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effecting the vast enterprises of charity, which our hearts cherish on behalf of mankind at large.

“ And let it be remembered that, while we call in question this method of maintaining the ministers of religion, and insist upon its insufficiency, its inequality, and its unhappy, though concealed influence, a high praise is, or ought to be secured, for the thousands among us who, from moderate resources, cheerfully draw what they draw for the support of their clergy. Those who feel more as Englishmen than as Churchmen, and more (may we say it) as philosophers than as religionists, will exult in reflecting upon the proof, which English dissent exhibits, of the liberality and of the generous elastic sentiment that belong to the national character. If any attribute these great pecuniary efforts mainly, ur in any great proportion, to the impulse of a factious zeal, they are utterly uninformed of facts, as well as miserably splenetic. The church fund, raised yearly by the Dissenters of all classes, sheds a splendour upon Britain brighter than the glitter of her arms: heaven thinks it so, even if earth has no eye to see it. Or, to look beyond the circle of dissent, the voluntary contributions raised in this country for religious and benevolent purposes, by the middle and lower classes, chiefly, may well fill every patriotic breast with the warmest emotions of pleasure. Who is so cramped by sectarian jealousies-who is so misanthropic—who so cold to the glory of his country, as not to exult in what the heavily-burdened people of England have been doing during the past thirty years and are doing, with unabaied generosity [still] ? No such mighty river of charity has before rolled upon earth's surface. Andit swells every year: if hemmed in or diminished for a moment, it bursts its banks anon, and deepens its channel.—Before God we do not glory; for we, still, do less than is our duty : but before men--before all other nations, we may modestly say, “Copy the pattern we set.'”

After a Section on the “ Ancient Hierarchies, and especially that of the Jews,' and another on the 'Rudiments of Church polity' the author comes to the consideration of the First steps of Spiritual despotism. ' We are compelled to admit, he thinks, that the religion of Christ, although true and Divine, has not been exempted, by the interposition of · Heaven,' from the operation of common causes; but has been left to be corroded, broken down and adulterated in every way, as the passions and the folly of mankind have prompted them to act. In this perverted condition we find it at the end of five hundred years, if not earlier : and in attempting to trace the perversion backward, from its mature to its incipient state, we meet with no marked stations, where we might stop short and say, at this point truth gave way and error took its start. Nothing decisively arrests our progress; and it becomes inevitable to conclude, in the language of Scripture itself, that the hidden mischief did already work, while yet the apostles were planting the Gospel. He is neverthelesss prepared to divide the history of Spiritual despotism into four principal epochs : 1. That in which church power was making its preparations and consolidating its means; and tending towards a position, whence it was easy to pass over to unbounded tyranny. This period commences, it must be admitted, in the apostolic age,


may be carried down indefinitely into the the fifth Century.

2. “The second epoch is characterised by the critical oscillation of this power, in counterpoise with the Civil authority ;-the Church

i. e. the corporation Ecclesiastical] awaking to a consciousness of its strength, yet feeling its need of support; and alternately crying

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for succour or accepting favours, and making trial of its independent power, to resist or to subjugate the secular authority.

3. • The third period, commencing with the acknowledged supremacy (or at least independent rights) of the Church, reaches through a tract of seven hundred years, and might well be designated the dogdays of Spiritual despotism: the scorching heat of which was at its height in the Eleventh century.'

4. • The fourth period embraces the time, through the course of which a reaction was taking place within the Social system, ending in the expulsion of the old despotism from several of the European nations, its mitigation in others; and in the substitution of that mixed spiritual and political tyranny, which has at length given way, before the advance of just and liberal opinions on the subject of Religious liberty."

If the usages of the Church in the Third century had become (through the admission of the voice of the people in choosing their presbyters) more democratic than under the Apostles, its sentiments and opinions favoured spiritual tyranny in an immensely greater degree. Gospel truths, though not denied or forgotten, had sunk into a secondary place, in favour of notions which attributed unutterable value, and a mysterious efficacy, to the Christian ceremonies. Here we trace the first' footmarks of Clerical encroachment. The administration of the sacraments was the inviolable prerogative of the priests: and these symbols, rather than the great principles they held forth (as their realities] were insisted on as of vital energy. It was upon touching, tasting, handling the material elements, or upon being duly touched and handled by the dispensers of the mysteries, that Eternal life depended. Not to be washed in the (baptismal] • laver of regeneration, not to eat of the [Sacramental] divine flesh, not to drink the blood [of the grape in the priest's cup] not to be anointed with the oil of remission (at the point of death] was, to perish everlastingly., Salvation and perdition turned, not upon the condition of the heart in God's sight, but upon having a share in the consecrated, fluid or solid matter, which the priest mighi bestow, or might refuse.-

The result of this transition of sentiment or doctrine was, to enslave the spirits of the people, and to place the Clergy in a position where every thing was at their command. The maturing of Spiritual despotism wants little more of means aud instruments, than it finds in the substitution of superstition and ceremony for vital truth: which had taken place while yet the Church was bleeding under the band of Imperial persecutors.'

