Images de page
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

catholic church. The contrary opinion is subversive of the sacred hierarchy, adverse to Holy Scripture, inimical to tradition and to the immemorial practice of the faithful. Hamond and Pearson have discussed this point very satisfactorily against the presbyterians; and Mons. Nicole has refuted the minister Claude upon the same subject beyond the possibility of a reply. (Ham. dissert. cont. Blondel. Pearsonii opera posth. Pretendus Reformés convaincus de schisme, l. 3, c. 19. See also Petavius, dogmes Theolog.)

This superiority of the episcopal order over the priesthood, does not give to bishops an unlimited authority. They are not infallible; and hence their jurisdiction has its bounds. Thus a bishop has no right, for instance, to command his priests to teach Arianism, which was condemned by the council of Nice ; or to alter the discipline ordered by thai council to be observed by the universal church. Consequently, in the church there resides an authority superior to that of a bishop, binding him to respect its laws which he cannot oblige any of his clergy to set aside; but he has power to enforce the observance of those laws, and to punish the refractory. As, however, the bishop may be deceived in the application and interpretation of the laws of the church,--to prevent or redress the mischievous consequences which might occasionally result, there lies an appeal from his decisions to a higher ecclesiastical tribunal.

The church is a society purely religious, whose laws have nothing to do with interests of a nature merely politic or temporary ; whence it follows that, as the alliance of church and state cannot affect the essence and constitution of the church, the ecclesiastic and civil powers remain perfectly distinct, and are not at variance with each other.

Aërius's objections to the catholic practice of praying for the dead are in formal opposition to what we read in the second book of Machabees (c. xii. v. 46.) It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins. Protestants indeed, have endeavoured to evade the force of this scriptural text, by denying the second book of Machabees to be canonical.

Their exceptions are without foundation; since the second book of Machabees was numbered among

the canonical books of scripture--by almost all the christian churches, -in the decree of Innocent I. and in the fourth council of Carthage. The doubts of some few fathers and particular churches, are of little weight against the unanimous consent of all the rest. Moreover, Jesus Christ in the gospel declares, that there are certain sins which shall not be remitted either in this world or in the world to come. From which words the fathers very rationally conclude, that there are some sins to be forgiven in the next world, and that it is the duty of christians to pray for their deceased brethren. In fact, praying for the dead has ever been

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

in constant practice in the church. It was already the custom in the second age ; and Tertullian ranks it among the apostolical traditions. Nor was it intended solely for the comfort of surviving friends, or to return thanks to Almightly God for the favours which he had conferred upon the deceased ; it was also to obtain for them a mitigation of their sufferings.' (Joan 6, v. 27. Tert. de Monogam. c. 10. Aug. de cura


mortuis. Chrysóst. Hom. in Ep. ad Philip. circa fin.) Praying for the dead most certainly is a practice very congenial with christian charity. Our love for Jesus Christ ought to unite us with his body, and make us feel an interest in the welfare or misfortune of his members. As then it is incumbent on the lovers of God, to rejoice at the happiness and the triumphs of his saints, just so ought we to compassionate the sufferings of his servants who have still the debt of punishment to pay to Divine justice. This we cannot better do, than by pouring forth in their behalf our pious supplications. All our controvertists have handled this subject in a manner highly satisfactory. (See also vol. xi. of Butler's Lives of Saints All-Souls-Day.)

The other erroneous doctrines of Aërius we shall briefly discuss under the various articles LUTHER, ANABAPTISTS, QUAKERS, WICKLIFFITES, &c.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

AETIUS-head of the Anomians or Eunomians. See EUNO. MIANS.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

AGAPETÆ -a sect of Gnostics who made their appearance towards the close of the fourth century. St Jerome


that this sect was composed principaly of abandoned female enthusiasts, who endeavoured to seduce young men, and taught them that—to pure consciences nothing was impure. Another maxim of this execrable sect was--to swear and forswear themselves rather than reveal the secret of their abominable system. (St August. Her. 70. Stockman, Lexic.)

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

AGARENIANS-a sort of christians who about the middle of the seventh century, exchanged the gospel for the alcoran. They denied the Trinity, and pretended that God had no son; beCause, forsooth, he had no wife. These apostates were called Agarenians, from their embracing Mahometism, the religion of the Arabians, who were descended from Ismael, the son of Agar. (Stockman, Lexic.)

[ocr errors][merged small]

AGIONITES-a sect of debauchees who condemned alike both matrimony and chastity, which they affected to look upon as the inventions of the evil principle.

These wretches abandoned themselves to every species of vice. They appeared about the end of the seventh century, in the reign of Justinian

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

II. They were anathematized by the council of Langres. (Stockman, Lexic.)

AGNOETES or Ignorant,m-a denomination given-1, to the sectaries of Theophronius, who towards the close of the fourth age pretended, that the Deity did not know all things; and that he gradually acquired an increase of knowledge. This is

be an absurdity. It is most evident that a Being necessarily existing must, of course, be endowed with omniscience. The Socinians of modern date have renewed this error of Theophronius! See the article SOCINIANS. 2. Those too, are termed Agnoëtes, who maintained that Jesus Christ had but a limited knowledge, and that he was ignorant of the time when the general judgment del was to take place, and also of the place of Lazarus's sepulture. It does not appear that the sect attributed this ignorance to the he humanity only of Jesus Christ, and not to his divinity ;-a distinction, of which they do not seem to have been aware. The passage in which our blessed Redeemer says, that the Son of Man knew not the day, nor the hour, had heretofore been the vdiu subject of eager discussion between the catholics and the Arians,

Lut the latter of whom would needs infer from these words, that ter Jesus Christ was not God.

