« הקודםהמשך »
emperor issued orders to have all paintings and statues destroyed; and the adherents of Rome were as active in multiplying and giving them reverence. Thus the Christian world were thrown into the most violent contentions, which resulted in horrid crimes and assassinations. Those who worshipped images, were called Iconoduli or Iconolatra, while those who opposed this worship, as gross idolatry, were called Iconomachi and Iconoclaste.
But there was not virtue and piety enough, to insure a long and effectual resistance. Image worship grew exceedingly popular in the Eastern Churches, and it only needed the sanction of an Emperor to make it universal. Three Emperors had violently opposed it; but Irene, the widow of the last, openly favored it in the year 784. In the year 789, was held the second council of Nice, which confirmed the idolatrous worship, and rendered it equally prevalent in the East and in the West. Some indeed had the boldness to oppose it. A council of 300 bishops was held at Frankfort, which condemned the council of Nice, and the worship of images. Many of the British Churches execrated the same. Charlemagne, the ruling potentate of Europe, barely tolerated so great a departure from the purity and simplicity of the Gospel. But the poison was deep. It had infected all orders of men. Rome was idolatrous;was ANTICHRIST.
Many plead, in vindication of image worship, as others do of Pagan idolatry, that the votaries are sincere worshippers of God and only employ these intervening paintings, statues or idols, to help their devotions. But on the most favorable supposition, it is all a direct violation of the second commandment, and it will generally be found that there is an idea of sanctity connected with the painting, wood or stone. The worship of images in the papal Church, was used as a direct and full substitute for faith in the atoning blood of the divine Savior. The Scriptural way of salvation was entirely set aside, and he who would pay his daily devotions to some image or statue of Christ or a canonized saint was viewed as an heir of life.*
Victorious in this contest, Rome entered with great violence into a contention with the Eastern Churches, about the procession of the Holy Ghost; choosing to say that the
* It is a striking fact, that in the catechism of the Roman Church, the second .commandment is omitted; and to make the ten, the tenth is divided into two.
Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, while the others contended that the Spirit proceeds from the Father, by or through the Son. About the same time, a new empire arose in the West, to which the Roman bishop adhered; and an irreparable breach was effected between the Greek and Latin Churches.
In the year 755, the pope became a temporal prince, “ the little horn.” For countenancing the dethronement of Childeric III. king of France, and crowning Pepin, Pepin gave to the Roman See the exarchate of Ravenna, Pentapolis, and twenty-one cities and castles. Charlemagne, his son and successor, aimed at the empire of the West. He accomplished his purpose, went to Rome and was crowned; and, in return for services, ceded to the papal See several cities and provinces, and gave it a subordinate jurisdiction over Rome and the annexed territory-enabling it to become the seat of wealth and magnificence.
But the temporal power of the Roman Pontiff was never to be compared with its spiritual. For a long time, bishops and councils endeavored to maintain some authority and influence, but they were ultimately all trodden in the dust. The Man of Sin came, as Paul said he would, “after the working of Satan with all power, and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.” He arrogated to himself god-like titles and attributes, King of kings, Universal Father, Master of the world; set himself above all laws, human and divine; by taxes and massacres, he oppressed and wore out the saints; he changed “times and laws," appointing innumerable fasts and feasts, new modes of worship and new articles of faith and supporting himself by the most infamous frauds and barefaced pretensions to miracles. The most powerful monarchs were powerless before him. Emperors led his horse and held his stirrup. Kings were stripped by him of their honor and power, and whole realms were deprived of every religious privilege.
For refusing to surrender to him the right of investiture, the right ever claimed by the princes of Europe, of conferring the most important places in the Churches and monasteries upon whom they pleased, by the ceremony of presenting the ring and crozier;—Hildebrand, Gregory VII. a pope haughty and arrogant in the extreme, drove Henry, emperor of Germany, from his throne, and compelled him, in the winter of 1077, to cross the Alps, and stand three days in
the open air at the entrance of the pontiff's palace, with his feet bare, his head uncovered, and no other garment but a coarse woollen cloth thrown around his naked body, and implore forgiveness and a restoration to his dominions.
For sanctioning, as was supposed, the violent death of Thomas à Becket,* archbishop of Canterbury, a man who had acquired, by his pretended sanctity, a most amazing power, Henry II. king of England, was compelled by pope Alexander, to walk barefoot over three miles of flinty road, with only a coarse cloth over his shoulders, to the shrine of the murdered saint, where eighty monks, four bishops, abbots and other clergy, who were present, whipped his bare back with a knotted cord, compelled him to drink water mingled with Becket's blood, and to give forty pounds a year for tapers to burn perpetually before the martyr's tomb.
For opposing him in the appointment of an archbishop of Canterbury, pope Innocent III. in the commencement of the thirteenth century, excommunicated John, king of Eng. land-forbidding all persons to eat, drink, or converse with him, or do him service; absolving all his subjects from their allegiance; ordering the other monarchs of Europe to kill him, and laid the whole kingdom under an interdict, so that every religious privilege was taken away; every Church was shut; no bell was heard; no taper lighted; no divine service performed; no sacrament administered; no priest was pres. ent, and no funeral solemnity was allowed in the burial of the dead; and no place of interment was permitted, but the highways.
