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manners, customs, dresses ; new names of men and countries prevailed, and an almost total change took place in the state of Europe. It is, no doubt, much to be lamented, that this revolution was the work of nations so little enlightened by science, or polished by civilization; for the Roman laws, though imperfect, were in general the best that human wisdom had then framed, and its arts and literature infinitely surpassed any thing found among rude nations, or which those who despised them produced for many ages.

Many of the Gothic chiefs were men of great talents, and some of them not wholly ignorant of the policy and literature of the Romans; but they were afraid of the contagious influence of Roman example, and they therefore studied to avoid every thing, allied to that name, whether hurtful or beneficial. They erected a cottage in the vicinity of a palace, breaking down the stately building, and burying in its ruins the finest works of human ingenuity. They ate out of vessels of wood, and made their captives be served in vessels of silver. They prohibited their children from acquiring a knowledge of literature and of the elegant arts, because they concluded from the dastardly behaviour of the Romans, that learning tends to enervate the mind, and that he who has trembled under the rod of a schoolmaster, will never dare to meet a sword with an undaunted eye. Upon the same principle they rejected the Roman code of laws; it reserved nothing to the vengeance of man--they therefore inferred that it would rob him of his active powers. Nor could they conceive how the person who received an injury could rest satisfied, but by pouring out his fury upon the author of the injustice. Hence arose all those judi. cial combats, and private wars which, for many ages, desolated Europe.

In one particular only did these barbarian tribes con-sect. iv.] The Barbarians embrace Christianity. 807 descend to conform to the institutions of those different nations among whom they settled, viz. in RELIGION. The conquerors submitted to the religion of the conquered, which at this period, indeed, in its established form, approximated closely to the superstition and idolatry of the antient heathen. But whatever shades of difference there might be found among the numerous kingdoms into which the Roman Western Empire was at this time divided, whether in the forms of their government, or their civil and political institutions ; they unanimously agreed to support the hierarchy of the church of Rome, and to defend and maintain it as the established religion of their respective states. Nor is the circumstance altogether unworthy of notice, that when Alaric forced his entrance into Rome, he issued a proclamation which discovered some regard for the laws of humanity and religion. He encouraged his troops boldly to seize the rewards of valour, and to enrich themselves with the spoils of the citizens, but he exhorted them to spare the lives of the unresisting, and to respect the churches of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, as holy and inviolable sanctuaries, *

This is the circumstance which gave rise to that ponderous folio volume of St. Augustine, intituled, " THE CITY OF Gov.” The writer's object is to justify the ways of Providence in the destruction of the oman greatness; and he celebrates with peculiar satisfaction, this memorable occurrence, while he insultingly challenges his adversaries to produce one similar example of a town taken by storm, in which the fabulous gods of antiqnity had been able to protect either themselves or their delnded votaries—appealing particularly to the examples of Troy, Syracuse, and Ta'rentum. Had the life of this great luminary been prolonged about half a century beyond this time, he might have been instructed, by facts and ex: perience, how fallacious his vaunting was. In the year 455, Genseric, a Vandal warrior, invaded Italy, and once more sacked the city of ome. “ The pillage lasted fourteen days and nights, and all that yet remained of public or private wealth, of sacred or profane treasure, was diligeutly transported to the vessels of Genseric.” Among the spoils were the holy instruments of the Jewish worship,-the golden table, the golden candlesticks

“ In ages of ignorance and credulity,” says Dr. Robertson, “the ministers of religion are the objects of superstitious veneration. When the Barbarians who overran the Roman empire first embraced the Christian faith, they found the clergy in possession of considerable power ; and they naturally transferred to those new guides the profound submission and reverence, which they were accustomed to yield to the priests of that religion which they had forsaken. They deemed their persons to be equally sacred with their function, and would have considered it as impious to subject them to the profane jurisdiction of the laity. The clergy were not blind to these advantages which the weakness of mankind afforded them. They established courts, in which every question relating to their own character, their function, and their property, was tried. They pleaded, and obtained an almost total exemption from the authority of civil judges. Upon dif. ferent pretexts, and by a multiplicity of artifices, they communicated the privilege to so many persons, and extended their jurisdiction to such a variety of cases, that the greater part of those affairs wbich gave rise to contest and litigation, was drawn under the cognizance of the spiritual courts."*

