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ILLUSTRATIONS CONTINUE D.
APPLICATION OF THE FIRST TEST CONTINUED.
THE CHURCH OF THE FIFTH AND SIXTH CENTURJES.
THE patronage extended by the first Christian Emperors to Arianism, its adoption by the barbarians who succeeded to their power, the subsequent expulsion of all heresy beyond the limits of the Empire, and then again the Monophysite tendencies of Egypt and part of Syria, changed in some measure the aspect of the Church, and claim our further attention. It was still a body in possession, or approximating to the possession, of the orbis terrarum; but it did not altogether lie among the sects, as we have been surveying it in the earlier periods, rather it lay between or over against schisms. That same vast Association, which, and which only, had existed from the first, which had been identified by all parties with Christianity, which had been ever called Catholic by people and by laws, took a different shape; collected itself in far greater strength on some points of her extended territory than on others; possessed whole kingdoms with scarcely a rival; lost others partially or wholly, temporarily or for good; was stemmed in its course here or there by external obstacles; and was confronted by heresy, in a substantive shape and in mass, from foreign lands, and with the support of the temporal power. Thus,
not to mention the Arianism of the Eastern Empire in the fourth century, the whole of the West was possessed by the same heresy in the fifth; and nearly the whole of Asia, east of the Euphrates, as far as it was Christian, by the Nestorians, in the centuries which followed; while the Monophysites had almost the possession of Egypt, and at times of the whole Eastern Church. I think it no assumption to call Arianism, Nestorianism, and Eutychianism heresies, or to identify the contemporary Catholic Church with Christianity. Now, then, let us consider the mutual relation of Christianity and heresy under these circumstances.
Church with Chidentify the sm, and Eutychiption
THE ARIANS OF THE GOTHIC RACE.
No heresy has started with greater violence or more sudden success than the Arian; and it presents a still more remarkable exhibition of these characteristics among the barbarians than in the civilized world. Even among the Greeks it had shown a missionary spirit. Theophilus in the reign of Constantius had introduced the popular heresy, not without some promising results, to the Sabeans of the Arabian peninsula; but, under Valens, Ul. philas became the apostle of a whole race. He taught the Arian doctrine, which he had unhappily learned in the Imperial Court, first to the pastoral Mæsogoths; who, unlike the other branches of their family, multiplied under the Mæsian mountains with neither military nor religious triumphs. The Visigoths were next corrupted; by whom does not appear. It is one of the singular traits in the history of this vast family of heathens that they so instinctively caught, and so impetuously communicated, and so fiercely maintained, a heresy, which had excited in the Empire, except at Constantinople, little interest in the body of the people. The Visigoths are said to have been converted by the influence of Valens; but Valens reigned for only fourteen years, and the barbarian population which had been admitted to the Empire amounted to nearly a million of persons. It is as difficult to trace how the heresy was conveyed from them to the other barbarian tribes. Gibbon seems to suppose that the Visigoths acted the part of missionaries in their career of predatory warfare from Thrace to the Pyrenees. But such is the fact, however it was brought about, that the success in arms and the conversion to Arianism, of Ostrogoths, Alani, Suevi, Vandals, and Burgundians stand as concurrent events in the history of the times; and by the end of the fifth century the heresy had been established by the Visigoths in France and Spain, in Portugal by the Suevi, in Africa by the Vandals, and by the Ostrogoths in Italy. For a while the title of Catholic as applied to the Church seemed a misnomer; for not only was she buried beneath these populations of heresy, but that heresy was one, and maintained the same distinctive tenet, whether at Carthage, Seville, Toulouse, or Ravenna.
