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government, corruptions in doctrine, and superstition in worship, were soon introduced, by many ambitious clergymen, who, there is reason to believe, valued the Christian religion not much farther than the profession of it served to promote their temporal interests. To this cause, spirit, disposition, motives, and views, it may be presumed, are owing, as the primary cause, the numerous errors, and shocking idolatries of the Church of Rome.
Constantine, being educated in paganism, and having observed the
pomp of the pagan worship, connected with the excessive honours paid to their pontiffs, thought fit, in his wisdom, to raise Christianity into an imitation of them; thus to show his zeal for the honour of this new religion, as well as to soften down the prejudices of the pagans against it. These views of honour were worldly, and this plan of meeting the pagans on their own ground, was a debasing the essential purity, simplicity, and humility of the religion of Christ.
Hence came the magnificence and splendour of their sacred edifices. Eusebius observes, that the former structures, which, in the time of persecution, had been demolished, were little and mean ; but the new erections were spacious, sumptuous, and splendid. * Constantine took particular care to adorn the chief cities, especially Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem, with stately oratories.b And that nothing might be wanting for the external magnificence and renown of the Christian churches, he appointed a solemn consecration of them, in imitation of the pagan temples.
a Hist. Eccles. lib. x. cap. 2. b Euseb. Vita Constans. lib. iii. cap. 24 ad 57.
The clergy, meantime, had all the marks of distinction imaginable shown them. He directed letters to the bishops by name, says Eusebius, conferred honours on them, and gave them large sums of money. They were made arbitrators in cases of difference among the people, and their decisions rendered final. Their benediction was esteemed a great privilege, and even emperors received it, bowing their head. Ambrose states, that kings and princes did not disdain to bend and bow their necks to the knees of the priests, and to kiss their hands, thinking themselves protected by their prayers. The power and jurisdiction of the bishops being very much extended, some of them were raised to a vast superiority over others of the same order, even to the degree of metropolitans and patriarchs, occasioned by a wish to form the external polity of the church after the model of the civil government.
Under these preferments, the spirit of faction and contention prevailed among the clergy, especially in their synods, which derogated from the sanctity of their office, and obscured the glory of the Christian profession. No sooner were they delivered from the hands of their enemies, but they began to fall foul on each other ; which the emperor seeing with regret, attempted to compose and reconcile them. At the council of Nice, he affectionately and pathetically addressed them, saying: “ I intreat you, beloved ministers of God, and servants of our Saviour Jesus Christ, take away
the causes of your dissention and disagreement ; establish peace among yourselves." And it is said, that he burnt the letters they had written to him, in much severity and bitterness against one another; that such matter of strife, and instances of their infirmity, might not remain to disgrace them.
a De Dignitate sacerd. cap. 2.
But all the endeavours of the emperor were to little purpose. With zeal and stiffness they entered into unprofitable disputes, about abstruse and sublime points of faith ; proceeded to establish their own opinions, threatening against such as would not submit to them ; who, in their turn, when an opportunity offered, retaliated; hence councils against councils, canons against canons, with anathemas, confiscations, burning of books, &c. This was too often the issue of their councils,-till, at last, Gregory Nazianzen, from a just resentment against such ynchristian and discordant proceedings, formed a resolution not to be concerned any more in the meetings of the clergy; giving this as the reason, that he never saw any good result from them.
Now it was, that their unhallowed zeal was directed to rites and ceremonies, borrowed from the Gentiles; and which were soon multiplied to such a degree, that Austin in his time complains, that they were less tolerable than the yoke of the Jews under the law. a One reason for the adoption of these things was, that they might represent Christianity in a light, which would be likely to win over their heathen neighbours to it. They incorporated many of their rites and customs into the Church, that they themselves might the more easily be induced to join it : but this carnal policy obscured the excellence of the Christian religion, proved a serious injury to Christians, and became a fatal snare to succeeding ages.
a Epist. 19.
b The Planting of the Cross at Montpellier. 66 APRIL 27.-How shall I describe the singular ceremony of the plantation of the Cross ? Such an elan of popular feeling as it excited is
The ambition of the clergy became notorious. Their objects were preferment in the church, and pre-eminence one above another, in their respective sees. That strife which Christ once rebuked in his disciples, when they
scarcely to be rendered by description. The procession moved from the hospital about eleven o'clock; and we first perceived it, as the foremost part came winding down the street to the esplanade. A body of cavalry preceded ; followed by the Penitens blancs, in their white dresses and veils, with the usual masks, walking four abreast, two on each side of the road. Among this band were several vases, adorned with flowers, and a temple, supported by statues representing angels, in the interior of which were gilded images of the Virgin and Child ; the canopy was ornamented with white feathers. Next came the Penitens blues, distinguished by a blue ribbon round their necks ; after them, the boys and men of the hospital, and the school of orphans. Then followed the body of the inhabitants, who formed the great mass of the procession, distributed according to their respective parishes.
