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SECT. iv.]

Gregory's letter to Mauricius.


pire, labours, according to the just rule of the sacred writings, to preserve peace and charity and among the clergy. He truly and piously considers, that no man can well govern temporal matters, unless he manages with propriety things divine also; and that the peace and tranquility of the commonwealth depend upon the quiet of the universal church. For, most gracious Sovereign, what human power or strength would presume to lift up irreligious hands against your most Christian majesty, if: the clergy, being at unity amongst themselves, would seriously pray to our Saviour Christ to preserve you who have merited so highly from us! Or what nation is there so barbarous as to exercise such cruelty against the faithful, unless the lives of us who are called Priests, but in truth are not such, were most wicked and depraved! But whilst we leave those things which more immediately concern us, and embrace those things for which we are wholly unfit, we excite the Barbarians against us, and our offences sharpen the swords of our enemies, by which, means the commonwealth is weakened. For what can we say for ourselves, if the people of God, over whom, however unworthily, we are placed be oppressed through the multitude of our offences ? If our example destroys that which our preaching should build ; and our actions, as it were, give the lie to our doctrine ? Our bones are worn with fasting, but our minds are puffed up! Our bodies are covered with mean attire, but in our hearts we are quite elated! We lie grovelling in the ashes, yet we aim at things exceedingly high! We are teaphers of humility, but patterns of pride, hiding the teeth of wolves under a sheep's countenance! The end of all is, to make a fair appearance before men, but God knoweth the truth! Therefore our most pious Sovereign hath been prudently careful to place the church at unity, that he might the better compose the tumults of war and join their bearts together. This verily is my wish also, and for my own part I yield due obedience to your Sovereign commands. However, since it is not my cause but God's, it is not myself only but the whole church that is troubled, because religious laws, venerable synods, and the very precepts of our Lord Jesus Christ are disobeyed by the invention of a proud and pompous speech. My desire is, that our most religious Sovereign would launce this sore, and that he would bind with the cords of bis imperial authority the party affected in case he' makes any resistance. By restraining him the commonwealth will be eased; and by the paring away of such excrescences the empire is enlarged. Every man that has read the gospel knows that, even by the very words of our Lord, the care of the whole church is committed to St. Peter, the apostle-the Prince of all the Apostles. For to him it is said, “ Peter, lovest thou me? Feed my sheep.” “Behold, Satan hath desired to winnow thee as wheat ; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith should not fail.” And,“ thou being at the last converted, confirm thy brethren.” To him it is said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church ; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and to thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou bindest on earth shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.” Behold! he hath the keys of the kingdom, and the power of binding and loosing is committed to him. The care and the principality of the whole church is committed to him; and yet he is not called “Universal Apostle”--though this holy man, John, my fellow priest, labours to be called “Universal Bishop!” I am compelled to cry out, “O the corruption of times and manners !” Behold the Barbarians are become lords of all Europe: Cities are destroyed-castles are beaten down-provinces depopulatedSECT: Iv.]

Gregory's letter to Mauricius.


there is no husbandman to till the ground*-Idolätors rage and domineer over Christians; and yet Priests, who ought to lie weeping upon the pavement, in sack-cloth and ashes, covet names of vanity, and glory in 'new and profane titles. Do I, most religious Sovereign, in this plead my own cause? Do I vindicate a wrong

done to myself, and not maintain the cause of Almighty God, and of the church universal? Who is he that presumes to usurp this new name against both the law of the gospel and of the Canons ? I would to God there might be one called universal without doing injustice to others! We know, that many priests of the church of Constantinople have been not only heretics, but even the chief leaders of them. Out of that school proceeded Nestorius, who, thinking it impossible that God should be made man, believed that Jesus Christ, the mediator between God and man, was two persons, and went as far in infidelity as the Jews themselves. Thence came Macedonius, who denied the Holy Ghost, consubstantial to the Father and the Son, to be God. If then every one in that church assumes the name by which he makes himself the head of all good men, the Catholic church, which God forbid should ever be the case, must needs be overthrown when he falls who is called UNIVERSAL. But, far from Christians be this blasphemous name, by which all honour is taken from all other priests, while it is foolishly arrogated by one. It was offered to the Bishop of Rome by the reverend council of Chalcedon, in honour of St. Peter, prince of the Apostles; but none of them either assumed or consented to use it, lest, while this privilege should be given to one, all others should be deprived of that honour which is due unto them. Why should we refuse this title when it was offered, and another assume it without

* Here Gregory, without doubt, refers to the irruption of the Goths into the Roman empire, and its total subversion by those barbarians. -- Author.

Vol. I.


any offer at all? This man (John) contemning obedience to the Canons, should be humbled by the commands of our most pious Sovereign. He should be chastised who does an injury to the holy Catholic church; whose heart is puffed up, who seeks to please himself by a name of singularity, by which he would elevate himself above the emperor! We are all scandalized at this. Let the author of this scandal reform himself, and all differences in the church will cease. I am the servant of all priests, so long as they live like themselves—but if any shall vainly set up his bristles, contrary to God Almighty, and to the Canons of the Fathers, I hope in God that he will never succeed in bringing my neck under his yoke—not even by force of arms. The things that have happened in this city, in consequence of this new title, I have particularly declared to Sabinianus, the deacon, my agent. Let therefore my religious sovereigns think of me their servant, whom they have always cherished and upheld more than others, as one who desired to yield them obedience, and yet am afraid to be found guilty of negligence in my duty at the last awful day of judgment. Let our most pious Sovereign either vouchsafe to determnine the affair, according to the petition of the aforesaid Sabinianus, the deacon, or cause the man, so after mentioned to renounce his claim. In case he submits to your most just sentence, or your favourable admonitions, we will give thanks to Almighty God, and rejoice for the peace of the church, procured by your clemency. But if he persist in this contention, we shall hold the saying to be most true,

Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased.” And again it is written,“ Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” In obedience to my Sovereign, I have written to my brother priest both gently and humbly, urging him to desist from this vain glory, If he gives ear unto me, he hath a brother devoted sect. iv.] Gregory succeeded by Boniface.

315 unto him ; but, if he continue in his pride, I foresee what will befall him-he will make himself His enemy of whom it is written, “ God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”*

It is difficult to determine whether the finesse of the politician, or the envy of the priest, be most prevalent in this artful letter. It does not, however, appear to have produced any good effect. John, indeed, was soon afterwards removed by death from his Archiepiscopal dignity; but Cynacus, who succeeded him as Bishop of Constantinople, adopted the same pompous title as his predecessor. Having had occasion to dispatch some agents to Rome, in the letter which he wrote to the Roman Pontiff Gregory, he so much displeased him by assuming the appellation of “ Universal Bishop," that the latter withheld from the agents somewhat of the courtesy to which they considered themselves entitled, and, of course, com. plaint was made to the Emperor Mauricius of the neglect which had been shewn them. This circumstance extorted a letter from the Emperor at Constantinople to the Bishop of Rome, in which he advises him to treat them, in future, in a more friendly manner, and not to insist so far on punctilio's of style, as to create a scandal about a title, and fall out about a few syllables. To this Gregory replies, " that the innovation in the style did not consist much in the quantity and alphabet; but the bulk of the iniquity was weighty enough to sink and destroy all. And therefore I am bold to say,” says he, “ that whoever adopts, or affects the title of “ UNIVERSAL BISHOP," has the pride and character of Antichrist, and is in some manner his fore-runner in this haughty quality of elevating himself above the rest of his order. And indeed both the one and the other seem to split upon the same rock; for, as pride makes Antichrist strain his pretensions up to

* Epist. Greg. Mag. Ep. xxxii.

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