It cannot be supposed that these northern warriors had attained to any high degree of mental cultivation; but they understood their own religion enough to hate the Catholics, and their bishops were learned enough to hold disputations for its propagation. They professed to stand upon the faith of Ariminum, administering Baptism under an altered form of words, and re-baptizing Catholics whom they gained over to their sect. It must be added that, whatever was their cruelty or tyranny, both Goths and Vandals were a moral people, and put to shame the Catholics whom they dispossessed. “ What can the prerogative of a religious name profit us," says Salvian, “ that we call ourselves Catholic, boast of being the faithful, taunt Goths and Vandals with the reproach of an heretical appellation, while we live in heretical wickedness ??1 The barbarians were chaste, temperate, just, and devout; the Visigoth Theodoric repaired every morning with his domestic officers to his chapel, where service was performed by the Arian priests; and one singular instance is on record of the defeat of a Visigoth force by the Imperial troops on a Sunday, when instead of preparing for battle they were engaged in the religious services of the day. 2 Many of their princes were men of great ability, as the two Theodorics, Euric and Leovigild.
Successful warriors, animated by a fanatical spirit of religion, were not likely to be content with a mere profession of their own creed ; they proceeded to place their own priests in the religious establishments which they found, and to direct a bitter persecution against the vanquished Catholics. The savage cruelties of the Vandal Hunneric in Africa have often been enlarged upon ; Spain was the scene of repeated persecutions; Sicily, too, had its Martyrs. Compared with these enormities, it was but a little thing to rob the Catholics of their
? De Gubern. Dei. vii. p. 142. Elsewhere, “ Apud Aquitanicos quæ civitas in locupletissimâ ac nobilissimâ sui parte non quasi lupanar fuit ? Quis potentum ac divitum non in luto libidinis vixit ? Haud multum matrona abest á vilitate servarum, ubi paterfamilias ancillarum maritus est ? Quis autem Aquitanorum divitum non hoc fuit ?” (pp. 134, 135.) “ Offenduntur barbari ipsi impuritatibus nostris. Esse inter Gothos non licet scortatorem Gothum; soli inter eos præjudicio nationis ac nominis permittuntur impuri esse Romani.” (p. 137.) “Quid ? Hispanias nonne vel eadem vel majora forsitan vitia perdiderunt? ... Accessit hoc ad manifestandam illic impudicitiæ damnationem, ut Wandalis potissimum, id est, pudicis barbaris traderentur.” (p. 137.) Of Africa and Carthage, “In urbe Christianâ, in urbe ecclesiasticâ, . . viri in semetipsis feminas profitebantur," &c. (p. 152.)
2 Dunham, Hist. Spain. vol. i. p. 112.
churches, and the shrines of their treasures. Lands, immunities, and jurisdiction, which had been given by the Emperors to the African Church, were made over to the clergy of its conquerors; and by the time of Belisarius, the Catholic Bishops had been reduced to less than a third of their original number. In Spain, as in Africa, bishops were driven from their sees, churches were destroyed, cemeteries profaned, martyries rifled. When it was possible, the Catholics concealed the relics in caves, keeping up a perpetual memory of their provisional hiding places. Repeated spoliations were exercised upon the property of the Church. Leovigild applied? its treasures partly to increase the splendour of his throne, partly to national works. At other times, the Arian clergy themselves must have been the gainers from the plunder: for when Childebert the Frank had been brought into Spain by the cruelties exercised against the Catholic Queen of the Goths, who was his sister, he carried away with him from the Arian churches, as St. Gregory of Tours informs us, sixty chalices, fifteen patens, twenty cases in which the gospels were kept, all of pure gold and ornamented with jewels. 3
In France, and especially in Italy, the rule of the heretical power was much less oppressive; Theodoric, the Ostrogoth, reigned from the Alps to Sicily, and till the close of a long reign he gave an ample toleration to his Catholic subjects. He respected their property, suffered their churches and sacred places to remain in their hands, and had about his court some of their eminent Bishops, since known as Saints, St. Cæsarius of Arles, and St. Epiphanius of Pavia. Still he brought into the country a new population, devoted to Arianism, or, as we now speak, a new Church. His “march," says Gibbon, “must be considered as the emigra
Aguirr. Concil. t. 2, p. 191. 2 Dunham, p. 125.
4 Ch. 39.
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