« הקודםהמשך »
of whatever rank or condition though even of imperial, regal, or any other dignity, from receiving him, or as far as in their power allowing him to be received. Let no one have any transaction or commerce with him, unless such as concerns the salvation of his soul. Let no one yield him any aid, or counsel, or favor, open or secret. Let no one enter into any association or confederation with him under any pretext, color or machination whatever; and all persons whatever who presume to do otherwise, shall incur by that act the sentence of excommunication, which we now pronounce on them,-and the society that shalí do otherwise and their lands who shall enter into a confederation with him, we place under an ecclesiastical interdict.
“And finally, we wish all the aforementioned sentences of excommunication to be so inflexibly observed, that we divest all our penitentiaries, confessors, and all others of all power of absolving from them, or relaxing them, except at the moment of death."!
This sentence to excommunication, disfranchisement, and infamy, though prompted in the instance of Guido by an atrocious crime, exemplifies the penalties with which they were accustomed to pursue all who refused submission to their sway.
The ecclesiastical sword, when so tempered as to give birth at every stroke to this tremendous array of consequences, became an instrument of persuasion and compulsion which no human power, unless armed by the grace of the Almighty, was adequate to resist, and crushed every order of the hierarchies themselves, and the whole church and empire into unquestioning and abject acquiescence in whatever doctrines and rites it was employed to enforce. To such an extent was this carried, that an acknowl. edgment of the usurped powers of bishops, patriarchs, popes, and councils became the great test of orthodoxy and piety, and the reception or rejection of their doctrines and rites continued of importance less because of their own nature, than of the acknowl. edgment or denial which they involved of that authority. Bishops were required on their induction into office to profess the false dogmas and adopt the idolatrous rites of the church, ratify all the arrogations of the pope, and promise implicit obedience to
, his will; and so absolute was the triumph of the artifice over the general reason and conscience, so blind and unquestioning was the credence of all orders in its legitimacy, that for many centuries scarce a monarch, a prince, or a prelate who was struck by an anathema, failed to procure by submission, bribes, or force, a reconciliation with the papal see. It was extorted by the sword,
? Bullarii Mag., tom. viii. pp. 81, 82.
purchased by gifts, or gained by concessions and humiliations, by the emperors of Germany, the kings of France, England, Spain, and Sicily, and a long train of princes, prelates, barons, statesmen, and speculatists. It was thus by this dread engine that the several orders of ecclesiastics were made to unite in the superstitions, idolatries, and blasphemies of the Greek and Papal systems, and the whole body of the church struck with spiritual death. It was the instrument by which they were forced to all the great steps of their apostasy, the worship of images, the homage of relics, the invocation of saints, the idolatry of the mass, the exaltation of the pope. It was the power by which opposition was arrested, dissidence silenced, and every incumbent of the sacred office compelled into concurrence and approval. Had there been no legislation in the Greek and Latin churches in the eighth century, the worship of images would not have gained a universal prevalence. Had the powerful party which opposed it been allowed freedom of discussion, and liberty to follow the teaching of the Scriptures, they would have preserved the knowledge and belief of the truth, and perpetuated a succession of true worshippers. Had the opponents of transubstantiation in the tenth and eleventh centuries been allowed to assail error without obstruction, they would have triumphed over the ignorance, absurdity, and blasphemy of that doctrine, and been followed in integrity and wisdom by a vast train of disciples to the present day;
and were perfect freedom of discussion now permitted in the Catholic and Greek communions, and the Scriptures alone made the standard of faith, a vast crowd whose lips are now sealed, and whose reason and conscience are smothered by a blind trust in the prerogatives of councils and popes, or a dread of anathemas, would speedily emerge from the abyss of error and folly in which they are immersed, and discern, embrace, and advocate the truth in its purity and dignity.
And finally, on the acquisition of this tremendous power, the representation that a great sword was given to the horseman, was verified.
The bishop originally had authority only over his own diocese, and could discipline and excommunicate none but those of his own church. By their association, however, in synods, they acquired authority over each other, and on their organization under inetropolitans and patriarchs, they invested those great prelates with the power of assembling synods, and issuing and enforcing authoritative sentences; and finally, on the elevation of the pope to supremacy, he acquired the power of dictating whatever doc
trines and enjoining whatever worship he pleased, and of enforcing his will by all the penalties which the most remorseless malice could invent, or the most lawless tyranny inflict, and exerted his authority at his will, not only on individuals, whether monarchs, princes, prelates, or unofficial, but often struck at once with his gigantic sword whole classes, whole hierarchies, and whole nations.
Such are the verifications of the symbol which the history of the church presents; such the resistless demonstration that the prelates to whom I have applied it, are the persons whom it represents. There is no other order of men in the church to whom it is in any degree applicable. No class of its ministers except bishops, for a long series of ages arrogated the power of legislation over its faith and worship. No order except diocesans have by their official power taken peace from the earth, and agitated, torn, and devoured alike the church and civil empire with animosities, discords, and wars; and they are the only class in the churches under episcopal government that have ever had authority to depose from the sacred office, strike with excommunications and anathemas, and compel one another thereby to the reception of doctrines and adoption of rites that necessarily carried death to the soul.