Thus did the popes take to themselves supreme dominion. The whole world they claimed as their property, which they gave to whomsoever they pleased. The inhabitants of heathen countries they treated as wild beasts; parcelling out them and their lands at their pleasure. To the king of Portugal, the Pope granted all the countries east of Cape Non, in Africa, and to the Spaniards all to the west of it; showing himself as God. “ The nations gave their power unto the beast, and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
* This murdered hypocrite was canonized as a saint. His brains were sent to Rome. A jubilee was appointed for every fifty years, when plenary indulgence was granted to all pilgrims who came to his tomb; 100,000 persons visited it at once. The most astonishing miracles were said to be performed ages after, and a prayer was introduced into the service of his day for salvation through the merits and blood of St. Thomas à Becket. Such was the deplorable superstition of the age!!
Measures adopted by the Roman Pontiffs to secure their dominion. They fill all impor
tant stations. Increase their revenues. Send out Legates. Forbid Marriage to the Clergy. Hold over Men the Rod of Excommunication. Establish the Inquisition. Strengthen Superstition. Canonize Saints. Establish Transubstantiation, Purgatory, Auricular Confession. Worship in an unknown Tongue. Make the Pope infallible. Institute the Crusades, and Military Orders.
The measures adopted by the Roman pontifts to secure their dominion, were of a character with the unscriptural and odious tyranny which they exercised.
They assumed to themselves the power of filling all the important places in the Church; of deposing and creating the bishops, abbots, and canons at their pleasure; so that in time there were scarce any in office to oppose them; for men were selected for these stations who would be tools of their ambition.
They reserved to themselves the revenues of the richest benefices; and, if any kings, or nobles, or bishops, had incurred their displeasure, the usual expiation was some large grant of land or money.
They sent Legates into the various provinces, with almost unlimited power to control their spiritual concerns. These were so many harpies; extorting money from the people by the vilest means; making impious sales of relics and indulgences, and also ecclesiastical benefices to the highest bidders. *
They commanded all priests to abstain from marriage, as inconsistent with the sanctity of their office. They held over all who in any manner opposed them, the threat of excommunication from the Church; a judgment, which, in that age, was tenfold worse than death; for the whole community at once united in executing the sentence, some from thinking it the sentence of God, others fearing that if they, in the least, favored the excommunicated person, they should be subject to the like curse.
But a still more terrible scourge, by which the saints were worn out, and the dominion of the Pope was' maintained, was the Inquisition. This was established in the 13th century, and has continued a tremendous engine of power to this day. It was occasioned by the increase of heretics as
* John XXII. is said to have left in his treasury, five and twenty millions of florins, of which eighteen millions were in specie, and the rest in plate and jewels, plundered from the subjected nations.
they were called, i. e. of men who dared to think for themselves, call in question the power of the Pope, and view him as the Antichrist predicted by John. These were numerous in Gaul, and Innocent III. sent some Legates A. D. 1204, to extirpate them root and branch. Those bloodhounds, hav. ing Dominic at their head, were called Inquisitors; and so serviceable were they found to the Papal cause, that the Pontiffs established inquisitors in every city. A tremendous court was erected by them, first at 'Thoulouse, and afterwards in the various cities, embracing three inquisitors or judges, a fiscal proctor, two secretaries, a magistrate, a messenger, a reviewer, a gaoler, an agent of confiscated pos. sessions, several assessors, counsellors, executioners, phy. sicians, surgeons, doorkeepers, familiars and visiters, all of whom were sworn to secrecy. By this court men were tried not only for heresy, or opposition to the court of Rome, but for magic, sorcery, Judaism, and witchcraft, and either imprisoned for life, or put to the most lingering and tormenting death. To give it authority, the Emperor of Germany, and king of France were induced to grant it protection and maintenance, and to commit to the flames such as were pronounced by the inquisitors worthy of death. Thus was the inquisition established, the guardian of superstition, a most horrible tribunal, an engine of death, indes, scribably terrific, which has done more than any thing else to keep whole nations in subjection to the papal dominion, and has shed an ocean of innocent blood.
Holding emperors and kings in subjection, the popes also frequently called out monarchs with their armies, to subdue the rebellious and keep the world in bondage.
But men were bound by stronger chains than these. Fell superstition was increased by every art and device, until reason was lost, and the world raved in an awful mania.With the utmost hardihood, and a success which is altogether unaccountable, the pontiff and monks continually imposed upon the credulity of the multitude, by presenting to them pretended relics of ancient saints; a scull, a finger, a jaw, a bone, or a tooth. They even held up to the admiring crowd, the clothes in which Christ was wrapped in his. infancy; pieces of the manger in which he was laid, of the cross on which he was hung, of the spear which pierced his side, of the bread which he brake at the last supper,– yea, portions of the virgin Mary's milk, and of the Savior's blood.