Images de page
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

manner apportioned to their enormity: the other party was called Thaborites from a mountain in the vicinity of Prague, which they fortified, and to which they gave the name of Thabor: these were more fanatic than the former, and carried their pretensions still farther. Primitive simplicity, the abolition of the papal authority, the absolute change of the form of worship, and the conceit of having none to preside over their society but Jesus Christ in person, who, they said, was about personally to revisit the earth, with a flambeau in one hand, and a sword in the other, in order to extirpate heresy and to purify his church. To this class of Hussites, exclusively, Mosheim wishes to ascribe all the acts of cruelty and barbarity committed in Bohemia during the course of a bloody war which lasted sixteen years: but, he observes, it is difficult to decide whether the Hussites or the catholics pushed their excesses to greater lengths.—Let us suppose it, for a moment. The Hussites, at least, were the aggressors: they did not await the martyrdom of John Huss, before they exercised their outrages upon the catholics; and, though there might exist abuses in the church, a' troop of ignorant fanatics, surely, were not the fittest instruments to reform them. Mosheim admits, that their maxims were abominable, and that from such men it was not natural to expect any thingsave acts of cruelty and injustice.

In the year 1433, the fathers of the council of Basil succeeded in reconciling the Calixtins to the catholic church, and indulged them in the use of the cup at the sacred communion. The Thaborites, on the contrary, remained incorrigible; though Mosheim tells us that, on this occasion for the first time, they began to examine into the grounds of their religion, and to give to it a reasonable form. It was indeed high time they should do so, after sixteen years of blood and carnage. These reformed sectarians of John Huss, now took the name of Brethren of Bohemia, and were also called Picards or rather Begards : they espoused the cause of Luther when he commenced reformer, and were his precursors before they became his disciples. Hence we may account for that partiality which protestants have always shown in favor of the Hussites. Of this so glorious an alliance catholics do not envy them the honor. 1. It is granted by the protestants, that these their fellow brethren in Christ were influenced—not by their zeal for religion, but by a blind and furious fanaticism; since they never thought of any plan of worship before the lapse of sixteen years at least, after the death of their proto-martyr Huss! 2. Mosheim has not condescended to inform the world, in what consisted that pretended reasonable religion, which so naturally formed a coalition with protestantism. Indeed, that a religion-orthodox in its principles and rational in its creed should have been the work

[ocr errors]

of a frantic and infuriated rabble, is somewhat paradoxical. Luther himself had sucked in from the writings of Wicklef and John Huss, not only his heterodox opinions, but also those sanguinary maxims which disgrace his own writings, and renewed in Germany, through the instrumentality of the Anabaptists, a part of the horrid scenes of blood and devastation, of which the Hussites had already set the example in Bohemia.

I & J

..JACOBITES. See the article EUTYCHIANS.

ICONOCLASTS, or IMAGE-BREAKERS--enemies to the catholic practice of venerating holy images. The catholic church then maintains--that “ sovereign or divine honour is due to God alone, and cannot be given to any creature without sacrilege and gross idolatry: much less to images or relics which, our catechism admonishes us from our infancy, can neither see, nor hear, nor help us. But as protestants do reverence to the name of Jesus in compliance with what their church enjoins, and bow to the altar, (see Archbishop Laud's speech in the Star Chamber, June 14, 1637)--without giving divine worship either to the sound or to the wood (the action of bowing being of itself indifferent, and not always an indication of divine excellency in the thing or person towards whom it is used); so we believe, that christians have the liberty of using such actions, as are not by the gospel appropriated solely to God, in respect of the images of Christ and his saints, without giving divine worship to any thing save to God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. For where there is no law, there is no transgression. (Rom. iv. v. 15.) Bowing and kneeling are not actions appropriated by the gospel

, exclusively, to God alone. They are among the advapogus and are marks of an inferior respect ;-in a child, for instance, receiving in that humble posture the blessing of his parents ;-—in the people craving the benediction of the priest ;--in a subject attending to the commands of his prince. The use of incense in public assemblies, having nothing in itself derogatory from the purposes of religion, and seemingly very congruous with Malach. i. v. 11, and neither strictly commanded nor prohibited to christians, cannot be thought appropriated by the gospel solely to Almighty God; but is as indifferent an action as bowing. Nor has any person been found ever yet so silly as to imagine, that in incensing the people or the choir, we mean to compliment them with divine honors."--Hawarden, Church of Christ.

“ The rites and ceremonies of the divine law delivered by Moses, do not oblige christians. Only the moral precepts concern them; as the seventh of the thirty-nine articles rightly observes; and hence it follows that, whatever was the sense of the first (or, as protestants will have it, the second) commandment, in respect of the Jews, christians are neither forbidden by it to have images of God, nor to give them an inferior respect ; unless it can be shewn, that this is a thing of itself repugnant to reason. Pictures indeed, have no other virtue but that of putting us in mind of what they represent. This they do effectually; and we find a convenience in having a crucifix, for instance, before us when we pray, that the sight of it may help to fix our wandering thoughts upon Him, whom it represents as bleeding and dying for our salvation. And, if a child that loves his father, or a subject that is loyal to his prince, hath naturally some respect for his picture, why should the love which we bear to Christ and his saints be deemed unreasonable, if we shew an inferior honor and respect for their pictures; or express our esteem for the persons whom they represent, by such actions as are of themselves indifferent : such as the Jews might lawfully make use of-to the ark, to the temple, to the holy vessels'; or protestants—to the name of Jesus, to the altar, to the chair of state ?" Ibid.