Some fathers, to do away the difficulty, answered that the Son el of God meant only, by this passage, that he had no experimental sim knowledge of the matter. Others say, that Christ was ignorant in a certain sense of what he did not think fit to disclose to man. He knew it not so as to communicate it to us; he wished it to remain in our regard a profound secret. Some imagine that, in fact, the humanity or the soul of our blessed Redeemer was ignorant of the precise day of judgment.

A This latter explanation is contrary to the sentiments of the fathers; but does not amount to heresy. The soul of our Lord Jesus Christ, although personally united to the Word, is not infinite. It is true, in virtue of this union it knows whatever it has a wish to know: but as it is not infinite, it does not at one extensive view comprehend all things. Thus when Christ told his apostles that he did not know on what day precisely the general judgment would take place, very possibly he might not give any actual attention to the circumstance. (Forbes. Inst. Theol. I. 3, c. 21.) God, according to Origen, by this impenetrable secrecy in regard of the last day, desires to keep us in a contant watchfulness and state of preparation, and to repress in us a vain curiosity, and idle researches into futurity--no wise conducive to our eternal salvation. (Orig. in Matt. &c.)

AGONICELITES,--the name of a seet who pretended, that standing was the only proper posture for prayer, and that to bend the knee in prayer was superstition. (Stockman Lexic.)

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

AGRICOLA (John Isleb)-was fellow-countryman and contemporary with Luther, and his disciple. At first he abetted with

much warmth the sentiments of his master. He afterwards the abandoned him, and became his enemy. After a thousand va. artriations in his doctrine and his creed; after repeatedly retractning his errors and relapsing continually into the same dogmaS 8

tical inaccuracies, he revived an erroneous tenet which Lúther

had been forced to abjure. He had taught justification by faith i alone, and that good works were not necessary in order to salivation. Hence Agricola inferred, that when once a person had

obtained faith, he was no longer subject to any law, and that

laws were of no use whatever to him either for reprehending or i directing him; because, being justified by faith alone, good

works became superfluous; and because, in the second place, the if he was not actually just, he might obtain his justification by di- making one solitary act of faith. Agreeably to this system, The Agricola inculcated the principles best adapted to command our of faith, and not the maxims most proper for the regulation of our the conduct. (Stockman, Lexic. Sekendolf, Hist. Luth. 1. 3.) als, Luther loudly condemned this doctrine ; and Agricola subhat mitted to the censure, and repented of his docility, by turns. In

fact, Luther could not solidly refute his system, as long as he Son upheld his own principles of justification, and continued to

maintain them with Agricola. The conclusions drawn by the
latter were evidently deducible from Luther's principles of jus-
tification by faith. As Agricola rejected alike every species of
law, his disciples were denominated Anomeans, that is a sect of
men who will have nothing to do with laws.
ALBANIANS-50 named from the country which


them birth. They were a sect of the eighth age, who denied the lawad

fulness of any oath whatever; also, original sin, the efficacy of the sacraments, and free will: they rejected oral confession as a useless practice, and reprobated all excommunications. They were a branch of the Manichees who had rallied in Albania after their expulsion from the empire of the East; and admitted, like them, a good and an evil principle, both eternal-though absolutely contrary to each other: they moreover denied the divinity of Jesus Christ, and condemned matrimony. The Manichean heresy was widely diffused, and every where found abettors, especially in France, where the sect had an infinite number of its fanatical disciples. Ignorance was at this time extreme, and almost general. Many of the clergy were not much more enlightened than the laity, and of course not much sue perior to them in point of morality. The Manichees too, were equally ignorant; but had the show of external regularity in their morals and demeanour: they cried out aloud againsť the abuses of the times, and against the disorders of churchmen ;

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

topics which are sure to seduce an ignorant and discontented people.

To the almost general ignorance of the clergy and laity is due—the rapid progress of those heretical sects which inundated Europe from the period above- nentioned, and lighted up the torch of long and cruel intestine wars even down to the seventeenth century.




ALBIGENSES-Were Manichees who infested Languedoc towards the close of the twelfth century.

The heresy of the Paulicians, or Bulgarian Manichees, was imported, originally, into France by an old woman, who found means to seduce certain persons at Orleans; other Manichees, dispersed over the southern provinces of France, communicated their errors : nor did that excessive severity with which they were punished when detected, extirpate Manicheism; it only made its votaries more circumspect and artful. They hated the clergy, and burnt with the most furious desire of revenge for those rigors which had been exercised upon them, at the instigation chiefly, as they had reason to suppose, of churchmen. To effect their

purposes, they endeavoured to vilify in the eyes of the people whatever tended to conciliate respect to ecclesiastics; they ridiculed the sacraments and the ceremonies of the church, attacked the privileges of the clergy, pretended that the tithes should be withheld, and damned all clergymen indiscriminately, who possessed any

funded property.

The ignorant people lent a willing ear to the insinuations of the Manichees; and, from a marked contempt of the ministers of religion, they passed on to the contempt of religion itself—its ceremonies—and its sacraments, which they received only through the medium of ecclesiastics.

The Manichees were poor, and affected in their exterior deportment great regularity: they condemned riches, and were soon regarded by an undiscerning crowd as so many apostles. Their here

became on the sudden the favorite religion of a large proportion of both people and the nobility, in different provinces of France ; especially in regard of those powerful men who had invaded the property of the church, and who were enjoined by the decrees of synods, under pain of excommunication, to restore what they had wrongfully usurped : thus in a short time did the Manichees become a formidable sect.

The Roman pontiffs sent their legates into the southern provinces of France-to arrest, if possible, the progress of this heresy:

The great St Bernard was deputed thither; and he converted numbers of fanatics to the catholic faith ; but he could not im

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][merged small]
« PrécédentContinuer »