithstanding these magnificent and successful efforts to thwart the Teutonic tendencies to localisation, each tribe was permitted to retain its own laws, its hereditary chiefs, and its free popular assemblies of freemen.

Charles never recognised the validity of the papal theory of the right of the Pope to crown and depose kings by virtue of his own coronation in 800. When he associated his son Louis with him in rule (813), Louis entered the Church with the king's crown already upon his head. Charles then ordered him to take the royal crown off and put on an imperial crown which lay on the Church altar. Neither the Pope's presence nor his sanction was asked. After Charles's death, however, the Pope carried the crown of Constantine to Germany and coronated Louis with it (816), and, [317]before that time, his biographer does not call him Emperor.[317:1]

3. Educational. The reign of Charles the Great stands out as the sun between the intellectual night that preceded and the daylight that followed his rule.[317:2] He employed the Church as the best means for furthering the education of his Empire. The clergy and monks became the teachers and writers; the monasteries and churches were used as the seats of learning—the schoolrooms and schoolhouses. He issued important educational laws which practically created a very crude public school system and required all boys to have a general elementary education. His purpose was to make good Christians and good subjects.[317:3] The centre of his whole educational system was his famous "Court School," the very heart of Christian culture in Europe. In it, called from every section, were the leading scholars, divines, poets and historians of Europe. In addition to helping to educate the young princes of the country, they engaged in important literary activities. They compiled a German grammar, collected old German songs and minstrels, corrected the Latin Bible, wrote the Caroline books, collected manuscripts, revived the classics, and studied the Church Fathers.[317:4]

A careful analysis of the character of Charles the Great shows that he was a sincere Christian and faithful churchgoer, a great almsgiver and very kind to the poor, and a man who devoted his life to the upbuilding [318]of a Christian civilisation.[318:1] Yet he was guilty of deeds which a higher conception of Christian morals condemns as un-Christian. He sacrificed thousands of lives to his passions and ambitions; for thirty years he waged a war of extermination against the Saxons and murdered more than 4000 prisoners in cold blood. Like Mohammed, he made his motto, submission to Christianity or death. Christians of that day, for the most part, pronounced his policy right, although some of the greatest, like Alcuin, denounced it. He had nine wives and concubines, and, like Henry VIII. of England, had little conscience in disposing of them. He was not highly cultured, yet he spoke Latin with ease and knew some Greek. When an old man, he learned to write and deserves great credit for the manner in which he encouraged education. He cultivated the society of the most cultured men in Europe and from them imbibed much. At meals he had read the heroic deeds of his ancestors, or some work of the Church Fathers like Augustine's City of God. As a warrior and statesman, only Alexander the Great, Julius Cæsar, and Constantine before his day can be compared with him. He was the first and greatest of all the German Emperors. Since his time, only Otto the Great, Peter the Great, Frederick the Great, and Napoleon the Great, have any claim to rank as his peers. The Moses of the Middle Ages, he left an indelible stamp of his genius on Germany and France, continues to be the only common hero of both of these great nations, and through them modified the whole western world.[318:2]

[319]Eight years before his death, Charles the Great made his three sons kings.[319:1] This act would have proved fatal to the Empire. Charles must have known from the writings of Gregory of Tours, the dangers of such an arrangement. The division made among his sons was unnatural, because it lacked unity in race and territory, but the death of Charles and Pepin, the eldest and second sons, prevented imperial suicide. Charles the Great then solemnly crowned the surviving son, Louis, as Emperor in 813. Louis the Pious (814-840) sought to preserve both the Carolingian practice of division and the integrity of the Empire. At Aachen, in 817, to prevent the Empire's being "broken by man lest thereby a scandal, to the Holy Church might arise," Louis made his eldest son, Lothair, co-Emperor, and, with the consent of the people, crowned him.[319:2] The younger sons were made kings but sub seniore fratre. Their territorial districts were clearly defined and elaborate instructions were given about their various relations.[319:3] In 819, Louis married again and soon a fourth son, Charles the Bald, appeared to complicate matters (823). Louis then made a new division of the Empire in order to provide for the new claimant.[319:4] A long list of territorial changes, and disgraceful, ruinous, internecine wars resulted.

Louis the Pious died in 840, and was succeeded by [320]Lothair as sole Emperor. His brothers, Louis and Charles (Pepin was now dead), rebelled against him and forced him to restrict his possessions to Italy and a narrow strip running from Italy to the North Sea (843). But Lothair, tired of the cares of this life retired to a monastery in 855 after dividing his imperial territory among his three sons.

As a result of the Carolingian policy of division, the Empire so skilfully constructed by Charles the Great, was almost destroyed. Division of rule meant division of resources. The successors of Charles the Great were men of inferior ability. His son, Louis the Pious, was a weak, easily influenced ruler and completely under the thumbs of the clergy. He made some noble efforts to reform the court, but only aroused the enmity of the aristocracy. Lothair, Louis II., and Charles the Bald were Emperors of as short-sighted a policy and of as little ability. Civil wars were almost incessant; nobles held in subjection by the great Charles reasserted their independence; the Northmen,[320:1] Slavs, Hungarians[320:2] and Saracens began to make disastrous inroads; imperial laws were disregarded; and by the end of the ninth century, the Empire of Charles the Great was little more than an empty title hardly worth fighting for.[320:3]

Another significant result of the decline of the Carolingian Empire was the rise of modern states. By the treaty of Verdun in 843,[320:4] Louis the German (d. 876) was given Germany east of the Rhine; Charles [321]the Bald (d. 877) received what is approximately France of to-day; and Lothair as Emperor (d. 855) was left Italy and a narrow strip to the North Sea with the two capitals in it. To confirm the treaty of Verdun, Louis and Charles with their followers, took the famous Strassburg oaths.[321:1] Louis and the French army took the oath in Latin; Charles and the Germans took it in German; and this is the first recognition in Europe of differences of race and language as a basis for political action.[321:2] The treaty of Meersen[321:3] in 870 completed the separation of Italy, Germany, and France by dividing the "strip of trouble" given to Lothair in 843. Here was the beginning of mediæval and modern France, Germany, and Italy. The Carolingian Empire virtually ended with Charles the Fat (888). Disintegration soon divided Europe among a multitude of petty feudal sovereigns with warring policies and interests.[321:4]

Ecclesiastically, the Papacy was immediately strengthened. The supremacy of the state over the Church, which Charles the Great established and which Louis the Pious had inherited, but did not use to much advantage,[321:5] was removed. This [322]release from secular control furnished an excellent occasion and opportunity for the rapid growth of the papal theory which culminated in the lofty claim of Pope Nicholas I. to independence of imperial control and supremacy over it. Again and again the Pope was called upon to act as arbitrator in the disputes and wars. The power of bishops and metropolitans was likewise increased and for a similar reason, but the general decline in civilisation carried the Church inevitably with it. The anarchy and confusion which resulted, formed an excellent cover for the promulgation of the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals. Ultimately the Papacy was weakened by the decline of the Empire and the rise of national states, because there was a tendency to create national churches and to set up kings who questioned the Pope's claim to political supremacy. Indirectly it led to the Protestant Revolution.

Sources


FOOTNOTES:

[289:1] Justinian, Inst., i., ii., 6.

[290:1] Eph. vi., 5; Col. iii., 22; Tit. ii., 9; 1 Pet. ii., 18.

[290:2] Rom. xiii., 1-7; cf. Heb. xiii., 17; 1 Pet. ii., 13.

[290:3] Rom. xiii., 6-7.

[290:4] See Tertullian, Lib. ad Scap., for a later recognition of the divine right theory.

[290:5] 1 Peter ii., 13, 14.

[290:6] Tertullian, Apol., c. 5 and 26.

[291:1] Tertullian, Apol., c. 34; c. 42; De Corona Milit., c. 11; De Idololatria, c. 17. See Milman, bk. ii., ch. 7.

[291:2] Milman, ii., 231; Gibbon, ch. 16.

[292:1] Ranke, Hist. of the Popes.

[292:2] The title was used down to the time of Gratian in 380.

[293:1] Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 15.

[293:2] See Schaff, iii., § 13.

[293:3] Ibid., § 22, 23.

[294:1] Harduin, i., 543; Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 13 ff.

[294:2] Cod. Theod., lib. xvi, tit. ii., 1, 15.

[294:3] Harduin, i., 1538.

[294:4] Ib., ii., 559.

[294:5] Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 15.

[295:1] Theodoret, v., 3.

[295:2] Socrates, iv., 29.

[295:3] Goldast, Const. Imp., iii., 587; Harduin, i., 1238.

[295:4] Harduin, i., 842.

[295:5] The laws relating to the Church passed between the time of Constantine and the promulgation of the Theodosian Code in 438 are mostly contained in the sixteenth book of that code. The laws passed between 438 and 534 are found in the Justinian Code which was published in revised form in that year. See Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 16.

[296:1] Goldast, iii., 95, 615.

[296:2] Cassiodorus, Varior., ix., 15.

[297:1] These laws are found in the Justinian Code and in the Novellæ, and cover the period from 534 to 565. Excellent translation by Moyle, Oxf. 1889.

[297:2] Novellæ, 42.

[297:3] The 134th Novella is a small code in itself.

[298:1] Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, ii., 163.

[298:2] Baronius, Ann., 587, § 5.

[299:1] Bk. ii., letters 62, 65.

[299:2] Bk. iii., letter 65. Comp. bk. v., letter 40. Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, ii., 233.

[299:3] Bk. vi., letter 2.

[299:4] Anastasius, Biblioth., No. 81.

[300:1] Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 31.

[302:1] See Ch. XII.

[303:1] Hardwick, Hist. Christ. Ch. in M. A., 54.

[303:2] Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 84-87.

[303:3] Richter, 36.

[303:4] Robinson, Readings, i., 120.

[303:5] Bede, v., 10; Migne, vols. 86-88.

[303:6] Waitz, iii., 23, note 3.

[303:7] Cf. Thatcher and McNeal, No. 43.

[304:1] Richter, i., 200.

[304:2] Robinson, Readings, i., 120; Ogg, Source Book, § 14; Pertz, i., 136.

[305:1] Ogg, Source Book, § 14; Thatcher and McNeal, No. 6.

[305:2] Robinson, Readings, i., 122.

[305:3] Pertz, i., 293; Thatcher and McNeal, No. 44.

[305:4] Ib., No. 6; Robinson, Readings, i., 122; Migne, lxxi., 911. The title of "patrician" was introduced by Constantine. It was the name of a rank, not of an office, and was next to that of Emperor and consul. Hence it was usually conferred upon governors of the first class, and even upon barbarian chiefs whom the Emperor might wish to win. Thus, Odoacer, Theodoric, and Clovis had all received the title from the eastern court. Later it was even given to Mohammedan princes. It was very significant now that the Pope assumed the imperial right to confer it, because it was plainly an illegal usurpation. It made Pepin practically the viceroy of Italy and the protector of the Papacy. (See Smith and Cheetham.)

[306:1] Migne, lxxxix., 1004; see Robinson, Readings, i., 122; Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, iii., 388.

[306:2] Muratori, iii., 96; Migne, cxxviii., 1098.

[306:3] Thatcher and McNeal, No. 45. (Baronius, Ann., 755; Migne, cxxviii., 1099.) See Wiltsch, Geog. and Statistics of the Ch., i., 264.

[306:4] Gibbon, ch. 59.

[306:5] See "Donation of Constantine" in Henderson, 319.

[306:6] Waitz, iii., 364.

[306:7] Pertz, Leg., i., 24; Mansi, xii.; Migne, xcvi., 1501.

[307:1] Adams, Mediæval Civilisation, 127.

[307:2] The best account of Charles the Great in English is Mombert's.

[308:1] Robinson, Readings, i., 129; Ogg, Source Book, § 16, 17. See Mombert, ch. 3, 4.

[308:2] Mombert, ch. 11.

[308:3] Ibid., ch. 5.

