תמונות בעמוד

were ex

myself now for having done so; for I regard as my own all that belongs to my son Merovig, whom I took out of the fount of baptism."

The king knew not what to say in answer to such a genuine expression of paternal regard on the part of the aged bishop towards the young prince. Chilperic's resources hausted; and the assurance he had at first displayed, was now succeeded by an air of embarrassment and confusion; he broke up the sitting abruptly, and withdrew disconcerted and discon

Above all, he dreaded the encounter with Fredegonde. Probably instigated by her reproaches, he soon after summoned to his presence those members of the council who were most at his command, and among others, Berthram and Raghenemod. “ I confess,” said he, “ I am beaten by the answers the bishop has made, and well I wot he has spoken the truth. Whither, then, shall I now turn, that the queen's vengeance may be satisfied ? Go ye, all of you, to him, and say to him, as if from yourselves, Thou knowest, brother, that the king, Chilperic, is a good and merciful prince, and is readily inclined to show mercy; humble thyself, therefore, now before him, and confess that thou hast committed that with which thou art now charged; then will we throw ourselves at his feet, and beg forthy pardon."

Whether the bishops persuaded their credulous and feeble colleague that the king, tired of the prosecution, was only anxious to extricate himself from it, without the disgrace of a defeat,-or whether they wrought on his fears by representing to him that his innocence, however manifest, could not save him from the royal vengeance, if he obstinately persisted in braving it,-Prætextatus, well acquainted himself with the timidity and servility of his judges, did not reject the proposal thus made to him. It was at best, he might think, a last resource, when all others should fail. His pretended friends, receiving the thanks of the man whom they were betraying, returned to the king to announce the success of their mission. The accused, they said, having come into the snare that had been laid for him, would make a full confession on the first appeal made to him. Thus Chilperic was delivered from the necessity of inventing any new expedient to assure the success of the procedure.

The next morning, at the opening of the sitting, the king, as if merely resuming the broken thread of the previous day's argument, said, pointing to the witnesses who were by, “If all you intended was to make a present to these men, how came you to demand an oath of them to the purpose that they would be faithful to Merovig ?" Though his conscience must have been unstrung by the secret engagement he had made with the

bishops, Prætextatus, by an instinct of shame which, for the time, overcame his fears, revolted from the falsehood which he had bargained to tell against himself. “ I begged them only," was his answer, " that they would be on terms of private friendship with him; and for his good I would not have appealed to men only, but would have called down, if I could, the angels from heaven, being, as he is, my spiritual son by baptism."

At these words, which seemed to indicate a purpose on the part of Prætextatus of persevering in his defence, the king's anger broke forth into a violence which so terrified the helpless old man, that all at once, falling on his knees before the king, he cried out, “I have indeed, O most merciful king, sinned against Heaven and thee; I am a wicked murderer! I have conceived the thought of killing thee, and of placing thy son on thy throne.” As soon as the king saw his adversary at his feet, his anger passed away, and hypocrisy recovered its command. Feigning to be overpowered by his emotions, he now, in his turn, threw himself on his knees before the bishops, “Do ye hear, ye men of religion, the criminal himself avow his execrable attempt ?" The bishops sprung from their seats, and hastened to raise the king to his feet; those who were not in the secret melted to tears, the others laughing inwardly at the scene that was being acted before them. As soon as Chilperic had recovered himself, as if unable any longer to bear the sight of one who had pleaded guilty to so great a crime, he ordered Prætextatus to be removed from the church. He himself followed shortly after, as if to leave the council to deliberate upon the sentence it had now to give.

Immediately on his return to his palace, the king despatched to the synod the volume of the canons which had formed the object of his study the preceding night. This was probably the collection made by Dionysius Exiguus, in 525, for it contained the Apostolical Canons, which were not as yet admitted as part of ecclesiastical law in the Gallic Church. The twenty-first of these canons was the same which Chilperic had pronounced with so much emphasis at the first meeting. This article had attracted his notice for no other reason, than because it enacted the penalty of deposition. But as the crimes against which it enacted this penalty, viz. those of theft, adultery, and perjury, as the king had himself previously quoted it, did not happen to suit the present case, Chilperic had simply erased the word “theft” from the parchment, and substituted that of " murder.” This truly barbarian trick escaped detection at the time on the part of the bishops, unacquainted, as most of them were, with a collection which had not long been in existence, and was of no authority among them. The Bishop of Tours was even the only one who exclaimed against the appeal to a novel code, and who

made a fruitless effort to engage his colleagues to decline the authority of the pretended Apostolical Canons.

This they would not do. Condemned Prætextatus must be, and what did it signify by what semblance of law or justice, when all for whose opinion they cared, the king, Fredegonde, and the Frank warriors, would look at the sentence, not at the grounds on which it professed to rest. This artifice would do, since they could bethink themselves of no better. The mock deliberation terminated, the parties were called in again to hear the sentence pronounced. The fatal article having been read, the Bishop of Bordeaux, acting as president of the council, addressed the accused : “ Hearken, my brother, thou mayst now no longer continue in communion with us, and in the enjoyment of our love, unless it shall please the king to admit thee again into his royal favour, which thou hast now lost.”

At this judgment, pronounced by the lips of a man who, the evening before, had practised so basely on his unsuspecting simplicity, the condemned stood struck mute with surprise. The king, not content with his victory, sought for some further aggravation of his ignominious sentence. He demanded that his robe should be torn off his back in the church; and when this insult was demurred to on the part of the bishops, he required that they should read over his head the 108th Psalm, which contains the maledictions applied by St. Peter, in the Acts, to Judas Iscariot.

