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sect. v.] Rise of the worshlp of Images. 321 ligion to the name than to the thing. His zeal was exactly that of the Pharisees, who compassed sea and land to make a proselyte, which, when they had accomplished, they rendered him two fold more a child of hell than before. He was ever holding forth the prerogatives of St Peter, nor did he make any ceremony of signifying, that this prime minister of Jesus Christ, like other prime ministers, would be most liberal of his favours to those who were most assiduous in making court to him, especially to them who were most liberal to his foundation at Rome, and that most advanced its dignity and power. So much for St. Gregory, and for the nature and extent of Roman Papal virtue."*

* Campbell's Lectnres on Eccles. History, vol. ii. p. 79.

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From the establishment of the dominion of the popes to the

rise of the Waldenses.

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The introduction of images into places of Christian worship, and the idolatrous practices to which, in process of time, it gave rise, is an evil which dates its origin very soon after the times of Constantine the great; but, like many other superstitious praeưices, it made its way by slow and imperceptible degrees. The earlier Christians seprobated every species of image worship in the strongest language; and some of them employed the force of ridicule to great advantage, in order to expose its absurdity. When the empress Constantia desired Eusebius to send her the image of Jesus Christ, he expostulated with VOL. I.


her on the impropriety and absurdity of her requisition in the following very striking words—“What kind of image of Christ does your imperial Majesty wish to have conveyed to you? Is it the image of his real and immutable nature; or is it that which he assumed for our sakes, when he was veiled in the form of a servant? With respect to the former, I presume you are not to learn, that " no man hath known the Son but the Father, neither hath

any man known the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” But you ask for the image of Christ when he appeared in human form, clothed in a body similar to our own.

Let me inform you, that the body is now blended with the glory of the Deity, and all that was mortal in it is absorbed in life.”*

Paulinus, who died bishop of Nola, in the year 431, caused the walls of a place of worship to be painted with stories taken out of the Old Testament, that the people might thence receive instruction; the consequence of whieh was, that the written word was neglected for these miserable substitutes. But about the commencement of the seventh century, during the pontificate of the first Gregory, a circumstance turned up which tends to throw additional light upon this subject. Serenus, bishop of Marseilles, in France, observing some of his congregation paying worship to the images, that had been placed in the churches of that city, in his zeal, commanded them to be broken and destroyed, which gave so much disgust, that many withdrew from his communion, and complaints against him were made to the bishop of Rome. Gregory wrote to him in consequence of these complaints; and the following is an extract of his letter. "I am lately informed," says he, " that'upon your taking notice that some people worshipped images, you ordered the church pictures to be brom sect. v.]

* White's Bampton Lectures, Notes, p. 8.

Worship of Images


ken, and thrown away. Now, though I commend you for your zeal, in preventing the adoration of any thing made with hands, yet, in my opinion, those pictures should not have been broken in pieces. . For, the design of pictures in churches, is to instruct the illiterate, that people may read that in the paint, which they have not education enough to do in the book. In my judgment, therefore, brother, you are obliged to find out a temper to let the pictures stand in the church, and likewise to forbid the congregation, the worship of them. That by this provision, those who are not bred to letters, may be acquainted with the scripture history; and the people, on the other hand, preserved from the criminal excess of worshipping images.”* Hence it appears, that the worship of images was not a very general thing in Gregory's time, and that he disapproved of the practice.

But this imprudent concession, sanctioned by the authority and influence of Gregory, was productive of the worst consequences that can be imagined, and tended to accelerate the growing superstition with amazing velocity throughout the countries subject to his pontificate. For as the knowledge of God's true character is only to be fully learned from the revelation which is made of it by means of the gospel of Christ, in proportion as the hearts of men become fortified against that which alone dispels the clouds of ignorance and error from the human mind, their propensity to every kind of superstition and idolatry naturally succeeds. This evil, therefore, 'made a most rapid progress, during the seventh century, and arrived at its zenith in the next. It did not, however, succeed without a struggle; and as the conflict ultimately issued in bringing about two important events, viz. the schism between the Greek and Roman churches, and the establishment of the pope as a temporal potentate, I shall endeavour, as concisely as possible, to sketch the leading particulars of this article of ecclesiastical history.

* Ep. Greg. I. 1 7. epist. 109.

About the beginning of the eighth century, Leo, the Greek emperor, who reigned at Constantinople, began openly to oppose the worship of images. One Besor, a Syrian, who appears to have been an officer of his court, and in great favour with the emperor, is said to have convinced him by his arguments that the adoration of images was idolatrous, and in this he was ably seconded by Constantine, bishop of Nacolia in Phrygia. Leo, anxious to propagate truth and preserve his subjects from idolatry, assembled the people, and with all the frankness and sincerity which mark his character, publicly avowed his conviction of the idolatrous nature of the prevailing practice, and protested against the erection of images. Hitherto no councils had sanctioned the evil, and precedents of antiquity were against it. But the scriptures, which ought to have had infinitely more weight upon the minds of men than either councils or precedents, had expressly and pointedly condemned it; yet, such deep root had the error at this time taken, so pleasing was it with men to commute for the indulgence of their crimes by a routine of idolatrous ceremonies, and, above all, so little ear had they to bestow on what the word of God taught, that the subjects of Leo murmured against him as a tyrant and a persecutor. And in this they were encouraged by Germanus, the bishop of Constantinople, who, with equal zeal and ignorance, asserted that images had always been used in the church, and declared his determination to oppose the emperor; which, the more effectually to do, he wrote to Gregory the second, then bishop of Rome, respecting the subject, who, by similar reasonings, warmly supported the same cause,

SECT. v.) Letters of Pope Gregory II.

To original epistles from Gregory the second to the emperor Leo, are still extant, and they merit attention on account of the portrait they exhibit of the founder of the papal monarchy. “ During ten pure and fortunate years," says Gregory to the emperor,we have tasted the annual comfort of your royal letters, subscribed in purple ink, with your own hand, the sacred pledges of your attachment to the orthodox creed of our fathers. How deplorable is the change! How tremendous the scandal! You now accuse the Catholics of idolatry; and by the accusation, you betray your own impiety and ignorance. To this ignorance we are compelled to adapt the

grossness of our style and arguments; the first elements of holy letters are sufficient for your confusion, and were you to enter a grammar-school, and avow yourself the enemy of our worship, the simple and pious children would be provoked to cast their horn-books at your head.', After this decent salutation, the pope explains to him the distinction between the idols of antiquity and the Chris.. tian images. The former were the fanciful representations of phantoms or dæmons, at a time when the true God had not manifested his person in any visible likeness--the latter are the genuine forms of Christ, his mother, and his saints. To the impudent and inhuman Leo, more guilty than a heretic, he recommends peace, silence, and implicit obedience to his spiritual guides of Constantinople and Rome. “ You assault us, O tyrant,” thus he proceeds, “ with a carnal and military hand; unarmed and naked we can only implore the Christ, the prince of the heavenly host, that he will send unto you a devil, for the destruction of your body, and the salvation of your soul. You declare, with foolish arrogance, 'I will dispatch my, orders to Rome; I will break in pieces the images of St. Peter, and Gregory, like his predecessor Martin, shall be transported in chains, and in exile to the

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