[308:4] Ibid., ch. 7.

[308:5] See Waitz. Ogg, Source Book, § 18, 19.

[309:1] Thatcher and McNeal, No. 46; Wiltsch, Geog. and Statistics of the Ch., i., 265; Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, ii., 415.

[309:2] See Thatcher and McNeal, No. 47.

[309:3] Döllinger, Empire of Charles the Great.

[310:1] Cf. Thatcher and McNeal, No. 48.

[310:2] Ibid., No. 49. Robinson, Readings, i., 131.

[310:3] Ibid., i., 134. Thatcher and McNeal, No. 48; Ogg, Source Book, § 20; Mombert, ch. 14.

[310:4] Eginhard, § 28.

[311:1] Muratori, ii., 312; Waitz, iii., 174, note.

[311:2] Döllinger, Empire of Charles the Great.

[311:3] See Thatcher and McNeal, No. 13, 14. Bryce, 61-62.

[311:4] Waitz, iii., 184, note.

[312:1] Ludwig II. was led to admit that right in 871. Thatcher and McNeal, No. 51, 52.

[312:2] Döllinger, Empire of Charles the Great.

[313:1] Gratian, Decret., Dist. 63, Can. 22; Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 81, 89, 90.

[313:2] Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 63.

[313:3] Thatcher and McNeal, No. 47.

[313:4] Hincmari Inst. Reg., ch. 34 and 35.

[314:1] Harduin, iv., 1006.

[314:2] Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 64-65.

[314:3] Bryce, Holy Rom. Emp., 65.

[314:4] Ogg, Source Book, § 22; Robinson, Readings, i., 136.

[314:5] This is now regarded by some authorities as a forgery. Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist.

[314:6] Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 38; Gratian, Decret., Dist. 63, Can. 28.

[315:1] Ann. Laur., 188.

[315:2] Milman, Hist. of Lat. Christ., ii., 459.

[315:3] Emerton, Med. Europe, 7; Robinson, Readings, i., 140.

[315:4] Charta Divisionis, 806.

[315:5] Robinson, Readings, i., 135-137.

[316:1] Translations and Reprints? Henderson, 189.

[316:2] Lecky, ii., 259.

[316:3] Ogg, Source Book, § 21; Thatcher and McNeal, No. 9; Robinson, Readings, i., 139.

[317:1] Eginhard, Ann., 813. Read the case of Louis and Lothair 817. Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 42.

[317:2] Ogg, Source Book, § 23; Thatcher and McNeal, No. 10, 11, 12.

[317:3] Robinson, Readings, i., 144, 145; Transl. and Reprints; Mullinger, Schools of Charles the Great.

[317:4] Mombert, ch. 10.

[318:1] Ogg, Source Book, § 15; Thatcher and McNeal, No. 7; Mombert, ch. 6.

[318:2] See Eginhard for the best pen picture of the personal appearance and habits of this wonderful man. Robinson, Readings, i., 126.

[319:1] Louis, the youngest, had Aquitaine, Gascony, Septimania, Provence, and a part of Burgundy. Pepin, the second son, had Italy, Bavaria, Almania, and a part of the Alpine country. Charles, the eldest, received all the rest—old France, Thuringia, Saxony, and Frisia.

[319:2] Henderson, 201.

[319:3] Emerton, 18, 19.

[319:4] Thatcher and McNeal, No. 50.

[320:1] Ogg, Source Book, § 27; Thatcher and McNeal, No. 15, 20; Robinson, Readings, i., 150-155, 157, 163.

[320:2] Thatcher and McNeal, No. 21.

[320:3] Ogg, Source Book, § 26, 28; Robinson, Readings, i., 158.

[320:4] Thatcher and McNeal, No. 17, 18; Ogg, Source Book, § 25.

[321:1] Thatcher and McNeal, No. 16; Ogg, Source Book, § 24; Robinson, Readings, i., 433.

[321:2] Emerton, Med. Europe, 26-28.

[321:3] Thatcher and McNeal, No. 19.

[321:4] Thatcher and McNeal, No. 22, 23, 24, 25.

[321:5] He did insist, however, upon his dominion over Rome and over the Pope as his vassal. Pope Stephen IV. at once caused the Romans to swear fealty to the Emperor and ordained that the consecration of the Pope must take place in the presence of the imperial ambassadors. His son Lothair was crowned Emperor in Rome and repeatedly repaired thither to protect the Holy See. Another son, Louis, was also anointed king by Pope Sergius in Rome. This act strengthened the papal claim to control elections to secular power. In 871 Louis II. acknowledged his divine right to imperial rule to be derived from papal sanction. Another step was taken when the council of Aix-la-Chapelle deposed Emperor Lothair (842).


[326]

CHAPTER XV
THE PSEUDO-ISIDORIAN DECRETALS AND THE PAPAL CONSTITUTION

Outline: I.—What were the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals? II.—Condition of Europe when the Decretals appeared. III.—Purpose of the forgery. IV.—Character and composition. V.—Time, place, and personality, of authorship. VI.—Significance and results. VII.—Nicholas I. and papal supremacy. VIII.—Decline of spirituality in the Church. IX.—Sources.

The Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals[326:1] were a curious collection of documents, both genuine and forged, which appeared in western Europe about the middle of the ninth century under the name of Isidore Mercator, to give the Church a definite, written constitution. They were a stupendous forgery—the most audacious and pious fraud ever perpetrated in the history of the Church—worked out with admirable skill and consummate ingeniousness. Forgery was a common thing in those days, and it was generally believed that all things which upheld the doctrines and prerogatives of the Church of God were allowable.[326:2]

When these false letters appeared, the Empire of Charles was falling to pieces under his wrangling [327]grandsons. Anarchy and confusion were rampant; might was the only recognised law. Feudalism with its decentralising influences was rapidly prevailing throughout Europe. The Church also reflected this sad state of affairs. The Pope was reduced to a vassal of the Emperor. Metropolitans were in league with the political rulers and even helped to plunder the bishoprics and oppress the priests. The bishops were masterly secular princes and landed nobles; hence their persons had lost their sanctity, and they were persecuted by their archbishops and robbed by their sovereigns. The Bishop of Lyons wrote: "No condition of man whether free or unfree is so insecure in the possession of his property as the priest. . . . Not only the estates of the Church, but even the churches themselves are sold." The lower clergy suffered from the tyranny and lawlessness of the day; the laity were similarly demoralised. The synod of Aachen in 836 protested against the contempt into which the clergy had fallen with the ungodly laity. The age, too, was not critical. In fact, it was an impious thing to disbelieve anything connected with the Bible, the Church, or with sacred tradition. It was an era of superstitions and legends. No period, therefore could have been better adapted than that for the promulgation of such a magnificent system of fabrications.

There are divergent theories as to the purpose of these falsified epistles: (1) Some maintain that the sole object was to give the Church a constitution of a definite form and character. (2) Others hold that the intention was to present unquestionable proof of the papal theory of supremacy by filling in the fatal gap between the time of Jesus and Constantine. It was dangerous to make the origin of the Church dependent [328]upon an Emperor's fiat; hence, it was necessary to elevate the See of Rome by clothing the Pope with antiquity, spiritual majesty, and supreme authority.[328:1] Venerable Rome was made to furnish the necessary documents from St. Peter onward to supplement the Bible and the Church Fathers with manufactured tradition. (3) Still others assert that the object was to give the Church a general code of discipline in the anarchy and confusion of the time.[328:2] (4) Most scholars believe, however, that the real motive was to free the bishops from their dependence upon the state, upon the metropolitans, and upon the provincial synods which were under the control of the rulers.[328:3]

The motive for the publication of this code of decretals is thus stated by the authors themselves:

Many good Christians are reduced to silence, and compelled to bear the sins of others against their own better knowledge, because they are unprovided with documents by which they might convince ecclesiastical judges of the truth of what they know to be the law; seeing that though what they allege may be altogether right, yet it is not heeded by the judges unless it be confirmed by written documents, or by recorded decisions, or made to appear in the course of some known judicial proceeding.

The object of the compilation may be found also in these words:

We have likewise inserted the decretal epistles of certain apostolic men—that is, of Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, and others who are their successors, indeed as many as we have been able to find, down to Pope Sylvester; after these [329]we have annexed the rest of the decretals of the Roman prelates down to Gregory the Great, together with certain epistles of that pontiff; in all which, by virtue of the dignity of the Apostolic See, resides an authority equal to that of the councils; so that, the discipline of the ecclesiastical order being thus by our labours reduced and digested into one body of law, the holy bishops may be instructed in the entire "rule of the fathers"; and thus obedient ministers and people may be imbued with spiritual precedents, and be no longer deceived by the practices of the wicked. For there are many who by reason of their wickedness and cupidity bring accusations against the priests of the Lord, to their great oppression and ruin. Therefore the Holy Fathers did institute laws, which they called holy canons, which, however, the evil-minded have often made the instruments of unjust charges, or even possessed themselves of the goods of the innocent.

The canons were insufficient to meet the evils of the day. Some remedy must be found of equal if not greater authority. The decretals of the Roman Pontiffs were seized for this holy purpose. Many such decretals were known to the Church. But there was a fatal hiatus of two centuries and a half after the founding of the See of Peter. That chasm must be bridged over by documents which would prove that the divine headship of Peter was consciously exercised by all his successors. With such indisputable evidence the supremacy of Rome would be established beyond question, and the entire hierarchy would be benefited. The ascendancy of the Church over the state would be established. Papal sovereignty would be acknowledged. Episcopal independence of secular control would be secured.

The sources of the Isidorian Decretals, now [330]satisfactorily determined, were: the writings of the Church Fathers, particularly Rufinus (d. 410); the works of Cassiodorus (b. 470); Jerome's Vulgate; the Liber Pontificales; the general theological literature down to the ninth century; various collections of laws like Breviarium Alaricianum, the Lex Visigothorum, and the Frankish capitularies; the genuine archives of the Church like papal letters and decretals, Church canons, and minutes of Church councils; the correspondence of Archbishop Boniface (d. 754); and the forgeries.

Before this collection appeared there had been several others formed in the Western Church:[330:1]

1. Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian, who lived at Rome as a monk in the sixth century, made a collection of the fifty Apostolic Canons; decrees of the Eastern and African Church councils from 375 to 451; and letters of Popes from 314 to 498. This collection was used by Charles the Great as a basis in part for the Frankish laws.

2. Isidore of Seville, early in the seventh century, made a second collection, very much like the first one just described.

3. Then Isidore Mercator, about the middle of the ninth century put out a third collection which embraced those by Exiguus and Isidore of Seville and included all the forgeries. This last collection opens with a preface, then has a spurious letter from Aurelius to Damasus, and a forged answer; a selection from the fourth council of Toledo; a list of councils; and two spurious letters from Jerome to Damasus, with replies. After these documents the collection proper begins. It consists of three parts. The first includes the fifty [331]Apostolic Canons; fifty-nine spurious decretals from Clement to Melchiades (90-314); a treatise On the Primitive Church and the Council of Nicæa; and the spurious "Donation of Constantine."[331:1] The second part opens with a genuine quotation from the Spanish collection of the decretals of the Greek, African, Gallic, and Spanish councils down to 683. The third part also begins with a quotation from the Hispania and then gives the decretals of the Popes from Sylvester (d. 335) to Gregory II. (d. 731), of which thirty-five are forged and others contain many interpolations; and, finally, the Capitula Angilramni.

Evidences of fraud are to be found in the uniformity of language, the impurity of style, the use of words of a late origin for an earlier period, many clumsy anachronisms, the total absence of all proof of the authenticity of the early decretals, the evident effort to meet contemporary prejudice, and the fact that there is no knowledge of the existence of the forged letters until incorporated in this collection. Many absurdities also appear: for instance, Roman bishops of the second and third centuries write in Frankish Latin of the ninth century in the spirit of post-Nicene orthodoxy and about the mediæval relationship of the Church and state. These early bishops quote the Vulgate of Jerome as amended under Charles the Great. Pope Victor (202) writes a letter to Bishop Theophilus of Alexandria (383) about a second-century controversy. Pope Anacletus speaks of patriarchs, metropolitans, and primates long before they arose. Pope Melchiades, who died in 314, mentions the Nicene Council which was held in 325. Pope Zephyrinus (218) appeals to the laws of Christian Emperors before Constantine was born.