The expositions that have been given of this seal are very various. Mr. Brightman interprets it of the wars of the Roman empire with exterior nations ; Grotius, Dr. Hammond, Cocceius, Eichhorn, and Rosenmuller of the contests of the Jews with the people with whom they were intermixed in Judea and elsewhere, or with the Roman armies during the reign of Nero and Vespasian; Mr. Mede, Dr. More, Mr. Daubuz, Mr. Jurieu, Mr. Lowman, Mr. Whiston, Bishop Newton, and others, of the revolts of the Jews under Hadrian; Mr. Elliott of the revolutions and slaughters by the prætorian guards during the second and third centuries ; Vitringa of the persecutions of Christians by Decius, Valerian, and Diocletian; and Mr. Faber of the MedoPersian empire. These incongruous and contradictory interpretations are all founded on the assumption that the symbol and the agents symbolized are of the same species, and carry on their front therefore the most indisputable proof of their erroneousness. Dean Woodhouse, who regards the symbol as representing contests within the church, interprets it also literally of slaughters and wars, and violates therefore in like manner the law of analogy.
CHAPTER VI. 5-6.
THE THIRD SEAL.
And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, Come. And I looked, and lo, a black horse, and he that sat on him having a balance in his hand, and I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures say, A chønix of wheat for a denarius, and three chænices of barley for a denarius, and the oil and the wine thou mayest not injure.
This symbol also is taken from political life in the Roman empire, and is a ruler who reduces his subjects to want and misery by taxation; as is denoted first by the balance, the symbol of a civil magistrate, as a bow or a sword is of a warrior ; next, by the wheat and the barley, the oil and the wine, which indicate that he exercises authority over those articles. Thirdly, by the price, which implies that he determines the rates at which they are to be valued, if coin be received in their place, or the price at which the produce of land is to be taken to render the sum in coin at which it is to be assessed, proportional to its productiveness; and the rates also at which it is to be sold when distributed to the citizens from the public granaries at a price. Fourthly, by the prohibition to injure the oil and the wine, which denotes that the exactions are so oppressive that the husbandman prunes the fig-tree and vine to such a degree as to prevent their bearing, in order to exempt them from assessments. And finally, by the color of the horse, which is indicative of affliction.
The voice from the living creatures is to be regarded as descriptive of the agency he is to exert, and the laws he is to impose, not prophetic of restraints to which he is himself to be subjected. À denarius it would seem from Matthew xx. 2, was the usual price at that period in Judea of a day's labor in agriculture. A chønix of wheat was in Greece the usual allowance for a day's sustenance. Thence that rate of wheat, though the capacity of the chenix is uncertain, may be considered as denoting a difficulty to the poor of supplying their personal wants, and much more the wants of families and dependants. Greater exactness in weight and measure is observed by those who create high
* Herodoti lib. vii. 187.
prices; and high rates of food, as they almost universally involve a corresponding depreciation of other rates, and of labor as well as commodities, render it difficult to the poor to gain adequate means of subsistence. That scarcity is the effect of the horseman's
agency, is seen moreover by the exhibition of death under the fourth seal, as employing the agents of the second and third, under the denomination of the sword and famine.
That such is the horseman, and such the agency he is to exert, is confirmed moreover by the incongruities which embarrass other constructions. Thus to regard him, as he has been exhibited by many interpreters, as famine itself, not one who causes famine, is to make him the mere symbol of a symbol; for if the horseman with his accompaniments as a symbol is famine, he is indisputably such not literally, but only by representation. A rider on a black horse holding a balance and determining the rates of grain, is not identically the same as famine. The one is a living intelligent agent acting in a particular sphere, and exerting a peculiar agency; the other a certain relation between eaters and the supply of food. But to treat the representative agent in that manner as not the real symbol, but the mere personification of the symbol, is wholly unauthorized, and overthrows all certainty of interpretation. As well might it be assumed that the words which the apostle employed in describing the horseman and his agency, are not the real words which embody their description, but only representatives of another and wholly different set to which that office is assigned. The horseman is himself therefore with his accompaniments the symbol ; is like those which preceded him an agent, and exerts an agency in conformity first with his office, denoted by the balance and the determination of the prices of grain ; and next, with the mode in which he administers that office, indicated by the color of the horse, the high rates of grain, and the prohibition to injure the oil and the wine.
All these were characteristics and peculiarities of the Roman emperors, especially of the third and fourth centuries. They imposed the various taxes for the support of the court, the army, the civil service and the cities, and determined the species in which they were to be levied, and the modes of their collection.'
1“ All magistrates shall, when a census is made, designate with their own hand the species of produce and other things which are rated in the indiction, and express the quantities.” Manu propria Judices universi periculo suo annonarias species et cætera que indictione penduntur, definitis quantitatibus, et comprehensis modis, facta adscriptione, designent.—Codicis Theod. lib. xi. Tit. i. l. 3. See also l. 6, 15, 18, 20, 28.