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temporal power was deservedly hated and despised; a profligate court, a venal magistracy, and a cowardly soldiery, constituted the ordinary materials of the imperial government; and, compared with these, the sacerdotal body, in the worst stage of its degradation, had powerful claims to respect, if not to esteem.
It is of importance to remember that the corruption of the episcopal power was produced by the general corruption of the empire, and consequently, instead of furnishing an argument against episcopacy as an institution, it may rather be urged as a proof of its excellence. The church had fallen, indeed, from its original purity, but the state was a mass of unmixed evils ; ecclesiastical power was frequently abused, but the temporal authorities scarcely went right by accident; whatever principles of justice and rectitude remained in the world, owed their conservation to the Christian clergy; and to the examples of ecclesiastical traffic there might easily be opposed a longer and more honorable list of instances, in which bishops supported the dignity of their order, by protecting the interests of morality against the craft of courtiers and the vices of sovereigns.
While the discipline of the church was injured by the clergy having temporal power forced upon them in the first instance at least--without their solicitation, the doctrines of Christianity were corrupted by a practice arising from the best feelings of our nature. The saints and martyrs who had faced danger, torture, and death, to promulgate Christianity, were remembered with just gratitude, when that religion became triumphant. Their bones were removed from unhonored graves to tombs more worthy of their virtues, and a generation enjoying the advantages that their toils and their blood had purchased, testified its thankfulness by rich offerings at their shrines. Thus the avaricious and the designing were tempted to multiply the number of relics, and to exaggerate their importance, until the feeling of thankful reverence was gradually changed into one of religious adoration. These steps in the progress of error were easy, they were likewise profitable; crafty men propagated stories of miracles wrought at the tombs of the martyrs, prayers were soon addressed to persons supposed to be possessed of such supernatural powers, the invocation of saints and the worship of relics naturally led to the introduction of images and pictures, and to the revival of many pagan ceremonies, which had, perhaps, never fallen into complete oblivion.
But an ecclesiastical establishment must not bear the entire blame of the introduction of image-worship into the Christian church. The desire of possessing representations of those whom we venerate is natural to the human mind; and in an age of ignorance, the symbols of a creed were found useful aids in teaching the multitude the historical facts of Christianity. It must, however, be observed, that the ignorance and credulity of the laity had a far greater share in leading to a corrupt use of images, than the craft of the clergy: the perversion was in many, perhaps in most instances, forced upon the priesthood by the flock, and it was still further supported by the monastic bodies, which have in every age been the most prominent among the originators and supporters of every superstition.
The monastics were the first who introduced what is called the roluntary principle, into the Christian church ; they were also the first to allow self-ordained instructers to interfere with the duties of the proper pastors. Fanaticism and superstition were the necessary results of these disturbing forces, and by none was the progress of evil more seriously lamented than by the parochial clergy and the regular bishops.
The charge of idolatry was justly urged against the Christian church in the beginning of the eighth century, both by the Jews and the Mohammedans. The latter were far the more formidable, for to the arguments of truth they added the weight of victory. There was scarcely an eastern city which was not fortified by the possession of some miraculous image, supposed to be the palladium of its safety ; but in spite of this protection they had fallen, one after the other, into the hands of the Mussulmans. Ashamed of the reproaches they encountered, and convinced practically of the insufficiency of these objects of their devotion, many of the eastern bishops began to oppose the worship of images, but their exertions were rendered unavailing, by the influence and obstinacy of the monks, until Leo the Isaurian ascended the throne of Constantinople.
A fierce struggle ensued : the Iconoclasts, as the opposers of images were called, made a vigorous effort to restore the purity of the Christian worship, and at the synod of Constantinople (A. D. 754) three hundred and thirty-eight bishops pronounced and subscribed a unanimous decree, that “all visible symbols of Christ, except in the eucharist, were either blasphemous or heretical ; that image-worship was a corruption of Christianity, and a revival of paganism; that all such monuments of idolatry should be broken or erased; and that those who should refuse to give up the objects of their private superstition, should be deemed guilty of disobedience to the authority of the church and of the emperor.
The enemies of the Iconoclasts have spared no terms of reproach in denouncing the proceedings of this synod, but an impartial view of the authentic relics of its proceedings, which have been preserved, proves that its members displayed more of reason and piety than could have been expected in their age. They seem, indeed, to have felt that they were fighting the battle of episcopacy against monachism, and that the | safety of their order was compromised by the assumptions of volunteer instructers; but they made no direct attack upon monastic institutions, and only assailed the abuses which they encouraged.