[332]Just how soon they were discovered to be forgeries, is a question that has aroused considerable discussion. Pope Nicholas I. must have known that they were false, but they suited his purpose so well that he sanctioned them. Some of the Latin bishops saw through the forgery, but, for various reasons, kept silent. A few of the Frankish bishops denounced them and objected to their reception as law. Even Hincmar, although he did so much to establish them, declared them to be spurious and called them a "mouse-trap" and a "cup of poison with the brim besmeared with honey." The synod of Rheims in 991 opposed the Isidorian principles. Stephen of Tournai (d. 1203) called them into question. Peter Comester in his Historia Scholastica (twelfth century) granted the ingeniousness of the author. Dante alluded to the fiction and grumbled about the "Donation of Constantine" in these words:

Ah, Constantine! of how much ill the cause—
Not thy conversion, but those rich domains
That the first wealthy Pope received of thee.[332:1]

Nicholas of Cusa questioned their authenticity.[332:2] Chancellor Gerson of the University of Paris, boldly asserted that the Papacy was founded on fraud.[332:3] Marsiglio of Padua[332:4] and Wiclif took the same view. Johannus Turrecrenta was skeptical about them.[332:5] Erasmus pronounced against them. The authors of the Magdeburg Centuries conclusively proved in detail their [333]fraudulent character. Calvin took the same view,[333:1] and De Moulin and Le Conte helped to establish the fact of forgery. David Blondel, a Reformed divine, made the exposure unquestionable against the attempted vindication of the Jesuit, Torres. Still since it is so difficult to separate the true from the false, their influence was perpetuated beyond this period. It was not an easy thing for an infallible Church to abandon ground once assumed. The fruits of the forgery could not be surrendered. Catholic and Protestant historians alike now agree, however, that they were for the most part fictitious.

There has been a wide divergency of view as to the place, time, and authorship. A few earlier scholars[333:2] held that they originated in Rome. This is now rejected by all modern scholars, because their arrival in Rome is almost exactly known. One year Pope Nicholas I. is ignorant of them, the next he asserts their authenticity.[333:3] They were probably carried to Rome by Rathod in 864.[333:4] Many contemporaries believed that they came from Spain as the work of Isidore of Seville, but it is generally acknowledged now that they were created in the Frankish Empire because the language swarms with Gallicisms, the style, phrases, and words are of the Frankish period, and the frequent use of the correspondence of Boniface shows that the archives of Mayence were consulted. It is probable that the first collection was made at Mayence, and the later and larger collection may have been made at Rheims.

In matter of time, they seem to have been an [334]evolution beginning with the collection of Dionysius Exiguus in the sixth century, increased by Isidore of Seville in the seventh century, amplified by Isidore Mercator (Pseudo Isidore) with forgeries in the ninth century, and appeared in their final form in the eleventh century.[334:1] Their frequent contradiction and disregard of well-known history suggests a composition covering years. Some of the forgeries were undoubtedly used by Charles the Great, and the Donation of Constantine is perhaps still older.[334:2] Passages from the Council of Paris held in 829 are literally quoted, hence the collection by Isidore Mercator must have been made after that date. On the other hand, the collection was used in 857 by the French synod of Chiersy,[334:3] in 859 by Hincmar of Rheims, and in 865 by Pope Nicholas I.[334:4] The conclusion can be drawn, then, that the collection of Isidore Mercator must have appeared sometime between 829 and 857. Furthermore, the frequent complaint about ecclesiastical disorders, the deposition of bishops without trial, frivolous divorces, and frequent sacrilege, best fit the period of civil war and confusion among the grandsons of Charles the Great.

There is likewise divergence of opinion as to the authorship. The name of the compiler, Isidore Mercator, led to the early erroneous belief that Isidore of Seville, the eminent canonist, was the author; and, consequently, when the mistake was established, the author was dubbed "Pseudo Isidore," a name used to the present day. Scholars differ widely in their efforts to identify this "Pseudo Isidore" and suggest [335]Benedictus Levita, a deacon of Mayence, whose capitularium of 847 agrees in certain passages with the decretals[335:1]; Rathod of Soissons[335:2]; Otgar, Archbishop of Mayence (d. 847), who led the clerical rebellion against Louis the Pious[335:3]; Ebo, Archbishop of Rheims, also a clerical rebel against the Emperor[335:4]; Riculfus,[335:5] Archbishop of Mayence (784-814); and Aldrich.[335:6] The authorship, it is apparent, is not established beyond question. Indeed there are many reasons for believing that these documents were the product not of a single individual, but of a joint effort. The constant repetitions, the frequent contradictions, the lack of unity, the differences in style and phrases suggest this conclusion. It is quite probable that the leading churchmen in Germany and France in the middle of the ninth century shared the authorship.[335:7] Gieseler holds that Riculfus (784-814) brought the genuine Isidorian collections from Spain, that Otgar enlarged and corrupted them at Mayence (826-847), that Benedictus Levita copied them; and this may have been the case.

They were eagerly received by the Church, and for various reasons Pope Nicholas I. (853-867) gave them papal sanction and used them to extend his power. He led the Church to believe that they were among the most venerable and carefully preserved documents of the papal archives. Backed up by them, he asserted his jurisdiction over both East and West; in fact, the whole world. To the eastern Emperor he [336]wrote, "We by the power committed to us by our Lord through St. Peter, restore our brother Ignatius to his former station, to his see [at Constantinople], to his dignity as patriarch and to all the honours of his office."[336:1] At the same time he exalted the power of excommunication and used it to humble both princes and prelates; he forced Lothair II. to restore his divorced wife; he humbled the great Hincmar by reinstating the deposed Bishop Rathod of Soissons; he subjected both metropolitans and bishops to his rule; he deposed the archbishops of Cologne and Trier and made the Pope ubiquitous through the system of legates. Well could the old chronicler say: "Since the days of Gregory I. to our own time, sat no high priest on the throne of St. Peter to be compared to Nicholas. He tamed kings and tyrants, and ruled the world like a sovereign. To holy bishops and the clergy he was mild and gentle; to the wicked and unconverted a terror, so that we might truly say a new Elias arose in him."

It is evident [wrote the great forerunner of Hildebrand] that Popes can neither be bound nor unbound by any earthly power, nor even by that of the Apostle if he were to return upon earth; since Constantine the Great has recognised that the pontiffs held the place of God on earth, the Divinity not being able to be judged by any man living. We are then infallable and whatever may be our acts, we are not accountable for them but to ourselves.[336:2]

This is generally held to be spurious now, but the spirit of it may be said to be true. The archbishops eagerly accepted the decretals because they hoped to profit by their doctrines. Instead, however, through them they were subjected to the Pope and largely lost [337]their independence. They were gladly received by the bishops, since by them they hoped to gain independence both of the tyrannical metropolitans and of the state. They were welcomed by the lower clergy and laity in general without a question because they came from a source so high in authority as the Pope and the bishops.

These forged decretals gave the Papacy a definite constitution; the Petrine theory was now proved by indisputable historical evidence—the ideal Papacy was made a fact from the very first. In fact the charge given by Peter to Clement, when the primate Apostle transmitted his power to a successor, is found in very characteristic language. The powers and relations of the whole dogmatic hierarchy from top to bottom were defined. The Popes from St. Peter on were made the parents and guardians of the faith of the world, and the legislators for it, and also the supreme judges in all cases of justice. In short this constitution logically completed the Petrine theory. The metropolitans were curtailed in their prerogatives and subjected to the Pope. Metropolitan courts were reduced to committees of inquiry. All original jurisdiction in ecclesiastical causes was transferred to Rome. No metropolitan could call a synod now without the Pope's consent. The metropolitans' power over the bishops was greatly decreased and they were separated from the Pope by newly created primates. The bishops, in their turn, as ambassadors of God were made independent of both the state and the metropolitans, but subjected to the Pope. Peter and the other Apostles furnished the example for this arrangement. All episcopal cases were taken out of secular courts[337:1]; all secular cases could [338]be carried to episcopal courts[338:1]; all laymen as well as lower clergy were excluded from episcopal synods. Bishops were made practically immune by the great difficulty of bringing accusations. In the trial of a bishop, the accuser had to have seventy-two duly qualified witnesses and if he failed to prove his case he and not the bishop was liable to punishment. At any time the bishop could break off proceedings by appealing the case directly to the Pope. The priesthood was definitely separated from the laity as the familiares Dei. They were the spiritales; the laity the carnales.[338:2] Priests were also freed from secular control and placed above it. They, in like manner, enjoyed certain immunities which made it no easy matter to proceed against them.

At the same time, the relations of Church and state were defined more clearly. Ecclesiastical power was now held to be supreme over secular power and that change was a pronounced revolution. "All the rulers of earth," it was dogmatically affirmed, "are bound to obey the bishop and to bow the neck before him."[338:3] Imperial control of the Church, exercised for eight centuries, was declared to be a usurpation which entailed disputes and wars. The state was represented as unholy, the Church as holy. That proposition struck the sword of justice out of the hand of the temporal prince and removed the clergy from the reach of the secular law. Clergy were freed from political courts and the laymen were excluded, in theory at least, from participation in Church legislation. In short these decretals carried the papal theocracy [339]far beyond any claims made up to that time by the Popes themselves. It was left to Gregory VII. and Innocent III. to make the claim a living reality.

These decretals formed a part of the Corpus Juris Canonici for six hundred years and supplied a complete set of laws concerning Church lands, usurpation and spoliation, ordinations, sacraments, fasts, festivals, relics of the cross and of the Apostles, schism and heresy, the use of holy water and the chrism, the consecration of churches, the blessing of the fruits of the field, sacred vessels, garments, etc. In this way society was influenced and modified in all its ramifications. Both the civil and ecclesiastical polity of Europe was affected for centuries to follow. Over and over again they were quoted to prove papal omnipotence against temporal authority. For the purpose of illustration, the decretals were replete with personal incidents and had in them many beautiful axioms of sincere and vital religious truth. The whole tone of the composition was pious and reverential. Pope, bishop, and lower clergy all gained by this shrewd and specious defence of the Papacy. The priesthood actually constituted the Church.

In this period of ignorance and lawlessness, while the Empire established by Charles the Great was disintegrating, the Papacy rapidly forged to the front as the champion of united Christendom; and to this end the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals contributed powerfully. How much was contributed that was actually new may be a question. Whether the history of the Church would have been the same had they not appeared is a disputed point. Whether the Pope without them could have become the greatest ruler of western Europe by the middle of the ninth century is not clear. [340]Whether the Papacy would have had a world-wide political interest from this time on without them is a question still unsettled.

Nothing better illustrates the immediate fruits of the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals than the pontificate of Nicholas I. In the year 858 he was unanimously chosen Pope by the Emperor, and the clergy and people of Rome. He had been the friend and minister of Sergius II. and Leo IV. amid all their dangers and difficulties. His trying experiences qualified him for the responsible office. His personal qualities had won him many friends. Consequently there was general rejoicing when, in the presence of the Emperor and the Romans, he was inaugurated. Three days after the solemnity, the Emperor Louis II. entertained Pope Nicholas I. at a state-banquet and then withdrew a short distance from the city walls to receive the return-visit on the following day. As the Pope, escorted by the clergy and nobility, approached the imperial camp, Louis met him, dismounted from his horse, and conducted the Pope's palfrey the length of a bow-shot, after the ordinary custom of a bridle-groom. A sumptuous feast was then served in the imperial tents, and the Emperor again escorted Nicholas a like distance on his return. The Pontiff, on parting, descended from his horse, embraced Louis, and kissed him. "And thus," says the chronicler, "they lovingly took leave of each other."

