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He issued edicts; nominated vicars as his representatives; and gave orders to the metropolitans of all the other provinces in the Western empire, as their universal governor.—The monarchical forın of government was then set up in the churches of the Western empire under the bishop of Rome, by means of the imperial decree of Gratian, and the appeals and decretal epistles founded thereon."* The edict of Gratian and Valentinian was confirmed and renewed in more authoritative terms, by Theodesius and Valentinian III. in the year 445 ; the highest spiritual jurisdiction was recognised, or assigned, as pertaining to the Pope; it was enacted that no one should presumptuously dare to dispute the authority of that see; and it is declared that the peace of the church would be everywhere preserved, if the universe would acknowledge its ruler.t
But the most remarkable document respecting the establishment, by civil authority, of the spiritual supremacy of the pope, is the epistle of the Emperor Justinian to the Roman pontiff, in which, almost in the very words of the prophet, he gives all the churches into his hands. The institutes of Justinian form the foundation of the laws of southern and western Europe. And the high authority of the pope had the same origin, and would appear to have been established at the same period. The see of Constantinople alone then vied with that of Rome; and the authority of the emperor put an end to the rivalry.
The union of the divine and human nature of Christ,—the Word, who was.in the beginning with God, and who was God, but who became flesh and dwelt amongst us,-has proved a source of unholy controversy among those who have sought to be wise above what is written, and to define what human reason cannot comprehend. Great is the mys. tery of godliness ; God manifest in the flesh. Yet, although no man knoweth who the Son is but the Father, it is a mystery with vain man, who comprehends not his own nature nor the union of his own soul and body, would endeavour by his feeble intellect.lo solve.. Justinian was a zealot in theological controversy, if not also a tyrant. And instead of promoting religious instruction, and appealing to the word of God as the only and infallible rule of faith and practice, and thereby striving to overcome error with truth, at a time when the Virgin Mary was honoured as a goddess, Justinian, forgetful that he who doth the will of God shall know of the doctrine, appealed to the bishop of Rome as the sole and supreme judge of religious oontroversies. The bishops of Ephesus and Phillippi, to both of which churches epistles had been written by the apostle of Jesus Christ, were the bearers of an epistie iû the pope from the emperor, who solicited that he and all who adhered to the same creed, should be re: ceived into the communion of the church of Rome. The appeal, which not only recognises, but maintains and establishes, by imperial authority, the supremacy of the pope in regard to. ecclesiastical decisions, is inserted at length in the annals of Baronius.
* Sir I Newton's Observations on the Prophecies, pp. 107, 108.
# Ibid. p. 109, &c. where the edict, in the original,' is quoted at length.
The Epistle of Justinian to John, the Roman
Pontiff, A. D. 533.
Rendering honour to the apostolic see, and to your holiness, (as always was and is our desire,) and, as it becomes us, honouring your Blessedness as a father, we have laid without delay before the notice of your holiness, all things pertaining to the state of the church: Since it has always been our earnest study to preserve the unity of your holy see, and the state of the holy churches of God, which has hitherto obtained, and will remain, without any interfering opposition. Therefore we hasten to SUBJECT and to unite to your holiness, all the priests of the whole East. As to the matters which are presently agitated, although clear and undoubted, and, according to the doctrine of your apostolic see, held assuredly resolved and decided by all priests, we have yet deemed it necessary to lay them before your holiness. Nor do we suffer any thing which belongs to the state of the church, however manifest and undoubted, that is agitated, to pass without the knowledge of your holiness, who are the head of all the holy churches. For in all things (as had been said or resolved) we are prompt to increase the honour and authority of your see.”*.
