תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

After the expulsion of Photius, the breach between the Latin and Greek Churches was made up and harmony tolerably well restored; though in several instances the Greeks betrayed a spirit of animosity against the Latins. The wound had not received a perfect cure, and in 1053 it was opened afresh by Michael Cerularius, patriarch of Constantinople, who upon frivolouş pretences and groundless accusations against the Latins, revived the schism, and drew into his party among others the patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem. The emperors themselves then joining in the cause, contributed much in the sequel to spread the infection through the eastern empire. And thus the Greeks were separated a second time from the unity of faith, and from the centre and prop of that unity, the church of Rome. In 1269 Michael Palæologus, emperor of the Greeks, alarmed by the victorious arms of Charles of Anjou, king of Sicily, and fearing being attacked by him, applied to the pope, desiring his holiness would prevail with Charles not to direct his arms against the Greeks. The better to gain his end, Michael promised the pope to come into measures for putting an end to the schism and re-uniting the Greek to the Latin Church. This proposal was agreeable to his holiness, as it offered what had been several times attempted, but in vain, by the preceding popes. They had repeatedly exhorted the emperors and patriarchs of Constantinople to recognize their ancient mother, and unite in faith. This salutary advice had been rejected, but now circumstances appeared more favourable than ever for a union: in hopes therefore of success, a council was held in 1274 at Lyons, consisting of five hundred bishops, Pope Gregory X. presiding at it in person. Michael Palæologus, emperor of Constantinople, sent ambassadors to the council to press the union of the two churches. They being arrived, and the council assembled, the emperor's letter was read, containing his profession of the true orthodox faith; after which he added: “We acknowledge this to be the true, holy, Catholic; and orthodox faith, and we receive and confess it with heart and mouth, the same as the Church of Rome teaches; and we promise to keep it inviolably. We acknowledge the supremacy of the Roman Church,” &c. Then was read the letter of the Greek prelates, written in the names of thirtyfive archbishops with their suffragans, who nearly made up the whole number of the schismatic bishops. In this letter they expressed their concurrence to the re-union of the two Churches. In consequence therefore of these professions and declarations, the union was concluded and rati: fied.

This was a fair prospect, but soon vanished. The Greek emperor had used violent methods to extort the consent of the orientals, for the union; and therefore for want of sincerity it could not be expected to hold. In effect, as soon as the Greeks saw they might have a protector in the person of the duke of Patras, who was an enemy to the union, they openly declared against it, and joining the duke, rebelled against their sovereign. Their party was strengthened by many of the emperor's own family; and his nearest relations, whoin he sent at the head of his troops against the malecontents, some would not act, and others revolted from him. Such was the animosity and insolence of the schismatics, that hạving assembled a synod, they presumed to anathematize the pope and the emperor and their adherents. This violent renunciation of the union was afterwards further confirmed by Andronicus, who succeeding his father Michael in the empire, retracted what he had formerly done in favour of that transaction, saying he had been compelled to it by the authority of his father..

Many attempts were made in the sequel by the popes to renew the union, but they proved unsuccessful; till at last in 1437 a fresh negotiation being set on foot between the Greek emperor John Palæologus and pope Eugenius IV. it was agreed that a general council should be held, of both the Greeks and Latins, in the west, for that important object. In pursuance of this determination, a council being appointed and opened at Ferrara by the pope himself in 1438, the emperor and the patriarch of Constantinople, with twenty oriental archbishops and bishops, and a great number of other Greek clergy of distinguished abilities and merit, repaired thither. The patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, sent also their deputies. Some inconveniences happening at Ferrara, the council was transferred with the consent of the Greeks to Florence. There all difficulties being discussed, the emperor, the patriarch of Constantinople, and the Greek bishops, professed, according to the faith of the Roman Catholic Church, that the Holy Ghost proceeded from the Father and the Son, and that the pope was head of the universal Church, &c. Then the re-union of the two Churches was agreed to, and a decree drawn up for that purpose. In this decree were contained the articles of faith above-mentioned, and other points which the Greeks had consisted, and which

were now defined conformable to the Catholic doctrine. The pope, the emperor, and all the Greeks, as well as Latins, subscribed the decree, except Mark, archbishop of Ephesus, who alone among the Greeks refused to sign it. Then they all kissed the pope's hand, and embraced one another in token of union and mutual charity. Thus was this momentous affair concluded in 1439.