This imperial self-humiliation had beneath it a purpose. Louis II. hoped to extend his dominion beyond the borders of Italy, to which his brothers had reduced him, and desired the assistance of Rome. Nicholas I. was not averse to meddling in worldly affairs. Backed up by the false decretals, with [341]precedents created by his sainted predecessors, with political confusion and secular wrangling as his ally, with his own boldness and clear intellect as his guides, he plunged into mundane affairs without hesitation. Ability and opportunity won for him one success after another. The first conquest he made was in humiliating the Italian primates of Milan, Aquileia, and Ravenna, and in making the Italian clergy directly dependent upon Rome. Emperor Louis II. was forced to bow to papal authority in this matter, although hitherto the creation of new bishoprics had rested with the temporal lord.

Again when the bishopric of Hamburg was destroyed by the Normans, King Louis of Germany translated the dispossessed Bishop Anschar to Bremen. Now the Archbishop of Cologne claimed jurisdiction over Bremen and declared that the temporal power could not dismember an ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Both parties agreed to refer the case to Rome. Nicholas I. confirmed the separation and ratified the transference of Anschar. Charles the Great would have settled the case himself. Another victory was thus won in the name of Pseudo-Isidore. The policy of breaking down all interposition between the successor of Peter and the episcopacy had been clearly set forth.

A test of this principle came in the case of Hincmar, the able and powerful Archbishop of Rheims. In 861 he summarily suspended Rathod, Bishop of Soissons, for disobeying the sentence of a provincial synod in reinstating a priest whom he had unjustly expelled. Rathod at once appealed to the Pope and asked permission of Hincmar to go to Rome to present his suit. Hincmar refused the request and called Rathod before a second synod for contempt, when he was degraded [342]from his office and imprisoned in a monastery. Once more Rathod made a touching appeal to Nicholas I.[342:1] who forthwith rebuked Hincmar and ordered him to restore Rathod to his see, and to send him to Rome. King Charles the Bald was ordered, "by his love to God and his duty to the Holy See," to see that the order was enforced. Both Hincmar and Charles refused and Rathod remained a prisoner for two years. Papal power was on trial, but Nicholas I. was equal to the situation. At last Charles was persuaded to intervene. Rathod was released and sent to Rome, but was not reinstated in his bishopric. The Pope reinstated him to office. To prove his authority he quoted the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, which the Frankish clergy had framed to insure their own independence.[342:2] Hincmar remonstrated, but in the end was forced to apologise and obey. "Thus," complained Hincmar, "was a criminal, solemnly deposed by the unanimous judgment of five ecclesiastical provinces of this realm, reinstated by the Pope, not by ordinary canonical rule, but by an arbitrary act of power, in a summary way, without inquiry, and against the consent of his natural judges." Metropolitan independence was crushed, the royal power was forced to obey by the awful threat of excommunication, and papal supremacy was triumphant. Truly a new epoch had appeared in the rise of the mediæval Church, when the Pope could proudly declare that "the privileges of the Holy See are the panoply of the Church and title-deeds of him who is the supreme lord of the priesthood for the government of all in authority under him and for the comfort of every one that shall suffer wrong or injury from [343]subordinate powers"[343:1]; that "the action of synods, general or provincial, might be peremptorily arrested by a simple appeal to Rome . . . at any stage of the proceeding"; that every bishop must give lawful obedience to the "King of Bishops"; and that "any one, without exception of person, who shall disobey the doctrine, mandates, interdicts, or decretals, published by the Apostolic Bishop on behalf of the Catholic faith, the discipline of the Church, the correction of the faithful, the reformation of evil-doers, and the discouragement of vice, let him be accursed."[343:2]

In dealing with the schismatic, heretical Eastern Church, however, all careful reserve vanished and without fear or caution the Roman Pontiffs assert their prerogatives in a clear, decisive, and peremptory tone. In the Photian schism at Constantinople, Nicholas I. assumed the right to decide which of the two claimants to the patriarchate was legitimate. To Photius, who had secured the office by imperial aid, the Roman pontiff wrote a letter which up to that time was unsurpassed for supreme papal arrogance:

Our Lord and Saviour . . . established the foundations of his church upon the Rock Peter. . . . Now upon this foundation the appointed builders have from time to time heaped many precious stones, till by this unwearied diligence the whole building has been perfected into indissoluble solidity. . . . Since this church of Peter is the head of all churches, it is imperative upon all to adopt her as their model in every matter of ecclesiastical expediency and institution. . . . From her all synods and all councils derive their power to bind and to loose.[343:3]

[344]The pontificate of Nicholas I., who died in 867, marks the acme of papal power during this period. The history of the Western Church, controlled by Rome, during the latter part of the ninth and the tenth century, covers a period of unparalleled corruption and debility—"a death-sleep of moral and spiritual exhaustion." The Papacy as a constructive spiritual force almost disappears from view. The lofty ideas of Leo I., Gregory I., and Nicholas I.—their magnificent ambitions for the Church, their imperial rule, and their commanding, aggressive spirit—all disappeared. The causes may be found in weak, wicked, worldly Popes, in anarchy and political confusion in Italy, and in feudalism. The Church was reaping the reward of a close alliance with the state. All the gains made by the Church during this epoch were of a secular character. The moral and spiritual powers of Latin Christianity lay dormant beneath a mass of corruption, self-seeking, and worldly passions which covered them and nearly extinguished them. The marvellous vitality of the organisation of the Church alone saved her from disintegration in that period of decentralisation. The spirit of the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, from this standpoint, had become the saviour of the Church. The next force that appeared in western Europe to rescue the Church from the low state of spiritual degeneration to which she had fallen was, strange to say, the Holy Roman Empire under the guidance of another mighty German ruler.

Sources


FOOTNOTES:

[326:1] A decretal, in the strict canonical sense, is an authoritative rescript of a Pope given in reply to some question propounded to him, just as a decree is an ordinance enacted by him, with the advice of his clergy, but not drawn from him by previous inquiry. See Gieseler, pd. 2, ch 3; Cath. Encyc.

[326:2] Janus, The Pope and the Council; Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 46.

[328:1] Theiner.

[328:2] Moehler.

[328:3] Kunst, Wasserschleben, Döllinger, Moeller, Hatch.

[330:1] Other collections had been made in the East. See Smith and Cheetham, art. on "Canon Law."

[331:1] Henderson, 319.

[332:1] Inferno, bk. xix., 112-118.

[332:2] De Concordia Catholica, bk. iii., 2.

[332:3] De Reform. Eccl., c. 5.

[332:4] Defensor Pacis, ii., c. 28.

[332:5] Sum. Eccl., vol. ii., 101.

[333:1] Institutes, iv., 7, 11, 20.

[333:2] Febronius, Eichorn, Theiner, Röstell, Luden.

[333:3] Mansi, xv., 694.

[333:4] Kurtz, i., 82.

[334:1] Niedner, p. 397.

[334:2] Hardwick, Church History, 148, note.

[334:3] Mon. Ger., i., 452.

[334:4] Mansi, xv., 694.

[335:1] Blondel, Kunst, Walter, Densiger.

[335:2] Phillips, Gfrörer.

[335:3] Ballareni, Gieseler, Wasserschleben.

[335:4] Weizsäcker, Von Noorden, Hinschius, Richter, Boxman.

[335:5] Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 48.

[335:6] Döllinger.

[335:7] Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 49.

[336:1] Schaff, iv., 275.

[336:2] De Cormenin, Hist. of the Popes, 248.

[337:1] Alex., Ep., i., ch. 5; Felix, Ep., ii., ch. 12.

[338:1] Anacletus, Ep., i., ch. 4; Marcellinus, Ep. ii., ch. 3.

[338:2] Kurtz § 86, ii., No. 2.

[338:3] Clement, Ep., 1.

[342:1] Baronius, Ann., 863.

[342:2] Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, bk. vii., ch. 2.

[343:1] Bouquet, vii., 391.

[343:2] Pertz, i., 462.

[343:3] Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, bk. vii., ch. 6.


[347]

CHAPTER XVI
ORGANISATION, LIFE, AND INSTITUTIONS OF THE CHURCH, SIXTH TO NINTH CENTURY

Outline: I.—Organisation of the papal hierarchy. II.—Moral condition of the clergy and laity. III.—Great activity and wide influence of the Church. IV.—The ordeals and the Church. V.—Church discipline—excommunication and interdict—and penance. VI.—Worship—the mass—preaching—hymns. VII.—The sacraments. VIII.—Relics and saints. IX.—Sources.

The Roman Catholic Church, based on the Bible and tradition, satisfying the religious needs of the age, and moulded by the historical forces of the period, changed from the democratic, apostolic Church to the powerful monarchial hierarchy of the Middle Ages, by a natural, historical process. The Pope, the Bishop of Bishops, stood at the head of the well organised hierarchy as the source of faith, the supreme law-giver, the distributor of justice, the resort of last appeal, and the grantor of offices, honour, and favours. He came to hold the balance of power in the world-politics and claimed supremacy in secular affairs. To enforce his will he had an army of priests and monks, the sanctity and prestige of Peter's Chair, and the formidable weapons of excommunication and interdict. To assist him in his multitudinous duties, an extensive papal court had been gradually built up.

Just below the Pope in the hierarchy came the [348]archbishops, or primates, or metropolitans.[348:1] After the third century, the term metropolitan in the East meant the bishop who lived in the capital of a province. The Council of Nicæa recognised the office and gave the metropolitan the right to ordain bishops.[348:2] The Council of Antioch clearly defined the jurisdiction of the metropolitan.[348:3] He ruled the suffragan bishops, conducted episcopal elections, confirmed and ordained bishops, called and presided over annual episcopal synods. Somewhat later he came to exercise the right of deciding appeals.[348:4] Gradually the name and prerogatives were extended to the West, where about the seventh century the metropolitans were very powerful,[348:5] but by degrees they lost their power when secular princes, like the Merovingian kings, usurped their functions. Even the bishops adopted the short-sighted policy of preferring to have their superior at Rome instead of in their own province. Under the Carolingians, especially Charles the Great, and the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, however, they regained something of their earlier prestige. But they were subjected to the direct control of the Pope and existed as useful intermediaries between Rome and the ordinary bishops. In that limited sphere of activity, however, there were still many important duties left to the metropolitan of the Middle Ages. As early as the sixth century the Pope at Rome, as patriarch, claimed the right to sanction [349]the election of a metropolitan by the clergy of the province, and bestowed the "pallium" upon the candidate. The metropolitans, it must be remembered, were not generally separated from archbishops in the early history of the Church. When the differentiation did evolve, the archbishop became superior to the metropolitan.

The title archbishop was unknown in the Church before the fourth century. At first it was used as a sign of honour without implying superior jurisdiction over bishops. Perhaps Athanasius first used it in speaking of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. Then Gregory Nazianzen applied it to Athanasius himself. Soon it came to be used in connection with the bishops of the most important sees in the East. Liberatus gave all the patriarchs the title of archbishops. The Council of Chalcedon even applied the name to the mighty patriarchs of Rome and Constantinople. When the Empire was divided into dioceses, which in turn were subdivided into provinces, an exarch or vicar was placed in the capital of each diocese. In conscious imitation, the Church established ecclesiastical exarchs or patriarchs in these local capitals. Archbishop was a common title for this office. The archbishop ordained the metropolitans, convened diocesan synods, received appeals from the metropolitan and his provincial synod, and enforced discipline in his diocese. In the West in the seventh century Isidore of Seville ranked the archbishop higher than the metropolitan. The precise distinction between the two offices, however, was not very clear and, finally, was lost entirely. These officers usually sided with the secular authorities against the Pope and tended to favour the organisation of national Churches with patriarchs at their head. [350]They attempted likewise to subject the bishops and priests to their rule and thus curtail the power of the Pope. The Popes, however, saw the danger and sought to avert it by appointing several archbishops in each country, and bestowing upon one of them the title of "primate" with the delegated powers of the Holy See. Thus England had the archbishops of Canterbury, the oldest (seventh century) and most important,[350:1] and of York (eighth century). Germany was ruled by the archbishops of Mayence, who was "primus" and who served as imperial chancellor until the time of Otto the Great,[350:2] Trier (eighth century), Cologne (eighth century), Salzburg (eighth century), Hamburg-Bremen (ninth century), and Magdeburg (tenth century).[350:3] France possessed the archbishops of Rheims, who was recognised as primate,[350:4] Aix, Aux, Bordeaux, Bourges, and Rouen. In Italy the Pope had a continual struggle with the archbishops of Milan, who claimed as their founder the apostle Barnabas, Aquileia, and Ravenna. The use of the title primate does not come into ordinary use, it seems, until after the appearance of the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals.