“ The unmarried females preceded, amounting to an immense number ; veiled, and attired completely in white, and each holding a small blue flag, on which the cross was worked in white satin. Among them were all the principal young ladies of the city, easily distinguishable by the elegance of their attire, from those belonging to inferior classes. They wore caps and veils of gauze or lace ; muslin dresses, beautifully trimmed, and white satin shoes. They sung psalms and hymns as they proceeded. When this part of the female procession reached the esplanade, they made pause,
and the different divisions sung in parts, those behind responding to those in the foreground. This scene was very interesting : and it was impossible to see so many elegant young ladies in this bridal attire, and to hear their harmonious voices chaunting sacred music, without the imagination being transported to the multitude having white robes and palms in their hands,' and to the harpers harping with their harps,' which the Apocalypse presents to the scriptural reader. I felt how strongly the Roman Catholic religion addresses itself to the senses ; and how calculated it is to obtain and preserve power over the multitude, since even I, a Protestant, am not insensible of the seductive and touching influence of some of its ceremonies.
“ Each parish was preceded by a band of music, making, by its martial melody, rather a singular contrast with the religious chaunt which so soon succeeded to it.
“ After this almost countless train of white females had slowly swept along, came a sable suite, composed entirely of the married women, who were all in black, with the exception of a white veil. Madame de F. only, the lady of the first President, wore a black veil, to distinguish her from the rest. Next followed two companies of men, who had already
inquired, “ Who should be the greatest ?" was now every day to be seen. This was especially evident in the Church of Rome. The spirit of Diotrephes carly appeared in the bishops of that Church. An heathen
taken their turn to carry the cross, two hundred in each division : a third company were relieved by a fourth, at the foot of the esplanade ; the remaining six relieved each other at the various stations appointed for that purpose. At each of these places was erected a species of canopy, formed of high posts, festooned with evergreens, and connected with wreaths of the same, intermixed with artificial white flowers : from many were suspended crosses formed of lilacs, stocks, &c.
" Then came the Cross itself, the first sight of which was accompanied by loud cheers from the assembled mulitude, crying, “ Vive la Croix ! hurra, hurra !! It was forty-five feet long; and the wooden figure of our Savidur was painted with the blood flowing from the wounds. It was to me an unpleasant spectacle, and I involuntarily closed my eyes. The artificers of the image, it seems, thought it really was alive ; and in consequence, declared to the Abbe Guyon, that they would not nail it to the cross ; which office the missionary was obliged to execute himself. M. Guyon was, in this part of the procession, marshalling the men, giving the word of command, now jumping on the cross, then on the frame work, in the prosecution of his arduous office, and reminded me of David dancing before the ark.
“ The bishop and clergy followed the cross; after them the authorities, and last of all a regiment of soldiers and band. I have omitted to mention, that two thin lines of infantry extended throughout the whole length of the procession, to keep off the crowd.
“ The procession took two hours in passing by the spot on which we were stationed ; it consisted of fifteen thousand individuals ; about sixty thousand were present, including the spectators assembled in different parts of the town to view it.
“ To this immense multitude, M. Guyon addressed a few words of exhortation, first from the cross, and afterwards from a stone pedestal, which, prior to the revolution, supported a statue. During this short harangue, which lasted only a few minutes, this extraordinary man addressed an appropriate word of exhortation to every class of people present. He spoke to the bishop and authorities, paying them the highest reverence; to the clergy, the officers, the soldiers, the nobility, the merchants, the trades-people, and artizans; the ladies, the females of the lower orders ; the young, the old, the rich, the poor. Above all, he exhorted them to concord, oblivion of parties and past injuries, loyalty, religion, and universal charity.
“When the cross began to be raised, a general shout of acclamation burst from the assembled multitude. A young lady near me (who had