Six successive emperors supported the cause of reason and religion against idolatry in the eastern church, but the worshippers of images finally triumphed. Still, down to a very late period, there were prelates in the East who resisted the corruption, and the Armenians especially refused to admit images into their churches even in the twelfth century. But the contest was decided much sooner in western Europe, by the promptitude with which Pope Gregory II. appealed to arms against his sovereign and the Iconoclasts. The ambitious pontiff found sufficient support in the national enmity between the Greeks and Latins; he had the art to persuade the Italians that there was some connexion between the new superstition and their hereditary glory; and that, while they supported the worship of images, they were imposing a necessary, restraint on Byzantine tyranny. The Lombards embraced the religious pretext to expel the Greeks from Italy; but the pope, finding that the conquerors were anxious to impose a yoke upon him more grievous than that which had just been shaken off, invoked the assistance of the Franks. Supported by the arms of Pepin and Charlemagne, the popes maintained the independence of the Roman territories, and were thus raised to the rank of temporal princes. Grateful for the aid they received, the pontiffs, as has been already mentioned, decided that it was lawful for the Franks to depose an imbecile sovereign, and substitute in his place one who had proved an able protector of the state, and a generous benefactor to the church ; and in consequence of this sentence, Pepin was solemnly crowned at Paris.
The proper history of the papacy begins at this union of temporal and spiritual jurisdiction: Three transactions combined to give it form: the revolt against Leo, the establishment of the Roman principality, and the coronation of Pepin. In the first of these, the popes were hurried forward by circumstances to lengths which they had not anticipated ; neither the second nor third Gregory wished to destroy completely the power of the Byzantine emperor, and they continued to acknowledge the successors of Constantine as their rulers, until the Lombards subverted the exarchate of Ravenna. But in spite of their moderation, real or affected, they had established to some extent the dangerous precedent, that the heresy of a sovereign justifies a withdrawal of allegiance in his subjects, though they themselves never asserted such a principle, and indeed seem never to have contemplated it.
The independence of the Roman principality, and the establishment of the pope as a temporal sovereign, necessarily resulted from the dread which the Latins, but especially the Romans, had of the Lombards. It was impossible to revert to the sovereigns of Constantinople ; independent of the unpopularity produced by their Iconoclast propensities, they wanted the power of retaining the Italian provinces, even if the government had been offered them; there was no choice between the assertion of independence and submission to the Lombards; there were no materials for constructing a national government outside the precincts of the church, and the popes consequently became princes by the pressure of a necessity which was confessed by the unanimous consent of their subjects.
In sanctioning the usurpation of Pepin, Pope Zachary pronounced his opinion more as a statesman than a prelate. There was an obvious expediency for dethroning the weak Chilperic, and giving the title of king to him who really exercised the functions of royalty. There was nothing authoritative in the sentence-it did not command the Franks to dethrone one king and elect another-it merely declared that considerations of public safety justified a people in changing its rulers : it did nothing new, but it ratified what had been done already. But the new dynasty eagerly sought in the proceeding for a confirmation of their defective title; it was Pepin and his friends, rather than the pontiff, who perverted the opinion of a odsuist into the sentence of a judge and the oracle of a prophet.
Thus popery, like most human institutions, was founded on opinions in which truth and falsehood were strangely mixed; and it is fortunately easy to separate the parts. In rejecting the Byzantine yoke, the popes asserted a right to resist, but not to depose, sovereigns ; in becoming temporal princes, they declared that there could be a union between civil and ecclesiastical jurisdictions, but not that they were necessarily connected, and still less that they were inherited of right by the successors of St. Peter : finally, in the most equivocal case, the sanction of Pepin's election, the pope put forward the expediency of having an in.telligent umpire to decide in cases of a dispute, not that he was necessarily that umpire ; and still less that he had authority to act as supreme judge in a court of appeal. It is sufficiently obvious, however, that the truths are easily capable of being perverted into the falsehoods, and that there were strong temptations to the change. Ere a generation had passed away, the truths sank into oblivion, and the falsehoods were everywhere proclaimed as the true foundations of the papal system.
SECTION II.-The early Development of the Political System of the Papacy.