Next in the hierarchy came the bishops. They resented, as a general rule, the pretensions of both the metropolitans and the archbishops and recognised the Pope as their friend and superior. Since all western Europe was divided up into episcopal dioceses, with one bishop in each diocese, they were both very [351]numerous and very powerful, particularly in local affairs.

For the first five centuries of the Christian era the election of bishops in the Church followed one general pattern. The neighbouring bishops nominated while the local clergy and laity approved the election and gave the requisite testimony of character. But with the evolution in the organisation of the Church, and as a result of the close alliance with the state, a series of important changes occurred. (1) With the rise of the metropolitans there appeared a new factor in the selection of a bishop. The metropolitan usually conducted the election, and confirmed and ordained the candidate. This came to be regulated by Church canons. (2) With the ascendancy of the state over the Church the selection of bishops was practically transferred to the laity. At times Emperors alone nominated. After the sixth century, the right of royal assent was generally acknowledged. It was but a short step to convert that secular assumption into a right of nomination. Thus the ruling power had come to control the election of bishops quite generally throughout the mediæval Church. Among the chief qualifications for the office were, in addition to a good character, an age limit of fifty years, ordination as priest, or at least as deacon, and membership in the local clergy. But these requirements were often broken and waived.

The bishop occupied an office of arduous duties and grave responsibilities. It might be said that he was the powerful ruler of his province. He administered all the Christian sacraments. He enforced discipline. He received all income and offerings, and managed all the ecclesiastical business of his diocese. He exercised the power of ordination and confirmation, and thus [352]perpetuated the Christian ministry. He did all the formal preaching and by visitation kept an oversight of the whole Church under his care. He was the natural medium of communication to and from his people and clergy. He was also an important factor in the local synod and served as the ecclesiastical judge of his district. All such matters as liturgy, worship, alms, dedication of churches, patronage, and protection of minors, widows, and the unfortunate came under his jurisdiction. Nor did his cares end here. Through the synod he helped to rule the province and through the general council he participated in the government of the Church at large.

The bishops controlled the priests, who were found in every section of Christendom in the sixth century, and who came into vital touch with the masses of the laity. As early as the third century, indeed, all churches began to conform to a single type. The independence of the presbyter of the early Church disappeared with the rise of the episcopal system. The subordination of the priest became, by the sixth century, complete. This result was inevitable because of the rise of the synodal system, the assimilation of the organisation of the Empire, and the development of the parochial system, which subdivided the diocese into smaller sections in the hands of priests.[352:1] The priests administered the sacraments to the people to whom they were the very bread of life and the means of salvation, heard them in their confessions, inflicted penances and gave them counsel, baptised their children, confirmed them, watched over all their deeds on earth, closed their eyes in death, [353]and prepared them for the world to come, and even through prayers and masses interceded for their forgiveness in purgatory. Working side by side with the priests were the countless monks and nuns fairly swarming over western Europe, who also came into intimate touch with the masses. They were the teachers and preachers of the common people. In the hands of these priests and monks rested almost entirely the humane and charitable institutions of the Middle Ages. The true religion of Jesus was likewise in their hands rather than in the hands of the higher clergy.

At the bottom of the hierarchical pyramid were the laity, who by the twelfth century included all the people of western Europe, except a portion of Spain. Both canon law and imperial law forbade their performing any sacerdotal functions and ordered them "to be obedient to the order handed down by the Lord."

From the standpoint of morality,[353:1] this period was one of pronounced contrasts. Christian virtues and heathen vices, the strictest asceticism and the grossest sensuality, tyranny and crude democracy, all existed side by side with apparently no serious conflicts. It was an age of anarchy, confusion, lawlessness, immorality, and highway robbery on land and sea, accompanied by boldness, chivalry, and heroism. In the East, the Church had to contend with "the vices of an effete civilisation and a corrupt court." In the West, many of the old Roman vices were continued and even invigorated by fresh barbaric blood. It would be difficult to imagine anything more corrupt than the Merovingian court.[353:2] Of the whole period Gibbon [354]declares that it would be impossible "to find anywhere more vice or less virtue."

The people at this time might be called more religious than moral. A little piety would cover a multitude of sins in the eyes of even the best. A whole life of wickedness and evil-doing was all wiped out and a home in heaven assured by the building of a church, monastery, shrine, or hospital, or by deeding property to the Church, or by doing some pious deed. An exaggerated belief in the supernatural and miraculous was universal. A physical hell, heaven, devil, and angels were just as real to the people as the earth, day and night, the sun and moon, and the seasons. The worship of saints and relics was very common, and particularly in favour with the most wicked. The seventh century had more saints than any preceding, except possibly the fourth. Under these circumstances, it was not uncommon to find good used as a cloak for evil and the greatest apparent sanctity united with the worst licentiousness.[354:1]

The clergy led society and set moral standards which the masses followed without question. They embraced all social ranks from the sons of kings to the sons of slaves. Politically they shared with the kings and nobles the rule of the people. The upper clergy had huge estates like the landed nobles, and were, in fact, recruited largely from the younger sons of noblemen. The clergy were everywhere immune from taxation and military service. Charles the Great and his successors gave them all the privileges granted by the Eastern Emperors from Constantine on. They could not be tried or sued before civil courts, but had their [355]own tribunals. They were supported by the income from landed estates, gifts from the pious, and legally established tithes. Morally, they were as a rule superior to their flocks, although there are many disgraceful exceptions. Europe was cursed at this time with tramp priests without churches who swarmed over Europe demanding a livelihood because of the sanctity of their office. Contrary to law, bishops wore swords and lost their lives on battle-fields—even Popes engaged in warfare.[355:1] Drunkenness was not infrequent among the clergy and licentiousness was a common complaint against them.[355:2] The minutes of Church synods are full of censures and punishments for clerical sins and vices like fornication, intemperance, avarice, hunting and hawking, gambling, betting, attending horse races, going to theatres, keeping houses of prostitution, and others.[355:3] Celibacy was the prescribed rule of the West, but many of the clergy were either married or lived with mistresses. Hadrian II. was married before he became Pope and his son-in-law murdered both the Pope's wife and daughter (868).[355:4] But there were of course many noteworthy examples of purity in all ranks of the clergy. Married laymen upon entering the priesthood or a convent gave up their wives. The lowest depths, perhaps, were reached in the tenth and eleventh centuries, when even the Popes themselves, who should have stood for all that was best, set the example for the greatest evil. Reform did not appear until the coming of the monastic order of Clugny, the German Emperors, and the Hildebrandine Popes.

[356]The Church, however, during this trying, formative period was the moral ark of safety for Europe. It fought vice and encouraged virtue. It was the only promoter of education and culture. It taught the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, and along with them were learned lessons of faith and duty. It emphasised both the need and importance of prayer, fasts, charity, pity, hospitality, and other virtues. Its ideals were always high—far above the masses of the Church members—though in practice the clergy did not always conform to the ideals. The Church was the one great light that pointed the people of this epoch to a brighter day and a better civilisation. The sanctity of the home life for the laity and of celibacy for the priests was asserted. Divorce was seldom permitted.[356:1] Woman's position and property rights were advanced. The Virgin Mary was constantly extolled as the incarnation of womanly purity, love, and devotion. Much wise and ennobling legislation on the subject of marriage was enacted. There are many instances, too, where the head of the Church, or one of his officers, bravely protected injured innocence, even against kings. Polygamy, concubinage, secret marriage, the marriage of relatives, and marriage with Jews, heathen, or heretics were forbidden.[356:2]

The Church inherited the patristic conception of Rome in regard to slavery. Jesus had made no direct reference to the social organisation. St. Paul, however, spoke of the relations of slave and master.[356:3] [357]"The world into which Christianity was born recognised slavery everywhere."[357:1] The early Church tolerated slavery, but emancipation was held to be an act of Christian charity[357:2]; hence converted Christians often freed their slaves on baptism.[357:3] The Church Fathers recognised the institution of slavery as a moral wrong established on a legal basis, but called Christian slaves brothers. Lactantius told Constantine that slaves were brothers in Jesus.[357:4] Ambrose suggested that the slave might be even superior to his master.[357:5] Augustine held that slavery was a sin which originated in the Noachian curse, but that Christ's sacrifice freed slaves, consequently the curse would disappear.[357:6]

The mediæval Church, inheriting the patristic view, sought not to abolish slavery, but to ameliorate it. Masters were requested, therefore, to provide spouses for their slaves.[357:7] Prayers were offered up constantly for the removal of their hardships.[357:8] They were granted all the Church feast and fast days.[357:9] Among the Christians there were many acts of manumission.[357:10] Constantine and his successors enacted many laws favourable to slaves.[357:11] The barbarian invasion, however, postponed for a thousand years the general emancipation of slaves. The Church itself was a slave-owner and slaves were found on the lands of convents, [358]bishops, and Popes.[358:1] Even one of the Popes, Calistus, had been a slave.[358:2] But at the same time the Church was always an asylum for slaves and sought to protect them from cruel masters. Gregory the Great declared that all slaves held by Jews were free[358:3] and also emancipated heathen slaves upon turning Christian.[358:4] Thus both by precept and example the Church was the one great force paving the way for the gradual abolition of slavery.[358:5]

The Church, as the great advocate of peace and order, strove to abolish family feuds, blood-revenge, and private wars by substituting legal action and legal penalty against the author of crime.[358:6] The synod of Toledo in 693 forbade duels and private feuds.[358:7] The synod of Charroux in 989 and the Bishop of Puy in 990 proclaimed the "Peace of God."[358:8] The synod of Poitiers in 1004, in proclaiming the "Peace of God," decided that law should replace force in determining questions of justice. The synod of Limoges in 1031 issued an interdict against bloody feuds. The Church everywhere sought to have disputes settled by fines rather than fighting, by arbitration rather than litigation, by witnesses rather than by duels. The efforts of the Church in this era of lawlessness, of wanton [359]bloodshed, and of insecurity of property, to maintain peace and to secure justice form one of the most glorious chapters in her remarkable career. The Popes wrote letters and published encyclicals to recommend vows and habits of concord to all Christian nations. Great councils were called to spread abroad ideas of amity and brotherly love. The clergy preached it and enthusiastic monks went from village to village to proclaim it in the name of the "Prince of Peace." A veritable crusade of peace swept over Europe, and denounced war as anti-Christian. Brotherhoods of the Peace of God were formed to curb the militant feudal barons and to protect commerce, agriculture, women, children, travellers, strangers, and holy clerks. When the whole ecclesiastical machinery of the Church, with its power to withhold salvation gained through the holy sacraments and with its mighty weapons of excommunication and interdict, was wielded in behalf of peace, it was a force that could not easily be resisted.[359:1] To the Church, therefore, must be given the credit of making the first determined effort to limit, if not to abolish, the ravages of private war.