Let us now see in what light the opponents of this doctrine, as well ancient as those of modern date, view a practice in itself so innocent and rational. Leo the Isaurian, who of a common soldier of mean extraction, had been exalted to the imperial dignity, and like Bonaparte, was a better soldier than divine, was the first to wage an open war against the use of holy images; and in 725, he, by an imperial edict, commanded them to be abolished ; accusing the emperors his predecessors, all catholic bishops, and all christians in general-of idolatry; for his ignorance could not distinguish between a relative and an absolute worship. Ignorant, however, and stupid as he was, he deemed himself well qualified to dictate to the church of Christ-what it was henceforward to believe; and his impious son Copronimus and grandson Leo Chazarus, were not less zealous in forwarding by dint of persecution the hallowed work of image-breaking. The empress Irene, wife to the latter emperor, was always privately a catholic, though otherwise an artful and ambitious woman. After her husband's miserable death in 780, she got the regency and whole government into her hands during the minority of her son Constantine, and put a stop to the persecution of the catholics. A general council was with her approbation convened at Nice in 787. The legates of pope Adrian are named first in the Acts, then St Tarasius patriarch of Constantinople, and after him the deputies of the Oriental patriarchs. The council consisted of three hundred and fifty

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

bishops, besides many abbots and other dignified priests and confessors. Having declared the sense of the church in relation to the matter in debate, the council declared that a relative honor was to be given to holy pictures and images. In the third session were read the letters of the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem-all teaching the same doctrine of paying a relative honor to sacred images, no less than the letters of pope Adrian. In the fourth session were produced many passages from the fathers of the church in proof of the same opinion. After which, with one accord, they all concurred in following the tradition of the catholic church; declaring in their confession of faith, that they honored the mother of God, who is above all the heavenly powers; then, the angels, apostles, prophets, martyrs, doctors, and all the saints; as also, their pictures: for though the angels are incorporeal, they have appeared like men. In the fifth session were read many passages of fathers, falsified and corrupted by the Iconoclasts, as was clearly proved. In the sixth session the sham council of the Iconoclasts under Copronimus was condemned, and refuted as to every article ; particularly, its false pretensions to the title of a general synod ; for it was not received, but anathematized by the other bishops of the church; nor had the Roman pontiff any wise concurred to it

, either personally or by his legates. The council urges against it-the desperate plea by which, like our modern reformers, it accused the church of idolatry. This is giving the lie to Christ whose kingdom, according to scripture, is everlasting. In fact, to accuse the whole church is insulting Christ himself. They added, that the sham synod had contradicted itself, admitting as it did, that the six general councils had preserved the faith inviolate, and yet condemning the use of images, which it must allow to be more ancient than the sixth general council, and is indeed, of as high antiquity as the apostolic age. Finally, that whereas the Iconoclast council insinuated that, the clergy having fallen into idolatry, God had raised faithful emperors to destroy the fortresses of the devil, the Nicene synod vehemently condemns this; for the bishops are the depositaries of tradition, and not the emperors.

After the close of the council, synodal letters were sent to all the lates of the church, and in particular to the pope by whom it was approved.

Already had the doctrine of Iconoclasm been solidly refuted by many orthodox and learned theologians, some of whom had sealed their orthodoxy with their blood.

But among the de fenders of sacred images, few more eminently distinguished themselves than the great St John Damascen, who prefaces his treatise with the following sublime and truly christian exordium. “ Seeing the church,” exclaims the holy doctor, « assailed by a furious storm, I think it my duty no longer to be silent ;

for I fear God more than an emperor of the earth.” Against the

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

pre

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

errors of his auversaries he lays down the maxim-that the church cannot teach false doctrine ;-consequently, it can never fall into idolatry. He distinguishes between the adoration due to God alone, which with St Augustine and other fathers he calls Latria ; and that inferior veneration which is exhibited to the friends and servants of God, entirely different, and infinitely beneath the former, and no more inconsistent with it, than the civil honor which the law of nature and holy scriptures com. mand us to pay to princes and superiors. He goes on to prove, that the veneration rendered to the things which appertain to the Divine worship, as altars, churches and the like, is not less distinct from the supreme honor which we give to God The precept of the old law forbidding images (unless restrained to idols) he says, was merely ceremonial, and regarded the Jews only' which law, if we restore, we must admit equally-circumcision and the Jewish Sabbath. The Iconoclasts, he informs us, very inconsistently allowed a religious honor to be due to the holy place on Mount Calvary,--to the stone of the sepulchre to the book of the gospels, to crosses and sacred vessels. Lastly, he proves the veneration of holy images lawful--by the authority of the fathers, and teaches at large, that the emperor is entrusted with the government of the state, “ but has no authority to form decisions in points of ecclesiastical doctrine.” Dr Cave, although a protestant, avers, that no person of sound judgment can peruse the writings of St John--without admiring his extraordinary erudition, and the strength of his reasoning, especially in theological matters.

But do not catholics adore the cross ? By no means; for adoration in English signifies strictly-Divine honor. However, in a wider sense, the word may sometimes signify a bare

a bare respect, then protestants themselves may be truly said to adore the altar when they bow to it, and catholics, in the same unrestricted signification of the term-to adore the cross. What the catholic church has defined concerning images, may be reduced to these three heads.

1st. That the images of Christ, and those of the blessed Virgin and of all the saints, may be lawfully made and kept by christians. Of this between protestants and catholics there is no dispute.

2nd. That in proper circumstances, considering what they represent, there is a reverence or respect due to them. in general, if bishop Montague may be believed, is granted on both sides. (In Epitomio. p. 318.) The English translators of Monsieur du Pin, (cent. 8, p. 146,) grant there is an inferior sort of respect and honor due to all things consecrated to God's service or instrumental in his worship; as--to the sacred vessels,-to the bible, &c. but not worship. For all respect, say they, is not worship. But whether respect in these cases is to be called honor

[ocr errors]

This too,

Gg

« PrécédentContinuer »