The monkery of the antient Church, (it is stated) gave rise to that intimate and potent ghostly tyranny, founded on auricular confession, which became at length a main stay of the Papal usurpation.

“Within the religious houses, at a very early period, the doctrine was generally maintained, that every member of the fratern was bound, as he regarded his salvation, to expose his soul, with its inmost secrets, to the eye of his superior and spiritual father. Such was the principle perempturily insisted upon by Basil,

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the great promoter of the monastic life. The usage of confession, which suited well the habits and sentiments of those who had renounced all the ordinary motives of human nature, was insensibly stretched beyond the limits of the monastery; and was made to apply, first to the feeble and superstitious—to women, and to men of inert and servile temperaments, in the open world; and at length to all, without exception. But, long before the time of this consumation of church power, the Clergy had [thus] got possession of a most formidable and efficacious engine of government, by penetrating into the secrets of families, and by having at their command the alarmed consciences, often, of official and prominent personages.

“On this invisible ground priestly despotism had gained a broad footing, before the era of the political ascendency of the Church; nor were its advances, on this ground, sensibly accelerated by that event. For aught that appears, the practice of confession would have gone on extending its sphere, and deepening its hold of all minds, as rapidly and securely through another century of persecution, as it did during the era of security.”

With these and other potent engines of the Church' at work, with the Civil power becoining weak and distracted throughout Europe, and the human understanding in a state of decline, through the want of pungent motives and worthy subjects for its healthy exercise, we need not wonder at such a result as is here described. •Church power [in the middle age of its existence] stepped into the room of all other kinds of power: it inherited the strength and the honours of every expiring supremacy-and, as every authority and every virtue in turn died away intestate, without leaving a natural successor, the CHURCH' came forward to administer to the effects of all: she grasped all, and became, at length, sole mistress of whatsoever she thought worth possessing.'

It would greatly exceed my limits to follow the author, at equal length, in his view of the consequences of the grand revolution under Constantine, by which the persecuted Christian Body Ecclesiastical became suddenly the authorised ministers of a Religio licita, and prepared to take upon them the real government of the Civilized world.

“ Constantine's establishment of Christianity, in the first place, consisted in reversing all those prohibitory edicts of his predecessors, which hitherto had armed its enemies; and in declaring it to be—a Lawful Religion.

“ This preliminary measure of mere justice none will now condemn; and yet in fact, by far the larger

proportion of all the pride, profligacy, and ambition, which spread among the Clergy in the fourth century, may be directly traced to the inevitable influence of this sudden and complete change of fortune,--this start in their relative position. A long ten years of the most cruel sufferings, had almost broken the hearts of the Christian community: Multitudes had lost their property, and their place in society; many had perished; pastors and deacons were labouring in the mines: congregations were every where dispersed, the offices of religion suspended, and the sacred books destroyed; or if concealed, were become the most dangerous sort of possession. It might have seemed not unlikely that the Church would now actually fall, and be trampled in the dust under the feet of her determined foes. That happy revolution, to which the doubtful fortune of arms gave effect, could not have been distinctly, and perhaps was not at all anticipated. When the Lord turned again the captivity of his people, they must have felt like those who awake from a horrid dream to a bright reality. “ The first emotions of all pious minds were no doubt of a becoming and fervent

Aloud they offered praise to Him, who had “turned their mourning into


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dancing,' and had given them “beauty for ashes. But other feelings would ere
long claim their turn, and especially so with the many whose piety was of a slight
or of a fanatical kind. In all private circles, from side to side of the empire, in
every city and town, there would spring up the exulting and half-vindictive sen-
timent, natural to the wronged, when the tables are turned upon
sors. The bounds of modesty and meekness would not always be observed, in the
triumphantjoy of the now emancipated sect. In fact, we catch distinctly enough,
in the extravagant harangues pronounced at the tombs of the martyrs, the couched
resentment of the Church toward her fallen adversary : the feeling—and how
natural a feeling is it, and how difficult to repress- which heaves the bosom in
the recollection of cruel injuries, continues long to mingle itself intimately with
all the sentiments of religious sufferers; and is even transmitted from age to age.
Not a few of the pernicious observances of later times sprung immediately from
feelings of this semi-vindictive sort.

“ Then again, the mere toleration of Christianity, and the favour and countedance it of course enjoyed at court, apart from any of those measures by which its political establishment was effected, instantly acted, like a sudden breaking forth of a sultry sun in a humid day, upon all ambitious and secular spirits. What were the ideas that crowded into the minds of metropolitans and bishops, nay, of the worldly clergy of every grade, who already had made great progress in effecting their schemes of aggrandizement? Such, or at least all whose position favoured their desires, turned their faces toward the quarter of sunshine ; and at the earliest opportunity brought themselves individually under the Imperial eye. The most rigid and mortified of our modern sects might perhaps, in parallel circumstances, be seen to furnish not a few clerical persons, equally ready to enjoy the genial temperature of a palace, and to deck themselves in the unwonted finery of a court.