The famous "Truce of God," which originated in Aquitania in 1033, marks a new era.[359:2] Private war was the curse of the Middle Ages and the Church made an effort to check the evil. According to its provisions, bishops and abbots were to see to it that all feuds should cease from Wednesday evening till Monday morning. The penalty for violating the truce was at first excommunication, but later expulsion from a bishopric, loss of a benefice or property, severance of [360]the right hand, decapitation, scalping, and other punishments were added. Archbishop Raimbald of Arles with other bishops and abbots asked the Church in Italy in 1041 to adopt the "Truce of God."[360:1] Pope Nicholas II. (1059) and Alexander II. (1068) made public proclamation of the peace, and, as a result of all these endeavours, it soon spread over France,[360:2] Italy,[360:3] Burgundy, Spain, and Germany.[360:4] Rulers were not slow to sanction and to enforce these peace measures. Emperor Henry IV. issued an edict in 1085 to enforce the "Truce of God" under frightfully severe penalties.[360:5] Pope Urban II. in the Council of Clermont, held a decade later, made it the general law of the Church.[360:6] The time was extended to the periods between Advent and Epiphany, Ash Wednesday and Easter, Ascension Day and Pentecost.[360:7] Various festivals and vigils were also included. If strictly enforced the "Truce of God" would have given Christendom peace for about 240 days out of the year. Its operation was preceded by the ringing of bells. The first Lateran Councils (1121, 1139, 1179) confirmed it and made it a part of the Corpus Juris Canonici. The "Truce of God" later helped to produce the "land peace" in various parts of the Empire.[360:8]

The Church sanctioned and used the "judgment of [361]God" or the ordeal as a better means of obtaining justice than by war.[361:1] This process of justice was not new, but had prevailed in the Orient and among the Celts and Teutons. It rested on this fundamental principle that the accused is guilty until he proves himself innocent and that God, as the source of justice, will protect the innocent. "Let doubtful cases," ran a Carolingian capitulary, "be determined by the judgment of God. The judges may decide that which they clearly know, but that which they cannot know shall be reserved for divine judgment. He whom God has reserved for His own judgment may not be condemned by human means."

There were four different kinds of ordeals: by water, by fire, by battle, and by some sacred emblem.[361:2] The ordeal by hot water was the oldest form in Europe.[361:3] It typified the deluge and hell. Hincmar of Rheims appears to have recommended it first. The accused was compelled, with naked arm, to find a stone or ring in a kettle of boiling water, or merely to thrust his arm into it. If his arm was scalded he was guilty, if not, innocent.[361:4] The ordeal by cold water was probably introduced by Pope Eugenius II. (824-827). The theory was that pure water will not receive a criminal, hence it was believed that the guilty would float and the innocent sink. The accused, therefore, was bound and thrown into the water, but held by a rope with which to pull him out.[361:5]

[362]The ordeal by fire was performed either by hot iron or stones, or by a pure flame of fire. The accused was compelled to walk barefooted over six or twelve red-hot ploughshares, or to carry a piece of red-hot iron in his bare hand nine feet or more. The unburned, of course, were innocent.[362:1] Or the accused was asked to stick his hand into a flame, or walk with bare feet and legs through the fire.[362:2]

The battle ordeals were very old and widespread in Europe although not introduced into England until the Norman Conquest. They were used for both personal and international disputes. The right to contest was usually restricted to free men, but the young, sick, old, female, and clergy could furnish substitutes. Here again God, the Judge in all these cases, gave victory to the innocent.[362:3] The Church regarded this form of ordeal with disfavour. Both councils and Popes declared boldly against it. Innocent II., Alexander III., Clement III., Celestine III., and Innocent III. were outspoken in their opposition. It was expressly forbidden the clergy to engage in these combats without special license. Christian burial was even refused to those who fell in such combats. Civil law enforced the ecclesiastical opposition and thus gradually secured the elimination of the evil. This ordeal did not die out until the sixteenth century.

The sacred ordeals had to do with religious emblems. In the ordeal of the cross both the accused and the defendant stood before a cross with uplifted arms while special divine service was performed, or the arms were [363]extended in the form of a cross. The arms of the guilty person dropped first. Pepin first used it for divorce cases (752). Charles the Great extended it to territorial disputes (806). Louis the Pious abolished it in 816 because it brought the holy symbol into disrepute. The eucharist was likewise employed to protect the innocent and punish the guilty. The synod of Worms in 868 enjoined it upon bishops and priests accused of murder, adultery, theft, and sorcery. In the trial the eucharist was swallowed with this adjuration from the priest: "May this body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ be a judgment to thee this day." In the famous encounter of Hildebrand and Henry IV. at Canossa, the Pope challenged the Emperor to undergo this ordeal, but the wily German refused.[363:1] A use was also made of relics for similar purposes—a test that was probably of ecclesiastical origin. The accused placed his hands on the sacred relics and made an oath of his innocence.

The Church played a very conspicuous part in all these ordeals. Church councils sanctioned them[363:2] and the clergy favoured them.[363:3] Not infrequently they were used to further the interests of the Church and to punish heretics. Priests usually prepared the contestants by fasts, prayer, and special service, presided over the trial, and pronounced judgment in God's name. This method of securing justice, however, provoked considerable opposition within the Church. As early as the sixth century Bishop Avitus of Vienne opposed the battle ordeal in the Burgundian Code. St.

[364]Agobard of Lyons (d. 840) wrote two enlightened treatises against the duel and the whole system of the ordeal.[364:1] Occupants of St. Peter's Chair like Leo IV., Nicholas I., Stephen VI., Sylvester II., Alexander II., Alexander III., Celestine III., Honorius III., all condemned the institution.[364:2] The famous fourth Lateran Council held under Innocent III. in 1215 forbade the use of religious ceremonies in these trials and thus practically abolished the institution. Secular rulers also sought to end the practice. Unfortunately, the Inquisition, which employed methods somewhat similar to the ordeal, followed too closely in its wake.

Perhaps the most important service of the Church to the civilisation of the Middle Ages was the extensive cultivation of charity, "the queen of the Christian graces."[364:3] Both the example and teachings of Jesus served as a model and were supplemented by the words and work of the Apostles, particularly Paul. In the early Church charity was a cardinal principle.[364:4] At first the remnants of the eucharistic feasts were employed as sources of relief to the poor and needy; later free-will offerings given to the bishop and collections taken in the churches were employed to the same end. Usually seven deacons distributed these contributions to the poor, sick, and needy in each congregation.[364:5]

In Rome the organisation of charity was begun comparatively early. The parish was introduced in [365]the third century and in the fourth century Pope Anastasius divided Rome into fourteen "regions" and in them founded and endowed deaconries. Gregory the Great in the sixth century created seven districts in Rome ruled over by seven deacons and an archdeacon, built a hospital in each district, controlled by a deacon and a steward for the poor, sick, and orphans; and formed thirty parishes with thirty-six priests. He sold his extensive possessions and gave the proceeds to charity. Many of the great Fathers of the Church made similar sacrifices and never wearied of enjoining the duty of charity on Christians. The churches of Rome had large estates, especially in Sicily. One third of their income was given quarterly to charities.[365:1] Pope Gregory the Great also made monthly distributions of food to the poor, and each day sent part of his meals to feed the needy at his door. This model arrangement for charitable purposes in the capital of Christendom was copied quite extensively elsewhere and enlisted the services of thousands of priests, monks, and nuns in all sections of western Europe.

After Constantine legalised Christianity, charity became institutional and endowed, first in the East, then to the westward.[365:2] Perhaps the first public hospital was founded in Rome by Fabiola, a Roman lady, in the fourth century. St. Pammachus established another in the Eternal City. Paulinus built one in Nola. Still others were planted in Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia. Poorhouses, orphanages, and homes for the aged were likewise begun in this early period. [366]As Christianity was spread over Europe by the missionary monks these charitable institutions were planted by it to help and comfort thousands in this period of war, famine, and pestilence, and to remain as the choicest heritage to the modern from the mediæval Church. In theory, mediæval charity was made one of the chief acts of piety, the most certain means of salvation, and perhaps emphasised too much the benefits to the donor and to his dead relatives, rather than to the worthy recipient.

Church discipline originated in the "power of the keys" and in the control of the sacraments. In the early Church it was a "purely spiritual jurisdiction."[366:1] After Constantine, however, it touched the civil and social status of the delinquents. During the entire Middle Ages it was a tremendous power because it was believed that the Church, ruled by the divinely appointed Pope and his army of ecclesiastics, was the "dispenser of eternal salvation" and that exclusion from her communion without repentance incurred eternal damnation. Discipline was administered either directly by the Pope or by the bishops and their representatives, the archdeacons, or in each congregation by the priest. Civil authorities aided the Church in enforcing discipline. Charles the Great ordered the bishops to hold annual public synodical courts to try cases of incest, murder, adultery, robbery, theft, and other vices contrary to God's laws.[366:2] The clergy and laity alike were investigated. Seven irreproachable synodal judges from each congregation reported to the synod on the state of morals and religion.[366:3] Similar synods were held [367]in Spain and England and soon came to be common throughout Europe. The ordinary penalties inflicted were fines, fasting, pilgrimages, scourging, imprisonment, and deeds of charity. Obstinate cases incurred excommunication. The penalties inflicted on the clergy were more severe than those on the laity.[367:1] About the same time developed the practice by which the priest heard the confessions[367:2] of his flock and doled out the punishment for their private offences. But by the ninth century confession to a priest had not yet become compulsory.

The most severe punishment on the individual was excommunication.[367:3] It could be pronounced by the Pope against a layman, either king or common man, or against a bishop or priest; or by a bishop against a layman or a priest. Its operation was direct and its effects severe. It cut the excommunicate off from the sacraments which alone could insure his salvation and subjected him to temporal punishments. As long as he was under the ban, he was a social outcast, like an outlawed criminal or a dangerous wild beast, debarred from all social greetings, food, shelter, and all intercourse. To kill him was not murder and he was left to die in lonely starvation. By the secular law, too, he lost all civil rights, could be seized and thrown into prison, and forfeited to the state all his property.[367:4] His whole family, likewise, were subject to the same disabilities.[367:5] If a king, his subjects were all released from allegiance to him. He was consigned to [368]everlasting punishment, often with the most terrific curses, which were frequently written down with sacred wine and ink. This terrible fate dangled over the head of every member of the Church, dead as well as alive, but, of course, it followed only after the proof of guilt had been established in a careful, formal trial and after earnest entreaties to repent had been made. The theory, however, was too often abused.[368:1] With sincere repentance the punishment ceased and absolution followed.[368:2]

There are examples almost without number of the employment of excommunication, but a few conspicuous examples will suffice to show its operation. Ambrose in 383 excommunicated Maximus for murdering Gratian, the Emperor.[368:3] Gregory the Great excommunicated Archbishop Maximus of Salona and forced him to repentance (600).[368:4] The Archbishop of Sens (seventh century) launched the curse against unknown robbers of his church.[368:5] Pope Benedict VIII. excommunicated the despoiler of the monastery of St. Giles.[368:6] There were very many cases against kings, criminals, heretics, etc., and the punishment was even applied to animals. Thus in 975 the Archbishop of Treves excommunicated the annoying sparrows. Caterpillars which were ravishing the diocese of Laon were put under the ban in 1120 by the bishop. Even St. Bernard, on an occasion which may have been justifiable, pronounced an anathema in 1121 on a swarm of [369]flies which bothered him while he was making a pious speech.[369:1] Not only was this ecclesiastical cudgel used with the most telling effects in enforcing the law of the Church upon the disobedient and unbelieving, but it was not infrequently abused for personal revenge and spite or for other low motives.[369:2]

The interdict was another form of punishment, issued by a Pope or a bishop, against a city, diocese, district, or country, and involved the innocent along with the guilty. It had a counterpart among the barbarian tribes which made the family responsible for the crimes of individual members. This may have been its origin, for the Church adopted the same idea in applying excommunication to the barbarians. It began in a mild form as early as the fifth century, but ere long was a common punishment. The city of Rouen was put under the interdict in 586 for the murder of its bishop.[369:3] The Bishop of Laon in 869 pronounced the interdict on his diocese, but Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims removed it. The synod of Limoges enforced the "Truce of God" in 1031 by this means.[369:4] Gregory VII. applied it to the province of Gnesen to punish King Boleslaw II. for the crime of murder, and Alexander II. in 1180 thus afflicted all Scotland because the ruler expelled a papal bishop. Innocent III. in 1200 suspended it over France, because of the marital faithlessness of Philip Augustus, and for six years enforced it in England (1208) to humble King John. Its operation was very severe. All religious worship was suspended, the churches were closed, priests refused to [370]perform marriage and burial ceremonies, the people were ordered to fast as in Lent and were forbidden to shave or cut their hair.[370:1] Only the sacraments, of baptism and extreme unction could be administered and then always behind closed doors. Penance and the eucharist could be extended alone to the mortally sick. All inhabitants of the afflicted region were ordered to dress in mourning, fast, and act in humility. Church bells were tolled at certain hours in the day, when all people were to fall upon their knees in prayer for the removal of the causes of the interdict. With such thunderbolts as the excommunication and interdict in the hands of the great High Priest of the Church, which could be hurled at will against any individual or people, and when the people blindly and unquestionably submitted to them, it can be seen how the power of the Papacy was augmented and the subjection of the clergy and laity alike increased.

