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Episcopate, to which the faithful turned in hope in that miserable day. In the year 493, in the Pontificate of Gelasius, the whole of the East was in the hands of traitors to Chalcedon, and the whole of the West under the tyranny of the open enemies of Nicæa. Italy was the prey of robbers; mercenary bands had overrun its territory, and barbarians were seizing on its farms and settling in its villas. The peasants were thinned by famine and pestilence; Tuscany might be even said, as Gelasius words it, to contain scarcely a single inhabitant. Odoacer was sinking before Theodoric, and the Pope was changing one Arian master for another. And as if one heresy were not enough, Pelagianism was spreading with the connivance of the Bishops in the territory of Picenum. In the North of the dismembered Empire, the Britons had first been infected by Pelagianism, and now were dispossessed by the heathen Saxons. The Armoricans still preserved a witness of Catholicism in the West of Gaul; but Picardy, Champagne, and the neighbouring provinces, where some remnant of its supremacy had been found, had lately submitted to the yet heathen Clovis. The Arian kingdoms of Burgundy in France, and of the Visigoths in Aquitaine and Spain, oppressed a zealous and Catholic clergy. Africa was in still more deplorable condition under the cruel sway of the Vandal Gundamond: the people indeed uncorrupted by the heresy, but their clergy in exile and their worship suspended. While such was the state of the Latins, what had happened in the East ? Acacius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, had secretly taken part against the Council of Chalcedon and was under Papal excommunication. Nearly all the whole East had sided with Acacius, and a schism had begun between East and West, which lasted for thirty-five years. The Henoticon was in force, and
· Gibbon, Hist. ch. 36, fin. 2 Ibid.
at the Imperial command had been signed by all the Patriarchs and Bishops throughout the Eastern Empire. In Armenia the Churches were ripening for the pure Eutychianism which they adopted in the following Century; and in Egypt the Acephali had already broken off from the Monophysite Patriarch, were extending in the east and west of the country, and preferred the loss of the Episcopal Succession to the reception of the Council of Chalcedon. And while Monophysites or their favourers occupied the Churches of the Eastern Empire, Nestorianism was making progress in the territories beyond it. Barsumas had filled the See of Nisibis, Theodore was read in the schools of Persia, and the successive Catholici of Seleucia had abolished Monachism and were secularizing the clergy.
If then there is now a form of Christianity such, that it extends throughout the world, though with varying measures of prominence or prosperity in separate places;—that it lies under the power of sovereigns and magistrates, in different ways alien to its faith;—that flourishing nations and great empires, professing or tolerating the Christian name, lie over against it as antagonists;—that schools of philosophy and learning are supporting theories, and following out conclusions, hostile to it, and establishing an exegetical system subversive of its Scriptures;—that it has lost whole Churches by schism, and is now opposed by powerful communions once part of itself;— that it has been altogether or almost driven from some countries ;—that in others its line of teachers is overlaid, its flocks oppressed, its Churches occupied, its property held by what may be called a duplicate succession;—that in others its members are degenerate and corrupt, and surpassed in conscientiousness and in virtue, as in gifts of intellect, by the very heretics whom it condemns ;-that heresies are rife
1 Gibbon, Hist. ch. 47.
and bishops negligent within its own pale;—and that amid its disorders and fears there is but one Voice for whose decisions its people wait with trust, one Name and one See to which they look with hope, and that name Peter, and that see Rome;—such a religion is not unlike the Christianity of the fifth and sixth Centuries.
APPLICATION OF THE SECOND TEST OF FIDELITY
It appears then that there has been a certain general type of Christianity in every age, by which it is known at first sight, as any physical production, animal or vegetable, is named at once by those to whom such forms of nature are familiar; or as some work of literature or art is at once assigned to its right author by the critic, difficult as may be the analysis of that specific impression by which he is enabled to do so. And it appears that this type has remained entire from first to last, in spite of that process of development which seems to be attributed by all parties, for good or bad, to the doctrines, rites, and usages in which Christianity consists; or, in other words, that the changes which have taken place in Christianity have not been such as to destroy that type,—that is, that they are not corruptions, because they are consistent with that type. Here then, in the preservation of type, we have a first proof of the fidelity of the existing developments of Christianity. Now we proceed to a second.
When the Christian developments are spoken of, it is sometimes supposed that they are deductions and divertions made at random, according to accident or the caprice of individuals; whereas, if they really deserve the name, they must be conducted all along on definite and continuous principles, which determine their course. Thus Judaism did but develop, while it bore in mind its imperfection, and its subordination to a coming Messiah; and it became corrupt as soon, and in proportion, as it fancied itself self-sufficient, and rejected the Gospel. What then are the principles of Christian development? Have they been the same from the first to the present age? For continuity of principle will become a second evidence that the so-called Catholic doctrines are true developments, and not corruptions. Principles of development, thus continuous, may I think be assigned; and I proceed to mention two or three by way of specimen.
§ 1. Scripture and its Mystical Interpretation. Several passages have occurred in the course of the Chapters last preceding, to suggest the rule of development on which a few words are first to be said. Theodore's exclusive adoption of the literal, and repudiation of the mystical interpretation of Scripture, suggests to us the consideration of the latter, as one of the characteristic conditions or principles on which the development of doctrine has proceeded. Again, Christianity developed, as we have incidentally seen, in the form, first, of a Catholic, then of a Papal Church. Now Scripture was made the rule on which this development proceeded in each case, and Scripture moreover interpreted in a mystical sense; and, whereas at first certain texts were inconsistently confined to the letter, and a Millennium was in consequence expected, the very course of events, as time went on, interpreted the prophecies