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foot of the imperial throne.' Would to God, that I might be permitted to tread in the footsteps of the holy Martin; but may the fate of Constans serve as a warning to the persecutors of the church. After his just condemnation by the bishops of Sicily, the tyrant was cut off, in the fulness of his sins, by a domestic servant; the saint is still adored by the nations of Scythia, among whom he ended his banishment and his life. But it is our duty to live for the edification and support of the faithful people, nor are we reduced to risk our safety on the event of a combat. Incapable as you are of defending your Roman subjects, the maritime situation of the city may perhaps expose it to your depredation; but we can remove to the distance of four and twenty stadia, to the first fortress of the Lombards, and then you may pursue the winds. Are you ignorant that the popes are the bond of union between the East and the West? The eyes of the nations are fixed on our humility; and they revere as a God upon earth, the apostle Saint Peter, whose image you threaten to destroy. The remote and interior, kingdoms of the West present their homage to Christ and his vicegerent, and we now prepare to visit one of the most powerful monarchs, who desires to receive from our hands the sacrament of baptism. The Barbarians have submitted to the yoke of the gospel, while you alone are deaf to the voice of the shepherd. These pious Barbarians are kindled into rage; they thirst to avenge the persecution of the East. Abandon your rash and fatal enterprise; reflect, tremble, and repent. If you persist, we are innocent of the blood that will be spilt in the contest; may it fall on your own head !"*
The character of Leo has been so blackened by the writers of the Catholic party, ibat it is difficult to form a just estimate of it; but when we consider that he not only SECT.v.] Contention concerning images.
* Acts of the Nicene Council, tom. vii.
327 condemned the worshipping of images, but also rejected relics, and protested against the intercession of saints, we cannot doubt of his possessing considerable strength of mind, while it may help us to account for much of the obloquy that was cast upon him.
In the year 730 he issued an edict against images, and having in vain laboured to bring over Germanus, the bishop of Constantinople, to his views, he deposed him from his see, and pnt Anastasius in his place, who took part with the emperor. There was, in the palace of Constantinople, a porch which contained an image of the Saviour on the cross. Leo, perceiving that it was made an instrument of idolatry, sent an officer to remove it. Some females, who were then present, entreated that it might remain, but without effect. The officer mounted a ladder, and with 'an'axe struck three blows on the face of the figure, when the women threw him down, by pulling away the ladder, and murdered him on the spot. The image, however, was removed, and burnt, and a plain cross set up in its room. The women then proceeded to insult Anastasius for encouraging the profanation of holy things. An insurrection ensued-and in order to quell it, the emperor was obliged to put several persons to death.
The news of this flew rapidly to Rome, where the same rage for idolatry prevailed, and such was the indignation excited by it, that the emperor's statues were immediately pulled down, and trolden under.foot. All Italy was thrown into confusion ; attempts were made to elect another emperor, in the room of Leo, and the pope encouraged these attempts. The Greek writers affirm that he prohibited the Italians from paying tribute any longer to. Leo; but, in the midst of these broils, while defending idolatry and exciting rebellion 'with all his might, he was stopped short in his wicked career. “ He was extremely
insolent," says an impartial writer,“ though he died with the character of a saint."*
He was succeeded in his office by Gregory the III. A. D.731, who entered with great spirit and energy into the measures of his predecessor. The reader cannot but be amused with the following letter which he addressed to the emperor, innmediately on his elevation.
“ Because you are unlearned and ignorant, we are obliged to write to you rude discourses, but full of sense and the word of God. We conjure you to quit your pride, and hear' us with humility. You say that we adore stones, walls, and boards. It is not so, my lord; but these symbols make us recollect the persons whose names they bear, and exalt our grovelling minds. We do not look upon them as gods; but, if it be the image of Jesus, we say, “Lord help us." If it be the image of his mother, we say, “ Pray to your Son to save us.” If it be of a martyr, we say,“ St. Stephen, pray for us." We might, as having the power of Saint Peter, pronounce punishinents against you; but as you have pronounced the curse upon yourself, let it stick to you... You write to us to as semble a general council, of which there is no need. Do you cease to persecute images, and all will be quiet; we fear not your threats,"'!