The Iconoclast controversy, and the mutual obligations of the popes and the Carlovingian family, form the important links between ancient and modern history, as well as between civil and ecclesiastical affairs. Pepin recognised the pope's arbitration as an authoritative act, though, as we have seen, it was merely an opinion founded on expediency, and furthermore might have been justified on constitutional grounds, for the monarchy of the Franks was originally elective, and the principle of hereditary right was an innovation gradually introduced by the successors of Clovis. But Pepin naturally felt that he would weaken the title of his sons to the succession, if he rested his claims on popular election ; and he was therefore anxious to invest his dynasty with the mysterious sanction of religion. It is doubtful whether the Roman pontiffs foresaw the importance of the measures they adopted, but prudence and prophecy united could scarcely have suggested better means for extending the papal power. They revived the Jewish ceremonial of anointing kings ; and Pepin, as well as his successors, regarded this ceremony as an assertion of a divine right to the crown ; while the popes represented it, not as a simple recognition, but almost an appointment of the sovereign.
the kings and the pontiffs shared in a profitable fraud, which gave security to the one, and power to the other; the Frank nobles murmured, without being able to discover the exact nature of the principles which destroyed for the future their ancient rights of election, though these principles were very intelligibly expressed by a new effort of Pope Stephen to gratify the new dynasty. Pressed by his enemies in Italy, Stephen III. sought Pepin's court to obtain aid, and gratified the monarch by solemnly crowning both his sons. In Pepin's case, the coronation had followed the election; and thus the popular rights were abolished almost at the moment that they were most strongly asserted. Royalty and popery gained, but not in equal proportions : for though the principles of divine right and inheritance by descent were established for kings, the higher power of pronouncing on these rights was reserved for the pontiffs.
The Carlovingians, grateful for the security thus given to their title, enlarged the papal dominions by territories wrested from the Lombard kirgdom--the Greek exarchate. To secure these acquisitions, the pontiffs had recourse to a more daring fraud than any they had yet perpetrated : a forged deed was produced, purporting to be a donation from the first Christian emperor, Constantine, to the successors of St. Peter, of the sovereignty over Rome, Italy, and the western provinces. Thus the gift of the French monarch was made to appear the restitution of ancient possessions, and the temporal power of the popes, while yet in its infancy, was invested with the sanction of remote antiquity. It is useless to expose the falsehood of this audacious forgery, which is now condemned by even the most bigoted writers of the Romish church; but in its day it was universally received as valid, and was long regarded as the legal instrument by which the papal power was established.
Adrian 1. was the pontiff who first combined the elements of the papacy into a system. He was startled at the very outset by a difficulty which seemed to threaten the foundation of his power. The Greek emperess, Irene, who administered the government during the reign of her son, Constantine the Porphyrogennete, re-established the worship of images, and persecuted the Iconoclasts. Adrian, however, was naturally reluctant to return under the Byzantine yoke, and were he even so inclined, he would probably have been prevented by the Romans; the popes had tasted the pleasures of sovereignty, and the people of freedom ; neither, therefore, would sacrifice such advantages to the Greeks. A closer union was made with the Franks, though Charles and his bishops had stigmatized the worship of images, and declared they should be regarded only as objects of reverence. foresaw that the use of images would soon lead to their adoration, and he courted Charlemagne as a friend and protector.
Leo III., who succeeded Adrian, sent to Charlemagne the standard of Rome, requesting him to send delegates to receive the allegiance of the Romans. From the latter circumstance, it has been rather hastily inferred that the popes acknowledged the sovereignty of Charles; but, in truth, the relations between the pontiffs and the Frank monarchs were purposely left indefinite ; any attempt to state them would have shown that the claims of both were irreconcilable, but their mutual interests required that they should combine, and each avoided explanations that might provoke a contest.
Leo soon experienced the benefits of his moderation ; driven from Rome by the relatives of the late pope, he sought refuge among the Franks; and Charlemagne not only sent him back with a powerful escort to his capital, but went thither in person to do him justice. Leo was permitted to purge himself by oath of the crimes laid to his charge, and, in gratitude for his acquittal, he solemnly crowned Charles, Emperor of the West. The ceremony was performed on the festival of Christmas, in the last year of the eighth century; and the pontiff who had so recently stood before his sovereign as a criminal making his defence, now appeared as his superior, conferring on him the highest earthly title by the authority of Heaven.
There was obvious danger to papal ambition in the establishment of an empire; the successors of the Cæsars must of necessity have been
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