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they became an enslaved and bigoted people : they threw away the freedom with which Christ had endued them, and made those who wielded against them the juggling tricks of pretended miracles for the sake of Christ's glory, not only their leaders in spiritual things, but also in temporal.
We must be minute in watching this turn of affairs, because it is evidently from this period that the corruptions of the church of Rome, and involved in that, the corruptions of the Eucharist, took their rise. By the great acquisition of power which the church first obtained under the pontificate of Gregory the First, or the Great, as he is generally termed, first began the usurpation and the sovereignty of Papal Rome; and strange to say, the spiritual bishop was soon to be lost in the more dazzling character of the temporal prince.
The bishops of Italy, and the neighbouring islands joined in acknowledging the pope's supremacy.
All translations and episcopal promotions were managed by his authority. The popular election of bishops was discon tinued, or at least controlled by his interference : forty monks were dispatched to our own country to propagate his opinions and to baptize the Anglo-Saxons in the faith of the Roman church, and while these things occupied him in his clerical capacity, with no less adroitness did he act in politics, warding off, by constant mediation, the attacks of the Lombards, and while the enemy stood at the gates of the city of Rome, ready to conquer and destroy, the bishop, now armed with the affections of the people, ventured upon his own ground to negotiate peace and independence. Thus he seemed at once to establish himself, by the splendour of his abilities, and the skill of his policy, without regard either to the Exarchate of Ravenna, or the emperor of the east, as the sole director both of the church and of the state.
In the formation also and direction of the public liturgies, the same activity displayed itself. Hitherto the public worship of God had been observed by every nation in its own language.* The celebration of the Eucharist had been publicly observed with the plainness and simplicity with which its divine founder had appointed it. But simplicity did not suit the temper of the times. The people could not set value unless they saw mystery, and could not esteem a worship which was without ostentation. He accordingly presented to them an entirely new manner of administration, adorned it with many pompous forms, and sought to enliven the devotion which should attend it, by the power of novelty, and the charms of countless ceremonies.
* The church of Rome at the present day uses the Latin language as the language of her prayers, no matter what the language of the people may be ; but such was not always her custom. The fourth council of Lateran, A.D. 1415, canon ix. says, that “because in most parts there are within the same state or diocese people of different languages, having under one faith various rites and customs; we distinctly charge that the bishops provide proper persons to celebrate the divine offices and administer the sacraments according to the difference of languages, instructing them both by word and by example.” The council of Trent, however, A.D. 1562, decrees directly the reverse : Although the mass contains much instruction for the faithful people, yet it did not seem good to the fathers that it should be every where celebrated in the common tongue.”
They must reconcile this as they can.
This new form of celebrating the Eucharist was called “ The canon of the mass."*
But notwithstanding the great influence of Gregory, it was not till some years had elapsed that it was adopted by all the Latin churches, and though it was the forerunner of dangerous abuses, even yet, in itself it affected not the essence or the original substance of the institution, overloading it with cumbrous display, rather than changing or destroying its foundations. We may allow that its great and essential forms-bread and wine, to be partaken by the faithful, as representing the body and blood of Christ--were still maintained; but as in all cases of an ignorant or superstitious people, the eye
* The reason of the name mass may not perhaps be understood. The Latin word is missa, and signifies no more than dismissal. The catechumens and that portion of the church which did not communicate, penitents, and others, were dismissed by the deacon upon his saying the words, “Ite, missa est,” and so it came to pass that the remaining part of the service, or communion, received the name of “missa,” and in English, mass.
the eye was to be pleased more than the heart, and the imagination rather than the intellect. That this was the general state of opinion, we may gather from the following writers: Fulgentius* _“But in that sacrifice there is a giving of thanks, and a commemoration of the flesh of Christ, which he gave for us, and his blood which he shed for us.”+ And again, commenting on the words, “This cup is the new testament of my blood,” he says, “ That is, this
which I give you, represents the new testament,” &c. FacundusI—"Now the sacrament of adoption may be called adoption; as we call the sacrament of his body and blood, which is in the consecrated cup, his body and blood; not because the bread is properly his body, nor the cup his blood; but because they contain the mystery of his body and blood: whence our Saviour, when he blessed the bread and cup, and gave them to his disciples, called
* FULGENTIUS, bishop of Ruspa, born, A.D. 468, and appointed bishop, A.D. 504, was principally engaged against the Arians.
+ Ad Petrum. c. xix.
| FACUNDUS, bishop of Hermiana, in Africa, A.D. 540. His principal work was, "The Defence of the Three Chapters," from which the above quotation is taken.
them his body and blood.” Where Bingham remarks, “It is plain, according to Facundus, that the bread and wine are not properly the body and blood of Christ, but properly bread and wine still, and only called his body and blood : as baptism and circumcision are called adoption, because they are the sacraments of adoption, and not the very thing which they represent.”* Again, Ephrem, † bishop of Antioch, who wrote against the Eutychians: “No man that hath any reason, will say, that the nature of palpable and impalpable, visible and invisible, is the same ; for so the body of Christ, which is received by the faithful, does not depart from its own sensible substance, and yet it is united to a spiritual grace." So Dionysius,|| the Areopagite, says,
" These things (the sacred elements placed upon the
* Book xv. c. v. s. iv.
† EPHREM. After obtaining considerable secular eminence, Ephrem dedicated himself to the service of the church. During an earthquake which destroyed the city of Antioch, and in which the bishop, Euphrasius, had perished, Ephrem became so popular from his charitable exertions, that he was chosen his successor, A.D. 526.
# Ephrem ad Photium, cod. 229.
| Dionysius. It is thought that the name of the Areopagite, does not rightly belong to this Dionysius, but whether or no, does not much matter, as the quotation above made, belongs to some author of the sixth century, and is equally applicable to our present purpose.