, Few readers will think the style of this letter much calculated to conciliate the emperor; and though it certainly does not equal the arrogance and blasphemy which are to be found among the pretensions of this wretehed race of mortals in the subsequent period of their history, it snay strike some as exhibiting a tolerable advance towards them. It seems to have shut the door against all further intercourse between the parties; for in 732, Gregory, in a council, excommunicated all who should remove or speak contemptuously of images"; and Italy, being now..ja a
Walch's Compend. Hist. of tbe Popes, p. 101,
SECT. v.] Rise of the Pope's temporal power. S29 state of rebellion, Leo fitted out a fleet with the view of quashing the refractory conduct of his subjects, but it was wrecked in the Adriatic, and the object of the expedition frustrated.
The Roman pontiff now acted in all respects like a temporal prince. He intrigued with the court of France, offering to withdraw his obedience from the emperor, and give the consulship of Rome to Charles Martel, the prime minister of that court (or mayor of the palace, as he is generally called) if he would take him under his protection. But the war in which France had lately been engaged with the Saracens rendered it inconvenient at the moment to comply with the request; and in the year 741, the Emperor, the pope, and the French minister were all removed from the stage of life, leaving to their successors the management of their respective views and contentions.
· Leo left behind him a son, Constantine Copronymus, who inherited all his father's zeal against images. Pope Gregory the HII. was succeeded by Zachary, an aspiring politician, who, by fomenting discord among the Lombards, contrived to wrest from their king Luitprand an. addition to the patrimony of the church. And Charles Martel was succeeded by his son Pepin, who sent a case of conscience to be resolved by the pope, viz. whether it would be just in him to depase his own sovereign, Childeric, and to reign in his stead. The pope answered in the affirmative, in consequence of which, Pepin threw his'. master into a monastery, and assumed the title of King, Zachary, the pope, died soon after, namely, in the year 752, and was succeeded by Stephen the III, who, in his zeal for images was not inferior to any of his predecessors.
Voltaire has remarked that there prevailed at that time. a strange mixture of policy and simplicity, of aukwardness and cunning, which strongly characterized the geVol. I.
neral decay of the age. Stephen, the new pope, who had quarrelled with the king of the Lombard, forged a letter purporting to be the production of the apostle Peter, addressed to Pepin and his sons, which is too remarkable to be here omitted. “ Peter, called an apostle by Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, &c. As through me the whole Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman church, the mother of all other churches, is founded on a rock ;-and to the end that Stephen, bishop of this beloved church of Rome, and that virtue and power may be granted by our Lord to rescue the church of God out of the hands of its cutors: To your most excellent princes, Pepin, Charles, and Carloman, and to all the holy Bishops and Abbotts, Priests and Monks, as also to Dukes, Counts, and people, I, Peter, the Apostle, &c. I conjure you, and the Virgin Mary, who will be obliged to you, gives you notice, and commands you, as do also the thrones, dominations, &c. If you will not fight for me, I declare to you by the Holy Trinity, and by my apostleship, that you shall have no share in heaven."
This letter had its desired effect: Pepin passed the Alps with an army to assist the Pope against the Lombards. Intimidated by the presence of the King of the Franks, Astelphus, the Lombard king, immediately relinquished the whole Exarchate of Ravenna* to the Pope, including that and twenty-one other cities, who, by this means, became proprietor of the Exarchate and its dependencies; and, by adding rapacity to his rebellion, was established as a temporal monarch! Thus was the sceptre added to the keys; the sovereignty to the priesthood ; and thus were the popes enriched with the spoils of the
The Exarch was the chief imperial officer appointed by the emperor of Constantinople for wear two centuries past, to superintend as a vicar or prefect, the affairs of Italy. Ravenna was his residence and the seat of government; and Loric, the territory attached to him, was called the Exarchate of Ravenna,