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down with sorrow and affliction. We rely upon the protection of him who hath armed and fortified us with the armour of righteousness and of faith, the tried shield of our salvation."*
The ståte of the Catholic Church from the ninth to the twelfth
century. A. D. 800-1200.
The ninth and tenth centuries of the Christian æra, are aniversally considered to form the lowest point of depression to which the profession of the religion of Jesus was reduced in regard to darkness and superstition. It will not, therefore, be necessary to detain the reader long from subjects of a more pleasing nature, by dwelling very minutely upon the state of things during this period. The factis acknowledged by the papists themselves; by Caranza, Genebrard, Baronius, and others, who describe the tenth century as a monstrous age. The language of the latter writer indeed is so remarkable, that it deserves to be quoted. Alluding to Psalm xliv. 23. he says,
" Christ was then as it would appear, in a deep sleep, and the ship was covered with waves; and what seemed worse, when the Lord was thus asleep, there were no disciples, by their cries to awaken him, being themselves all fast asleep.” It may not, however be without its use to take a rapid glance at the proceedings of the court of Rome, and mark the stages by which the antichristian power arrived at its zenith.
"On entering upon this subject, there is one remarkable circumstance which merits the reader's notice as he pro
* Collection of bis works, Tom. i. quoted by Dr. Allix, p. 72.
375 ceeds, for the fact is worthy of his attention. It has fallen to our lot, through the good providence of God, to see this monstrous power, which for a succession of ages tyrannized over the bodies and souls of men, virtually an-, nihilated by the power of France. What the reader should particularly remark is, that it was by the aid of that same power, in a very especial manner, that the “ Man of Sin" was elevated to his throne. It can scarcely be necessary to recall to his recollection the intrigues between the popes and French monarchs, of which I have given a short detail in a former section.* The sequel will appear to be quite in character; but we must go back a little to trace the subject in order.
On the death of Pepin, king of France, in the year 768, his dominions were divided between his two sons, Charles and Carloman, the latter of whom dying two years afterwards, Charles became sole monarch of that country. In his general character, he somewhat resembled our English Alfred, and is deservedly ranked amongst the most illustrious sovereigns that have appeared. A rare instance of a monarch, who united his own glory with the happiness of his people. In private life he was amiable; an affectionate father, a fond husband, and a generous friend. Though engaged in many wars, he was far from neglecting the arts of peace, the welfare of his subjects, or the cultivation of his own mind. Government, morals, religion, and letters were his constant pursuits. He fre. quently convened the national assemblies, for regulating the affairs both of church and state. His attention extended to the most distant corner of his empire, and to all ranks of men.
His house was a model of economy, and his person of simplicity and true grandeur. “ For shame,” he would say to some of his nobles, who were more finely dressed than the occasion required, “ learn to
. dress like men, and let the world judge of your rank by your merit, not your dress. Leave silks and finery to women, or reserve them for those days of pomp
* See page 329.
and ceremony when robes are worn for show, not use. fond of the company of learned men, and assembled them from all parts of Europe, forming in his palace a kind of royal academy, of which he condescended to become a member, and of which he made Alcuin, our learned countryman* the head.; at the same time honouring hiin as his
* For the honour of our country, I here record a few particulars concerne ing Alcuin. He was born in the north of England, and educated at York, under the direction of Arch-bishop Egbert, whom, in his letters, he frequently stiles his beloved master, and the clergy of York the companions of bis useful studies. Being sent on an embassy by Offa, king of Mercia, to the emperor Charlemagne, his talents and his virtues, so won upon the latter, that he contracted a high esteem for him, and a mutual friendship ensued. Charles earnestly solicited, and at length prevailed upon him to settle in bis court and become his precepțor in the sciences. He accordingly instructed that prince in rhetoric, logic, mathematics, and divinity, and was treated with so much kindness and familiarity by the emperor, that by way of emi. nence, the courtiers called him “ the emperor's delight.”
Alcuin having passed many years in the most intimate familiarity with Charlemagne, at length, with great difficulty, obtained leave to retire to liis abbey of St. Martins at Tours. Here he kept up a constant correspon. dence with the emperor, and their letters evince their mutual regard for religion and learning, and their anxiety to promote them in the most muniti. cent manner. In one of these letters, which Dr. Henry has translated, there is a passage which throws.sone light on the learning of the times. “The employments of your Alcuin," say she to the emperor; “in his retreat are suited to his humble sphere, but they are neither inglorious nor unprofitable. I spend my time jo the halls of St. Martin, in teaching some of the noble youths under my care the intricacies of grammar, and inspiring them with a taste for the learning of the ancients ; in describing to others the or. der and revolutions of those shining orbs which adorn the azure vault of heaven ; and, in explaining to others the mysteries of divine wisdom, which are contained in the holy scriptures ; suiting my instructions to the views and capacities of my scholars, that I may train up many to be ornaments to the church of God and to the court of your imperial majesty. In doing this, I find a great want of several things, particularly of those excellent books in all arts and sciences, which I enjoyed in my native couutry,
SECT. 11.] Bigotry of Charlemagne.