This was the extreme and terrible punishment, usual only in cases of sacrilege. Once again the voice of the dauntless Gregory was lifted in behalf of the deserted and friendless Prætextatus, and he reminded the king of his oath not to act in anything against the canons. Finding his proposal not entertained readily by the rest of the bishops, Chilperic was fain to content himself with now requiring that the judgment which had been given should be entered on record, and a clause inserted that the deposition should be perpetual. Gregory's former success encouraged him to withstand the king's wishes again on this point. The sentence, accordingly, of simple deposition, stood as at first pronounced.

Prætextatus was then handed over to some of the king's guards, and conducted to a prison outside the walls of the city, the ruins of which long after remained on the left bank of the Seine. He made an attempt to escape during the night, in which he failed, and was cruelly beaten by the soldiers who had the custody of him. In a day or two, he was sent into exile, or transported, the usual Frank punishment for offenders of any rank or consideration. The place of his exile was an island adjacent to the city of Coutances-probably, Jersey ; then inhabited only, if at all

, by pirates of Anglo-Saxon race, and serving as a kind of Siberia for the kingdom of Neustria


[ocr errors]

Art. V.-1. Agende für die Evangelische Kirche, in den Königlich

Preussichen Landen. 2. Gesangbuch zum Gottesdienstlichen gerbauch, für Evangelische

Gemeinen. 3. State of Protestantism in Germany. By the Rev. H. J. Rose,

B. D. 4. German Protestantism. By the Rer. G. H. DEWAR, M. A.

The recent mission of Bishops on the part of the Anglican hierarchy, to the work of evangelists to the heathen, ought certainly to have no small portion of fear mingled with the joy that such acts are calculated to give to every Christian mind. If we remember our Lord's words, tható a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit,'who is there amongst us who ought not to cherish a godly fear lest the event be such as to establish in the face of day that the Anglican succession, as such, is a tree incapable of bringing forth good fruit? At all events the die is now cast,the Anglican hierarchy has been unfolded, and although hitherto no steps have been taken, except in the wake of the temporal power, the Church has notwithstanding put herself upon trial, as a missionary Church, in the eyes of Christendom, and it remains to be declared by the issue, whether or no, the Church of England is a tree capable of bringing forth good fruit.' How much then ought we not to fear, lest by any fatal error on our part, by any wrong misuse, or guilty misapplication of the divine gifts entrusted to our stewardship, we should provoke God to suffer our efforts to come to nought, in the following out of devices and imaginings which are not to His glory, and are counter to the provisions of His ecclesiastical government! We presume that there is still sufficient faith in our Church to appreciate the expression, God's ecclesiastical government, and sufficient humility, sufficient sense of the imbecility of human projectors, acting contrary to the provisions of ecclesiastical catholic government, to draw many anxious thoughts, many deep seated and well grounded fears, to the question—Is 'the mission of a member of the Anglican hierarchy to Jerusalem agreeable to the counsels of God, as displayed in the past history of the Church? Or, in other words, upon the supposition that the God incarnate, who died on the cross, has been an ecclesiastical Ruler over His Church ever since, and that, though unseen, He has nevertheless governed the chosen kingdom of His grace, and the people within it, by a dispensation of rewards and punishments, not without its analogies to the mode of His moral government, as exerted over mankind generally,--the question

will be, Is the mission of Bishop Alexander to Jerusalem one which there is good reason to hope will draw down the blessing of God; or is there reason to fear that it has its foundation in the violation of such sacred maxims of His ecclesiastical regimen, and that it has a course marked out for it, involving the further violation of so many more, that all hope is at an end that it can obtain a blessing, consistently with the revealed character of God, as the “Author of peace in the Churches, not of confusion ?'

Those who are disposed to maintain, if any such there be, that God incarnate is not that character of Ruler which is universally understood by the term ecclesiastical ;' that the kingdom of heaven, of which the prophecies speak, has no such living governor, and that the whole fabric of ecclesiastical law is a mere work of man, mere clay in the hands of the potter, pro tempore, will have a difficulty to imagine how a question so frivolous and idle as this must appear to them, comes to be asked. What is ecclesiastical law, what are canonical scruples, they will say, compared with the winning perishing souls to the fold of the Redeemer's kingdom? What does it matter if the peace of some few Christians' minds is a little disturbed, and the duties of other clergy a little interfered with, so long as there is a hope of preaching the truth of the glorious Gospel where it has been obscured, and establishing the blessed light of protestant doctrine near the scene of the Redeemer's sufferings ?

To this, it will be enough to say, that every short and summary mode of viewing an ecclesiastical question of grave import has certainly one great merit-that of wonderful freedom from all conscientious scruple; it shows a truly admirable disencumberment from all religious dread of taking a false step. Given a certain amount of Protestant truth, and there you have the sovereign panacea for the whole spiritual evils of the creation of man; take it, start away, preach, preach, he instant in season, out of season; no matter what disorder is occasioned, no matter who it is who sets himself to work, layman or priest, (a bishop is a tolerably fit person enough, but anybody will do,) preach, only preach the blessed Protestant truth, pure Bible Christianity, and there cannot be a doubt of the earth's being instantly regenerated.

On such a principle as this, who would not wonder that a scruple could be raised against the mission of a bishop to Jerusalem? The faintest whisper of a solitary half-uttered doubt vibrates on the ear, with the sound of a full loud roar of treason against the idolized sovereign specific — Protestant truth.' Yet passing strange, incredible, unintelligible as it may, rather must, appear, to many an honest, well-meaning mind, that it should be possible to be sceptical about the medicinal virtues

« הקודםהמשך »