“İt could not be otherwise, than that the now Christian emperor should surround himself with Christian bishops, and put himself, in religious matters, under the tutelage and direction of those, whom he might judge qualified to inform him in what related to the Church-its doctrine and its government. Without any positive establishment of Christianity, and while nothing was done which, in the nature of things, could be avoided—if the Gospel was to take the place of the ancient idolatries, it would yet inevitably happen, that very powerful excitements should be put in activity, to stir whatever elements of ambition might lurk in the bosom of the Christian community, and especially of its clergy. To receive these excitements well, and to use them moderately, the Church was not, in its actual state, prepared to do; and the sober common-place feeling, that belongs to persons of high ecclesiastical rank, within an old establishment, who, in mixing with statesmen and princes, are conscious of no elation, could not generally attach to the Christian bishops and clergy, who flocked around the throne and thronged the Imperial court of Constantine.

“Instead then of repeating the vague and illusive allegation, that the POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT of Christianity spoiled the spirituality of the Church, and rendered it ambitious, proud, and secular, let us, with a more exact regard to facts, be content to say, that, so far as ambitiou, pride, and secularity really appear to have advanced in the Church of the fourth century, as compared with the Church of the third, this unhappy deterioration resulted from the sudden change of its condition, and from those new circumstances of ease, security, and favour, which unavoidably attended the revolution of opinion at the Imperial court.

“ If nothing had been attempted by Constantine in church affairs, beyond what the most rigid modern advocates of the non-establishment principle might approve, or in other words, if he had simply tolerated, and personally favoured Christianity, there is no room to think, that the damage to the simplicity and purity of the

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Church would have been much less than actually it was. The mitred chiefs of Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome, would not, any the more, have paused on the course upon which already they had gone so far. The clerical body, generally, would not have receded to the point of apostolic humility and disinterestedness. The church chest would not have been shut against the further liberality of the people. No profitable superstition would have been exploded, no mummery laid aside. The ghostly temple of tyranny, to which the Gregories, the Urbans, and the Innocents of after times put their master hands, would yet have gone on, slowly and securely rising to the heavens, upon the broad foundations laid in tears and blood by the martyr-bishops of the pristine age.'

A Statute of Mortmain, that is to say, an Imperial Edict, limiting the gifts of the living and the bequests of the dying to purposes more useful than the support of Religious corporations, might have come in (our author thinks) with great effect, upon this change in the circumstances of the church, to prevent the grievous abuse of spiritual power, which afterwards so enriched and exalted a corrupt and covetous Clergy. But it was not, probably, in the power of Constantine, had he possessed such refined views of Government, to effect this. He was too much the pupil and the child (in faith) of his bishops; and found it impracticable even to adjust their precedence, and get them to settle their controversies among themselves.

“ The pure voluntary principle, as applied to the maintenance of the clergy, had, at the close of the third century, reached a point at which, as well for the good of the community, as for the preservation and honour of the Church, it needed some effectual check. Such a check, drawn from motives of good sense or piety, was not available; and nothing could have taken hold of it but a vigorous interference on the part of the State; or in other words, the bringing to bear upon the abused and superstitious prodigality of the people, the Church-and-State Principle; not indeed by peremptory prohibitions (except in the matter of bequests) but by substituting a definite and well-regulated, for an indefinite and grossly-deranged system. “ There is not a despotic machination, there is not an encroachment upon

the natural or religious rights of mankind, there is not a perversion of doctrine, or a superstition, or a farcical usage of a later and darker age, which may not, directly or indirectly, be traced to the licence and encouragement given to the sacerdotal body to work upon the religious prodigality of the people—as well the dying as the living. It may indeed be imagined that the Church, in the time of Constantine, had sunk into a condition past remedy, or past any remedy which the State had the power to apply; yet this is not certain ; and something remedial might have been attempted : but then that something must have been consisted in bringing forward the EstablISHMENT Principle in a way not then thought of, and which we may well suppose the clear sighted chiefs of the then voluntary Church would by no means have submitted to. Bishops, and their clergy understood their interests far too well to have accepted even a munificent definite maintenance, in lieu of the free offerings of their flocks, and on the condition of declining those gratuities.”

“ It might seem too bold an assertion to say, that the master-spring of the religious system of the fourth century was, the command which the clergy had then got of the sources of wealth; or, in other words, the play they had contrived to give to the voluntary principle. No revision of theolo dogmas, no new canons of discipline, no ecclesiastical sumptuary laws, would probably have done so much toward bringing back the purity and disinterestedness of Christian prac

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