« הקודםהמשך »
The EXTERNAL HISTORY of the CHURCH.
Concerning the prosperous events that happened
to the Church
V. PART I.
the causes, to which we are to attribute the outward state of the church, and the events which happened to it during this century, we The state of must keep in view the civil history of this pe
empire. riod of time. It is, therefore, proper to observe, that, in the beginning of this century, the Roman empire was divided into two distinct sovereignties, of which the one comprehended the eastern provinces, the other those of the west. Arcadius, the emperor of the east, reigned at Constantinople; and Honorius who governed the western provinces, chose Ravenna for the place of his residence. This latter prince, remarkable only for the sweetness of his temper, and the goodness of his heart, neglected the great affairs of the empire; and, inattentive to the weighty duties of his station, held the reins of government with an unsteady hand. The Goths took advantage of this criminal indolence; made incursions into Italy; laid waste its fairest proVOL. II.
V. PART I.
CENT. vinces; and sometimes carried their desolations as
far as Rome, which they ravaged and plundered in the most dreadful manner. These calamities, which fell upon the western part of the empire from the Gothic depredations, were followed by others still more dreadful under the succeeding emperors. A fierce and warlike people, issuing out of Germany, overspread Italy, Gaul, and Spain, the noblest of all the European provinces, and erected new kingdoms in these fertile countries; and Odoacer, at last, at the head of the Heruli, having conquered Augustulus, in the year 476, gave the mortal blow to the western empire, and reduced all Italy under his dominion. About sixteen years after this, Theodoric king of the Ostrogoths, made war upon these Barbarian invaders, at the request of Zeno, emperor of the east, conquered Odoacer in several battles, and obtained, as the fruits of his victories, a kingdom for the Ostrogoths in Italy, which subsisted under various turns of fortune from the year 493 to 552 [a].
These new monarchs of the west pretended to acknowledge the supremacy of the emperors who resided at Constantinople, and gave some faint ex
ternal marks of a disposition to reign in subordi• nation to them; but, in reality, they ruled with
an absolute independence, in their respective governments; and, as appears particularly by the dominion exercised by Theodoric in Italy, left nothing remaing to the eastern emperors but a mere shadow of power and authority .
[a] See, for a fuller illustration of this branch of history, the learned work of De Bos, intitled, Histoire Critique de la Monarchie Francoise, tom. i. p. 258; as also Mascow's History of the Germans.
 Car. du Fresne, Dissert. xxiii. ad Histor. Ludovici S. p. 280. Muratorii Antiq. Ital. tom. ii. p. 578. 832.
II. These constant wars, and the inexpressible cent. calamities with which they were attended, were undoubtedly detrimental to the cause and progress of Christianity. It must, however, be ac- The farther knowledged that the Christian emperors, espe- decline of cially those who ruled in the east, were active idolatry. and assiduous in extirpating the remains of the ancient superstitions. Theodosius the younger distinguished himself in this pious and noble work, and many remarkable monuments of his zeal in this matter are still preserved [c]; such as the laws which enjoined either the destruction of the heathen temples, or the dedication of them to Christ and his saints; the edicts, by which he abrogated the sacrilegious rites and ceremonies of Paganism, and removed from all offices and employments in the state such as persevered in their attachment to the absurdities of Polytheism.
This spirit of reformation appeared with less vigour in the western empire. There the feasts of Saturn and Pan, the combats of the gladiators, and other rites that were instituted in honour of the Pagan deities, were celebrated with the utmost freedom and impunity; and persons of the highest rank and authority professed publicly the religion of their idolatrous ancestors [d]. This liberty was, however, from time to time,
Giannone, Histoire de Naples, tom. i. p. 207. Jo Cochlæi Vita Theodorici Ostrogothorum regis, printed in 4to in the year 1699, with the observations and remarks of Peringskiold.
[c] See the Theodosian Code, tom. vi. p. 327.
[d] See the Saturnalia of Macrobius, lib. i. p. 100. edit. Gronov. Scipio Maffei delli Anfiteatri, lib. i. p. 56, 57. Pierre le Brun, Hist. Critique des Partiques superstitieuses, tom.
i. p. 237. and above all, Montfaucon, Diss de Moribus tempore Theodosii M. et Arcadii, which is to be found in Latin, in the eleventh volume of the works of St. Chrysostom, and in French, in the twentieth volume of the Memoires, de l'Academie des Inscriptions et des Belles Lettres, p. 197.
CENT. reduced within narrower limits; and all those
public sports and festivals, that were more peculiarly incompatible with the genius and sanctity of the Christian religion, were every where abolished [e].
III. The limits of the church continued to to Christia. extend themselves, and gained ground daily upon nity. the idolatrous nations, both in the eastern and
western empires. In the east, the inhabitants of mount Libanus and Antilibanus being dreadfully infested with wild beasts, implored the assistance and counsels of the famous Simeon the Stylite, of whom we shall have occasion to speak hereafter. Simeon gave them for answer, that the only effectual method of removing this calamity was, to abandon the superstitious worship of their ancestors, and substitute the Christian religion in its place. The docility of this people, joined to the extremities to which they were reduced, engaged them to follow the counsels of this holy man. They embraced Christianity, and in consequence of their conversion, they had the pleasure of seeing their savage enemies abandon their habitations: if we may believe the writers who affirm the truth of this prodigy. The same Simeon, by his influence and authority, introduced the Christian worship into a certain district of the Arabians: some allege, that this also was effected by a miracle, which to me appears somewhat more than doubtful [f]. To these instances of the progress of the gospel, we may add the conversion of a considerable number of Jews in the isle of Crete; who finding themselves grossly deluded by the impious pretensions of an impostor,
[e] Anastasius prohibited, towards the conclusion of this century, the combats with the wild beasts, and other shews. Asseman. Biblioth. Orient. Vatic. tom. i. p. 246.
[/] Assemanni Bibl. Orient. Vat. tom. i. p. 246.