The mass was the very centre of all Church worship. Pope Gregory I. established its mediæval form. The celebration of the mass was the bloodless sacrifice of Christ to God for the world's sins, a reconciliation of heaven and earth, of benefit to the living and to the pious dead. It is no wonder then that the mass was celebrated several times daily with the greatest ritualistic pomp and display. Masses for the dead, too, became popular as the doctrine of purgatory developed[370:2] and were usually celebrated as solitary masses. Lullus even ordered masses and fasts in order to obtain good weather.[370:3] The dogma of transubstantiation while generally held had not yet become Church law. Church [371]worship throughout western Europe was conducted in Latin, and consequently was little understood by the masses of the laity.

Although preaching was not a necessary part of the regular Church service, still it was not an unusual feature. Pope Gregory I. frequently preached with great earnestness, although his successors did not follow his example. Bishops were required to preach, but their negligence was proverbial.[371:1] The priests were commanded to explain to their people the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the nature of the sacraments. The models recommended were the homilies,[371:2] and the sermons of Gregory I.[371:3] The vernacular was used of course in all preaching and cathedral instruction.

The Church hymns of this period reflect the Christian life and worship. In the Latin Church the hymns are divided into three periods: the patristic epoch to Gregory I. (d. 604); the mediæval epoch to Damiani (d. 1073); and the classical epoch to 1300. These Latin hymns possess much fervour and some genius, and have a very pronounced character. Most of them were inspired by the Blessed Virgin and next in favour came the saints. There were many beautiful products like Te Deum Laudamus.[371:4] In the early churches no organ was used.[371:5] Pope Vitalian (657-672) probably [372]first employed one, while Pepin and Charles the Great both received presents of this instrument from the East. After the eighth century it was generally used during the Middle Ages.[372:1] Church bells gradually came into use after the time of Constantine and were very numerous during this period.[372:2]

The origin of the term sacrament is not very clear. The Latin sacramentum meant the military oath of allegiance and the early Fathers apparently used it in that sense.[372:3] It was also spoken of as mysterium in the New Testament.[372:4] Sacramentum was thus early united with mysterium to denote the solemn, instructive, semi-secret, external religious rites of worship. Augustine's definition, "the visible form of invisible grace," or "a sign of a sacred thing," has become classic and was accepted for centuries. The number of sacraments was an evolution. Tertullian mentions but two, the eucharist and baptism. Cyprian spoke of a third, confirmation. The Vulgate apparently added a fourth, marriage.[372:5] Augustine mentioned the Lord's Supper and baptism particularly as sacraments but used the word in many other applications. The old "sacramentaries" of the eighth century and later extend the word sacrament to a great variety of rites such as blessing of the holy water, dedicating churches, etc., and have prayers and benedictions for the same. Robanus Maurus (d. 856) advocated four and Paschasius Rodbertus (d. 865) two sacraments, while Dionysius [373]Areopagite believed in six and Peter Damiani (d. 1072) enumerated twelve. Hugh of St. Victor (d. 1141) asserted that there were thirty, but Peter Lombard (d. 1164) and Thomas Aquinas (1274) fixed on seven as the number, though they were not officially adopted by the Church until 1439.

The sacraments were the means of grace and spiritual food for the soul. They met the child at birth in baptism, accompanied him in life, and closed his eyes with extreme unction in death.

The most important of the sacraments was the eucharist. This solemn festival seems to have been at first a regular meal, probably the principal meal of the day in each family, at which the commemorative breaking of bread and partaking of the cup was a part. Subsequently, however, the local congregation met on this common basis. Certain abuses which resulted[373:1] led to the early separation of the agape, or love-feast, from the ministration of the eucharist of the bread and wine. Henceforth the eucharist became a distinct institution celebrated soon with solemn pomp by the priesthood alone. It was regarded as the symbol of unity among believers and of communion with the Deity. It became the test of Christian fellowship and membership. In the hands of the mediæval priesthood, it was a most effectual power, since the Church could withhold it and thus make those deprived of it outcasts certain of eternal damnation. Because of its grave importance, the Church made participation frequent and obligatory—and even administered it to infants and to the dead. In the early Church the eucharist was celebrated every [374]Lord's Day and on the anniversaries of the martyrs. Later it was offered every day and after the time of Leo the Great several times a day as a daily sacrifice for daily sins. The celebration of the eucharist was called the mass—the culmination of all Christian worship—to which, however, only those fully initiated into Church membership were admitted.[374:1]

Baptism was likewise a very important sacrament. Although there is no evidence that Jesus ever performed the rite, still the New Testament shows that the Apostles and evangelists did.[374:2] Immersion and sprinkling were both early employed. The priest of course performed the rite, though in cases of urgency any person using the proper formula could do so. The effects produced by baptism were: regeneration; the infusion of sanctifying grace; the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; the remission of all sin, both original and actual, and also of all penalty due to sin, both temporal and eternal. Because of the great efficacy and the indelible character imparted by this sacrament, also its absolute necessity to salvation, it was common for catechumens to postpone the rite until the end of life drew near—as did Constantine the Great—for then it would wipe away all past records. Elaborate ceremonies in connection with baptism early developed. Candidates for the rite, called catechumens, were forced to undergo a long course of instruction. They could not witness the mysteries of the eucharist, but were dismissed after the response and genuflections. After baptism, which was [375]administered usually on great Church festivals, especially Whitsunday, the catechumens were received, given Christian name, turned to the west to renounce the "devil and his works," exorcised by the priest, anointed with holy oil, and instructed in the fundamentals of Christian doctrine. Often an entire day was consumed in these ceremonies. The act of baptism with consecrated water was performed at the entrance to the church and usually the baptised received a white garment in token of his purity.[375:1] Beautiful baptisteries were early built either within the church or very near to the entrance.

In the Apostolic Church baptism was invariably connected with the imposition of hands.[375:2] Later, however, the two acts were separated. The laying on of hands in point of time came soon after the rite of baptism.[375:3] All priests could baptise, while only the bishops could perform the ceremony which gradually developed into the sacrament of confirmation. The permanent separation of baptism and confirmation did not occur, it seems, until the thirteenth century. The rite of baptism was ordinarily performed only in special baptismal churches and at certain stated periods. In popular opinion the baptised were placed under the protection and consecration of the divine power. The rite also signified subjection to the Church.

Penance was a sacrament and a pronounced institution of the Church of the Middle Ages. The New Testament [376]has in it but little on the subject of discipline.[376:1] In the early Church penance was exclusively spiritual, was not compulsory but had to be sought, occurred but once, was extended only to baptised communicants, always followed public confession before the whole congregation, and varied with the offence. The penitents removed all ornaments from their persons, dressed in sackcloth, the men shaved their heads and faces and the women wore dishevelled hair, put ashes on their heads, abstained from baths and all normal pleasures, and lived on bread and water. They were divided into four classes: (1) The weepers, who could only stand at the church doors and beg for prayers. (2) The hearers, who could enter the church for the scripture lesson, but had to leave before the eucharistic service began. (3) The kneelers, who could witness the first part of the eucharistic office and then departed with the catechumens. (4) The standers, who could remain during the whole service but were not permitted to communicate.

Out of these earlier conditions, penance came to be regarded as a sacrament instituted by Jesus for removing sins committed after baptism but involving contrition of heart and private confession to a priest as prerequisites,[376:2] and for the performance of good works, such as fasting, almsgiving, pilgrimages, endowing institutions of the Church, self-flagellation, etc. The priest then solemnly absolved the penitent. The Middle Ages produced regular "penitential books,"[376:3] [377]that is, a code of penalties for sins like drunkenness, fornications, avarice, perjury, murder, heresy, idolatry, and other crimes. These regulations were compiled from the Church Fathers, the Church synods and councils down to the seventh century, and other collections of authoritative sources. Nearly every diocese had its own special penitential code, but the general character and spirit were essentially the same all over the Church. Out of the system of penance grew the practice of indulgences, which was simply the substitution of a payment in money for the penance. Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury is usually credited with originating the principle of penance and the institution of indulgences,[377:1] but the system did not gain prominence until the time of the Crusades.[377:2]

Ordination was the sacrament of the hierarchy by which baptised persons were consecrated to perform the duties of priesthood. Like baptism it conferred an indelible character, hence could not be repeated. The sacrament of extreme unction was at first merely the use of consecrated oil to heal the sick.[377:3] But before long such veneration was bestowed upon the holy oil that as early as the fourth century people broke into the churches and stole the oil out of the lamps in order to use it for the working of miraculous cures. It was employed not alone by the priests, but by all Christians. It did not really become a sacrament until the time of [378]Peter Lombard. Marriage was also held to be a sacrament, through which the priesthood controlled legitimacy, inheritance, and the validity of wills.

Out of pagan idolatry, hero-worship, and the veneration for the martyrs of the early Church grew both the practice of saint-worship and the use of relics. The day of the martyr's death was made a festival and the place of his burial was sanctified. It was believed that the martyrs had the power to intercede with the Divine Powers for the answer of prayers. Churches and shrines were built over the tombs of the martyrs, or their bones were carried into churches. These relics were thought to possess miracle-working power. Those places not blessed with relics felt it to be a great disadvantage, consequently imported the remains of martyrs and saints to meet the need. Regular calendars of saints appeared and children were named after them with the expectation of lifelong protection and assistance from the patron.

By the fourth century it was believed that the blessed martyrs, through communion with our Lord, shared in his attributes of omnipresence and omniscience. Prayers in behalf of the saints changed to prayers to them for help. This transition was particularly easy for those who were won from paganism because they were already accustomed to similar practices. A festival of All Saints was instituted by Pope Boniface IV. in 610, when the Pantheon was dedicated as a Christian church, though it was not commonly observed until the ninth century, when Louis the Pious made it general in the Empire. The festival of All Souls supplemented it in the tenth century and became very popular. Every day in the calendar was dedicated to one saint or more. Down to the tenth [379]century individuals renowned for some pious deed or for some suffering on account of the Christian faith were exalted to sainthood by the voice of the people with the consent of the bishop. Later, however, the bishops nominated the saints and the Pope conferred the honour. The first instance of papal canonisation was that of Ulrich, the Bishop of Augsburg, by John XV. in 973. Pope Alexander III. (1170), in the period when the Papacy was becoming all-powerful, seized this great prerogative into his own hands.[379:1] Each nation, district, city, and individual church had its saint. The fame of the saints was perpetuated by legend, hymn, painting, sculpture, and the sacred edifices built to their memory and honour. Consequently the tales and beliefs connected with the saints produced most of the literature of the Middle Ages—the poetry, the song, the history, and the subject of common thought, conversation, and feeling.

