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The Emperor Valens perished miserably in 378, and he being the last of the Roman emperors that favoured Arianism, it lost ground in the eastern provinces, which were chiefly in. fected. And before the end of this century, that is, before the year 400, the Arians began to differ among themselves about their tenets, and they divided into different sects, and these divisions contributed to weaken their strength, and were even the occasion of many of them leaving their party, and embracing the Christian faith. .
On another side however one may take notice, that the Empress Justina, who favoured the Arians, gave some trouble to the Catholics in the west, particularly to St. Ambrose, at Milan; and she prevailed upon her young son Valentinian II. to issue out an edict in support of the Arians, but as she died soon after, it produced but little effect.
The Goths also, who from idolatry had been converted to Christianity, were afterwards brought over to Arianism, about the year 376, by their bishop Uphilas, who suffered himself to be perverted by Eudoxus, the Arian bishop of Constantinople. These Goths having overthrown the western empire of Rome, divided themselves into two bodies, one of which settled in Italy, and they were called Ostrogoths or eastern Goths; the other proceeded into the southern parts of France, and afterwards into Spain, where they fixed, and were named Visigoths or western Goths. The Ostrogoths were converted by degrees to the Catholic faith, after their domi. nion in Italy was extinguished by Narses, the commander of the Emperor Justinian's troops, who defeated their army and slew their king Totila in 552. The Visigoths in Spain, under their king Reccared, who had been instructed by St. Hermene. gild, were brought over from Arianism to the orthodox faith about the year 587. The Suevi, a German people who settled in Spain, had been also converted a few years before from the Arian heresy: in fine, in this king's reign an end was put to that heresy in Spain, where it had been imported by the barbarous nations that invaded that country.
The Lombard's, originally a German people, who conquered part of Italy, and raised to themselves a kingdom there in 572, were also Arians; but Charlemagne vanquished them in 774, and put an end to their dominion. The remainder of them were in course of time converted.
The Vandals were not only Arians, but cruel persecutors of the Catholic church. In a peace they made with the Roman emperor in 435, was ceded to them a large tract of coun
try in Africa, into which a considerable body of them passed from Spain, where they had been settled before. Two years after, Genseric, their king, resolved to establish Arianism in his new African kingdom, and with that view began to persecute the Catholic bishops and to banish them from their sees. He afterwards forbid ordaining any Catholic bishops in his dominions, so that they were reduced in thirty years time to three. In 455 the persecution was so hot, that it crowned many with martyrdom, and their memorial is celebrated by the church on the 5th of April. The Arians were actuated with such rage and animosity, that they committed the most outrageous indignities: knowing that the Catholics were assembled at the holy communion, they broke in upon them, threw down the sacred Body and Blood of Christ, and tramp- . led it under their feet.
Huneric, son and successor to Genseric in 477, was, like his father, an Arian, but surpassed him in his barbarous treatment of the orthodox. He seemed to have more the nature of a Decius or a Dioclesian, than of a Christian prince. We shall only say in general, that he shut up all the Catholic churches in his dominons, he banished the bishops and clergy to the number of near five thousand, and very numerous were the victims sacrificed to his cruelty in this persecution, some of whom lost their limbs, others their lives, for their adherence to the true faith. But the hand of God overtook him in 485, and he died eaten up by worms. Two other persecutions were afterwards raised against the Catholics by Huneric's successors, Gondamund and Thrasimund. But the Emperor Justinian in 535 sent his general Belisarius into Africa, who defeated the Vandals, and put an end to their kingdom and power.
Let this account suffice to show, with how much propriety the Arian heresy is styled in our text of the Apocalypse, “ a great mountain, burning with fire,” flung into the Church. It now appears what a flame it kindled of discord, intestine convulsions, and persecution, and that it corrupted the faith of a considerable part, both of its pastors and people. But we must at the same time take notice, that, notwithstanding all the different artifices and violences employed by the Arians to increase their party, and to suppress that of the orthodox, the greatest portion of the flock of Christ, even in the east, stood firm in their faith, and adhered closely to the determination of the council of Nice. This is attested by St. Athanasius, who lived in the midst of the scene, and bore a great share in it
The same is asserted by St. Basil in the time of the Emperor Valens. Besides, the western Church was for a considerable time almost unanimous in its detestation of that blasphemous heresy; till it was imported thither by foreign people, who came and settled in her countries. It is said that the fiery mountain corrupted a part of the waters of the sea ; in like manner Arianism infused its infection into some part of the Church; but as the waters of the sea by their natural convulsive. motion cast forth the filth they contain in their bosom, and purify themselves; so the pastors and community of the faithful, as soon as they perceived the lurking poison of Arianism, bestirred themselves to repel it, by assembling councils, by preaching, praying, &c. which efforts had their full effect, and defeated the enemy. The mighty power of emperors and kings came in to its assistance, but even that fell before infirm defenceless men, the faithful pastors, who stood intrepid against it; for “the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong," I Cor. 1. 27. How vain and senseless the attempt, in any power telow heaven, to force the Church to change her belief! when He, who built her up, had pronounced that “the gates of hell should never prevail against her,” Mat. xvi. 18. How is it possible that the Church should ever be prevailed upon to declare against the divinity of Christ, which is the very rock on which she stands ? The rise of Arianism therefore served only as a touchstone, to distinguish the sound part of Christians from the unsound. It was a useful instrument to separate the chaff from the corn: “ There must be heresies," says St. Paul, “ that they who are approved may be made manifest," i Cor: xi. 19. This inethod Christ made use of to purge away all dross from his Church, and the pure metal only remaining, she shone with more brightness. While on the other hand Arianism, not being able to stand against such superior lustre, withdrew by degrees, and sunk quite away.
