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view with an eye of indifference—the unhappy ignorance of their pagan conquerors relative to religion ; and they undertook to diffuse among them the light of faith. The barbarism of these people required, however, something more than mere human literature for their instruction ;--something more striking to the
The Divine Goodness, in his views of mercy upon them, was pleased to make use of miracles, in order to work a salutary impression upon their mind. Of these a surprizing number accordingly took place—at the tombs of St Martin, of St Germanus, and many other saints ; prodigies so well attested, and in their nature so unequivocal, that the pastors of the church held them out to infidels as an undeniable and exclusive test of the true religion ; the evidence of which, and of the striking interposition of Providence in other instances, effected the conversion of Clovis the Great, with the entire nation of the Francs.
However, we must not be surprised if, at this unenlightened epoch, we find false miracles blended with the true, and many fictitious narratives of prodigies, apparitions and revelations, which the shallow criticism of the times was not always qualified to detect : and as ignorance kept pace with the credulity of the age, certain practices of pagan origin were very generally adopted by the people. Some imagined, that a special Providence conducted the hand that casually opened any book of holy scripture; and that the first verse contained the solution of each perplexing difficulty. Adrian had formerly employed the Æneid for that purpose. King Chilperic gravely wrote a letter to St Martin, and caused it to be placed upon his tomb. In this letter he begged the saint to have the goodness to inform him
whether he could without a crime drag a certain person forcibly from his church, to which he had retired for protection !
Others were persuaded that Providence would not suffer perjury, falsehood, or any crime against which justice was demanded, to go unpunished ; and that it would never permit the innocent to perish, in whatever awkward circumstances they might chance to be involved. Hence originated all those various kinds of ordeals-by water, by fire, by subjecting the parties to attest their innocence upon oath; by single combat, and the like ; which superstitious methods of justification were termed very improperly—the judgment of God.
Persons notoriously wicked, and those who were guilty of public crimes, when they wished to dive into futurity, or to escape condemnation, implored the aid of evil spirits in lieu of that of the saints: these had recourse to necromancy, magic and various kinds of witchcraft.
Such was the state of morality and of learning in the sixth age; while a multitude of frivolous disputes were agitated concerning religion. The errors of Arius, of Apollinaris, Nestorius and
Eutyches, had introduced into the study of theology the subtilties rok to of dialectics; and by degrees, as ignorance gained ground, f the queries regarding the union of the divine and human nature
trifling in the extreme, not to say indelicate and disrespectful, to the became the matter of serious discussion. Thus, the Eutychians * UPO
examined whether or not the body of our blessed Redeemer vorka transpired, or whether it stood in need of nourishment: they di
vided upon these important questions; while one Timotheus was busily investigating, whether since the union of the divine
and human nature, Jesus Christ could be ignorant of any thing. of the Some Scythian monks, with a view to explain in the clearest lusie manner against the Nestorians—the union of the divine and hu
man nature, insisted, that one of the blessed Trinity had suffered, fected and pretended it was necessary, that this proposition should
be adopted as a rule of faith. Certain catholics, fearing it might be construed in favor of Eutychianism, rejected it. The clergy,
the people, and the court, took part in this dispute. The emmany peror
declared himself against the monks: they were patronized 1ons
, by Vitalian who had already protected the catholic cause against lified Anastasius. However, the use of the above proposition was the eventually interdicted, as productive of commotion in the state
and threatening the empire with civil war. On the other hand, Hence
from the proscription of the above proposition some inferred, that it was absolutely false ; and that if it were true to say that one of the three Divine Persons had not suffered, it were likewise true to say that one of the Blessed Trinity did not become man, and consequently, that the Virgin Mary was not truly mother of God.
This was a consequence pregnant with still greater mischief than the proposition itself; and it was finally defined, that in fact one of the blessed Trinity had suffered.
When the Eutychian fanaticism began to subside, certain monks of Palestine gave much of their time to the perusal of the works of Origen, and adopted many of his errors. Other fellow monks warmly combated these errors; and the contest was attended with violent tumults throughout Palestine. The
writings of Origen were condemned. The emperor Justinian, ke; who was much too fond of interfering in ecclesiastical affairs, very published an edict anathematizing Theodorus of Mopsueštia,
together with his writings, those of Theodoret against St Cyril, and the letter of Ibas which had been read in the council of Chalcedon. This undue interference of the imperial authority was productive of much serious contestation in the church, and the violence of party. Nor was the point in contest authoritatively decided before the convocation of the fifth general council held at Constantinople in 553; when the writings above alluded to were finally proscribed, and are vulgarly denominated— The Three Chapters. They were, in fact, highly reprehensible: but
5 let him
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their authors, after signing a catholic formula of faith, had been admitted to communion by the council of Chalcedon--without a formal condemnation of the books in question. Hence originated the misunderstanding between catholics and the enemies of the Chalcedonian synod on this subject.
Semipelagianism, which had made some progress in Gaul, was condemned by the council of Orange; while the Francs, the Angles and the Saxons, embraced the christian religion; and the Goths, Sueves and Heruli, renounced Arianism. Thus the whole Western empire was catholic-in union with the holy see, and professed submission to the church of Rome ;-a church which, in fact, had always borne a principal part in the conversion of infidels and heretics. In the very midst of the disorder and confusion which universally prevailed--the faith of this catholic church was pure as its morality; error, abuses and deordination of every kind, it equally reproved. Of this the decrees of councils and ecclesiastic canons bear unquestionable evidence: every where it hath produced men illustrious for sanctity, and virtues no where else to be found : religion alone hath rescued us from the frightful state of barbarism
in which those savage tribes, who invaded and destroyed the empire of the West, were originally. ingulfed ; religion alone hath made the difference.