It was a less questionable act, on the part of Justinian, to give the churches, even that of Constantinople, into the hands of the pope, than the "donation of Constantine,” which included half his empire. But while, in respect to the latter, all corroborative evidence is wanting, and all the history of the period refutes the fictitious allegation, there is positive evidence of the authenticity of the epistle of Justinian, which seems fully to place its reality beyond a just or reasonable doubt. It was not to the pope alone that the emperor declared his respect to the papal authority. And in his constitution to Epiphanius, bishop of Constantinople, of date 25th March 533, he acknowledges his Epistle to the Roman pontiff, and maintains that he is the head of all the bishops, and that, “ by the decision and right judgment of his venerable see, heretics are corrected.” The pope's answer to the letter of the emperor is also on record, in which he commends bis zeal for religion, approves his doctrine, denounces all who reject it.as separate from the church, adopts the titles conferred on him by the emperor, and commends, above all his virtues, his reverence for the holy see, to which, as truly the head, he had subjected and united all the churches.*
* Epist. Justiniani ad Joannem Rom. Pont. A. D. 533.-, Reddentes honorem apostolicae sedi et vestrae sanctitati (quod semper nobis in voto et fuit ét est) ut decet patrem honorantes vestram beatudinem, omnia quae ad Ecclesiae statum pertinent, festinavimus ad notitiam deferre vestrae sanctitatis: quoniam semper nobis fuit magnum studium, unitatem vestrae apostolicae sedis et statum sanctarum Dei Ecclesiarum custodire, qui hactenus obtinet et incommoté permanet, nulla intercedente contrarietate. Ideoque omnes sacerdotes universi Orientalis tractus et subjicere et unire vestrae sanctitati properavimus. In praesenti ergo quae coinmuta sunt, quamvis manifesta et indubita sint, et secundum apostolicae vestrae sedis doctrinam ab omnibus semper sacerdotibus firme custodita et praedicata : necessarium duximus ut ad notitiam vestrae sanctitatis perveniant. Nec enim patimur quicquam quod ad Ecclesiarum statum pertinet, quamvig mani. festum et indubitalum sit quod movetur, ut non etiam vestrae innotescat sanctitati, quae caput est omnium sanctarum Ecclesiarum. Per omnia enim (ut dictum est) properamus honorem et auctoritatem crescere vestrae sedis. Baronii Annales Ecclesi. astici, lom. vii. p. 204. Ed. Antverpiae, 1758. (Quoted from copy in Advocates' Library, Edinburgh.)
The bishop of Constantinople acted in subserviency to the decision of the emperor, and expressed
pope bis desire to follow the apostolic authority of his holiness.
“ The authenticity of the title," as Mr. Croly well observes,“ receives unanswerable proof from the edicts of the “Novellæ' of the Justinian code. The preamble of the 9th states, that as the elder Rome was the founder of the laws; so was it not to be questioned, that in her. was the supremacy of the pontificate. The 131st, on the Ecclesiastical Titles and Privileges, chap. ï. states: 'we therefore decree that the most holy pope of the elder Rome is the first of all the priesthood, and that the most blessed
* Ib. A. D. 553, 554. Du Pin's Eccl. Hišt. voh v. pp. 30, 31. under title John II.
archbishop of Constantinople, the new Rome, shall hold the second rank, after the holy apostolic chair of the elder Rome.'
The title of the pope to the supremacy of the church, was questioned by the bishop of Constantinople, after the death of Justinian; and was afterward renewed by the tyrant and usurper Phocas, A. D. 606. But the edict of Justinian was never rescinded: no earthly code of laws was ever more extensive or permanent than his; it was published A. D. 529; it continued to be the base of European legislation, till it began to be shaken by the revolution of France, and the code of Napoleon; and from the year
529 to 533 would seem to be the period, as may subsequently be seen, during which the spiritual supremacy of the pope was first fully and authoritatively established.
In thus constituting or confirming an ecclesiastical supremacy, the emperors of Rome were preparing the
way of a more lordly domination than they or their predecessors had ever exercised--and the purple was soon to be outshone by the scarlet. By committing authority over the church of Christ to the successive bishops of Rome, the Roman emperors lost the power of retarding the grossest corruption of the purest faith. “The popular election of the Latin bishops endeared them to the Romans; the public and private indigence was relieved by their ample revenue ; and the weakness or neglect of the emperors compelled them to consult, both in peace and war, the temporal safety of the city. In the school of adversity the priest insensibly imbibed the virtues and the ambition of a prince; the same character was assumed, the same policy was adopted, by the Italian, the Greek, or the Syrian, who ascended the chair of St. Peter; and after the loss of her legions and provinces, the genius and fortune of the popes again restored the supremacy of Rome.