The claims to supremacy, which, during the preceding centuries, had been asserted by the bishops of Rome, were at first faintly urged, and promoted by artful and almost imperceptible means. They now, however, began to insist upon superiority as a divine right attached to their see, which, they contended, had been founded by the apostle Peter; and this arrogant claim, which had ap

* History of Charles V, vol. i. sect. 1. with seven branches, &c. which four hundred years before Titus had brought from Jerusalem, and which had been since deposited in the Temple of Peace. He also stripped the Christian churches of every article of plate and grandeur that was moveable,

sect. IV.]

Inordinate ambition of the Popes. 309 peared conspicuously enough in the conduct of the bishops of Rome of the preceding century, was now no longer concealed, or cautiously promulgated. But, however violent their claims, or extensive their authority in affairs both ecclesiastical and civil, they still remained subject, first to the jurisdiction of the Gothic kings, and, upon the retaking of Rome, to the emperors of Constantinople, Such, however, was the extensive influence of the papal intrigues, that there were few among the princes of the Western Empire, that were not virtually brought into a state of subjection to the authority of the bishops of Rome, before the close of the fifth century,

A station so elevated, which lay open to the ambition of numbers, was eagerly contested, and often obtained by fraud, chicanery, or the practice of whatever was most opposite to the spirit of the gospel. During the sixth century, the peace of the Catholic church was thrice disturbed by the contests and squabbles of the rival pontiffs. Symmachus and Laurentius, who had been elevated to the vacant see by different parties, continued, for several years, to assert their discordant claims. After repeated struggles, the former, at length, prevailed. this contest he was materially assisted by the pen of Ennadius, bishop of Pavia, who employed the most abject flattery in behalf of Symmachus, whom he blasphemously stiles “ Judge in the place of God, and Vicegerent of the Most High.” The church was again divided by the reciprocal claims of Boniface and Dioscorus; the premature death of the latter, however, terminated this clerical war. But the century did not close without a scene alike disgraceful. A prelate of the name of Vigilius, intrigued at court to procure the deposition of the reigning bishop Silverus. The latter was, in conséquence, deprived of his dignities and banished. He appealed to the emperor Justinian, who interfered in his behalf, and encouraged

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him to return to Rome, with the delusive expectation of regaining his rights ; but the artifices of Vigilius prevailed -his antagonist was resigned to his power, and immediately confined by him in the islands of Pontus and Pandatara, where, in penury and affliction, he terminated his wretched existence,

The advantages attendant upon the acquisition of such enormous power, induced the bishops of Constantinople, who were scarcely less arrogant and ambitious than their brethren at Rome, to refuse acknowledging their pre-emipence, and prompted them to lay claim to similar authority. The arrogant pretensions of these rival sees involved them in continual dissentions; which were prodigiously encreased by the conduct of John, the faster, a prelate distinguished for his authority; who, in a council held at Constantinople in the year 588, assumed the title of Universal Bishop, which was confirmed to him by the council. This appellation, which inplied a pre-eminence difficult to be endured by those who were as ambitious as himself, was opposed vehemently by Pelagius II. then bisbop of Rome, who called it an execrable, profane, and diabolical procedure, but his invectives were disregarded, and he died soon after. In the year 590 he was succeeded by Gregory the great, as he is usually termed; a voluminous writer, and, though superstitious in the extreme, not altogether destitute of talents, His works are still extant, and in high reputation with the Catholics. The following letter written by him to the Emperor Mauri, cius, at Constantinople, in consequence of John, the Patriarch of that city, assuming the name of “ Universal Bishop,” casts so much light upon the history of that age, that it cannot, without injury to the subject, be omitted,

“ Oar most religious Lord, whom God hath placed over us, among other weighty cares belonging to the em

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