Closely connected with saint-worship was the universal use of sacred relics and a belief in their miraculous power. The dominant interest of popular piety circles around the saints and their relics. The relics in the church were the greatest treasure of the community, and the reliquary was the choicest ornament of the private room of the lady, in the knight's armory, in the king's hall, and in the bishop's palace. The use of relics and images developed comparatively early in the life of the Church.[379:2] By the time of Constantine the practice was common and approved by the Fathers. In fact, so wild were the people of the West for relics that imperial law had to prohibit the cutting of the [380]corpses of martyrs into pieces for sale.[380:1] The great Ambrose refused to consecrate a church which had no relics. When the Pantheon was dedicated by Pope Boniface IV. twenty-eight cartloads of bones of martyrs were transferred to that building from the various cemeteries.[380:2] The seventh œcumenical council of Nicæa (787) forbade bishops to dedicate a church without sacred relics under penalty of excommunication. Traffic in relics became a regular business. St. Augustine reproved the wandering monks for selling bogus relics. Gregory the Great refused to send relics of St. Paul to the Empress of Constantinople, yet he very jealously distributed the filings of the chain of St. Peter. The relics increased until western Europe was full of them and every community had miracle-working wonders—the products of excessive piety, fraud, and credulity. All Christians believed in relics for it was an impious thing to doubt. The wood of the true cross "grew into a forest"; the nails were very numerous; at Sens was found the rod of Moses; at Aachen the swaddling clothes of Jesus; at other points a feather plucked from the wing of the angel Gabriel, the tears of Jesus, the milk of the Virgin, the emblems of the Passion, a piece of wood from the temple which St. Peter intended to build on the Mount of Olives; and the bones, hair, teeth, and garments of saints without number. These relics were employed to convert the heathen,[380:3] to heal diseases, to ward off danger,[380:4] to punish the wicked, to protect the innocent, and to bring good luck and general blessing.

[381]The worship of Mary the Mother of Jesus became very pronounced after the fourth century. Tertullian put Eve and Mary alongside of Adam and Jesus. She was called the Blessed Virgin and the Mother of God. The festival of the Annunciation held in the fifth century soon led to the festival of the Purification of Mary, or the Candlemas of Mary. About the end of the sixth century developed the feast of the Ascension of Mary, to be followed the next century by the celebration of the birthday of Mary. High above all the saints and martyrs was the rapturous adoration of the "Queen of Heaven." After Gregory the Great the Virgin played a constantly increasing part in the Church of the West. Churches were erected in her honour everywhere and every church had at least a chapel consecrated to Our Lady.

Hell, heaven, and purgatory were very real indeed to the mediæval mind. Their location, form, and inhabitants were known exactly through mediæval credulity. Devils and angels were in constant communication in one way or another with the inhabitants of earth. All these forces and influences formed the mediæval mind and produced the mediæval civilisation.

Sources


FOOTNOTES:

[348:1] Hatch, Growth of Church Institutions, Lond., 1887, 121; Smith and Cheetham, art. on "Metropolitan."

[348:2] Canon VI. See IV. See also Canon XIX of Council of Antioch.

[348:3] Canon IX.

[348:4] Cod. Justin, i., 4, 29.

[348:5] Guizot, Hist. of Civ. in Fr., ii., 46.

[350:1] See article on Theodore Torens in Dict. of Nat. Biog.

[350:2] Boniface (d. 735) was the greatest.

[350:3] Hauck, Kircheng. Deutschl., ii.

[350:4] This office was held by Hincmar (d. 882), the greatest man of his time. Prichard, Life and Times of Hincmar, 1849; Noorden, Hincmar, Erzbischof von Rheims, 1863.

[352:1] Hatch, Growth of Church Institutions, contends that the parish was of German origin, and not Roman.

[353:1] Acta Sanctorum; Greg. of Tours, Hist. of France; Mon. Ger.; Mansi; Harduin; Hefele, iii., iv.; Lecky; Guizot; Balmes.

[353:2] Greg. of Tours; Milman; Lecky; Hallam; Gibbon.

[354:1] Butler, Lives of Saints; Lecky.

[355:1] Schaff, iv., 331.

[355:2] Greg. of Tours.

[355:3] Hefele, iii., 341.

[355:4] Ibid., iv., 323.

[356:1] See the effort of Nicholas I. to protect the divorced wife of King Lothair. Greenwood, bk. vii., ch. 4.

[356:2] Lecky, ii., 335; Schaff, iv., 333; Brace, ch. 11.

[356:3] Philem. 10-21; 1 Tim. vi., 1-2; Eph. vi., 5-7; Col. iii., 22; Tit. ii., 9; 1 Pet. ii., 18.

[357:1] Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 524.

[357:2] Lactantius, Inst. Div., vi., 12; Apostolic Constitutions, iv., 9.

[357:3] Baronius, Ann., 284, No. 15.

[357:4] Inst. Div., v., 14, 15.

[357:5] De Joseph Patriarch., ch. iv., § 20, 21.

[357:6] City of God, xix., 15.

[357:7] Apostolic Constitutions, viii., 38.

[357:8] Ibid., viii., 13, 19.

[357:9] Ibid., 39.

[357:10] Sozomen, i., 9.

[357:11] Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 542.

[358:1] Gregory I., Ep., x., 66; ix., 103.

[358:2] Hefele, iii., 611. Slaves and serfs were admitted to priesthood. Leo I. objected to the practice (letter 4).

[358:3] See letters of Gregory I., iv., 9, 21; vi., 32; vii., 24; ix., 36, 110.

[358:4] For a statement of his attitude toward slavery and for an example of his manumission, see book vi., letter 12; book viii., letter 21.

[358:5] Balmes; Brace, ch. 21; Schaff, iv., 334; Lecky, ii., 66.

[358:6] Brace, ch. 12.

[358:7] Hefele, iii., 349.

[358:8] Thatcher and McNeal, Nos. 240, 241.

[359:1] Brace, ch. 13.

[359:2] Hefele, iv., 698; Thatcher and McNeal, No. 242.

[360:1] Ogg, Source Book, § 39.

[360:2] Thatcher and McNeal, Nos. 240-244.

[360:3] Ibid., No. 248.

[360:4] Robinson, Readings, i., 187; Thatcher and McNeal, Nos. 245-250; Transl. and Rep., i., No. 2.

[360:5] Migne, cli., 1134; Henderson, 208.

[360:6] Munro, Urban and the Crusaders; Transl. and Rep., i., No. 2, p. 8.

[360:7] Thatcher and McNeal, cf. Nos. 243 and 244. Hefele, iv., 696.

[360:8] Fisher, Med. Europe, i., 201; Thatcher and McNeal, Nos. 248-250.

[361:1] Lea, Superstition and Force.

[361:2] Ogg, Source Book, § 33.

[361:3] Lea, Superstition and Force, 196. There are references to this form in the Salic Law.

[361:4] Greg. of Tours, quoted in Lea, 198; Thatcher and McNeal, No. 234.

[361:5] For cases, see Lea, 228, 229; Thatcher and McNeal, No. 236, 237.

[362:1] Lea, 201; Thatcher and McNeal, No. 235.

[362:2] Peter Ingens and the monk Savonarola were examples. Lea, 209.

[362:3] Lea, 75-174, gives cases.

[363:1] For other cases, see Lea; Thatcher and McNeal, Nos. 238, 239.

[363:2] Mainz, 880, Tribur, 895, Tours, 925, Auch, 1068, Grau, 1095, etc.

[363:3] Hincmar, Burckhardt of Worms, Gregory VII., Calixtus II., Eugenius II., St. Bernard, etc.

[364:1] Given in Migne, civ., 113, 250.

[364:2] Read Lea, 272.

[364:3] Lecky, ii., 84; Uhlhorn, Christ. Char. in the Anc. Ch., bk. iii.

[364:4] Chastel, Historical Studies in the Influence of Charity. Tr., Phil., 1857.

[364:5] Schaff, ii., 374; Justin Martyr, Apol., i., ch. 67.

[365:1] Milman, ii., 117.

[365:2] Smith and Cheetham, Dict. of Christ. Antiq., art. "Hospitals."

[366:1] Matt. xviii., 15-18.

[366:2] Gieseler, ii., 55.

[366:3] Moeller, ii., 115.

[367:1] Milman, i., 551.

[367:2] See Cath. Encyc. for the origin of the confessional.

[367:3] Lea, Stud. in Ch. Hist., 236.

[367:4] Ibid., 296, 416.

[367:5] Ibid., 393.

[368:1] Lea, 264, 266, 303, 343, 345, 347, 362, 382, 421.

[368:2] The anathema was used in a sense and manner similar to excommunication. See Cath. Encyc. for an excellent discussion.

[368:3] Lea, 282.

[368:4] Ibid., 298.

[368:5] Ibid., 303.

[368:6] Ibid., 337; Schaff, iv., 377.

[369:1] Lea, 428.

[369:2] Ibid., 416; Gregory the Great, bk. ii., Letter 34.

[369:3] Greg. of Tours, bk. viii., ch. 31.

[369:4] Gieseler, ii., 199, n. 12; Hefele, iv., 693-695; Schaff, iv., 380.

[370:1] Harduin, vi., 885.

[370:2] Gregory I. is usually credited with introducing this mass.

[370:3] Moeller, ii., 113.

[371:1] Hefele, iii., 758, 764; iv., 89, 111, 126, 197, 513, 582; Mansi, xiv., 82.

[371:2] Mon. Ger. Scrip., vi.-ix., 45-187; Wattenbach, Deutschl. Geschichtsq., i., 134.

[371:3] Hefele, iii., 745.

[371:4] Stephenson, Latin Hymns of the An.-Sax. Church; Trench, Sacred Latin Poets; Chandler, Hymns of the Prim. Ch.; Mant., Anc. Hymns from the Rom. Breviary; Cazwell, Lyra Catholica; Neale, Mediæv. Hymns; Schaff, Christ. in Song.

[371:5] This is the practice of the Greek Church to-day, and also in several Protestant bodies.

[372:1] Hopkins and Rimbault, The Organ, its Hist. and Const., 1855. See art. in Smith and Cheetham.

[372:2] See art. in Smith and Cheetham.

[372:3] Tertullian, Ad. Mort., iii.; Vulgate iii., 16; Rev. i., 20; xxviii., 7.

[372:4] Rom. xvi., 25; 1 Cor. xiii., 2.

[372:5] Eph. v., 22.

[373:1] 1 Cor. ch. xi.

[374:1] The catechumens, pagans, and heretics were not admitted. From the words used in dismissing the catechumens, when the mysteries were about to be celebrated,—Ite, missa est,—probably arose the use of the word "mass."

[374:2] Acts ii., 38-41; viii., 16, 37, 38; xix., 3-5; Matt. xxviii., 19.

[375:1] This robe, after being worn for some time, was frequently hung up in the church after the ceremony to remind the baptised one of his new status.

[375:2] Acts viii., 12-17, xix., 5, 6.

[375:3] Council of Elvira (306), canon 38. See Tertullian for one of the earliest explanations.

[376:1] Matt. xviii., 17, 18; 1 Cor. v.; 2 Cor. ii., 6-10.

[376:2] Mansi, Coll. Concil., xiv., 33d canon of Council of Chalons (813).

[376:3] The best known of these books was compiled under the direction of Theodore, the Archbishop of Canterbury (669-690). It is given in Haddan and Stubbs, iii., 173. The Venerable Bede also made a similar collection. Ibid., 326. See quotations in Schaff, iv., 374. See Marshall, The Penitential Discip. of the Prim. Ch., Lond., 1814; new ed. in Lib. of Cath. Theol., Oxf., 1844.

[377:1] Haddan and Stubbs, iii., 371.

[377:2] See Green, Indulgences, etc., Lond., 1872, and Gibbings,