377 companion and particular favourite.“ The dignity of his person, the length of his reign, the prosperity of his arms, the vigor of his government, and the reverence of distant nations, distinguish Charles from the royal crowd: and Europe dates a new æra from his restoration of the western empire."*
But with all these amiable traits in the character of Charles the Great (or Charle-magne, as he is usually called) a superstitious attachment to the see of Rome, unhappily mingled itself with all his policy, and led him to engage in theological disputes and quibbles, unworthy of his character. It would have been well for his memory,
through the expense and care of my great master Egbert. May it, therefore, please your majesty, animated with the most ardent love of learning, to permit me to send some of our young gentlemen into England, to procure for us those books which we want, and transplant the flowers of Britain into France, that their fragrace may no longer be confined to York, but may perfume the palaces of Tours." Charlemagne often solicited Alcuin to return to court, but he excused himself, and remained at Tours until his death, May 19, 804. He understood the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages extremely well; was an excellent orator, philosopher, and mathematician. His works which consist of 53 treatises, homilies, commentaries, letters, poems, &c. are comprised in 2 vols. folio.
* Gibbon, vol. ix. ch. 49.
+ The following short letter written by Charlemagne and addressed to Odilbert, Arch-bishop of Metz, while it exhibits a striking proof of this monarch's concern to promote attention to the means of instruction and learning, is not less deserving attention on account of the disclosure which it makes of the state of religion in his day.
". We have often wished,” says he,“ if we could accomplish it, to converse with you and your colleagues familjarly on the utility of the holy church of God. But although we are not ignorant of the real concern with which you watch over divine things, yet we must not omit, while we trust in the co-operating influence of the Holy Spirit, by our authority to exhort and adınonish you to labour in word and doctrine in the church of God, more and more studiously, and with watchful perseverance; so that by your pious diligence the word of God may spread and fourish extensively, and the number of the Christian people may be multiplied, to the praise and glory of our Saviour, VOL. I.
indeed, had he stopped there; but a blind zeal for the propagation of Christianity, which extinguished his natural feelings, made him guilty of severities which shock humanity. One of the leading objects of his reign, was the conversion of the Saxons, a nation of Germany, to the Christian faith. He seems to have considered a reception of the mild doctrines of Christianity as the best means of taming a savage people, and to accomplish this, he sent his armies to invade their country. After a number of battles gallantly fought, and many cruelties committed on both sides, the Saxons were totally subjected; but as they were no less tenacious of their religious than of their civil liberty, persecution marched in the train of war, and
Wherefore we desire to know in writing, or from your own mouth, in what manner you and your clergy teach and instruct both those who are candidates for the holy office of the ministry, and the people committed to you in the Sacrament of Baptism. That is, Why does a child first become a Catechuman? and what is a Catechuman? And so of other things in their order. Of examination, what is it? Of the creed; what is the interpretation, or meaning of it among the Latins? Of belief, in what manner are we to believe in God the Father Almighty, in Jesus Christ his Son, and in the Holy Spirit? &c. Of renouncing Satan, and his works and pomp? what is this renunciation? What is the meaning of breathing on the person, and exorcising him? Why does the catechuman receive Salt? Why are the cars touched ? the breast anointed with oil? the arms crossed ? and the breast and arms washed? Why are white garments pnt on? Why is the head anointed with the holy chrism? Why is it covered with a mystical vail ? And why is conformation made with the body and blood of Christ? All these things we require you by careful study to examine, and to report an accurate account of them to us in writing; and further, to state whether you so maintain and preach these things, and govern your own life by the doctrines wliich you preach.” Rankin's History of France, Vol. I. p. 406. Now all this had been well, if the Scriptures had said any thing about these things; but it was unfortunate for the zeal of this monarch, that the things bere enumerated, and about which he was concerned, were almost entirely the corruptions of Christianity, with which that divine institution has nothing to do except to condemn them as the doctrines and commandments of men. One cannot but feel curious to know what kind of answers the Arcb-bishop would return to these sage questions !