The eyes of all Christendom had been attentively fixed on this council, and the happy issue of it diffused universal joy through the Catholic Church. What event indeed could possibly be more desirable, than that so large a body of Christians, separated for so many ages from the unity of faith, should at length be brought back, and re-enter into the bosom of their mother-Church? But this bright sunshine of concord and joy had only emerged from one cloud, presently to be intercepted by another. When the emperor and the Greeks arrived at Constantinople, they found the clergy of that city violently prepossessed against the union, and had inspired the people with the same disposition. They reviled bitterly all those who had signed it, calling them traitors and a postates, and they extolled with the highest encomiums Mark of Ephesus, for his courage in refusing alone his consent. This obstinate prelate seeing the tide run thus in his favour, availed himself of it, to declaim and write against the union. In fine, the schismatics worked themselves up to such a degree of rage, that an inundation of libels soon appeared, fraught with virulence, calumnies, and falsehoods. So much opposition and ill-treatment those met with who had been at the council of Florence and assented to the union, made such impression upon them, that many lost courage, yielded to the stream, and gave up the cause. They even renounced what had been done, and setting up to oppugn the faith they had embraced, they greatly contributed to increase the party. To complete the misfortune, the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, stirred up by the schismatic bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, assembled a synod in 1443, in which they condemned what had been done at Florence, and threatened to excommunicate the emperor if he continued to adhere to the Latins. The deference which the orientals paid to these patriarchs, influenced them to receive their determina. tion, and to remain in schism. Russia likewise and Muscovy, which had adopted some centuries before the schism of the Greek, followed now their example, rejected the union, and imprisoned the pope's legate who came to propose it to them. Thus was a third part of the sun, moon, and stars, smitten and darkened a second time, or at least remained eclipsed. And thus vanished the fair prospect of a noble triumph for the Catholic faith.

A few years after this period, that is, in the beginning of the year 1451, Pope Nicholas V., a pontiff of remarkable piety and learning, grieving at the invincible obstinacy of the Greeks, and reflecting on the repeated labours taken for their conversion, wrote to them a letter, in which after mentioning the preparations the Turks were making against them, and the succours they might hope for from the Catholic princes, he then exhorted them in a pathetic manner, not to render useless by their ingratitude to God these succours, but to open their eyes upon their past stubbornness, and to unite themselves to the Catholic Church, according to the agreement made at Florence. He addressed himself in particular to Constantine Palæologus, then emperor of Constantinople, to the following tenor: “ That the Greeks had abused too long the patience of both God and men, in persisting still in heresy and schism; that, conformably to the parable in the gospel, God would further wait, to see if the fig-tree, after so much care and attendance in vain, would at last yield fruit: that if it did not within the space of three years, which God still allowed them, the tree would be cut down by the root, and the Grcek nation entirely ruined by the ministers of divine justice, who would be sent to execute the sentence already pronounced in heaven against them.” We shall presently see the literal accomplishment of this prediction.

The pouring out of the fourth Vial. Apoc. chap. xvi. 8. “And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun, and it was given unto him to afflict, men with heat and fire:

V. 9. “And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God, who hath power over those plagues, neither did they penance to give him glory."

Here is the punishment of the Greek schismatics for their long and obstinate rebellion against the Catholic Church.

In the prophecy of the fourth trumpet the sun was introduced to represent the principle of light, here it is employed as the principle of heat, which are known to be the two chief qualities of the sun. The vial is therefore poured out on the sun, to convert its quality of heat or fire into an instrument of divine vengeance against the Greeks. And in consequence, it is given unto him, the sun, to afflict men with heat and fire. In effect, this people suffered extremely by the destructive fire of terrible engines of war, that were worked by gunpowder. We have seen, p. 123, that no less than fourteen batteries of cannon were employed to fire against the town of Constantinople, besides the ships of war; and that in this dreadful artillery were some such huge pieces of cannon as had never been seen or heard of before. With these were the walls of the city shattered to pieces, and the Greeks themselves miserably cut off. They were the more terrible, as cannon were at that time a recent invention, and but newly brought into use in the eastern countries. Hence it appears how the Greeks were scorched with great heat. And thus the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, being the most fatal and finishing stroke upon the Greek empire, which was then put an end to, the vial here chiefly points at that event.

" And they blasphemed the name of God who has power over those plagues. They blasphemed the name of God," that is, they spoke impiously against religion and its ministers. They uttered the most virulent invective against the Roman Church, presumed to condemn its doctrine, and to treat with ignominy those Greeks who espoused it. They would not even pray in the same Church with those who had signed the union. Two years before the siege, that is, in 1451, the schismatics of Constantinople had written to those Bohemians, who had adopted the errors of John Huss, approving the part they had taken against the Church of Rome, and inviting them to a coalition with themselves in religious tenets. The year after, perceiving that the emperor had embraced the union, and prevailed upon a few to follow his example, they rose up tumultuously, both clergy and people, and cried out anathema upon all those who had united themselves with the Latins. This spirit of animosity against the Catholic faith and the supremacy of the Church of Rome continued to rage, even at the time of the siege. Notaras, admiral of the Constantinopolitan fleet, seeing the people struck with consternation at the view of Mahomet's immense army, scrupled not to cry out, he would rather choose to see the turban in Constantinople than a cardinal's hat. In this manifold manner they blasphemed the name of God. And thus they persevered in rebellion against God, who has power over those plagues, that is, who sent those calamities with a view to punish and reclaim them. Instead of corresponding with the design of heaven, and taking admonition from the

« הקודםהמשך »