At the commencement of the seventh age reigned Phocas,—& tyrant possessed of every vice which can reflect disgrace upon humanity, without one single desirable quality to countervene the general depravity of his heart. While this wretch was amusing himself with the ruin of his subjects and the effusion of their blood, the barbarians on their side overran the territories of the empire, and filled them with carnage and desolation. Heraclius stept forth, and delivered the state from both its internal and external foes. He wrested the provinces out of the hands of the Persians, and spread the terror of his arms from the East to the West. The empire of Constantinople still comprised a part of Italy, Greece, Thrace, Mesopotamia and Syria ;-Palestine, Egypt and Africa : but these vast domains had been depopulated by the continual wars which the empire had to sustain ;--the ravages of barbarians;—the absolute and arbitrary power of cruel and avaricious governors; and the extreme severity of the imperial edicts against every denomination of sectarists. The subjects that still remained, groaned under the weight of oppression; and the empire could no longer be considered by any as their native country. Thus, in order to effect its entire destruction-a catastrophe which had already taken place in regard of
the western provinces, nothing was now wanted but a people moderately powerful, to attempt it. Such a state the emperors themselves had long been gradually forming. In the midst of the wars which desolated the rest of mankind, the Arabians had
enjoyed their liberty in peace. With them, had taken refuge the
the disaffected and the unfortunate, and all the sectaries pro
scribed by the impolitic ordinances of the empire, from ConstanThus
tine to Heraclius. They allowed to all the unrestricted liberty of practising their religion. There was a confused medley of idolaters, Jews and christians, together with the various sects
which had appeared since the first commencement of christianithe ty. The love of liberty and independence had hitherto kept
them disunited. Upon two articles-all, except the idolaters, ind were agreed ; namely, that there was but one God, and that the
Jesus Christ had been sent into the world to make him known, ble and to deliver unto men the rules of perfect morality. Mahomet for
undertook to reduce christianity to these two points—with a
view to reunite all the christians of Arabia in one common ich league against catholicity. He had all the necessary qualificaof tions for such an undertaking: he was possessed of a strong imade
gination ; was naturally inclined to fanaticism,---ambitious, and of a hot and fiery temper. He saw the absurdity of idol-worship, and was easily persuaded that he had a commission from Almighty God to teach men a pure religion, which, he fancied, was revealed in a special manner to himself. His mercantile profession made him known to the christians of Syria, to those of the East, and his native country Arabia. He declared himself the reformer of christianity, and pretended that the angel Gabriel had appeared to him, and commanded him to teach the tribe to which he belonged the unity of God, and the perfect rules of moral virtue. He gave it out, that he had been favored with wonderful ecstacies; communicated his enthusiasm to the
ignorant, by promising those that should receive his doctrine, ed the most magnificent rewards; and described to them in the
most lively colours, the delights reserved in paradise for true
believers. A small number actually believed him to be inspired, of
and seriously embraced his doctrine ; while others called in question his pretended mission, and obliged him to consult his safety by fight. After encountering and surmounting many difficul ties, he was at length received by his own tribe as a prophet and an apostle sent of God. His eventual success, his natural fanaticism, and the obstacles themselves with which he had to struggle, enlarged his views and augmented his temerity. He now conceived the vast project of subjecting every tribe, and
all the nations of the earth, to his new invented code of superstiof
It was Mahomet's plan to effect his purposes by force of arms.
apostles of blood. “I myself,” said Ali to him, when he took the oath of fidelity, 6 even I will be thy minister ; I will break the teeth, I will tear out the eyes, I will rip up the belly of those that shall oppose thee.". Mahomet promised paradise to such as should die fighting for his religion ; and, within less than ten years he united in his cause all the Arabian tribes ; received embassies from all the sovereigns of the peninsula ; sent his apostles and lieutenants into distant countries, and wrote to the Roman emperor Heraclius, and to the king of Persia, in order to engage them to embrace his new religion.
Abubeker, who succeeded Mahomet, having annihilated the factions of other impostors like himself, bent the whole energy of his Arabs against the neighbouring states. He wrote to the princes of Hiemen, the chiefs of Meccha, and Mussulmans throughout the whole extent of Arabia, to muster the greatest number possible of troops, and march them to Medina. " I am going,” says he to them, “ to deliver Syria out of the hands of infidels; and I wish you to understand, that in combating for our religion, you obey the order of God.” Presently a prodigious multitude of Arabians assemble at Medina,—destitute of the means of subsistence, but ready with cheerful hearts, and without a murmur, to march in any direction the moment that the army should be completed. He sent them against the Greeks and Persians; and before the death of Omar, who succeeded Abubeker, they had subjugated a part of Persia ; made settlements in Africa, and in Egypt; demolished four thousand temples—of idolaters, christians and Persians; and erected, during His reign alone, fourteen hundred mosques, Under Omar's successor Othman, the whole of Persia submitted to the Arabs; and the king of Nubia was made tributary to this calif. Under Ali civil broils and intestine divisions interrupted for a while the rapidity of their conquests. Moavia found means to re-unite them; and caused a traditionary notion to be spread abroad, importing that the Mussulmans were destined to reduce the capital of the Cesars, and that those who should be employed in the siege, were to receive a full and absolute pardon of all their sins. The Mahometans flocked from all quarters to the standard of the calif, unintimidated by the perils, and unbroken by the hardships of the enterprise ; which, however, did not succeed according to their expectations.
In vain, notwithstanding, did Heraclius endeavour to stem the career of his formidable enemies; and Constantine his son was compelled to cede to them the provinces which they had seized, on condition only, that they should allow him a certain tribute by way of compromise.
Jyazid, the succeeding calif, followed up his conquests in the East, subdued Korazan, and laid the territories of the prince of Samarcand under contribution, although the Arabians were