Such is the history of what relates to the second age of the Church.
HISTORY OF THE THIRD AGE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
THE OPENING OF THE THIRD SEAL.
Apoc. chap. vi. 5. “ And when he (the Lamb) had opened the third seal, I heard," says St. John," the third living creature, saying: Come, and see. And behold a black horse, and he that sat on him, had a pair of scales in his hand.
V. 6. “And I heard as it were a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying; Two pounds of wheat for'a penny, and thrice two pounds of barley for a penny, and see thou hurt not the wine and the oil.”
Here is announced a dreadful famine, which is the first step taken by the Almighty for the destruction of the empire of pagan Rome; and with it commences the third age of the Church, about the year 406
The voice cries out: “ Two pounds of wheat for a penny, and thrice two pounds of barley for a penny.” The Roman penny or denarius is, in our money, about seven pence three farthings, (16 cents,) an exorbitant price in those days for two pounds of wheat or six pounds of barley, and shows great scarcity. This famine afflicted the western Roman empire in 406 and the following years, when Arcadius reigned emperor in the east, and Honorius in the west the body of the Roman empire having been divided into two states: the eastern, the Capital of which was Constantinople; and the western having Rome for its capital; which last is the subject of our present consideration. The famine was occasioned by the irruption of those barbarous nations, the Goths, the Vandals, the Huns, the Alans, &c. who came in swarms from the north, invaded the Roman provinces, and carried devastation along with them. This is attested by all the historians of those times. These people were sent by Almighty God to execute his avenging justice on idolatrous Rome and its empire, to distress it with calamities, to seize its provinces, to humble its pride, and put an end to its power and dominion.
The black colour of the horse is suitable to the nature of famine, which wastes and drics the body, and tinges the skin with a blackish hue, agreeably to that of Jeremias: “Qur skin
is burnt as an oven, by reason of the violence of the famine," Lament. v. 10. The black or funeral colour of the horse agrees also with the condition here considered of the heathen Roman empire, which is now going into destruction. And he that sits on the horse, is Alaric, king of the Goths, the principal nation among those that concurred in the subversion of the Roman state: and in Alaric may be comprehended the chiefs of the other nations. The rider holds a pair of scales in his hand to weigh the grain, which indicates that the dearth will be so great, that all the grain will be sold by exact weight and measure. And here we may take notice of the propriety of this spectacle being shown to St. John by the third living creature, or the prophet Ezechiel, who had announced to the Jews the like calamity, with which God intended to punish them. Thus spoke God by that prophet: “Behold, I will break in pieces the staff of bread in Jerusalem; and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and in distress." Ezech. iv. 16. Let us also observe, that the voice which spoke came from the midst of the four living creatures, that is, it was one voice composed of the voices of the four living creatures, or of the four great prophets, Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel, and Daniel. They severally foretold the fall of ancient Babylon, which was a figure of the fall of pagan Rome, this city being styled Babylon in the Apocalypse. On account therefore of their common prediction, their voices are joined in one to announce the approaching fate of Rome. But it is added: Hurt not the wine and the oil. This expression seems to point at the character of the invaders of the Roman territory, who were all northern people, and consequently not being used to wine and oil, which are not produced in their countries, naturally neglected them, while at the same time they swept away all the grain. In northern countries at present both wine and oil are imported, and commonly used, but it was not so in those days, when little or no commerce or even communication subsisted between the northern and southern nations.
In the subject of this Seal we see shine forth that wisdom, the attribute of the Lamb, Apoc. v. 12. see p. 29. according to the dictates of which he demolishes kingdoms and raises up others.
The Sounding of the third Trumpet. Apoc. chap. viii. 10. “And the third angel,” says St. John, “sounded the trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven burn